Three Games That Tech CEOs Play With Protectionism Silicon Valley executives speak truth to power when they tell President Donald Trump to tear down the barriers he is building in the realms of trade and immigration. Unfortunately, the same CEOs have their own walls under construction in the realms of speech and thought. They are like the people playing games in Stevie Wonder’s 1985 hit song, “Part-Time Lover.” They claim to value liberty, but they reveal themselves as part-time lovers of the cause when they defend freedom by day but switch sides at night. The most recent example comes from Facebook on Sunday. After the son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the social media channel as “thought police” and shared previously blocked content, the company responded with a 24-hour ban. Trump shows the same duplicity, but in reverse. He supports free speech — at least when it favors himself — but not free trade. He condemns content filters and biased search algorithms in the marketplace of ideas, but he uses tariffs and visa restrictions in the marketplace of goods and services. Neutral observers keeping score at home might see two separate debates. But the same underlying principle applies in both cases: Walls hurt trade, regardless if the exchange involves opinions or commercial goods and services. Progress in either realm depends on open channels between buyers and sellers, so consumers can make informed and voluntary decisions about the transactions they...
In Money We Trust?, by Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames Reviewed by Marilyn Moore “So you think money is the root of all evil?” That is the question the wealthy, dashing copper magnate Francisco d’Anconia asked at the beginning of his famous “money speech” in Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged. D’Anconia was addressing a roomful of people who seemed confused about the meaning of money. Sixty-two years later, the meaning of money is once again seriously misunderstood, and Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, has stepped in--Francisco d’Anconia-like--to set the record straight. In the new one-hour documentary, In Money We Trust? (2018), which recently aired on Maryland Public Television, Forbes looks at the 2500-year history of money to make the connection between money and human flourishing. The documentary is based on the book Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy--and What We Can Do About It, co-written by Forbes and Elizabeth Ames. The book was originally published in 2014 and has been updated as a companion to the documentary. I recommend watching the documentary, then reading the book to learn more. Forbes and Ames strip away the layers of misleading connotation and define money...
One of Auguste Comte’s students studied for a while in Germany and attended Hegel’s lectures. Reporting back to Comte about how Hegel’s doctrines compared to Comte’s socialist ones, the student wrote excitedly that “the identity of results exists even in the practical principles, as Hegel is a defender of the governments, that is to say, an enemy of the liberals.”   In the nineteenth century the question of the true meaning of socialism was a live issue among collectivists of all stripes. Kant, Herder, Fichte, and Hegel were dominant mainstream voices. Yet clearly none was a conservative. Conservatives of the nineteenth century favored returning to or re-invigorating feudal institutions. Our four figures, by contrast, all favored significant reforms and a jettisoning of traditional feudalism. Yet none was an Enlightenment liberal. Enlightenment liberals were individualistic, the center of their political and economic gravity tending toward limited governments and free markets. Our four figures, by contrast, voiced themes of strong collectivism in ethics and politics with calls for individuals to sacrifice for society, whether society was defined as the species, the ethnic group, or the state. We find in the case of Kant a call for individuals to be willing to do their duty to sacrifice for the species; we find in the case of Herder a call for individuals to find their identity in their ethnicity; we find in the case of Fichte a call for education to be a process of total...
For fans of Atlas Shrugged, January 22 marks the anniversary of the destruction of Rearden Steel. That day, the People’s Manager, having driven out the founder and president, Hank Rearden, and having ground steel production to a halt through a series of anti-competitive labor measures, suspended all operations. That evening, a distraught former millwright set the factory on fire. A writer with an early modernist sensibility might have written the scene as the tragic end to the dream of a fatally flawed man. A late-modernist might have written the scene as the ironic disgrace of a man who overreached. Someone with a Naturalist, or Marxist, or postmodern perspective might attribute the events of January 22 to the dispassionate inevitability of history. Ayn Rand, of course, was a different kind of writer. For Rand, Rearden Steel didn’t burn because capitalism had run its course, nor was the fire, under any circumstances that she could imagine, Rearden’s just deserts. Rand described the scene as an act of revenge. The millwright in Ayn Rand’s benevolent universe was “a sixty-year-old worker” who had worked for and benefited from Rearden Steel. Caught setting the fire, the man confessed his reason: “To avenge Hank Rearden!” The fire was the only form of justice left. It is a solemn scene, full of pathos: The shaft of red smoke that shot to the sky on the night of January 22 and stood abnormally...
A few years ago I read the book What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand  (Open Court, 2000) by Louis Torres and Michelle Marder Kamhi. I was disquieted to read their take on Rand’s definition of art and the meaning of metaphysical value-judgments. What was most surprising to me was that their perspective on the experience of creating or appreciating art, and their interpretation of Rand’s meaning, are the polar opposite of my own.  In a sense, their book has been the catalyst for this analysis. I hope to refute their claims by showing how you can detect metaphysical value-judgments in painting. But, more importantly, I hope to show you how to find and, perhaps, share an artist’s incredible passion that lies just beneath the surface of the paint. In The Romantic Manifesto, Ayn Rand defines art as “the selective re-creation of reality based on an artist’s metaphysical value-judgments.” She states that metaphysical value-judgments are the answers to these types of questions: “Is the universe intelligible to man, or unintelligible and unknowable? Can man find happiness on earth, or is he doomed to frustration and despair? Does he have the power…to choose his goals and achieve them…or is he a helpless plaything of forces beyond his control? Is man, by nature, to be valued as good, or to be despised as evil?” The connection between these questions and painting is anything but self-evident, as the authors of What Art Is admit: “It is difficult to...

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