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Dollars & Crosses

Don’t Regulate Toy Safety

As toy companies recall numerous toys based on safety concerns about lead paint, many are using the events to call for a dramatic increase in regulation. “To guarantee the safety of the nation’s children,” says the New York Times, “American toy makers must be truly regulated by a well-financed, powerful government agency.” Toy makers themselves have expressed similar sentiments; the Toy Industry Association, according to the Times, “called on the government to require mandatory safety testing with uniform standards.”

Alex Epstein, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute, blasted the proposals. “To establish a new toy agency is exactly the wrong response to concerns about lead paint. Establishing testing procedures and safety standards is the right and responsibility of toy manufacturers, parents, and any private safety organizations they choose to employ. Such organizations exist in many other fields, from bicycle helmets to rock climbing gear, and have exemplary records. And no wonder; they live and die based on their reputation.

“By contrast, if the government gets to dictate what companies must do to make their toys safe, the judgment of toy companies about toy safety will be superseded by the whims of bureaucrats. Already, protectionists are using the occasion to try to restrict imports from countries like China as uniformly ‘dangerous.’ And this is in response to a ‘crisis’ that has not injured one single child!

“The government’s only role in toy safety should be to prosecute those who, through malice or negligence, sell toys that provably harm children in the course of normal use. Such a role is consistent with the government’s proper function of protecting individuals against force and fraud; being a toy safety czar is not.

“The toy recall should remind American parents to take greater responsibility for the safety of their children, and should remind toy companies to improve their testing procedures. It should not be used to justify taking away the rights and responsibility of both.”

HillaryCare 2.0: More of the Poison that Is Killing Our Healthcare System

IRVINE, CA–Hillary Clinton has announced her new “universal healthcare” plan, which she claims will solve the problem of high insurance premiums. “You’ll never again have to worry about finding affordable coverage,” says Mrs. Clinton. “Your coverage will be guaranteed–if you pay your premiums and follow the rules, your insurance company will be required to renew at a price you can afford.”

Alex Epstein, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute, denounced the proposal. “Like all other ‘universal healthcare’–that is, socialized medicine–schemes, Mrs. Clinton’s is guaranteed to lead to disaster if implemented, because it ignores the basic requirement of medical progress and falling prices: freedom for doctors, patients, and insurance companies.

“Health care is a mess because it is one of America’s most controlled and socialized industries–beginning with the fact that we are all forced to pay for one another’s health care through Medicare and the government-induced third-party-payer system. In the name of the individual’s ‘right’ to health care and the government’s ‘responsibility’ to provide it, the government has reached its tentacles into every facet of medicine, from how many doctors are allowed to be licensed to which medical professionals may perform what procedures, to what procedures insurance companies must provide on their plans.

“Mrs. Clinton and other advocates of socialized medicine all seek to ‘solve’ this problem by adding more government coercion to the system. For example, her ‘guarantee’ that ‘your insurance company will be required to renew at a price you can afford’ is a veiled call for price-controls–and a prescription for insurance companies to be exposed to a bankrupting combination of huge liabilities with comparatively low premiums.

“If anyone is interested in fixing American health care, there is only one solution: remove coercion from the system. If medicine were left free, with individuals responsible for paying for their own care and insurance, and America’s businessmen, doctors, and educators liberated to offer it at all different price points, we would see quality and price improvements like those for flat-panel television sets. Indeed, we already see this in the few realms of medicine that are left free; laser eye surgery, for example, has improved dramatically over the years while prices have fallen. We could see such developments with medical care as a whole–as soon as we agree to take responsibility for our own health, and get the government out of it.”

What Not to Do about Subprime Failures

IRVINE, CA–As high default rates on subprime loans continue, various state and federal officials are eager to “do something” to counter the failures–especially to give aid to the homeowners who bought mortgages they couldn’t afford.

“This is exactly the wrong approach,” said Alex Epstein, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute. “The current subprime problems are the result of borrower and lender irrationality, and of government intervention in the market to ‘help homeowners.’ Government housing assistance programs, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, encourage people to buy homes even when they cannot truly afford them. And the government’s longtime manipulation of interest rates to keep them artificially low led many to expect that their adjustable rate mortgages would stay low forever–only to see their fortunes at the mercy of government rate hikes or rate cuts.

“This does not absolve lenders or borrowers of responsibility for taking on risky loans, and it certainly does not justify any sort of bailout. The individual who buys an expensive home counting on interest rates to stay low forever is responsible for the consequences of his risky decision. For the government to ‘do something’–anything–to alleviate a mortgage failure necessarily rewards those who took on large housing risk at the expense of those who didn’t. And it invites future irrationality by telling people that they do not need to think about their financial decisions, because the government will always be there to save the day.

“The only moral and rational response by the government, besides prosecuting genuine cases of fraud, is to stop encouraging people to make bad decisions–but then leave them to face the consequences when they do.”

The Deadly FDA

Irvine, CA–The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently ruled that terminally ill patients do not have a right to take medicines that have not been approved by the FDA.
“Barring individuals from choosing what medicines to take is immoral and destructive,” said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.
“The decision about what drugs to put in one’s body rightfully belongs to each individual, not to FDA bureaucrats. To deny individuals this right is to impose a death sentence on those who, in the face of certain death, would rationally choose to accept the risks of an experimental treatment, but are barred from doing so until the urgently needed drug completes the FDA’s onerous, years-long approval process. Indeed, this case was initiated by a group founded by the father of a girl who died after she was denied access to an experimental anti-cancer drug the FDA later approved.
“Individuals, in consultation with their doctors, should be free to assess the evidence of a drug’s effectiveness and safety, taking into account their own personal context (such as their unique risk factors, or the fact that they are certain to die without the treatment). Some people may take ineffective or harmful drugs, but FDA approval does not eliminate such risks. The individual always assumes some level of risk when deciding on a course of treatment, and it is capricious–and too often deadly–for the FDA to usurp the individual’s right to decide which risks it is in his interest to accept.
“Some claim that, freed from the necessity of gaining FDA approval for new medicines, ‘greedy’ drug companies will sell ineffective and dangerous drugs. But a company that sells such drugs is only ensuring its own financial destruction. And if a company knowingly misleads the public about a drug’s safety or reliability, or is negligent in putting a dangerous drug on the market, it should properly be prosecuted. The solution is not to give FDA bureaucrats the power to condemn sick people to certain death.
“Some claim that allowing individuals to take unapproved drugs will make effective clinical testing impossible, since, as they say, no rational person would willingly submit to the double-blind, randomized tests that are currently used in clinical trials required by the FDA. In such tests, some of the participants are unknowingly given a placebo, which, it’s said, no one would chance if he could ensure that he received the drug by paying for it. But, contrary to those who make this argument, individuals are not lab rats who may be blackmailed by the government into becoming test subjects. It is chilling that defenders of the FDA’s current trial system are, in effect, advocating as an incentive to take part in such trials: ‘join or die.’
“Moreover, such twisted ultimatums are not necessary in order to make effective drug research possible. Were individuals free to take untested medicines, new incentives to take part in clinical trials would surely arise, such as, for instance, an offer of free treatment to those who choose to take part–an inestimable value to people unable to afford the drugs.
“Anyone who values human life, and the freedom of judgment required to maintain it, should oppose this disgraceful ruling–and demand an end to the unnecessary deaths caused by FDA drug regulations.”

Pharmaceutical Price Controls: A Prescription for Disaster

Irvine, CA–The prices of many U.S.-made prescription drugs are lower in places such as Canada, Australia, and Europe than in the United States. In order to allow Americans to take advantage of these lower prices, the House recently passed a bill that would permit the re-importation of these cheaper drugs to the U.S.

But according to Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, “The supporters of this measure fail to ask one crucial question: why do prescription drugs cost so much less in other countries?

“The answer is that, unlike the U.S., countries such as Canada impose price controls on prescription drugs, forcing drug companies that want to do business there to sell their products for less than they would in a free market. Drug re-importation schemes, like the one passed by the House, are in effect ‘back-door’ price controls. They enable Americans to buy the foreign price-controlled drugs at a lower price than their U.S. counterparts–just as if the U.S. government itself had capped prescription drug prices.

“But price controls violate the rights of drug makers. Neither the Canadian government nor the American government has a right to tell drug makers what prices they may charge for their products.

“Proponents of prescription drug price controls claim they are necessary in order to protect consumers from ‘excessive’ drug prices. But if a consumer determines that a drug price is ‘excessive,’ he already can protect himself–by refusing to buy the drug. He has no right to buy the drug for less than the drug company is willing to sell it, anymore than he has a right to buy a car for less than a car dealer is willing to charge.

“Indeed, the ultimate result of forcing drug makers to offer their products for less is to ensure that fewer such products are available. As with any commodity, price controls lead inevitably to shortages, as it becomes unprofitable for companies to produce enough drugs to meet the rising demand created by the artificially low price. And such controls hamper the creation of new life-saving medicines, as drug companies find it less profitable to invest the millions upon millions of dollars necessary to discover new drugs and bring them to the market.

“The sole reason Canada has been able to institute its price controls without severely hampering the discovery and production of prescription drugs is because it is ‘free riding’ on the backs of Americans. It is only because the American market is free from price controls that drug companies are able to recoup their enormous R&D costs, and thus find it profitable to sell additional units of the drugs at a lower cost in other, price-controlled countries. Should America impose price controls either directly or by proxy, the house of cards will collapse.

“We should protect the rights of pharmaceutical companies–and the welfare of consumers–and demand an end to price controls, direct and indirect.”

The Saudi Arms Deal and Our Addiction to American Sacrifice

Irvine, CA–The Bush administration is asking Congress to approve a $20 billion arms sales package to Saudi Arabia, with the justification that a better-armed Saudi Arabia may serve as a “counterbalance” to the threat posed to us by Iran.

“This is absurd,” said Alex Epstein, a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. “The administration has been telling us that we must forgo oil for more costly fuels because our ‘addiction to oil’ helps finance hostile Middle East regimes–among them Saudi Arabia, which has spent almost $100 billion spreading the terrorists’ ideology of Islamic Totalitarianism. And yet at the same time that our leaders demand that we sacrifice oil-consumption for the sake of protection from the Saudis, they are arming the Saudis to the teeth.

“What explains this blatant contradiction? While one might attribute it to simple hypocrisy, the Bush Administration is in fact being consistent. In response to both the Saudi threat and the Iranian threat, our response is not self-assertion, but self-sacrifice. When Saudi Arabia spreads a terrorist ideology around the world, we do not punish that regime, we punish ourselves by rejecting the lifeblood of our civilization. And when Iran unleashes even more terrorist aggression, we do not destroy that regime, we imperil ourselves by arming our Saudi enemies and hoping it will somehow protect us. Indeed, the same pattern has been at work in the Iraq fiasco; to the extent the Hussein regime was a threat to us, we did not simply use our military to end it, but instead set out to sacrifice American money and lives to bring the good life to the hostile tribal Iraqis.

“The pattern here follows a definite principle; America has no right to use its unmatched military might for its own sake—it is duty-bound to sacrifice its soldiers, money, and self-defense.
“America, the most moral and most powerful nation on earth, has both the right and the ability to end state sponsorship of terrorism. But we will not be able to do so until we abandon our addiction, not to oil, but to the morality of self-sacrifice.”

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Don’t Revive the Fairness Doctrine

Irvine, CA–Senator John Kerry joined other Democratic lawmakers in calling for the return of the Fairness Doctrine, which demands that television and radio broadcasters give a balanced presentation of all sides of controversial issues.

“The Fairness Doctrine is a violation of broadcasters’ right to free speech,” said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. “Broadcasters should not be forced to promote ideas they may disagree with.

“Defenders of the Fairness Doctrine claim that, left unrestrained, broadcast corporations will stop some views from being heard. But no private individual or organization can keep people from voicing dissenting views–it is only the government that has the power to suppress speech. By granting a cabal of government bureaucrats the power to arbitrarily dictate what ideas should and should not be heard on the air, the Fairness Doctrine represents the real threat to free speech.

“Those who think their views are not being heard have every opportunity to promote them–on television, on radio, in print, online–but they must earn their audience, not demand that it be provided to them ready-made. As Ayn Rand put it, ‘The right of free speech means that a man has the right to express his ideas without danger of suppression, interference or punitive action by the government. It does not mean that others must provide him with a lecture hall, a radio station or a printing press through which to express his ideas.’

“Those who value the First Amendment must oppose the Fairness Doctrine as a grave threat to freedom of speech.”

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Is Ethical

Irvine, CA–President Bush vetoed a measure promoting embryonic stem cell research Wednesday, claiming that “Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical.” Bush went on to trumpet new research which suggests that scientists will one day be able to create pluripotent stem cells (i.e., cells that can develop into multiple cell types) from non-embryonic skin cells, supposedly making the “unethical” destruction of embryonic cells unnecessary.

“There is nothing unethical about destroying embryos in the course of scientific research,” said Dr. Keith Lockitch, resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. “An embryo is a potential, not an actual, human being, just as canvas is a potential, not an actual, work of art. It is a primitive cluster of cells, which is no more unethical to destroy than the cells that make up one’s appendix.

“Calling an embryo ‘human life’ is an evasion of the distinction between a mass of undifferentiated cells in a test tube and an actual, living human being. Only the mystical doctrines of religion, which hold that a human being is, not a biological entity with certain natural properties–i.e., an independent organism possessing a rational faculty–but a transcendent soul temporarily trapped in a body, could cloud that distinction.

“Stem cell research has the potential to improve the lives of millions by revolutionizing treatments for a number of afflictions, from Parkinson’s disease to spinal cord injuries to cancer. Scientists should pursue every possible avenue in an effort to realize this promising technology. If one day they successfully create pluripotent cells from non-embryonic cells, we should cheer that as an additional avenue for research–not clamor for them to stop investigating the properties of embryonic cells. To do so would only hamstring scientists and prolong the suffering of actual human beings.

“We should praise embryonic stem cell research for the life-enhancing breakthroughs it promises–and condemn the immoral attempt to return us to the Dark Ages, before science was liberated from the chains of religious dogmatism.”

The G-8 vs. the Immoral Bandwagon for African Aid

Irvine, CA–Two years ago the G-8 pledged $50 billion more in aid for Africa, but that promise, aid advocates charge, has been broken. They claim that several countries failed to ramp up aid, that last year donations from some countries actually declined–and that the world’s richest countries must give far more.

Nations accused of giving too little say that they wrote-off millions in African debts, which they say should be counted as aid. And, perhaps to preempt criticism, President Bush last week announced plans to spend $30 billion to fight AIDS in Africa–doubling America’s current commitment.

“But instead of disputing how aid is measured or guiltily promising billions more, the G-8 should repudiate the alleged moral duty to selflessly serve the world’s poor,” said Elan Journo, junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.

“We have no moral duty to sacrifice for the poor. Those who earn their prosperity by production and trade have a moral right to every penny of their riches. The notion that the richest nations must serve the ‘needy’ is based on the vicious moral code of altruism.

“Altruism holds that one’s highest moral duty is to selflessly serve others–and thus that the world’s ‘haves’ must sacrifice for the sake of its ‘have-nots.’ The productive, on this abhorrent view, have no moral right to pursue their own interests and keep their wealth; their only justification for existing is to serve the needy. Thus the world’s richest nations must atone for their prosperity by sacrificing for the sake of those who lack, or don’t care to earn, values.

“Africa is poor because it is rife with bloody tribalism and superstition–ideas that in the Dark Ages kept the Western world as poor, if not poorer, than today’s Africa. If aid advocates were genuinely concerned with helping Africans, they would campaign for political and economic freedom, for individualism, reason and capitalism, for the ideas necessary to achieve prosperity.

“Instead, advocates barrage wealthy nations with reproaches and accusations of stinginess. Such abuse is necessary to induce the unearned guilt which impels Western leaders to do penance by sacrificing billions more in aid. While posturing as humanitarians, aid advocates are unmoved by the financial burdens imposed on productive individuals in donor countries who are bled dry to pay for foreign aid.

“It is past time that we repudiated the perverse bandwagon for aid to Africa. We should reject the corrupt moral principle that demands self-sacrifice–and proudly assert our unconditional right to our lives and to our wealth.”

Compulsory National Service Is Anti-American

There has been a resurgence in calls for compulsory universal national service, most recently by former defense secretary Melvin R. Laird, who declared, “Young Americans . . . need to serve their country.”

But according to Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, “Compulsory national service is anti-American.

“According to the advocates of compulsory service, young people take America’s freedom for granted, being more concerned with selfishly pursuing an education and a fulfilling career than serving their country. To remedy that, they propose forcing young people to spend a few years working in the Peace Corps, nursing homes, or soup kitchens. This, supposedly, will make them appreciate freedom. But if the government can order a young person to stop pursuing the career he passionately loves in order to plant trees or clean bed pans, there is no freedom left for him to appreciate.

“America’s distinctive virtue is that it was the first nation to declare that each individual is an end in himself, that he possesses an inalienable right to pursue his own happiness, and that the government’s only function is to safeguard his freedom. Compulsory national service turns young people into temporary slaves in order to inculcate in their minds the opposite premise: that they have a duty to selflessly serve society. To justify such a policy on the grounds of promoting appreciation for freedom is perverse. To call it patriotic is obscene.

“Compulsory national service is a threat to freedom. It should be condemned for the anti-American policy that it is.”

U.S. Should Shut Down Al Hurra TV

Irvine, CA–The U.S.-financed TV channel Al Hurra, broadcasting in Arabic to the Middle East, has come under fire for failing to win popular support for America in the Arab world–a goal Washington calls “public diplomacy.” Critics attack the channel for providing “friendly coverage” to Islamist groups, such as Hezbollah, Hamas and al-Qaeda.

According to Republican and Democratic critics, better oversight is needed to ensure that in the future the channel will not, as it did recently, broadcast a 30-minute speech by Hezbollah’s leader or devote coverage to Iran’s Holocaust-denial conference. But the very premise of this TV channel is preposterous and immoral, said Elan Journo, junior fellow at the Ayn Rand institute. “America’s self-interest demands not that we fix Al Hurra; but that we scrap it–along with all ‘public diplomacy’ initiatives.

“The goal of this channel, and of the State Department’s other ‘public diplomacy,’ is to appease the hostility of the Arab world and thereby supposedly discourage Muslims from ‘radicalizing.’ To that end, Washington funds Islamic radio and TV shows, cultural workshops, the restoration of mosques, the building of Islamic schools. But this is perverse. Our goal should be to defend American lives and uphold our own values, not to apologize and pander to hostile peoples.

“Contrary to the administration’s evasions, the enemy is an ideological-political movement–Islamic totalitarianism–that is widely endorsed and supported in the Arab-Islamic world. The only rational means of eliminating the threat from Islamic totalitarianism is to defeat its state representatives–Iran and Saudi Arabia–by military force–and thus demoralize its many supporters.

“Doing that will demonstrate to hostile peoples in the Arab-Islamic world that the cause of jihad is lost–and that fighting for this cause can bring them only destruction. Only demoralized people will reject the ideals and leaders that inspired their belligerence and promised victory; only humiliating defeat will drive them to renounce the fight as hopeless.

“America’s fawning ‘public diplomacy’ in the Middle East is self-destructive, because it can only strengthen the appeal of Islamic totalitarianism by lending plausibility to the charge that the United States is cowardly and morally bankrupt. It is high time Washington declared that America stands for–and will defend to the death–the ideals of individualism, reason and freedom. Our lives depend on bringing our enemies defeat, not an Arabic version of ‘Sesame Street.'”

The Unjust Imprisonment of Dr. Jack Kevorkian

Irvine, CA–Assisted-suicide practitioner and advocate Jack Kevorkian will be paroled on June 1 after eight years of imprisonment for assisting in the suicide of a terminal patient suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“Dr. Kevorkian’s imprisonment was a great injustice,” said Thomas Bowden, a practicing attorney and a writer for the Ayn Rand Institute. “He would never have been convicted of murder if Michigan law had allowed a defense based on irrefutable, objective evidence of consent. Dr. Kevorkian should be honored for his courageous stand in defense of the right of individuals suffering from devastating terminal diseases to end their lives with the assistance of a trusted doctor.”

Before his conviction, Kevorkian claimed to have assisted in the suicide of 130 patients. Now he has vowed to work for the legalization of assisted suicide across the country while not practicing it himself.

“Hopefully,” said Thomas Bowden, “Dr. Kevorkian will be successful nationwide in promoting the right to commit suicide with voluntary physician assistance. Currently, only Oregon has set forth clear procedures by which doctors can insulate themselves from criminal prosecution while easing their dying patients’ pain and suffering.”

“What lawmakers and judges must grasp,” added Bowden, “is that there is no rational basis upon which the government can properly prevent an individual from choosing to end his own life. Our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness means that we need no one’s permission to live, and that no one may forcibly obstruct our efforts to achieve personal happiness. But if happiness becomes impossible to attain, due to a dread disease or some other calamity, a person must be able to exercise the right to end his own life.”

“To hold otherwise–to declare that society must give us permission to commit suicide–is to contradict the right to life at its root,” said Bowden. “If we have a duty to go on living, despite our better judgment, then our lives do not belong to us, and we exist by permission, not by right.

“For these reasons, each individual has the right to decide the hour of his death and to implement that solemn decision as best he can. The choice is his because the life is his. And if a doctor is willing–not forced–to assist in the suicide, based on an objective assessment of his patient’s mental and physical state, the law should not stand in his way.”

Study of Troops’ Mental Health, Ethics Indicts Bush’s Selfless War

IRVINE, CA–A recently disclosed Pentagon study on the impact of the Iraq war on U.S. combat troops suggests that many are stressed and hold views at odds with official ethics standards. Critics view this as evidence that more must be done to ensure troops comply with those standards. But in fact the study provides evidence for a searing indictment of Washington‘s immoral battlefield policies–policies that entail the sacrifice of American troops for the sake of the enemy.  

The study reports, for example, that less than half of the soldiers and Marines surveyed would report a team member for unethical behavior. It also finds that “soldiers that have high levels of anger, experienced high levels of combat or screened positive for a mental health problem were nearly twice as likely to mistreat non-combatants” as those feeling less anger and screening negative for a mental health problem.  

Although many military personnel may support the Iraq war, and although war is inherently distressing, Washington‘s immoral policies necessitate putting our troops in an impossible situation. The reported attitudes of combat troops in Iraq can be understood as the natural reaction of individuals thrust into that situation. 

U.S. troops were sent, not to defend America against whatever threat Hussein’s hostile regime posed to us, as a first step toward defeating our enemies in the region; but instead the troops were sent (as Bush explained) to “sacrifice for the liberty of strangers,” putting the lives of Iraqis above their own. Bush sent our troops to lift Iraq out of poverty, open new schools, fix up hospitals, feed the hungry, unclog sewers–a Peace Corps, not an army corps, mission. Consistent with that immoral goal, Washington enforced self-sacrificial rules of engagement that prevent our brave and capable forces from using all necessary force to win, or even to protect themselves: they are ordered not to bomb key targets such as power plants, and to avoid firing into mosques (where insurgents hide) lest we offend Muslim sensibilities.  

According to the report: “More than one-third of all Soldiers and Marines continue to report being in threatening situations where they were unable to respond due to the Rules of Engagement (ROE). In interviews, Soldiers reported that Iraqis would throw gasoline-filled bottles (i.e., Molotov cocktails) at their vehicles, yet they were prohibited from responding with force for nearly a month until the ROE were changed. Soldiers also reported they are still not allowed to respond with force when Iraqis drop large chunks of concrete blocks from second story buildings or overpasses on them when they drive by. Every group of Soldiers and Marines interviewed reported that they felt the existing ROE tied their hands, preventing them from doing what needed to be done to win the war.”  

When being ethical on Washington‘s terms means martyring oneself and one’s comrades, it is understandable that troops are disinclined to report “unethical” behavior. When they are in effect commanded to lay down their lives for hostile Iraqis, it is understandable that troops should feel anger and anxiety. Anger is a response to perceived injustice–and it is perversely unjust for the world’s most powerful military to send its personnel into combat, prevent them from doing their job–and expect them to die for the sake of the enemy. Our troops are put in the line of fire as sacrificial offerings–and it would be natural for an individual thrust into that position to rebel with indignation at such a fate.  

The study not only indicts the self-crippling rules of engagement that liberals and conservatives endorse; it brings to light the perversity of the moral code of self-sacrifice on which those rules of engagement are based.

Peikoff Radio Interview

Dr. Peikoff will be interviewed on Austin, Texas, radio station KVRX, 91.7 FM, on Monday, April 30, at 8:00 PM central time. KVRX is a student radio station at the University of Texas. Dr. Peikoff will be on “The Kumar Abhinov Show.” Live audiostreaming can be accessed at

Government Should Not Force Companies to Hold Shareholder Votes on CEO Pay

The U.S. House approved a bill today that would force companies to hold yearly shareholder non-binding votes on the pay of their CEOs and top executives.

“While this bill is being portrayed as protecting the rights of shareholders,” said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, “it is in fact a violation of those rights.”

“If a majority of shareholders wishes to hold an annual vote to voice approval or disapproval of their board’s executive compensation decisions, they have long been free to implement such a policy. But most companies and shareholders have judged that such votes are not in their interest, and it is not hard to imagine why–they do not want to give anti-CEO pundits and politicians yet more fuel to grandstand about ‘excessive’ CEO pay.

“To force shareholders and companies to adopt such policies against their judgment is not to protect shareholder rights, but to violate them wholesale.”

California to Energy Producers: Not in Our State

After an intense four-year struggle, Australian energy company BHP Billiton’s attempt to build a Liquefied Natural Gas facility off the coast of California has been effectively killed by the state’s Lands Commission, which voted 2-1 that its “Environmental Impact Report” was unsatisfactory.

“When we in California experience our next energy crisis–or the next time we complain about our exorbitant gas and electric bills–we should remember the fate of BHP Billiton,” said Alex Epstein, a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. “That company wanted to build a plant that could satisfy up to 15 percent of Californians’ energy needs–a plant that did everything possible to maximize safety and minimize pollution. And what did it get in return? Nearly half a decade of obstruction from California’s endless constellation of environmental bureaucracies–and seething opposition from environmental groups that oppose every single practical form of energy production, from coal to oil to gas to nuclear power. The message California sends to any would-be producers of plentiful energy is obvious: Not in Our State.

“California and many other states are riddled with laws based on environmentalist hostility toward industrial energy. These laws must be replaced with a respect for property rights and an appreciation for the incomparable value that is industrial energy. Fossil fuels and nuclear power are the lifeblood of our civilization; without them, the average American’s food, clothing, shelter, and medical care would be impossible. And, contrary to claims that we must abandon fossil fuels to protect against alleged weather disasters caused by global warming, fossil fuels are vitally necessary to build the buildings and power the technologies that protect us from dangerous weather.

“The anti-industrial mentality of environmentalists must be rejected, in word and in law, by everyone who truly cares about human life.”