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Americans for Free Choice in Medicine Names Ralston Executive Director

Newport Beach, California–As the health care reform debate gains renewed focus in Washington, Americans for Free Choice in Medicine (AFCM), a non-profit patient education organization, has designated a new executive director. AFCM, founded in 1993, is America’s only grass-roots educational organization based on individual rights, personal responsibility and free market ideas in medicine.


AFCM has named Richard E. Ralston its executive director. Ralston, who served on active duty in the United States Army for 7 years, has a comprehensive background in media. Mr. Ralston, a supporter since AFCM was founded in 1994, was editor of books published in 1991, Communism: Its Rise and Fall in the 20th Century, and in 1999, Why Businessmen Need Philosophy.


“Every day physicians and their patients continue to be confronted with constraints on their ability to make free decisions about medicine,” Ralston said. “I think the time has come to take a stand against the heavy hand of government in the medical profession.”


“We must give voice to the rights of the individual patient and of each physician to make his or her own decisions regarding their health or medical practice,” he said.

Saddamasochism

In Canada’s National Post, “The UN’s foray into Saddamasochism,” a very amusing article making fun the U.N. weapons inspector who was “outted” for his sadomasochistic diversions:

Indeed, in their kinky UNphilia and Kofi Annanism, the West’s liberal elites have come up with the weirdest masochistic fetish of all, demanding that the role of global dominatrix be given to an organization that can’t wait to prostrate itself. On Saturday, Mr. Blix’s team admitted that the Iraqis had in fact been given advance warning of what are supposed to be “surprise” site inspections. One should never underestimate the UN’s capacity to abase and degrade itself before the strongman’s even had a chance to get his bullwhip out.

Venezuela Shrugs

You heard it here first.

This year in Venezuela, the currency has collapsed, the economy has contracted, while inflation and unemployment has soared. Our global economics and financial markets contributor Andrew West predicted all of this over two years ago in Capitalism Magazine. The good news is that in Venezuela, the most productive people have gone on strike, refusing to exist as Hugo Chavez’ revolutionary slaves. According to the BBC,



Oil production in Venezuela – the world’s fifth largest oil exporter – is nearing a standstill, as the national strike against President Hugo Chavez enters its second week. Many petrol stations are running out of fuel, and exports are being severely hit, hiking up prices on the international oil market.


Opposition leaders vowed on Sunday to continue their strike against Mr Chavez indefinitely. Many schools and businesses in Caracas and other major cities remain closed, and domestic airline pilots and aluminium workers are the latest to join the stoppage…


… During his weekly Alo Presidente television programme, Mr Chavez launched into a lengthy diatribe in which he dubbed the opposition “coup-mongers”. “They won’t rob Venezuela of its happiness,” he shouted, grabbing a plastic model of the baby Jesus from a crib on his desk and kissing it.

Comments Andrew West, “[Chavez’s diatribe and grabbing of a the baby Jesus is] as good a comic scene as any in Atlas Shrugged. Even Mr. Thompson wouldn’t stoop that low.”

Rich People Should Sacrifice More

Here’s a good one: The Washington Post ran a letter criticizing Catherine Reynolds’ recent $100 million donation to the Kennedy Center by Mark Weadon.



“The Dec. 7 front-page story…said that Ms. Reynolds made her fortune “in the student loan business.” Am I alone in finding this disturbing? At a time when college students and their parents and universities are struggling to make ends meet, how is it possible for one person to amass this kind of wealth from the sale of education loans?


Something is deeply flawed when so much money can be siphoned out of a system in which both students and colleges operate on razor-thin margins. Perhaps students, universities and the nation would have been better served if even a portion of Ms. Reynolds’s vast income had gone toward lowering student loan interest rates.”


Heck, why not eliminate all interest, because after all, wouldn’t the nation be better served if no one had to pay to borrow money? Never mind that Ms. Reynolds’ wealth came from loaning people money to get an education that supposedly would allow them to be self-sufficient. Never mind that Ms. Reynolds pays a large percentage of her wealth in taxes. And never mind that Ms. Reynolds is now using her wealth to support the arts. Apparently, the only people who should make money in life are whiners like Mr. Weadon. People like Ms. Reynolds should just work for free putting people like him through school. After all, rich people should sacrifice more.

Altruism as Appeasement

“The truly and deliberately evil men are a very small minority; it is the appeaser who unleashes them on mankind; it is the appeaser’s intellectual abdication that invites them to take over. When a culture’s dominant trend is geared toward irrationality, the thugs win over the appeasers. When intellectual leaders fail to foster the best in the mixed, unformed, vacillating character of people at large, the thugs are sure to bring out the worst. When the ablest men turn into cowards, the average men turn into brutes.”


Ayn Rand, in “Altruism and Appeasement,” published in The Objectivist newsletter, January 1966.

UAL Loan Denial

The denial of federal loan guarantees to UAL deals a serious blow to the corporatist notion that the taxpayers should be on the hook for the management blunders of privately owned companies. Bravo! And as Bruce Bartlett writes, the airline’s troubles also offer a reality check on the fuzzy-headed notion that employee ownership represents a ideal form for capital/labor cooperation in a capitalist economic structure:



The benefits to each individual worker are too small to fundamentally change their attitudes. On the contrary, they often use their ownership to block productivity-enhancing changes. The result is that management is even more hamstrung than it was before, leading to losses and bankruptcies.


To signficant extent, UAL’s problems are rooted in the denial of economic reality engendered by majority employee ownership.

The Romanow Report

The Romanow commission was a shameful waste of time and money. Mr. Romanow wants us to believe that socialist medicine is good while private, for-profit medicine is bad. But the exact opposite is true.


We have reams of evidence that capitalism generates better products and services at lower costs. Consider the computer industry where we keep getting vastly better computers at lower prices; or consider the telephone industry where long-distance rates plummeted after privatization. Free market competition works because it rewards people for being innovative, productive and responsible.


Likewise, we have we have reams of evidence that socialism leads to rising costs, longer lineups and poorer quality. Consider all the poor and miserable socialist countries of the last century. Even Sweden embraced some privatized medicine. Socialism always fails because it punishes those who are creative, productive and responsible in order to reward those who, for whatever reason, are not. And there’s another reason. When the government extorts money from people to pay for health care, the providers become accountable to the government — not the patient. Unlike under capitalism, there is no real incentive for providers to innovate to improve quality and efficiency.


Nobody can predict what new discovery will be made in medicine to drastically reduce costs and save lives. Only capitalism provides the incentive to innovate. Contrary to what many believe, socialism doesn’t help the poor; it merely bulldozes everyone down. The moral and practical solution to our health-care woes is private, for-profit health care.

What Would Jesus Drive?

IRVINE, CA– “Scratch through an environmentalist’s veneer and you will find a mystic not a scientist,” says Dr. Onkar Ghate, resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. “Environmentalists and religionists are, deep down, of the same faith. That’s why it’s to be expected that a coalition of church groups and environmentalists would launch a ‘What Would Jesus Drive?’ campaign to deprive Americans of their SUVs.”

“Religion declares that it is your moral duty to serve God–that you must abandon your rational mind and believe-that material profit and worldly success are sinful because they pull you away from God. Environmentalism declares that it is your moral duty to serve wilderness–that despite the vast evidence to the contrary, you must simply believe that industrialization and technology are harmful–that selfish profit and worldly success are sins because they represent the exploitation of nature. Both necessarily look upon SUVs–contemporary symbols of technological progress and earthly pleasure–with disgust.

“If this coalition of religionists and environmentalists want a world where you are forced to serve something other than your own life, where rational thought is outlawed in the name of blind faith, where men grovel in caves while most of the land remains in a wild state, untouched by the life-giving hand of technology and capitalism, then they are a little late. They could have found a concrete example of their ideal–in Taliban-run Afghanistan.”

A setback for theocracy

MONTGOMERY, Alabama–Last Monday, US District Judge Myron Thompson ruled that the placement of a Ten Commandments monument in the Alabama state Supreme Court building violated the First Amendment provision against government establishment of religion.


The monument was originally installed by Chief Injustice Roy Moore, who blamed federal court rulings such as those against prayer in public schools for a nation-wide moral decline over the past 50 years.  Yup, those trendsetters in the Supreme Court; if it weren’t for them we’d all be Jerry Falwell.  Eew.


Moore was given 30 days to remove the 5,300-pound slab of rock at his own expense, which hopefully will be quite high. 


But cross-lovers from the Christian Coalition warned that Judge Thompson’s ruling would “seriously erode our religious freedoms, the acknowledgement of God, and the moral foundation of our law.”  What they meant was that his ruling would seriously erode their ability to establish a theocracy, inculcate schoolchildren, and rewrite history.  Isn’t one of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” or something like that?


At least the Muslims are blatant about wanting to rule the world.  They’d have killed hundreds of people over this already.  Or perhaps violence is what Coalition Director John Giles was alluding to when he said that there was likely to be a “national uprising.”


Bring it on, Johnny-boy.

Nigerian Muslims embrace Allah, all things ugly

LAGOS, Nigeria–On Thursday, Nigerian Muslims violently condemned the Miss World pageant scheduled for 7 December in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja.  The pageant, they claim, promotes sexual promiscuity and indecency, and Allah isn’t into that.  “Down with beauty,” they chanted.  Ugly old Allah would prefer a good riot any day.


And riot they did.


Mobs of angry Muslims took to the streets shouting, “God is great.”  To prove it, they stabbed, beat, and set fire to random passers-by, burned churches and offices, and rampaged through the city.  In all, over 200 people were killed and another 200 injured.  “Miss World is sin,” they reminded onlookers.


The outrage began when a Kaduna newspaper published an article questioning the validity of Miss World criticism.  “What would Muhammad think?  In all honesty, he would probably have chosen a wife from among them [the contestants],” wrote reporter Isioma Daniel.


But Mr. Daniel, Muhammad didn’t think.


Fortunately, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was able to clearly identify the root cause of the rioting.  “The beauty queens should not feel that they are the cause of this violence,” he said.  “It could happen at any time irresponsible journalism is committed against Islam.” 


Daniel and his editor have since been arrested, but Muhammad is still on the loose.


Sources close to Allah suggest that he is just upset because Miss Israel is a dish.

I’ll take the sue-Happy Meal. Easy on the consequences.

New York–A herd of fat kids have filed a class-action lawsuit against McDonald’s, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Wendy’s restaurants, blaming the companies for a nationwide epidemic of obesity.  One plaintiff, after mistakenly dropping his volition down a New York drainage grate, was overcome by the uncontrollable urge to eat all of his meals at McDonald’s everyday for three years in a row.


The suit claims that the plaintiffs “purchased and consumed the Defendant’s products and as a result thereof, have become obese, overweight, developed diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and/or other detrimental and adverse health effects and/or diseases.”  It contains several pages of obesity statistics for the United States, as well as a section titled “Socio-Economic Ramifications” (of people stuffing their faces like pigs).


At the (clogged) heart of the suit is the complaint that McDonalds “failed to warn and/or adequately warn” that gorging on grease-soaked french-fries and corn-syrup/yellow dye #6 shakes might not be the healthiest thing to do every day for three years.


It looks as though McDonald’s food is almost as dangerous as its coffee.  Who would have thought?  Grimace seems to like it and, aside from being purple, he looks healthy.

Colin Powell: Secretary of Hypocrisy?

Washington–In a recent interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, US Secretary of State Colin Powell defended the targeted killing of al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen as a morally justified act of self-defense.  “This was a case of clearly somebody in a direct conflict with the United States,” Powell explained.  True enough.


But Mr. Blitzer was understandably confused by Powell’s response. “What’s the difference between that targeted killing and the targeted killings the Israelis engage in–which the State Department has criticized?”  Powell’s answer:  Blank-out.


“But what you’re saying,” Blitzer continued, “is the Israelis should stop doing what they did, but the US, theoretically, can continue?”  Yup.  That’s what he’s saying alright, Wolf.  One would think that after years of interviewing politicians Mr. Blitzer would stop expecting principled behavior from unprincipled people, but it’s an admirable mistake.


 “We will do what we have to do to defend ourselves with respect to terrorist activities,” Powell added.  So would the Israelis, General…if you’d let them.

Bitter Brit vows revenge against 007 for foiling her evil plan

BBC News–Jealous of the popularity enjoyed by films like Harry Potter, James Bond, and Lord of the Rings, mediocre film producer Leslee Udwin demanded that the British government force cinemas to show movies that people don’t want to see, such as her new film, The One and Only.


The resentful producer criticized the success of blockbuster films that theatres gladly show instead of “Leslee Udwin” features.  “They have voraciously eaten up all our screens,” she complained using a revealing choice of personal pronouns.


“There should be quotas to protect films for sure,” she added.  Although she did not specify what she would like to protect her films from, “sucking” would probably be a fair assumption.  The current quota for Leslee Udwin films is appropriately set at zero.


Speaking only for herself, Ms. Udwin also whined that film producers don’t make enough money.  She then suggested that violence should be used to beat more money out of theatre owners.  “The government should be legislating against that and ensuring producers get a fair crack of the whip,” she said.


In the near future, Udwin is expected to submit a condensed version of her case to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport:  “You’ve got to make people like me.  Why won’t they like me? The miserable bastards!”

President Carter: “Rest in Peace, America!”

WASHINGTON–During an interview with Larry King last week, former President Jimmy Carter single-handedly solved the problem of terrorism against the West:  all we have to do is to surrender.  What could be simpler than that?


The (thankfully) former President explained that the US should not force despotic, murderous, countries such as North Korea and Iraq to abandon their weapons of mass destruction.  Instead, argued Carter, “the major powers need to set an example” by disarming themselves first.  As it turns out, if the Allies had only set the right “example” for Adolf Hitler, most of World War II could have been averted–which would have been good news for those of you who like sauerkraut and bratwurst.  Unfortunately, Carter was too young to serve as President at the time.


The has-been President also criticized the United States for keeping too much of it’s taxpayers money to itself, instead of giving it away to poor terrorist-breeding countries like Europe does.


Although the Nobel committee currently offers no official prize for “appeasement of murderous thugs,” it will award Carter the “Peace” prize on 10 December at a ceremony in Oslo.

Commercial Speech is Free Speech

The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism has filed an amicus brief in support of Nike’s petition to the Supreme Court to hear an appeal for a recent California Supreme Court decision. Nike was accused by Left-wing organizations of running “sweat shops”, i.e., shops that provide jobs in third world countries which pay more than other local jobs in that country (that is why people in those countries go after them!). Under the assumption that the People’s Republic of California was an actual state in America operating under the rule of law, Nike decided to defend itself in the media–and was sued by the Lefties who defamed it for false advertising and unfair trade practices!

Being Lefties themselves, and totally ignorant of the concept of individual rights (which applies to individuals who work in corporations too), the California Supreme Court rules that Nike’s advertising is not protected under the First Amendment, because it is “commercial speech.” However, the advertising by the folks who hate Nike is protected, because it is “political speech.”

In an amicus curiae to the US Supreme Court on Nike vs. Kasky, the Center asked the court to end the distinction between political and economic speech that squelches a businessman’s right to speak before the public. In a world full of crosses, the Center’s work definitely merits a dollar. Read the Center’s Brief (PDF 221K)

Harry Potter: A Hero Children Should Emulate

IRVINE, CA–Far from being an agent of the occult, as his critics contend, Harry Potter is the kind of hero children should be encouraged to read about and emulate, said Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.

“It is true that Harry lives in a magical, fantastical world, but what’s important is that he is a hero who wins through intelligence, effort and courage,” said Dr. Brook. “Throughout the series, Harry has developed his talents through hard work and has learned to think for himself, to be honest and to be self-confident. He has friends who share his values and he earns the respect of his teachers. Aren’t these the character traits all parents want their children to possess? I know they’re qualities I actively try to instill in my two boys.”

Dr. Brook said that the critics’ focus on the supernatural aspects of the Harry Potter stories is completely non-essential. What is fundamental is the abstract meaning being conveyed during the course of Harry’s magical adventures. “By means of the theme, plot and characterization,” said Dr. Brook–particularly as they involve the hero–every good children’s story implicitly addresses such broad questions as: Is the world fundamentally a benevolent or a malevolent place? Can one rely on one’s own mind or not? Is life to be eagerly embraced or fearfully skirted? Can the good succeed or does evil have to ultimately win?

The Harry Potter series appeals to so many children and adults alike because the answers it gives to these questions are overwhelmingly positive. The Potter books show a world in which happiness can be achieved, villains can be defeated and the means of success can be learned. “The books are, in short, fuel for a child’s maturing mind. As vitamins and minerals are essential to a child’s healthy physical development, so literature with this view of the world is essential to a child’s healthy mental development.”

Chinese “Capitalism”

BEJING–For 81 years, China’s Congress has wielded the power of a dictatorial regime under the guise of protecting the peasantry.  But apparently, running people over with tanks in the name of the proletariat is no longer fashionable.  So why not try it in the name of the bourgeois?


China’s 16th Congress is now re-writing the constitution to include “advanced forces” (businessmen) in the list of those “represented” by China’s tyranny.  Previously, the list only included workers and peasants.  Jiang Zemin, the Communist Party chief, explained that “all legitimate income, from work or not, should be protected.”  He did not offer a definition for the word “legitimate.”


Although one would hope that this is a long-overdue move towards laissez-faire capitalism for the battered Chinese, Mr. Jiang made it clear that China’s government will remain authoritarian in nature and that China is just trying to “keep up with the times.”  Corruption is expected to remain an integral part of the Chinese legal system.
 
When a terrorist forsakes Allah and starts killing in the name of Thomas Jefferson, do you celebrate, or check to make sure you’ve still got enough ammo?

Just another “morally equivalent” set of laws

TEHRAN, Iran–On Thursday, an Iranian court convicted a University professor of insulting some dead guy and encouraging students to study.  He was sentenced to 74 lashes, exile to three remote Iranian cities for eight years, and prohibition from teaching for 10 years–oh, and death.
 
The “court,” if it can be called that, found history professor Hashem Aghajari guilty of insulting the “prophet” Muhammad and questioning the clergy’s interpretation of Islam during a speech in June.  “Are people monkeys to imitate [the clerics]?” Aghajari asked during his speech.  “According to the clerics, students who study and understand the Quran have committed a crime because they didn’t go back to the clerics for guidance.”  Apparently the court agrees, and Aghajari will die for his “crime.”


Although this might appear unjust to non-Berkeley Americans, it must be remembered that Iran’s form of government is a different but equally valid one, and the United States should not attempt to impose Western ideals on those simple, happy, people.