By Don Watkins and Yaron Brook
Twitter’s ban on Donald Trump has been met with charges of “censorship.” But the real threat to free speech isn’t Twitter: it’s the people calling for government control of Twitter.
Censorship means the forcible prohibition of speech — something only government can do. Freedom of speech guarantees that no one will silence you. It doesn’t guarantee you a platform any more than free trade guarantees you customers. Finding a platform and an audience for your speech is a demanding challenge, which social media companies have made infinitely easier.
But now, instead of showing gratitude to Twitter for giving them a platform (for free!), many users — including political leaders — are using Twitter to call for Twitter’s destruction. …
By Don Watkins
Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day when we show gratitude for our values. But what I’ve been reflecting on is how to value.
In Human Action, the great economist Ludwig von Mises writes that, “Now, we must realize that valuing means to prefer a to b.”
Well, that’s easy! Everyone can prefer a to b! Only here’s what Ayn Rand wrote in the margins of her copy of Human Action next to this statement.
No, it doesn’t! “Choice” means this. “Value” and “choice” are not the same concepts. . . . “Valuing” means measurement by means of a standard. . . . Example: the “value” of a girl to a lover is not that he prefers her to other girls; he had to have a standard which made him prefer her; he could have chosen none if none filled his standard. …
By Don Watkins
If you want to communicate ideas effectively, try this:
Read the writers with whom you agree from the perspective of the readers you want to persuade.
We are, as a rule, way too easy and forgiving of writers who support (or who seem to support) our own views. And when we read them uncritically, nodding along as they make well worn points we agree with, what we automatize is: reading our own work uncritically.
To read writers critically doesn’t mean trying to pick apart everything they say, like a graduate student trying to sneak her thesis past hostile professors. …
I’ve been accused of much worse in my time, but Craig’s comments are worth examining for the wider lessons we can draw about the meaning of the principle that knowledge is contextual and the implications for objective judgment.
To remind everyone, I was originally responding to Carl Barney’s claim that Onkar Ghate, in a private meeting with OAC students, dismissed Craig’s defense John McCaskey as “garbage” but “did not give reasons, explanations, or evidence in support of his assertion. …
Carl Barney has posted a lengthy essay on how Craig Biddle has been treated unjustly by “some at ARI” — in particular, ARI’s leading intellectual, Onkar Ghate.
And I see a number of Objectivists confused about what to make of it. So I thought I would share my take on what one’s attitude should be toward Carl’s statement.
Carl argues that Craig has been highly praised in the past by the best minds of Objectivism and then says:
Craig’s work is exemplary, yet some people at ARI, most notably Onkar and Debi Ghate, sometimes supported by Yaron Brook, deny this and defame him. They claim that ‘Craig doesn’t understand Objectivism’ and have even said that he is “immoral.” …
Here’s how to fix it
Years ago I was talking to a liberty minded Congressional staffer on Capitol Hill, and he said offhandedly about some issue, “This is a game of inches.”
In other words, the goal wasn’t to achieve transformation. It was to make policy a little more pro-freedom.
And he was right. Major policy shifts depend on major shifts in the public’s thinking. So long as people supported a major regulatory-welfare state, Congress is going to give us some version of a major regulatory-welfare state.
But that got me to thinking…what causes major shifts in the public’s thinking and is that the influence strategy the liberty movement is following? …
Investors have been told that ESG will help them achieve higher returns — the truth is that ESG is designed to hurt business and investors alike.
Business has been attacked as greedy, but at its core the profit motive is how we flourish. It was business — and especially large scale industrial businesses — that lifted humanity out of eons of poverty, and extended lifespans from 30 to 80. And what fueled business was each investor’s, executive’s, and worker’s greed — their desire for a better life.
Today’s most popular investing trend, however, is based on the surprising premise that investors and businesses have been insufficiently greedy. …
When I was 17, I saw the South Park movie in theaters. In one scene, Bill Gates — at that time, still the head of Microsoft — gets his head blown off by some military general. The theater erupted in applause. Hundreds of people cheered like a medieval crowd witnessing a beheading. It was chilling.
Fast forward twenty years. We get a leading Democratic presidential candidate demanding we “break up Big Tech.”
Thankfully, Republicans stepped up and…oh, wait, no…they mostly agreed. “Google is bigger now than Standard Oil was when it was broken up,” Senator Ted Cruz fumed.
President Obama famously said, “You didn’t build that.” But the real motto of 21st Century America is: you’d better not build that…and if you do, you’re gonna pay. …
Opening the economy is a moral imperative
Here’s the harsh truth. Regardless of what we do, many if not most Americans will get COVID-19. The lockdowns, whatever one thinks of them, were never sold to us as a way to eradicate the disease. They were sold as a way to “flatten the curve” so that the medical system didn’t become overwhelmed, leading to *unnecessary* deaths. Eradicating the disease without a vaccine is a fantasy.
All of the evidence I’ve seen indicates that, for most if not all of the country, we are at low-risk for overwhelming the healthcare system. That’s particularly true if we continue to take intelligent *voluntary* measures like washing hands, social distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding mass gatherings. …
Call it the reckoning: it surfaces when, at the height of your success, you face a crisis.
Ambitious, driven people begin their careers with a vision that orients them in the world and gives them a purpose: to write books, to start a company, to make movies, to design software, to pull energy from the gritted teeth of shale.
Whatever the nature of their aim, it fuels their years. They work hard and dream of arriving. Until one day they do: they have what they thought they wanted.
Then, the reckoning. Its guise is a question: why?
Why am I doing what I’m doing? Why do I desire money, or fame, or power? Why does it matter that I created a business or a work of art? …