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  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Welcome to the Winter 2013–2014 issue of The Objective Standard. Here's an indication of the contents at hand. The increasing popularity of libertarianism is both a problem and an opportunity. It is a problem because, although nominally for liberty, the ideology rejects the need to undergird liberty with an objective, demonstrably true moral and philosophic foundation—which leaves liberty indefensible against the many philosophies that oppose it (e.g., utilitarianism, altruism, egalitarianism, and religion). The increasing popularity of libertarianism is an opportunity because, although the ideology denies the need for such a foundation, many young people who self-identify as libertarian are active-minded and thus open to the possibility that such a foundation is necessary. Toward reaching these active-minded youth, my essay, “Libertarianism vs. Radical Capitalism,” examines libertarianism in the spirit of Frédéric Bastiat, taking into account not only what is seen, but also what is not seen in common and seemingly unobjectionable descriptions of the ideology. The article exposes major problems with libertarianism, compares it to radical capitalism, shows why only the latter provides a viable defense of liberty, and emphasizes the need to keep these different ideologies conceptually distinct.
  • Topic: Education, Religion
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Michael A. LaFerrara
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: More and more Americans are coming to recognize the superiority of private schools over government-run or “public” schools. Accordingly, many Americans are looking for ways to transform our government-laden education system into a thriving free market. As the laws of economics dictate, and as the better economists have demonstrated, under a free market the quality of education would soar, the range of options would expand, competition would abound, and prices would plummet. The question is: How do we get there from here? Andrew Bernstein offered one possibility in “The Educational Bonanza in Privatizing Government Schools” (TOS, Winter 2010-11): Sell government schools to the highest bidders, who would take them over following a transitional period to “enable government-dependent families to adjust to the free market.” This approach has the virtues of simplicity and speed, but also the complication of requiring widespread recognition of the propriety of a fully private educational system—a recognition that may not exist in America for quite some time.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Paul J. Beard II
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Matt Sissel is a young entrepreneur who is pursuing the American dream. After returning from military service in Iraq and paying his way through art school, he opened a studio in Iowa City, where he sells his fine art and offers art lessons. Until recently, Matt's entire focus had been on furthering his education and art business. So he made the considered judgment to forgo some luxuries-such as health insurance. In his twenties, Matt is healthy and has no preexisting medical conditions. He is self-insured-paying out of pocket any medical expenses that might arise-and wants to continue to self-insure because he believes the cost of health insurance premiums is excessive and that his money is better devoted to his business. But the federal government couldn't care less about Matt's priorities and choices. Beginning in 2014, it will force Matt, along with almost every other American, to buy a comprehensive, government-approved health-insurance plan from a private insurance company, on pain of stiff civil penalties. This "Individual Mandate" is at the heart of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act-also known as "ObamaCare"-which Congress enacted and the president signed into law in 2010. As a consequence of the Individual Mandate, Matt must act now to make financial plans: either purchase health insurance or pay a hefty annual penalty. Given the financial burden it will impose, he can no longer afford to hone his craft by furthering his education in art. Matt must focus exclusively on the creation and sale of his artwork in order to brace himself for the impending obligations the Individual Mandate imposes. Outraged that he is being forced to divert his hard-earned resources away from his education and career in order to buy a service he neither needs nor wants, Matt has decided to sue the federal government, asking the federal district court in Washington, D.C., to enjoin enforcement of the Individual Mandate on the grounds that it violates the United States Constitution. Other legal challenges to the Individual Mandate are pending in courts across the country, such as the well-known lawsuits brought by various state governments and officials whose purpose is to protect their sovereignty against federal encroachment. But few challenges take up the cause as championed by Matt, who is driven by the explicit desire to have the government recognize his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, exercised in accordance with his own values and goals.1 Let us consider the prospects for Matt's constitutional challenge to the Individual Mandate. ObamaCare's Individual Mandate In brief, here is how the Individual Mandate will work: Beginning in 2014, with few exceptions, all individuals with legal residence in the United States will be forced to purchase a health-insurance plan with "minimum essential coverage," as defined by the government. Exempt individuals include Native Americans, religious objectors, Americans living abroad, and the poor (whose health care will be subsidized). And what the law defines as "minimum essential coverage" is far more than is necessary for young and healthy individuals such as Matt. Thus, a catastrophic health-insurance plan covering only expenses related to medical emergencies-which would make sense for many Americans-would not satisfy the mandate's requirements. Moreover, individuals subject to the Individual Mandate cannot satisfy the "minimum essential coverage" requirement by self-insuring: Under the act, they are prohibited from paying for their medical expenses out of pocket.2 Thus, if Matt fails to buy "minimum essential coverage" by January 1, 2014, the government will assess a financial penalty against him for every month he remains without such coverage. The penalty for failing to purchase approved health insurance is the greater of 2.5 percent of the taxpayer's annual income, or $695 for each uninsured family member per year, up to a maximum of $2,085 per family per year-not an insignificant sum.3 Does the federal government-specifically, Congress-really have the legal power to force Matt and other Americans to buy a product or service, such as health insurance, from a private company? . . .
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America
  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2012. 180 pp. $34.95 (hardcover). Reviewed by Ari Armstrong How often does an author defend the right of citizens to own guns and the right of homosexuals to marry—in the same book chapter? In his new book Capitalist Solutions, Andrew Bernstein applies the principle of individual rights not only to “social” issues such as gun rights and gay marriage but also to economic matters such as health care and education and to the threat of Islamic totalitarianism. Bernstein augments his philosophical discussions with a wide range of facts from history, economics, and science. The release of Capitalist Solutions could not have been timed more perfectly: It coincides with the rise of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that focuses on “corporate greed” and the alleged evils of income inequality. Whereas many “Occupiers” call for more government involvement in various areas of the economy—including welfare support and subsidies for mortgages and student loans—Bernstein argues forcefully that government interference in the market caused today's economic problems and that capitalism is the solution. The introductory essay reviews Ayn Rand's basic philosophical theories, with an emphasis on her ethics of egoism and her politics of individual rights. Bernstein harkens back to this philosophical foundation throughout his book, applying it to the issues of the day. . . .
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Health
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Andrew Bernstein
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Surveys the ills of government-run schools, shows the general superiority of private schools, zeros in on the reason for the difference, and proposes a radical change from which everyone would benefit
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Scott Holleran
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Andrew Carnegie was the quintessential American, the archetypal self-made man. A poor immigrant boy, Carnegie rose to become a titan, advancing key theories of integration in business, producing more steel than all of England,1 creating the first billion-dollar corporation,2 and leaving an indelible legacy of colleges, arts, and libraries. His was an exceptional life and, in his time, he became the world's richest man.
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: America, England
  • Author: Sean Saulsbury
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The documentary Waiting for “Superman” examines America's failing public education system and calls on Americans to do something about it. Writer/director Davis Guggenheim takes viewers through the entrails of our public schools, showing the horrifying experiences of students across the country (mostly fifth and eighth graders), exposing the policies that led to those experiences, and providing statistics that measure the extent to which our public school system has failed. As part of the exposé, the movie includes several compelling interviews with educators, addressing issues such as the failure of the No Child Left Behind program, the purpose and effects of teachers' unions, the incredibly high dropout rates among public school students, and the impact of failing schools on our economy and society.
  • Topic: Education
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Yaron Brook
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Following the economic disasters of the 1960s and 1970s, brought on by the statist policies of the political left, America seemed to change course. Commentators called the shift the "swing to the right"-that is, toward capitalism. From about 1980 to 2000, a new attitude took hold: the idea that government should be smaller, that recessions are best dealt with through tax cuts and deregulation, that markets work pretty effectively, and that many existing government interventions are doing more harm than good. President Bill Clinton found it necessary to declare, "The era of big government is over." Today that attitude has virtually vanished from the public stage. We are now witnessing a swing back to the left-toward statism. As a wave of recent articles have proclaimed: The era of big government is back. The evidence is hard to miss. Consider our current housing and credit crisis. From day one, it was blamed on the market and a lack of oversight by regulators who were said to be "asleep at the wheel." In response to the crisis, the government, the policy analysts, the media, and the American people demanded action, and everyone understood this to mean more government, more regulation, more controls. We got our wish. First came the Fed's panicked slashing of interest rates. Then the bailout of Bear Stearns. Then the bailout of Freddie Mac. Then a $300 billion mortgage bill, which passed by a substantial margin and was signed into law by President Bush. No doubt more is to come. All of this intervention, of course, is supported by our presidential candidates. Both blame Wall Street for the current problems and vow to increase the power of the Fed's and the SEC's financial regulators. John McCain has announced that there are "some greedy people on Wall Street that perhaps need to be punished." Both he and Barack Obama envision an ever-growing role for government in the marketplace, each promises to raise taxes in some form or another, and both support more regulations, particularly on Wall Street. Few doubt they will keep these promises. What do Americans think of all this? A recent poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News found that 53 percent of Americans want the government to "do more to solve problems." Twelve years earlier, Americans said they opposed government interference by a 2-to-1 margin. In fact, our government has been "doing more" throughout this decade. While President Bush has paid lip service to freer markets, his administration has engineered a vast increase in the size and reach of government. He gave us Sarbanes-Oxley, the largest expansion of business regulation in decades. He gave us the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the largest new entitlement program in thirty years. He gave us the "No Child Left Behind Act," the largest expansion of the federal government in education since 1979. This is to say nothing of the orgy of spending over which he has presided: His 2009 budget stands at more than $3 trillion-an increase of more than a $1 trillion since he took office. All of this led one conservative columnist to label Bush "a big government conservative." It was not meant as a criticism. Americans entered the 21st century enjoying the greatest prosperity in mankind's history. And many agreed that this prosperity was mainly the result of freeing markets from government intervention, not only in America, but also around the world. Yet today, virtually everyone agrees that markets have failed. Why? What happened? To identify the cause of today's swing to the left, we need first to understand the cause and consequences of the swing to the right.
  • Topic: Education, Government
  • Political Geography: America