On This Memorial Day, Let Us Remember, Not “Sacrifice,” But Those Who Fight for Freedom

The U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard marches during pass in review during the closing of a Battle Color Detachment ceremony at Eisenhower High School, Rialto, Calif., on March 4, 2012.Every Memorial Day, we hear speeches from government leaders praising what they call the sacrifices of American soldiers. On Memorial Day 2013, President Obama said:

[N]ot all Americans may always see or fully grasp the depth of sacrifice, the profound costs that are made in our name — right now, as we speak, every day.

On Memorial Day 2014, Obama said this:

Early this morning, I returned from Afghanistan. Yesterday, I visited with some of our men and women serving there — 7,000 miles from home. For more than 12 years, men and women like those I met with have borne the burden of our nation’s security. Now, because of their profound sacrifice, because of the progress they have made, we’re at a pivotal moment. Our troops are coming home. By the end of this year, our war in Afghanistan will finally come to end. And yesterday at Bagram, and here today at Arlington, we pay tribute to the nearly 2,200 American patriots who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan. We will honor them, always.

But is it really “sacrifice” that we properly honor on Memorial Day? Or is it something else that we should be focusing on?

On September 11, 2001, 19 Muslim totalitarians boarded American planes and flew them into the World Trade Center buildings, the Pentagon, and the ground in Pennsylvania. What they did was a sacrifice of their lives for the sake of killing “the enemy” and defending what they saw as the sanctity, purity and salvation of their people against the “corrupting” influences of the “decadent” West. Was this act noble because it was a sacrifice? No?

Then it is not sacrifice per se that we properly honor on Memorial Day, since we do not honor all of those who sacrifice for any cause. Is it then the sacrifice of oneself for the sake of freedom? Is this what we properly honor?

Well, let us ask: How many American soldiers do you know of who go into battle intending to die there? How many go intending to lose limbs? How many go intending to lose friends? If what we honor and revere is sacrifice in the name of freedom–if it is sacrifice that is a good thing, then every soldier and his family should hope that he dies in battle. If the size of the sacrifice in the name of freedom is the standard of moral worthiness in a soldier, then losing his life is the greatest good he can accomplish. If he can’t manage that, then he should at least strive to suffer major injury.

Yet the attitude of wanting to die or be maimed in battle is quite properly abhorrent to most Americans. It shows that the soldier places little value on his life; he does not have the self-esteem to love his life, to want to live it, and thus to love those who enrich that life, such as friends, family and lovers.

So what is it that we properly honor on Memorial Day? It is the love of freedom, and the dedication to fight for it when necessary for its defense.

Freedom is a profoundly good thing for each individual in a society. It is good because it supports and furthers human life and happiness. It allows people to choose what values they wish to pursue based on their own best judgment and enables them to achieve great things. It is in each individual’s best interest to be free, and it is in their enlightened self-interest to fight for that freedom when it is threatened.

We should honor those who are so dedicated to the goodness that is freedom, that they willingly risk their lives to fight for it when it is threatened. They make the decision to risk their lives because they love their freedom and will not stand for its loss. They might die in battle, but that is not their goal and the risk they take is not a sacrifice on their part. Their goal is to defend their freedom and live to enjoy it.

With this standard of the noble defense of one’s own freedom–and the freedom of good people one cares deeply about–in mind, it is incumbent on each of us to look carefully at the wars the US leadership has been asking American soldiers to fight. Are they really necessary as defenses of American freedom, or are they attempts to “help” others who are unwilling to help themselves? If the people of a country are unwilling to be dedicated enough to freedom to really fight for it, and to enact it into law, in the form of protections of individual rights, then it is not a good thing for our soldiers to risk their lives for these people’s “self-determination.” They are risking their lives–putting themselves and their loved ones’ future well-being in jeopardy–for a cause that will not result in good things in the long run. Thus, it is also not good to ask or pressure them to fight in these types of wars.

I consider the deaths of soldiers who died in wars, other than those in defense of American liberty and American interests, terrible tragedies and wastes of human life. These soldiers should be remembered for the good things they did in their civilian life. Those who have fought for what they deeply and genuinely believed would defend liberty and safety in their own country–whether they have lived or died–deserve special praise and admiration. Their military service was an expression of their good character and their dedication to the value of freedom.

Let us thank these admirable individuals and may they always be remembered with great respect and love on Memorial Day.

—–

Related Posts:

Israel and the Palestinians: Disputed Land “Belongs” to Whichever Government is Better at Protecting Individual Rights

Introduction to Objectivism

America Before The Entitlement State

19th-Century Capitalism Didn’t Create Poverty But Reduced It

Why Healthcare in the US is So Expensive, and What Can Be Done About It

The Meaning of “Necessary” Versus “Contingent” Truth

Billiard balls ready to be brokenThere is a long history in philosophy of distinguishing between truths that are “necessary” and truths that are “contingent.”

A necessary truth represents a true statement whose negation must imply a contradiction in reality, such that the negation would be impossible.

So, if “One plus one equals two,” is a necessary truth, then the statement “One plus one does not equal two” will imply a contradiction. Given the meanings of “one” and “two,” we can immediately see that the addition of two “ones” (units) always does yield “two,” yet the statement “One plus one does not equal two,” contradicts this. It’s incomprehensible that one plus one should ever add to anything but two. So “One plus one equals two,” is commonly held to be a necessary truth, with its negation being impossible.

A contingent truth represents a true statement whose negation does not imply a contradiction in reality, such that the negation could have been the case.

So, if “John married Jessica last Sunday,” is a contingent truth, then the statement “John did not marry Jessica last Sunday,” could have been true, without implying a contradiction in reality. Since John could have chosen not to marry Jessica, or to have married her on a different day, we can see that this is indeed a contingent truth.

The Objectivist View on the Necessary/Contingent Distinction

Objectivism-The Philosophy of Ayn RandCausality (the Law of Cause and Effect) is the Law of Identity applied to action. This means that an entity’s actions follow from its nature. That is, the nature of the entity (its attributes, properties, etc.) causes the action it will take in any given situation. In any given context, there is only one action open to it: the one in accordance with its nature. Any other action would contradict its nature.

Continue reading

The Basics of Ayn Rand’s Philosophy: Introducing my “Introduction to Objectivism” Page

The happiness of a man whose enlightened mind illuminates the world. Silhouette of Howard Roark with light rays emanating from his head.Hot off the digital press is my “Introduction to Objectivism” page. It conveys the basics of Ayn Rand‘s philosophy in an overview summary. It also explains some of the benefits of learning about her philosophy–called Objectivism–a little about the nature of moral and philosophical principles, and a little about how this rational philosophy fits in with modern science.

Exploring Objectivism is an intellectual adventure that really gives you a greater appreciation for your life, the world around you, and the power of abstract ideas to bring good or evil, success or failure.

So jump on in! :-D

Click here: Introduction to Objectivism

—–

Related Posts:

The Structure of Objectivism

The Nature of the Morality of Rational Egoism: Short Notes

Human Emotions are the Products of Beliefs and Subconscious Value Judgments

Laissez-Faire Capitalism Solves “The Tragedy of the Commons” and Deals With Negative Externalities: A Dialogue

Why Healthcare in the US is So Expensive, and What Can Be Done About It

Earth Day Video: Why You Should Love Fossil Fuels

On Earth Day, let’s pause and reflect on how much better fossil fuels have made our lives and our environments:

The burning of fossil fuels to generate plentiful energy has given us the opportunity to live in a prosperous, industrial civilization. Burning fossil fuels gave us the opportunity to invent nuclear and hydroelectric. And if people are left free (by the government) to innovate, it will likely also give us the opportunity to invent other energy sources that can fully replace fossil fuels, before they run out. (Solar and wind, in their current states, don’t even come close.)

Read Alex Epstein’s book: The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

Visit the website of the Center for Industrial Progress

Twitter:

@AlexEpstein (Click here)

#ILoveFossilFuels (Click here)

—–

Related Posts:

Fossil Fuels and Environment: McKibben vs. Epstein, Full Debate

The Social Justice Warrior’s 9 Theses Against this Blog and Its Author

This blog is racist, because it supports Israel over Islamic totalitarians, and because it posts videos of people speaking in front of Tea Party sympathizers. (You know, those horrible racists!)

This blog is sexist, because it uses “he,” instead of “he/she” or “(s)he” or “he or she” or “she,” when referring to those of unspecified gender.

This blog is ableist, because its author doesn’t believe people should be robbed to support the disabled, (and all the disabled are permanently useless and can never support themselves without the government forcing others to care for them.)

This blog is hateful of poor people, because it doesn’t support the forcible tearing down of rich people for their sake.

This blog is against sound economics, like the Broken Window Theory and “wealth inequality means everyone is poorer.”

This blog dares to peek beyond the Veil of Ignorance, and challenge John Rawls’s view of (social) justice as fairness.

This blog is homophobic, because its author doesn’t support laws forcing private businesses to hire or serve people they don’t want to, such as gays.

This blog is anti-science, because its author doesn’t want government to destroy people’s freedom on the basis of unreliable computer models.

This blog is triggering, because it contains offensively positive references to Ayn Rand.

—–

Related Articles:

Alternet’s Ayn Rand fetish

Salon’s Ayn Rand fetish

Book Review — RooseveltCare: How Social Security is Sabotaging the Land of Self-Reliance

RooseveltCare: How Social Security is Sabotaging the Land of Self Reliance, by Don Watkins book coverMost American conservatives, today–however “radical” or “extremist” the political Left calls them–do not openly challenge “big government” in the form of Social Security and Medicare. While some seek a complete repeal of the recent ObamaCare legislation, at most, they want to “reform” these other two programs by a scheme of partial privatization.

Yet, in his recent book, RooseveltCare, Don Watkins demonstrates that the United States grew, prospered, and did quite well at providing for old age for 158 years, before FDR and his fellow “Progressives” pushed Americans into accepting the Social Security program, (basically an inter-generational Ponzi scheme.) Watkins also shows that, ultimately, a complete repeal of Social Security is the only moral course of action; any lesser measure, as the ultimate goal, is morally wrong.

RooseveltCare is divided into 2 parts: “The Story of Social Security” and “Social Security: A Verdict.”

The first part is a thorough survey of the history of the United States as it relates to Social Security. The account of the culture of American self-reliance prior to Social Security is inspiring and enjoyable. It includes the plethora of options ordinary people had in dealing with old age and life’s unexpected challenges, both in preparation and response. The account of the rise of Social Security and the welfare state makes clear that these government programs were not something that most Americans considered an obvious necessity, even during the government-created Great Depression. Social Security was pushed by “Progressive” intellectuals, on Americans who had no intellectual defense, (and some operative elements of the un-American morality of self-sacrifice, making them susceptible.)

The second part of RooseveltCare is an exploration of the moral status of Social Security. It takes the arguments of Social Security’s proponents seriously and persuasively shows why they are wrong, (such as that Social Security is an “earned benefit.”) It discusses how and why Social Security is destructive to Americans’ economic and moral well-being. It discusses why “reforms” of the Social Security system are not a morally acceptable endpoint: ultimately, only a complete phase out of the system over a finite number of years will do.

I highly recommend RooseveltCare: How Social Security is Sabotaging the Land of Self-Reliance, by Don Watkins. It contains fascinating history, and will help give most people a stronger appreciation for the benefits of liberty and the culture of self-reliance. Workers in 19th-Century America were not downtrodden and were not starving in the streets. Starting out poor was not considered an indignity, to be “corrected” by handouts, but an honorable condition to be improved by diligent work on one’s own behalf. (A huge number of Americans in fact did improve their lot quite significantly this way.) It was, rather, accepting unearned charity and handouts that were often considered beneath one’s stature as a self-reliant adult.

The “Progressive” movement changed these attitudes and made unnecessary dependency morally acceptable in most American’s eyes. This opened the way for government redistribution, and has led to a host of destructive effects, including the destruction of wealth and the elimination of opportunities for investment in new technologies.

If we Americans want a bright future of prosperity, technology, opportunity and self-esteem for ourselves and our children, we need the majority of the population to understand the moral and economic need to completely phase out government entitlement programs. As a first step, we need as many thoughtful people as possible to read Don Watkins’ book:

RooseveltCare: How Social Security is Sabotaging the Land of Self-Reliance

—–

Related Posts:

19th-Century Capitalism Didn’t Create Poverty, But Reduced It

Why Healthcare in the US is So Expensive, and What Can Be Done About It

Laissez-Faire Capitalism Solves “The Tragedy of the Commons” and Deals With Negative Externalities: A Dialogue

Socialism and Welfare vs. Justice: Why Inalienable Private Property Rights are Required for Justice

America Before The Entitlement State

Socialism and Welfare vs. Justice: Why Inalienable Private Property Rights are Required for Justice

A farm and a factory: examples of property that requires effort to build.In 1816, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily
the first principle of association, “the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.”

Here, Jefferson is affirming the principle of individual rights, especially property rights. But don’t property rights sometimes stand in the way of justice? In any such cases, wouldn’t it be a moral imperative for government to violate property rights?

The purpose of this essay is to show that inalienable private property rights are a necessary condition of justice. That is, any violation of property rights implies injustice, to the extent of the violation. Please note that it is not the purpose of this essay to argue that property rights guarantee justice. Objectivism does not hold that property rights are a sufficient condition for justice, only a necessary condition. There is much injustice that can occur without violations of property rights. But no one, including the government, can rectify such injustices by violating property rights.

So, what is an inalienable property right? It is a principle specifying that no one else may take or otherwise use the thing a person has a right to, without that person’s permission. (All things properly called “rights” are inalienable–that is, they cannot morally be taken away; otherwise they are not “rights,” but grants of permission by someone else. Note also that one person’s rights can be waived by him, by the act of violating another person’s rights.)

A property right to a certain, distinct thing–call it “X”–is properly acquired by either 1) engaging in a productive process directly involving X, when it is not already owned by someone else, or 2) consensually trading things or services with another person for X, when that person owns X, or 3) receiving X as a gift from another person, when that person owns X. A “productive process” might be farming to produce food, building a home, building a factory, making shoes, writing software, providing services, like air conditioning repair, radio, television, movies, etc.

Continue reading