Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

ARI Favors Legal Plunder?

Ayn Rand Institute Press Release
Bush Vetoes Medical Progress

July 20, 2006 IRVINE, CA--"President Bush's veto of a bill to remove restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research is immoral," said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. "It is revealing that Bush has used his first veto to oppose potentially life-saving research in the name of the dogma that microscopic embryos are sacred. Clearly, Bush and other 'compassionate conservatives' are not concerned with the well-being of humans, but with sacrificing them to clumps of cells in the name of religion. Such opposition is rooted in the perverse worship of human suffering. "Anyone who truly cares about human life must condemn this religious assault on medical progress."
Hold on -- this was a bill to make the taxpayers finance the research. It did not legalize private ressearch because that research is already legal. Does ARI now endorse legal plunder for the projects it regards as enlightened and scientific? One can take issue with George II's reason for the veto, but not with the veto per se.


Russell said...

Does the veto mean less money will be stolen from taxpayers, or does it just mean the money that is stolen will be spent on things other than embryonic stem cell research?

Either way, I guess it's good that we won't have yet another interest group sucking at the public teat, at least for the time being.

Jason_Pappas said...

Let me play Devil’s Advocate, Sheldon. I understand the desire to reduce government spending--the only real tax cut is a spending cut. But would you greet any spending cut, regardless of the motivation, with cheers?

Let’s say the government of Alabama (picture it 50 years ago) decided to reduce welfare by prohibiting Blacks from receiving any form of welfare, or reduce the education budget by a lesser allocation to Black districts. Would you cheer it merely because it was a step in the right direction? Obviously, you (and I) would desire the complete elimination of government spending in these areas but should any step in that direction be greeted with applause despite the motivation of those involved?

After all, you know and I know that Bush isn't interested in reducing spending.

Sheldon Richman said...

Jason, it's always possible to come up with hard cases. The case you've imagined might be opposed on grounds that the negative consequences would be serious, primarily because of the invidious nature of the exclusion (encouragement to racists). There is also an equal-protection objection. Blacks are taxpayers yet are barred from such programs. You may say that stem-cell researchers are taxpayers too, but this seems different. For one thing, their activity is morally objected to by other taxpayers.

There is no algorithm one can apply to answer such questions. In the case at hand, private research is not prohibited by the state. Why create a new group to lobby for taxpayer money?

Jason_Pappas said...

Then it’s clear that you’d find some partial reductions of government programs odious if I understand what you wrote. I would, too. But I, also, can’t find an “algorithm … to answer such questions” in the general case.

Perhaps, as the ARI writer notes in the next post, one should insist that the full step be taken to satisfy those who morally object to the spending, while freeing the funds, via tax reductions, to allow greater opportunity to privately fund such endeavors ... for those who claim it is so important!

Sheldon Richman said...

Would ARI support a check-off system to permit a taxpayer to say he does not want his money given to stem-cell research? I don't like such gimmicks, but I'd be curious to hear what they'd think.

Joel Schlosberg said...

It so happens that Ayn Rand was apparently a big booster of the federal space program in the Apollo era. In the October 1, 1969 issue of Libertarian Forum, the "Recommended Reading" section includes an article critical of the space program from the Marxist Monthly Review, with the comment:

"An excellent dissection of the various reasons for the incredible moondoggle program, especially the desire to instill patriotism among the masses by and on behalf of the ruling class. A thoroughly anti-State critique, this is the article Ayn Rand should have written, instead of the jejune apologia for the space program that she did write in the Objectivist. The fact that this article was written in a leftist magazine is a precise indicator of what's wrong with the Right."

jomama said...

Let's look at the Bigger Picture.

Take ideas put forth by an individual --in this case, Rand--, institutionalize them and turn them into meadow muffins.