June 2021 Book Recommendations by Ed Locke

God Versus Nature: The Conflict Between Religion and Science in History by Frederick Seiler
This brilliant book explores, in essentialized form, the conflict between science and religion. The conflict is based on the primacy of consciousness and mysticism vs the primacy of reason and reality. He traces this issue from the ancient world through the present.

Effective Discipline: The Montessori Way by Charlotte Cushman
This terrific book refutes the touchy-feely (subjectivist, emotionalist) approach to discipline often used today in Montessori Schools based on John Dewey and false views of self-esteem. Cushman defends Maria Montessori’s view which argues that bad behavior requires consequences. In the Montessori system, this requires, for example, “time-outs” (children made to sit, for a time, in the corner). The book is full of great advice to parents about rational methods of discipline.

Unsettled by Steven Koonin
I have read many books on climate. This book stands out in one important respect: the author’s only agenda seems to be respected for the truth which means for what we actually know. vs. what we don’t. Koonin is a genuine expert in science. (He does not get into philosophical issues).

Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom by Patrick Moore
His book has the same theme as Koonin’s. He gives many examples of fears which are not based on facts.

James Grant on How Jonathan Levy’s “Ages of American Capitalism” Completely Misses The Point

The eloquent James Grant, the author of “Bagehot: The Life and Times of the Greatest Victorian,” and editor of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, has penned a review of Jonathan Levy’s “Ages of American Capitalism” in the WSJ.

Some highlights:

In Mr. Levy’s vast mural of a book, which he ambitiously subtitles “A History of the United States,” John Maynard Keynes cuts the commanding figure. A few lines from Keynes’s “General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” (1936), in fact, anticipate Mr. Levy’s central thesis. They read: “A somewhat comprehensive socialization of investment will prove the only means of securing an approximation of full employment.”

[…]

Mr. Levy writes to advance the proposition that American capitalism is turning from investment and production to speculation and chaos.

[…]

Mr. Levy is less successful at developing his thesis than he is at announcing it. His haziness on the nomenclature and history of finance is one problem, his want of authorial craft is another.

[…]

Mr. Levy doesn’t explicitly oppose the enterprise system — he acknowledges that it lifted the world from poverty — but he’s more inclined to disparage than admire the self-organizing dynamics of market-determined prices.

[…]

The conclusion to which Mr. Levy’s too numerous pages lead is that government is the indispensable cog in the American economy. It was World War II, a government enterprise if ever there was one, that ended the Great Depression, he contends, and it was the Federal Reserve that led us out of the Great Recession.

Conventionally, the author rushes past the depression of 1920-21, a bear of a downturn that was over and done with in 18 months despite punishingly high interest rates and balanced federal budgets. Why the slump ever ended should be a matter of intense curiosity for anyone who, like Mr. Levy, puts his stock in the Keynesian nostrums of big spending and concessionary borrowing costs. “Capitalism was not going to lift itself out of the slump,” the author writes of the Great Depression, yet our unstimulated capitalist forebears in 1921 somehow decided that prices and wages had fallen low enough to warrant new commitments of hope and capital. The 1920s subsequently roared.

For details on the depression of 1920-21, see Grant’s book The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself.

Contrary to Levy’s thesis, it’s actually government intervention in the market that makes depressions “great” and creates the economic chaos that Levy falsely blames on the marketplace. Levy’s call for the government to further take over the economy will only make things worse.

If you want insight into the history of American capitalism and economics you will have to turn elsewhere, as you won’t find it in Jonathan Levy’s “Ages of American Capitalism.”

Andrew Carnegie: Titan of Steel

The Hero Show recently celebrated the Titan of Steel, Andrew Carnegie, one of the greatest industrialists of history.

Issues covered include “Carnegie’s early years in Scotland,  Carnegie’s arrival in America and his childhood jobs, Carnegie’s productivity and great moral character, How Carnegie took advantage of opportunities in oil production and the railway industry, and How Carnegie dominated the steel industry.”

Must watch!

A Lesson for Biden From Germany on IP

“The German government stood behind the goal of a worldwide supply of COVID-19 vaccines, a government spokeswoman said, adding however that the main factors in vaccine production are capacity and quality standards, and not patents.

” ‘The protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and must remain so in the future,’ the spokeswoman said in a statement.”

It seems the German government understands Americanism more than the present “leadership” in America does.

Video: Elan Journo on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

  • World

What is at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What does justice demand of us in this conflict?

Middle East expert Elan Journo clarifies an intimidatingly complex issue—and upends conventional views about America’s stake in it.

Elan Journo explains the essential nature of the conflict, and what has fueled it for so long. What justice demands, he shows, is that we evaluate both adversaries—and America’s approach to the conflict—according to a universal moral ideal: individual liberty. From that secular moral framework, Journo analyzes the conflict, examines major Palestinian grievances and Israel’s character as a nation, and explains what’s at stake for everyone who values human life, freedom, and progress. Journo shows us why America should be strongly supportive of freedom and freedom-seekers—but, in this conflict and across the Middle East, it hasn’t been, much to our detriment.

Elan Journo is an author & speaker analyzing culture, politics, and foreign policy from an Objectivist perspective. Read an excerpt from Journo’s book WHAT JUSTICE DEMANDS.

Adam Mossoff: Biden’s Vaccine Patent Waiver and Intellectual Property

An excellent discussion on YBS with IP expert Adam Mossoff. You can visit Professor Mossoff’s website at adammossoff.com

***

From the WSJ:

We’ve already criticized President Biden’s bewildering decision Wednesday to endorse a patent waiver for Covid vaccines and therapies. But upon more reflection this may be the single worst presidential economic decision since Nixon’s wage-and-price controls.

In one fell swoop he has destroyed tens of billions of dollars in U.S. intellectual property, set a destructive precedent that will reduce pharmaceutical investment, and surrendered America’s advantage in biotech, a key growth industry of the future.

[…]

India and South Africa have been pushing to suspend patents at the World Trade Organization for months….their motivation is patently self-interested. Both are large producers of generic drugs, though they have less expertise and capacity to make complex biologics like mRNA vaccines. They want to force Western pharmaceutical companies to hand over IP free of charge so they can produce and export vaccines and therapies for profit.

[…]

AstraZeneca and Novavax have leaned heavily on manufacturers in India to produce billions of doses reserved for lower-income countries. But India has restricted vaccine exports to supply its own population. IP simply isn’t restraining vaccine production.

Busting patents also won’t speed up production, since it would take months for these countries to set up new facilities. Competition will increase for scarce ingredients, and less efficient manufacturers with little expertise would make it harder for licensed partners to produce vaccines.

[…]

Moderna has been working on mRNA vaccines for a decade. Covid represents its first success. Ditto for Novavax, which has been at it for three decades. Small biotech companies in the U.S. have been studying how to create vaccines using nasal sprays, pills and patches.

Thanks to Mr. Biden, all this could become the property of foreign governments.

 

Real State of Climate Livability — Alex Epstein and Patrick Moore

On Earth Day 2021 Alex Epstein (philosopher and energy expert) and Patrick Moore (ecologist and Greenpeace cofounder) discuss the real state of climate livability. Epstein begins by giving three principles for thinking about climate issues, then interviews Patrick Moore on the actual science of rising CO2 levels and what impacts we can expect.

Debate 1984 | Socialism or Capitalism: Which Is the Moral System?

From the Ayn Rand Institute:

In the legendary 1984 debate against socialists Jill Vickers and Gerald Caplan, the team of Leonard Peikoff and John Ridpath defended capitalism against their opponents’ criticisms and roundly refuted the socialists. ARI is delighted to showcase this illuminating debate on YouTube and to bring it to the attention of a new generation of viewers. The remastered video will be premiered this Friday and hosted on ARI’s YouTube channel by permission of the copyright holder, Sandra Shaw.

Andrew Gutmann’s Courageous Letter on How “Woke” “Anti-Racism” is Destroying the Minds of Children

From the NY Post:

A father fed up with an elite Manhattan prep school’s heavy-handed focus on race won’t re-enroll his daughter in the fall, accusing the school of trying to “brainwash” kids with woke philosophies rather than teaching them how to think on their own. In a scathing 1,700-word letter Andrew Gutmann mailed to 650 families — a screed since gone viral —  he blasted the posh, all-girls Brearley School’s “cowardly and appalling lack of leadership [for] appeasing an anti-intellectual, illiberal mob.” The April 13 missive  —  published this week on journalist  Bari Weiss’  blog —  became public the same day the headmaster of the famed Dalton School resigned over controversial “anti-racism”  curriculum and policies that had outraged many parents.

Here is the text of the letter by Mr. Guttman explaining why he pulled his daughter out of the all-girls private school in Manhattan that charges $54,000 per year:

April 13, 2021

Dear Fellow Brearley Parents,

Our family recently made the decision not to reenroll our daughter at Brearley for the 2021-22 school year. She has been at Brearley for seven years, beginning in kindergarten. In short, we no longer believe that Brearley’s administration and Board of Trustees have any of our children’s best interests at heart. Moreover, we no longer have confidence that our daughter will receive the quality of education necessary to further her development into a critically thinking, responsible, enlightened, and civic minded adult. I write to you, as a fellow parent, to share our reasons for leaving the Brearley community but also to urge you to act before the damage to the school, to its community, and to your own child’s education is irreparable.

It cannot be stated strongly enough that Brearley’s obsession with race must stop. It should be abundantly clear to any thinking parent that Brearley has completely lost its way. The administration and the Board of Trustees have displayed a cowardly and appalling lack of leadership by appeasing an anti-intellectual, illiberal mob, and then allowing the school to be captured by that same mob. What follows are my own personal views on Brearley’s antiracism initiatives, but these are just a handful of the criticisms that I know other parents have expressed.

I object to the view that I should be judged by the color of my skin. I cannot tolerate a school that not only judges my daughter by the color of her skin, but encourages and instructs her to prejudge others by theirs. By viewing every element of education, every aspect of history, and every facet of society through the lens of skin color and race, we are desecrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and utterly violating the movement for which such civil rights leaders believed, fought, and died.

I object to the charge of systemic racism in this country, and at our school. Systemic racism, properly understood, is segregated schools and separate lunch counters. It is the interning of Japanese and the exterminating of Jews. Systemic racism is unequivocally not a small number of isolated incidences over a period of decades. Ask any girl, of any race, if they have ever experienced insults from friends, have ever felt slighted by teachers or have ever suffered the occasional injustice from a school at which they have spent up to 13 years of their life, and you are bound to hear grievances, some petty, some not. We have not had systemic racism against Blacks in this country since the civil rights reforms of the 1960s, a period of more than 50 years. To state otherwise is a flat-out misrepresentation of our country’s history and adds no understanding to any of today’s societal issues. If anything, longstanding and widespread policies such as affirmative action, point in precisely the opposite direction.

I object to a definition of systemic racism, apparently supported by Brearley, that any educational, professional, or societal outcome where Blacks are underrepresented is prima facie evidence of the aforementioned systemic racism, or of white supremacy and oppression. Facile and unsupported beliefs such as these are the polar opposite to the intellectual and scientific truth for which Brearley claims to stand. Furthermore, I call bullshit on Brearley’s oft-stated assertion that the school welcomes and encourages the truly difficult and uncomfortable conversations regarding race and the roots of racial discrepancies.

I object to the idea that Blacks are unable to succeed in this country without aid from government or from whites. Brearley, by adopting critical race theory, is advocating the abhorrent viewpoint that Blacks should forever be regarded as helpless victims, and are incapable of success regardless of their skills, talents, or hard work. What Brearley is teaching our children is precisely the true and correct definition of racism.

I object to mandatory anti-racism training for parents, especially when presented by the rent-seeking charlatans of Pollyanna. These sessions, in both their content and delivery, are so sophomoric and simplistic, so unsophisticated and inane, that I would be embarrassed if they were taught to Brearley kindergarteners. They are an insult to parents and unbecoming of any educational institution, let alone one of Brearley’s caliber.

I object to Brearley’s vacuous, inappropriate, and fanatical use of words such as “equity,” “diversity” and “inclusiveness.” If Brearley’s administration was truly concerned about so-called “equity,” it would be discussing the cessation of admissions preferences for legacies, siblings, and those families with especially deep pockets. If the administration was genuinely serious about “diversity,” it would not insist on the indoctrination of its students, and their families, to a single mindset, most reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Instead, the school would foster an environment of intellectual openness and freedom of thought. And if Brearley really cared about “inclusiveness,” the school would return to the concepts encapsulated in the motto “One Brearley,” instead of teaching the extraordinarily divisive idea that there are only, and always, two groups in this country: victims and oppressors.

l object to Brearley’s advocacy for groups and movements such as Black Lives Matter, a Marxist, anti family, heterophobic, anti-Asian and anti-Semitic organization that neither speaks for the majority of the Black community in this country, nor in any way, shape or form, represents their best interests.

I object to, as we have been told time and time again over the past year, that the school’s first priority is the safety of our children. For goodness sake, Brearley is a school, not a hospital! The number one priority of a school has always been, and always will be, education. Brearley’s misguided priorities exemplify both the safety culture and “cover-your-ass” culture that together have proved so toxic to our society and have so damaged the mental health and resiliency of two generations of children, and counting.

I object to the gutting of the history, civics, and classical literature curriculums. I object to the censorship of books that have been taught for generations because they contain dated language potentially offensive to the thin-skinned and hypersensitive (something that has already happened in my daughter’s 4th grade class). I object to the lowering of standards for the admission of students and for the hiring of teachers. I object to the erosion of rigor in classwork and the escalation of grade inflation. Any parent with eyes open can foresee these inevitabilities should antiracism initiatives be allowed to persist.

We have today in our country, from both political parties, and at all levels of government, the most unwise and unvirtuous leaders in our nation’s history. Schools like Brearley are supposed to be the training grounds for those leaders. Our nation will not survive a generation of leadership even more poorly educated than we have now, nor will we survive a generation of students taught to hate its own country and despise its history.

Lastly, I object, with as strong a sentiment as possible, that Brearley has begun to teach what to think, instead of how to think. I object that the school is now fostering an environment where our daughters, and our daughters’ teachers, are afraid to speak their minds in class for fear of “consequences.” I object that Brearley is trying to usurp the role of parents in teaching morality, and bullying parents to adopt that false morality at home. I object that Brearley is fostering a divisive community where families of different races, which until recently were part of the same community, are now segregated into two. These are the reasons why we can no longer send our daughter to Brearley.

Over the past several months, I have personally spoken to many Brearley parents as well as parents of children at peer institutions. It is abundantly clear that the majority of parents believe that Brearley’s antiracism policies are misguided, divisive, counterproductive and cancerous. Many believe, as I do, that these policies will ultimately destroy what was until recently, a wonderful educational institution. But as I am sure will come as no surprise to you, given the insidious cancel culture that has of late permeated our society, most parents are too fearful to speak up.

But speak up you must. There is strength in numbers and I assure you, the numbers are there. Contact the administration and the Board of Trustees and demand an end to the destructive and anti-intellectual claptrap known as antiracism. And if changes are not forthcoming then demand new leadership. For the sake of our community, our city, our country and most of all, our children, silence is no longer an option.

Respectfully,

Andrew Gutmann

In the NY Post letters section Leonard Peikoff made these comments:

As a PhD who has taught at four New York City colleges, I want to express my profound admiration for Gutmann’s letter, which tells the world with passion, logic and ringing clarity what is wrong with the school — and, in my opinion, with the whole country today. Thank you, Mr. Gutmann, for your courageous achievement.

Leonard Peikoff
Laguna Woods, Calif.

Related:

Bayer and Ghate: Why Sam Harris Is Wrong about the Existence of Free Will

Philosophers Ben Bayer Ph.D. and Onkar Ghate Ph.D. discuss Sam Harris’s argument against the existence of free will.

The dynamic duo discusses: “Harris’s Humean argument equating causality with causation by prior events; Why free will doesn’t mean self-creation out of nothing; Harris’s argument for why we have no introspective experience of free will; How Harris’s thought experiment involves superficial attention to our experience of freedom; Why Harris can’t explain why his argument isn’t self-refuting; Rand’s view of why man is a being of self-made soul; Whether individuals with certain psychiatric conditions have volition; The issue of soft determinism (compatibilism).”

A fantastic discussion on an important topic.

Analysis of Supreme Court’s Ruling on Google’s Copying of Oracle’s Computer Code

“A battle of Big Tech giants came to an end this week when the Supreme Court decided Google v. Oracle, the biggest copyright case in decades. The decision in favor of Google, which copied over 11,000 lines of Oracle’s computer code when building its Android operating system, will set the standard for copyright protection of code in the Digital Age. Our panel of intellectual property (IP) experts discuss and critique the Court’s decision and Justice Thomas’s dissent, as well as the decision’s likely impact on IP law, innovation, and the software industry.”

A panel consisting of Adam Mossoff, Professor of Law at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University; Zvi Rosen, Assistant Professor at the Southern Illinois University School of Law, and Steven Tepp, President & CEO of Sentinel Worldwide, moderated by Curt Levey (moderator) of the President of the Committee for Justice analyzes the meaning of this ruling.