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Janet Yellen is Right: She Can’t Predict the Future – Article by Ron Paul

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Categories: Economics, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
May 25, 2015
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This week I found myself in rare agreement with Janet Yellen when she admitted that her economic predictions are likely to be wrong. Sadly, Yellen did not follow up her admission by handing in her resignation and joining efforts to end the Fed. An honest examination of the Federal Reserve’s record over the past seven years clearly shows that the American people would be better off without it.

Following the bursting of the Federal Reserve-created housing bubble, the Fed embarked on an unprecedented program of bailouts and money creation via quantitative easing (QE) 1, 2, 3, etc. Not only has QE failed to revive the economy, it has further damaged the average American’s standard of living while benefiting the financial elites. None other than Donald Trump has called QE “a great deal for guys like me.”

The failure of quantitative easing to improve the economy has left the Fed reluctant to raise interest rates. Yet the Fed does not want to appear oblivious to the dangers posed by keeping rates artificially low. This is why the Fed regularly announces that the economy will soon be strong enough to handle a rate increase.

There are signs that investors are beginning to realize that the Fed’s constant talk of raising rates is just talk, so they are looking for investments that will protect them from a Fed-caused collapse in the dollar’s value. For example, the price of gold recently increased following reports of stagnant retail sales. An increased gold price in response to economic sluggishness may appear counterintuitive, but it is a sign that investors are realizing quantitative easing is not ending anytime soon.

The increase in the gold price is not the only sign that investors are interested in hard assets to protect themselves from inflation. Recently a Picasso painting sold for a record 180 million dollars. This record may not last long, as an additional two billion dollars worth of art is expected to go on the market in the next few weeks.

Another sign of the increasing concerns about the dollar’s stability is the growing interest in alternative currencies. Investing and using alternative currencies can help average Americans, who do not have millions to spend on Picasso paintings, protect themselves from a currency crisis.

Congress should ensure that all Americans can protect themselves from a dollar crisis by repealing the legal tender laws.

Congress should also take the first step toward monetary reform by passing the Audit the Fed bill. Unfortunately, Audit the Fed is not a part of the Federal Reserve “reform” bill that was passed by the Senate Banking Committee. Instead, the bill makes some minor changes in the Fed’s governance structure. These “reforms” are the equivalent of rearranging deck chairs as the Titanic crashes into the iceberg. Hopefully, the Senate will vote on, and pass, Audit the Fed this year.

The skyrocketing federal debt is also a major factor in the coming economic collapse. The Federal Reserve facilitates deficit spending by monetizing debt. Congress should make real cuts, not just reductions in the “rate of growth,” in all areas. But it should prioritize cutting the billions spent on the military-industrial complex.

Some say that eliminating the welfare-warfare state and the fiat currency system that props it up will cause the people pain. The truth is the only people who will feel any long-term pain from returning to limited, constitutional government are the special interests that profit from the current system. A return to a true free-market economy will greatly improve the lives of the vast majority of Americans.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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Spiral Tower, Op. 79 (2015) – Musical Composition and Video by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Music, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
May 25, 2015
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This piano composition by Mr. Stolyarov evokes an ascent up a spiral skyscraper. Each passage builds and introduces variations upon the last while remaining within the overall pattern describing the climb. The spiral ascent can be seen as a metaphor for incremental but rigorous and goal-directed progress toward a brighter future.

Download the MP3 file of this composition here.

See the index of Mr. Stolyarov’s compositions, all available for free download, here.

Photographs in this video are of the F&F Tower in Panama City and were taken by Muribeg, Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz), and Rubydiazmendez. They can be downloaded here and are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike Unported 3.0 License or the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License.

This composition and video may also be freely reproduced using the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License.

Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video in order to spread rational high culture to others.

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Universal Physical and Moral Laws, With No Lawgiver – Video by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Justice, Philosophy, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
May 20, 2015
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Mr. Stolyarov endeavors to refute the common argument that any law, be it a physical law or a law of morality or justice, requires a lawgiver – an intelligent entity that brought the law into being. While some laws (termed manmade or positive laws) do indeed have human lawmakers, a much more fundamental class of laws (termed universal or natural laws) arise not due to promulgation by any intelligent being, but rather due to the basic properties of the entities these laws concern, and the relations of those entities to one another. To the extent that positive laws are enacted by humans, the purpose of such positive laws should be reflect and effectuate the beneficial consequences of objectively valid natural laws.

References

- “Universal Physical and Moral Laws, With No Lawgiver” – Article by G. Stolyarov II -

- Formula for the Universal Law of Gravitation: F = G*m1*m2/r2, with F being the force between two masses, m1 and m2 being the two masses, r being the distance between the centers of the two masses, and G being the universal gravitational constant.

- “Commonly Misunderstood Concepts: Happiness” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

- “Commonly Misunderstood Concepts: Happiness” – Video by G. Stolyarov II

- “Indiana Pi Bill” – Wikipedia

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Fantasy Bookstore Fights Fantasy Economics – San Francisco Sci-Fi Lovers Do Battle With the Minimum Wage – Article by Gary McGath

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Categories: Culture, Economics, Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Gary McGath
May 18, 2015
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Borderlands is an independent bookstore in San Francisco with an enthusiastic following among science fiction fans. It’s not just a place to buy books, but in the words of its mission statement “a social and professional center for readers, writers, publishers, reviewers, artists and other individuals with a strong interest in the fields of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Macabre Fiction.” Authors frequently appear there, and readers meet for discussions.

Like other bookstores, Borderlands has found staying in business difficult. It nearly closed early in 2015, and management put the blame for this on the city’s increase in the minimum wage. On February 1, it announced:

In November, San Francisco voters overwhelmingly passed a measure that will increase the minimum wage within the city to $15 per hour by 2018.

Although all of us at Borderlands support the concept of a living wage in principal [sic] and we believe that it’s possible that the new law will be good for San Francisco — Borderlands Books as it exists is not a financially viable business if subject to that minimum wage.

Consequently we will be closing our doors no later than March 31st.  The cafe will continue to operate until at least the end of this year.

Thanks to sponsorship from its community, Borderlands was able to avoid closing and is still in business, at least for now. Still, its crisis graphically shows one of the damaging consequences of minimum wage laws.

If the cost of something goes up, people will buy less of it, or if they can’t, they’ll make up for it in some other way. This applies to employees as much as to anything else. Some businesses can raise their prices to meet increased labor costs, but books are a highly competitive market, and consumers are very sensitive to price changes.

Small businesses in general have fewer options. A large operation may be able to absorb the cost or find ways to pass it on. It can reduce hours, require extra duties, or replace people with machines. These options don’t work well when the staff is small and the love of what they’re doing is a big reason they stay there.

Borderlands is hardly a unique case. The management was careful not to take a position against the minimum wage, but zero dollars for unemployed workers isn’t a “living wage,” and it’s meaningless to say that putting low-wage employees out of work is “good for San Francisco.” It is individuals, not a city, who have to get food and a place to live.

A paid sponsorship program was the key to Borderlands’ short-term survival. Science fiction fans are heavily networked, and many work in well-paying jobs, so the store benefited from a community with money to spare.

Well-known authors like Seanan McGuire and Cory Doctorow helped publicize the cause. Borderlands deserves credit for its innovative approach, but other businesses aren’t always so lucky, and they will fold without being widely noticed or mourned. Fans of bookstores realized, perhaps too late, that for the industry to survive as a whole, the bookstore must be profitable as a business venture, rather than a charity case.

Minimum-wage increases aren’t magic money. Any cost increase has to come out of something, and low-paying jobs that can’t justify the increase are the first place they’ll come out of. Thinking it happens for free is just fantasy.

Gary McGath is a freelance software engineer living in Nashua, New Hampshire.

This article was originally published by The Foundation for Economic Education.

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New Military Spending Bill Expands Empire But Forbids Debate on War – Article by Ron Paul

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Categories: Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
May 18, 2015
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On Friday the House passed a massive National Defense Authorization for 2016 that will guarantee US involvement in more wars and overseas interventions for years to come. The Republican majority resorted to trickery to evade the meager spending limitations imposed by the 2011 budget control act – limitations that did not, as often reported, cut military spending but only slowed its growth.

But not even slower growth is enough when you have an empire to maintain worldwide, so the House majority slipped into the military spending bill an extra $89 billion for an emergency war fund. Such “emergency” spending is not addressed in the growth caps placed on the military under the 2011 budget control act. It is a loophole filled by Congress with Fed-printed money.

Ironically, a good deal of this “emergency” money will go to President Obama’s war on ISIS even though neither the House nor the Senate has debated – let alone authorized – that war! Although House leadership allowed 135 amendments to the defense bill – with many on minor issues like regulations on fire hoses – an effort by a small group of Representatives to introduce an amendment to debate the current US war in Iraq and Syria was rejected.

While squashing debate on ongoing but unauthorized wars, the bill also pushed the administration toward new conflicts. Despite the president’s unwise decision to send hundreds of US military trainers to Ukraine, a move that threatens the current shaky ceasefire, Congress wants even more US involvement in Ukraine’s internal affairs. The military spending bill included $300 million to directly arm the Ukrainian government even as Ukrainian leaders threaten to again attack the breakaway regions in the east. Does Congress really think US-supplied weapons killing ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine is a good idea?

The defense authorization bill also seeks to send yet more weapons into Iraq. This time the House wants to send weapons directly to the Kurds in northern Iraq without the approval of the Iraqi government. Although these weapons are supposed to be used to fight ISIS, we know from too many prior examples that they often find their way into the hands of the very people we are fighting. Also, arming an ethnic group seeking to break away from Baghdad and form a new state is an unwise infringement of the sovereignty of Iraq. It is one thing to endorse the idea of secession as a way to reduce the possibility of violence, but it is quite something else to arm one side and implicitly back its demands.

While the neocons keep pushing the lie that the military budget is shrinking under the Obama Administration, the opposite is true. As the CATO Institute pointed out recently, President George W. Bush’s average defense budget was $601 billion, while during the Obama administration the average has been $687 billion. This bill is just another example of this unhealthy trend.

Next year’s military spending plan keeps the US on track toward destruction of its economy at home while provoking new resentment over US interventionism overseas. It is a recipe for disaster. Let’s hope for either a presidential veto, or that on final passage Congress rejects this bad bill.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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Mr. Stolyarov Cited in The Heartland Institute’s Articles on E-Cigarettes, Medicaid Estate Recovery, and Doctors Withholding Treatment

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The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
May 17, 2015
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My remarks have been cited in three new articles from The Heartland Institute regarding health policy issues.

* FDA Moves to Regulate E-Cigarettes - Article by Matthew Glans

As a nonsmoker, I do not have any attraction to e-cigarettes, but I am opposed, on both moral and practical grounds, to any attempts to restrict them. This article by Matthew Glans cites my remarks with regard to recent FDA attempts to limit the availability of e-cigarettes to young people.

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Excerpt:

FDA’s push to regulate e-cigarettes may invite unintended health consequences, says Gennady Stolyarov, editor-in-chief of The Rational Argumentator. Although many nonsmokers have absolutely no attraction to e-cigs or tobacco products of any sort, for some individuals, e-cigs may work as a substitute for traditional tobacco products or as a part of a transitional approach toward the cessation of smoking.

E-cigs lack the high levels of more than 40 carcinogenic byproducts found in traditional tobacco smoke, and they also minimize the harm caused by secondhand smoke, says Stolyarov. If somebody wishes to smoke, it is better for that person’s health and the health of others if the person smokes an e-cigarette.

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* California Seizes Estates of Deceased Medicaid Patients – Article by Kenneth Artz

This article by Kenneth Artz cites my remarks in opposition to the Medi-Cal “estate recovery” program, whereby California Medicaid recipients’ homes can be expropriated from them upon their deaths.

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Excerpt:

Stolyarov says the estate recovery program is an example of an extremely hardhearted government program that forces people to suffer because of family members’ prior debts or health care needs.

“A person should not lose the family home because one of his or her deceased parents had little or no income and took recourse to Medicaid to pay for treatments for terminal cancer or another terrible disease,” Stolyarov said. “This is especially true given the fact most Medicaid recipients have no easy way of knowing their estates are put in jeopardy when they sign up for the program.”

This situation also sends a cautionary message about socialized health care arrangements purporting to provide “free” medical care, Stolyarov says.

“There is always a cost, and there are always strings attached when any aspect of health care is centrally planned,” said Stolyarov.

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* Dutch Doctors Withholding and Withdrawing Treatment from the Elderly – Article by Kenneth Artz

It is essential to treat all medical patients as human beings with decision-making autonomy, whose lives are worth living. In particular, a decision to shorten life by forgoing medical treatment should never be made by anyone except the patient him/herself. This article by Kenneth Artz cites my remarks regarding a recent study in the Journal of Medical Ethics is that withholding treatment from certain patients (particularly the elderly) appears to be becoming a default decision by doctors in the Netherlands in many cases – rather than a decision deliberately opted into by patients.

While people ought to have a right to voluntarily refuse medical treatment, it is also the case that they should have the right to insist on any and every measure that could possibly prolong their lives, even if their chances are remote. If a patient wishes to try a treatment that has a remote chance of succeeding, but where the alternative is a certain death, that patient’s desires should not be overridden by a central authority or even a medical expert.

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Excerpt:

It is extremely important to respect the liberty of patients to make choices regarding their medical care and the aggressiveness with which they want to fight for their lives, says Gennady Stolyarov, editor-in-chief of The Rational Argumentator.

“What is disturbing about the findings of this study is that withholding treatment from certain patients—particularly the elderly—appears to be becoming a default decision by doctors in many cases, rather than a decision deliberately opted into by patients,” Stolyarov said. “The culture of medicine should always be guided by the premise that taking action to save life is the default, and only the patient should be able to make a different decision.”

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“La mort, c’est mal!” – French Translation of “Death is Wrong” – Translated by Philippe Castonguay – Post by G. Stolyarov II

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The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
May 16, 2015
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La mort, c’est mal! – the French translation of Death is Wrong – is now available for download from The Rational Argumentator. You can obtain your free PDF copy here and may spread it to French-speaking audiences as widely as you wish.

La mort, c’est mal! was generously translated into French by Philippe Castonguay.

Death_is_Wrong_French_CoverPaperback copies of La mort, c’est mal! can be purchased in the following venues:

Createspace – $9.48

Amazon – $9.48

Kindle copies of La mort, c’est mal! can be purchased on Amazon for $0.99.

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Si vous avez déjà demandé « pourquoi les gens doivent-ils mourir? » alors ce livre est pour vous. La vérité est que non, la mort n’est ni bonne, ni nécessaire, ni inévitable. En fait, la mort, c’est mal! La mort est notre ennemie à tous et toutes et doit être combattue par la médecine, la science et la technologie. Ce livre vous introduit au plus grand défi de notre espèce, à son mouvement le plus révolutionnaire; celui d’augmenter radicalement l’espérance de vie humaine pour que vous n’ayez plus à mourir, du tout.

Vous trouverez dans ce livre des plantes et des animaux à la longévité spectaculaire, des découvertes scientifiques récentes pavant le chemin vers l’augmentation de la durée des vies humaines, ainsi que de simples, mais puissants arguments pour affronter ceux en faveur de la mort. Si vous avez déjà pensé que la mort était injuste et qu’elle devrait être vaincue, sachez que vous n’êtes pas seul. Lisez ce livre et prenez part à la plus importante quête de l’histoire de l’humanité.

Ce livre a été écrit par le philosophe et futuriste Gennady Stolyarov II et illustré par l’artiste Wendy Stolyarov. Ici, il vous sera démontré que, peu importe qui vous êtes et peu importe vos habiletés, il vous est toujours possible d’aider l’humanité dans sa lutte contre la mort.

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Universal Physical and Moral Laws, With No Lawgiver – Article by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Justice, Philosophy, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
May 13, 2015
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Here I endeavor to refute the common argument that any law, be it a physical law or a law of morality or justice, requires a lawgiver – an intelligent entity that brought the law into being. While some laws (termed manmade or positive laws) do indeed have human lawmakers, a much more fundamental class of laws (termed universal or natural laws) arise not due to promulgation by any intelligent being, but rather due to the basic properties of the entities these laws concern, and the relations of those entities to one another. To the extent that positive laws are enacted by humans, the purpose of such positive laws should be to reflect and effectuate the beneficial consequences of objectively valid natural laws. For instance, it is a natural law that each human being possesses a right to life. A positive law that prohibits and punishes murder of one human being by another would reflect the natural law and therefore be desirable. On the other hand, if any positive law were to mandate murder (as various edicts by tyrannical regimes throughout history, targeting political dissidents or disfavored minority groups, have done), then that positive law would be contrary to the natural law and therefore illegitimate and harmful.

The physical laws of nature pertain to all entities, including humans, and describe the regularities with which these entities will behave within applicable situations. Examples of physical laws include Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, the law of gravitation, the law of conservation of matter and energy, and the law of conservation of momentum. If it is asserted that these laws require a lawgiver, then the lawgiver would hypothetically be able to alter these laws on a whim at any time, thereby depriving them of their universality and predictable application. Such a state of affairs would not only be highly inconvenient (to say the least), but also completely incompatible with the reality that these laws are derived from the nature of entities as they are.

We can draw upon ubiquitous observation and the fact that these laws of nature can indeed be harnessed so precisely that every functional technology ever invented works because it takes advantage of them. The argument that the laws of nature could change tomorrow depends on a false perception of what those laws are – a kind of Platonic view that the laws of nature are superimposed upon the world of objects. In reality, however, objects (entities) and their qualities and relationships are all that exist at the most basic level. The laws of nature are relationships that are derived from the very properties inherent to objects themselves; they are not some higher layer of reality on top of the objects that leads the objects to behave in a certain way. That is, the laws of nature are what they are because the things whose behavior they describe are what they are.

The truth that the laws of nature are a function of the objects whose behavior they describe pertains to fundamental physical laws, such as the law of gravitation. While the law of gravitation and the equation [1] describing that law apply universally, the very existence of the law is dependent on the existence of entities that have mass and therefore exhibit gravitational attraction. Were there no entities or no entities with mass (incidentally, both logically impossible scenarios), then the concept of gravity would not have any relevance or applicability. Likewise, the amount of mass of particular entities and their distance of separation from one another will determine the extent of the gravitational force exerted by those entities upon one another. The gravitational force arises because the entities are as massive as they are and located where they are relative to one another; it does not arise because a supernatural lawgiver imposed it upon entities who would otherwise be completely static or random in their behavior in relation to one another.

The key parallel with the laws of morality is that, as the laws of gravitation stem from the objective properties of entities themselves (i.e., that they have mass – which is a universal property of all entities), so do the laws of morality stem from the objective properties of human beings themselves – namely, the biological and physical prerequisites of human survival and flourishing. Different specific decisions may be the appropriate moral decisions in different contexts, but because of the essential similarities of humans along many key dimensions, certain general moral truths will hold universally for all humans.  But again, were there no humans (or similar rational, sentient, volitional beings) with these essential attributes, the concept of morality would have no relevance.

Neither morality nor gravitation require the existence of entities outside of those exhibiting moral behavior or gravitational attraction. A system of physical or moral laws is not dependent on an outside “lawgiver” but rather on the objective natures of the entities partaking in the system. Objective moral laws include the principles of ethics, which address how a person should behave to maximize possible well-being, as well as the principles of justice, which address how people should relate to one another in respecting one another’s spheres of legitimate action, rewarding meritorious conduct, and punishing destructive conduct against others. There is a natural harmony between adherence to objective moral laws and the attainment of beneficial consequences for one’s own life, material prosperity, and happiness – provided that one adheres to a view of long-term, enlightened, rational self-interest, which does not allow one to sacrifice the lives, liberty, or property of others to achieve a short-term gain.

Some would assert that principles of behavior that tend to maximize well-being and serve one’s rational self-interest may be part of prudent or practical conduct, but are not the same as morality. In the minds of these individuals, morality (typically, in their view, willed by an external lawgiver) is independent of practical means or consequences and often (as, for instance, in Immanuel Kant’s outlook on morality) inherently divorced from actions conducive to self-interest. I, however, strongly reject any notion that there might be a dichotomy between morality and practicality, happiness, or prosperity – when a long-term, enlightened, and multifaceted outlook on the latter conditions is considered. Some might be so short-sighted as to mistake some temporary advantage or fleeting pleasure for true fulfillment or happiness, but the objective cause-and-effect relationships within our physical reality will eventually disappoint them (if they live long enough – and if not, their punishment – death – will be even greater). If some or even many humans might be drawn toward certain pleasurable feelings for their own sake (which is an evolutionary relic of a very different primeval environment inhabited by our ancestors – but a tendency ill-adapted to our current environment), this is not the same as achieving truly sustainable prosperity and happiness by using reason to thrive in our current environment (or to create a better environment for human flourishing). One of the objectives of a good moral system is to guide people toward the latter outcome. My essay and video “Commonly Misunderstood Concepts: Happiness” offer more detailed thoughts on key elements of a life of flourishing and the concept of eudaemonia – the actualization of one’s full potential, as Aristotle and later virtue-oriented philosophers described it.

Objective moral law, derived from the fundamental value of every innocent rational, sentient being’s life, posits an essential harmony of the long-term, enlightened self-interests of all who earnestly pursue truth and goodness. Unlike many proponents of an externally legislated moral framework (for which the alleged lawgiver might be a supernatural being, a single human ruler, or a collective of humans), I would not consider self-sacrifice to be a component of morality. I align more with Ayn Rand’s view of sacrifice as a surrender of a greater value (e.g., one’s life) to a lesser value (e.g., abstractions such as nation-states, religions, or perceived slights from another nation-state or religious or cultural group). A person can behave morally – promoting his own life, respecting the rights of others, and contributing to human flourishing – without ever surrendering anything he values (except as an instrument for obtaining outcomes he might justifiably value more). Morality should therefore not be seen as the subordination of the individual to some higher ideal, be it a divine order or a manmade one. Rather, the individual is the ideal for which moral behavior is the path to fulfillment.

A person who behaves morally advances himself while fully respecting the legitimate prerogatives of others. He improves his own life without damaging anybody else’s. In the process of pursuing enlightened self-interest, he also benefits the lives of others through value-adding interactions. Indeed, he may enter into an extensive network of both formal and informal reciprocal obligations with others that result in his actions being a constant, sustainable source of improvement in others’ lives. The virtue of honesty is part of objective ethics and impels a moral individual to strive to honor all commitments once they have been made. The key to a morality based on objective, natural law, however, is that these obligations be entered into freely and not as a result of the self being compromised in favor of an alleged higher ideal. Consequently, a key component of natural law is the liberty of an individual to evaluate the world in accordance with his rational faculty and to decide which undertakings are consistent with his enlightened self-interest. When positive laws are crafted so as to interfere with that liberty, positive law becomes at odds with natural law, leading to warped incentives, institutionalized sacrifices, and painful tradeoffs that many individuals must make if they seek to abide by both natural and positive laws.

Objective natural laws – both physical and moral – do not require a lawgiver and antecede manmade, positive laws. Some natural laws, however, may require positive laws – such as prohibitions on murder, theft, and slavery – in order for the desirable outcome brought about by the natural laws to be reflected in actual (rather than simply hoped-for) human behavior. In order to improve human well-being, positive laws should be developed to advance and effectuate natural laws, instead of attempting to resist them or contravene them. Just as a law that redefines the value of pi as 3.2 (one actually unsuccessfully attempted in Indiana in 1897) is rightly seen as absurd on its face, even if a majority votes to enact it, and would result in many failed constructions if implemented by engineers and designers of machines, so would a law that abrogates the natural liberty of individuals to peacefully pursue their own flourishing result in damage to good human beings and increases in physical harm, suffering, and injustice. A good human lawmaker should respect pre-existing objective natural laws and not attempt to contradict them.

[1] F = G*m1*m2/r2, with F being the force between two masses, m1 and m2 being the two masses, r being the distance between the centers of the two masses, and G being the universal gravitational constant.

This article may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. See Mr. Stolyarov’s biographical information here.

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Mr. Stolyarov Cited in The Heartland Institute’s Articles on Water-Usage Monitoring and Lawn-Care Pesticides

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The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
May 11, 2015
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I am pleased to announce that The Heartland Institute has cited me in two of its recent articles on environmental policy issues.

* “EPA May Force Hotels to Monitor Shower Use”: This article by Kenneth Artz includes my comments regarding how granular water-usage monitoring in hotels (encouraged by the Environmental Protection Agency) may diminish guests’ experience and how attempts by the EPA and certain environmentalist activists to pressure businesses and individuals to use “low-flow” toilets and shower heads constitute a regression in the level of civilization in many places.

* “’Turf’ War in Maryland County: Activists Push to Ban Lawn Chemicals”: This article by Kenneth Artz cites my objections to what appears to be a blanket, reflexive ban on all pesticides deemed “nonessential” – instead of a careful, objective, scientific investigation of whether various specific substances might pose health risks to others.

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NSA Spying Ruled Illegal, But Will Congress Save the Program Anyway? – Article by Ron Paul

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The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
May 11, 2015
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This week the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NSA’s metadata collection program was not authorized in US law. The PATRIOT Act, under which the program began, was too vague, the court found. But the truth is the Act was intended to be vague so that the federal government could interpret it in the broadest possible way. But this is really more of a technicality, because illegality and unconstitutionality are really two very different things. Even if Congress had explicitly authorized the federal government to collect our phone records, that law would still be unconstitutional because the Constitution does not grant government the power to access our personal information without a valid search warrant.
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Even though the court found the NSA program illegal, it did not demand that the federal government stop collecting our information in this manner. Instead, the court kicked the ball back in Congress’s court, as these provisions of the PATRIOT Act are set to expire at the end of the month and the Appeals Court decided to let Congress decide how to re-authorize this spying program.

Unfortunately, this is where there is not much to cheer. If past practice is any lesson, Congress will wait until the spying program is about to expire and then in a panic try to frighten Americans into accepting more intrusions on their privacy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already put forth a new bill as a stop-gap measure to allow time for a fuller debate on the issue. His stop-gap? A five year re-authorization with no changes to the current program!

The main reform bill being floated, the FREEDOM Act, is little better. Pretending to be a step in the right direction, the FREEDOM Act may actually be worse for our privacy and liberties than the PATRIOT Act!

One silver lining in the court decision is that it should exonerate Ed Snowden, who risked it all to expose what the courts have now found was illegal US government activity. That is the definition of a whistleblower. Shouldn’t he be welcomed back home as a hero instead of being threatened with treason charges? We shouldn’t hold our breath!

This week Snowden addressed a conference in Melbourne, Australia, informing citizens that the Australian government watches all its citizens “all the time.” Australia’s program allows the government to “collect everyone’s communications in advance of criminal suspicion,” he told the conference. That means the government is no longer in the business of prosecuting crimes, but instead is collecting information in case crimes someday occur.

How is it that the Australian government can collect and track “pre-crime” information on its citizens? Last month Australia passed a law requiring telecommunications companies to retain metadata information on their customers for two years.

Why do Australia’s oppressive laws matter to us? Because the NSA “reform” legislation before Congress, the FREEDOM Act, does exactly what the Australian law does: it mandates that US telecommunications companies retain their customers’ metadata information so that the NSA can access the information as it wishes.

Some argue that this metadata information is harmless and that civil libertarians are over-reacting. But, as Ed Snowden told the Melbourne conference, “under these mandatory metadata laws you can immediately see who journalists are contacting, from which you can derive who their sources are.”

This one example of what happens when the government forces corporations to assist it in spying on the people should be a red flag. How can an independent media exist in the US if the federal government knows exactly whom journalists contact for information? It would be the end of any future whistleblowers.

The only reform of the PATRIOT Act is a total repeal. Accept nothing less.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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