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A Most Interesting Data Set Covering the Longevity of Polish Elite Athletes Across Much of the 20th Century – Article by Reason

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The New Renaissance HatReason
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Today I noticed an open access paper in which the authors examine mortality data for Polish Olympic athletes over the past 90 years or so, and compare it with established historical data for the general population. This blends two topics that are occasionally covered here at Fight Aging!: firstly, the growth in human life expectancy in recent history and its causes, and secondly the topic of how regular exercise and life expectancy interact. It is the present consensus that elite athletes, those at the top of their profession, live longer than the rest of us, but it remains open to debate as to whether this is because more exercise is better, or because very robust people who would have lived longer anyway are more likely to enter the world of professional athletics. Researchers want to map the dose-response curve for exercise, in other words. Even though there is very good, very solid evidence for the benefits of regular moderate exercise versus being sedentary, going beyond that to a more nuanced view of what more or less exercise does for health is a challenging goal given the starting point of statistical snapshots of data from various study populations.

Studying the history of life expectancy isn’t much easier, though there the challenges tend to revolve around the ever-decreasing quality of data as you look further back in time. The 20th century marked transitions from hopeful aspiration to solid accomplishment in all fields of medicine, too many profound advances in the capabilities of medical science and practice to list here. As the decades passed, this important progress focused ever more on treatments for age-related conditions. An individual born in the US in 1900 suffered through the end of the era of poor control of infectious disease, prior to modern antibiotics and antiviral drugs, and likely benefited little from later progress towards better control of heart disease and other common age-related diseases. An individual born in the US in 1950, on the other hand, enjoyed a youth with comparatively little fear of disease, and is probably still alive today, with access to far more capable therapies than existed even a couple of decades ago.

Given all of this, one of the interesting things to note in the analysis of the Polish data is that the elite athletes born in the early 20th century appear to have a lower rate of aging than the general population, as determined by a slower rise in mortality over time, but that this difference between athletes and the average individual is greatly diminished for people born in the latter half of the 20th century. This suggests, roughly, that advances in medicine from 1900 to 1950 had a leveling effect, bringing up the average, preventing early deaths, but doing little to address age-related disease. That said, there is a large variation in results across the range of similar studies, both those that look at the history of longevity, and those that look at populations of athletes at a given time. It is wise to consider epidemiological studies in groups rather than one by one, and look for common themes. Still, this one is a fascinating data set for the way in which it combines historical trends and exercise in the study of aging.

Examining mortality risk and rate of ageing among Polish Olympic athletes: a survival follow-up from 1924 to 2012 – by Yuhui Lin, Antoni Gajewski, and Anna Poznańska

Quote:

A sedentary lifestyle is associated with the onset of chronic diseases including ischaemic heart disease, type-II diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. Frequent exercise is perceived as a major behavioural determinant for improved life expectancy and a slower rate of ageing. There is little doubt that frequent exercise is beneficial for individuals’ well-being, and an active lifestyle reduces the risk for chronic diseases. However, it is still uncertain whether the rate of ageing decelerates in response to frequent and intense physical exercise. Our attempt is the first empirical study to show the application of a parametric frailty survival model to gain insights into the rate of ageing and mortality risk for Olympic athletes.

Our participants for this parametric frailty survival analysis were Polish athletes who had participated in the Olympic Games from 1924 to 2010. We assumed that these athletes were elite in their preferred sports expertise, and that they were engaged in frequent, if not intense, physical exercise. The earliest recorded year of birth was 1875, and the latest was in 1982; total N=2305; male=1828, female=477. For reliable estimates, mortality improvements by calendar events and birth cohort had to be taken into consideration to account for the advancements made in medicine and technology. After the consideration of mortality improvements and the statistical power for parametric survival analysis, we restricted our analysis to male athletes born from 1890 to 1959 (M=1273). For reliable estimates, we preassigned recruited athletes into two categorical cohorts: 1890-1919 (Cohort I); 1920-1959 (Cohort II).

Our findings suggest that Polish elite athletes in Cohort I born from 1890-1919 experienced a slower rate of ageing, and had a lower risk for mortality and a longer life-expectancy than the general population from the same birth cohort. It is very unlikely that these survival benefits were gained within a short observational time. Therefore, we argue that participation in frequent sports from young adulthood reduces mortality risk, increases life-expectancy and slows the rate of ageing. The age-specific mortality trajectories of Cohort I elite athletes also suggest frequent exercise can decelerate the rate of ageing by 1% with an achievement of threefold risk reduction in mortality. In comparison with those of the general population, the differences in energy expenditure, behavioural habits, body mass and sports expertise were likely to be the contributing factors to the higher variance in lifespan among elite athletes.

In Cohort II, the estimated rate of ageing is highly similar between elite athletes and the general population, which contradicts our estimates for Cohort I. This may be attributed to mortality improvements from year 1920 onwards in Poland. These mortality improvements have changed individuals’ susceptibilities for different causes of death, which has resulted in an increased variation in lifespan both in the general population and for elite athletes. Interestingly, the comparison of the rate of ageing of elite athletes in Cohort I and II shows a similar rate of ageing. Among the elite athletes, the estimates suggest that Cohort II individuals benefited from a 50% mortality risk reduction as compared with individuals born in Cohort I. The estimated overall mortality risk of the Polish general population is 29% lower in Cohort II than in I.

Reason is the founder of The Longevity Meme (now Fight Aging!). He saw the need for The Longevity Meme in late 2000, after spending a number of years searching for the most useful contribution he could make to the future of healthy life extension. When not advancing the Longevity Meme or Fight Aging!, Reason works as a technologist in a variety of industries.
This work is reproduced here in accord with a Creative Commons Attribution license. It was originally published on FightAging.org.

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Don’t Turn Foreign Tragedies into Domestic Tragedies – Article by Doug Bandow

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The New Renaissance HatDoug Bandow
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Americans Enjoy Prosperity and Peace in a Dangerous World
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The Islamic State’s March attacks in Belgium reinforce Americans’ belief that we live in a dangerous world, perhaps the most dangerous ever. Thankfully, most of the horror bypasses the United States, which remains a global oasis.

Americans can help alleviate the ugliness elsewhere. But rarely can they remake other nations, at least not at a reasonable cost in lives and resources. Americans’ priority must remain safeguarding and uplifting the United States.

I recently visited the city of Erbil, Iraq. Briefly threatened by the Islamic State two summers ago, Erbil is the capital of largely autonomous Kurdistan. Today, the city operates without evident fear, though security remains heavy. The Kurdish people are spread throughout Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran, and are the largest ethnic group without their own nation. They have suffered oppression and violence at the hands of all four states.

In Erbil, one government official spoke of fleeing his home with his family years ago as Saddam Hussein’s air force attacked from above. Hussein employed mustard gas against Kurdish civilians who opposed his brutal rule. The official’s father explained that they could count on no one else and should be prepared to die fighting. Many did.

Kurdistan remains largely separate from the Baghdad government and has become a sanctuary for others, especially religious minorities. I attended a training seminar on religious liberty organized by the group HardWired, headed by Tina Ramirez, who previously worked on Capitol Hill handling foreign policy and religious persecution. The meeting brought together people of all faiths to deepen their commitment to protecting the religious liberty of all.

Every group had suffered. Christians fled the Islamic State’s takeover of the Nineveh Plain. A Baha’i who lived close to Baghdad went to Turkey with her son. A Sunni judge got out of Mosul three days before the brutal ISIS takeover. Many in his family were not so lucky: the Islamic State detained his youngest brother for more than a year before beheading the 17-year-old. A Yazidi abandoned her home when her city was overrun by ISIS forces. Many people lost contact with friends or relatives left under Islamic State rule.

Even those who escape suffer. A church turned its grounds across the street from my hotel into a mini-refugee camp for 94 families. Homes went from tents to metal containers, but kitchens and bathrooms remain communal. People play soccer and volleyball in the common area, marking time while hoping to return home or find refuge abroad.

Even more people have been displaced by the Syrian conflict. The European migrant crisis is a result of millions fleeing their war-ravaged nation. Many have crossed into neighboring Turkey. Refugees make up an astonishing one-third of Lebanon’s population. Last summer, I visited Jordan’s Zaartari camp, home to some 80,000 people. Many residents have been there for years. Some, in a mix of frustration and desperation, return to Syria aflame.

Only today, decades into a widespread insurgency in eastern Burma, is there hope for the 50,000 residents of Mae La refugee camp, across the border in Thailand. For years, when I visited, children would tell stories of murdered parents, wrecked homes, and desperate flight across the Moei River. Few people could leave the camps and none could work legally.

Today, an uneasy peace has descended upon most of the land also known as Myanmar. In fact, it now may be freer politically than Thailand, which suffered a coup two years ago. Although the Burmese military retains much influence, it is yielding ground. In contrast, the Thai junta seems determined to hold on to power and to construct a faux democracy in which the generals will rule however the people vote.

In many other nations, the threat similarly is repression and persecution rather than conflict and war. Turkish journalists risk jail and ruin for criticizing the new sultan-wannabe, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A Christian minister’s wife lost a leg in a church bombing in Indonesia. Russians are arrested for demonstrating against the Putin government. Palestinian Christians are unable to worship in Jerusalem or to farm ancestral lands due to the Israeli occupation. Chinese students are angry over censorship and curious about the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Pervasive repression is evident in totalitarian systems, in which the state claims authority over almost every aspect of human life, including religious faith. North Korea, Eritrea — known as Africa’s North Korea — and Saudi Arabia come to mind. An accident of birth separates those with a future of freedom and opportunity from those who endure a modern form of serfdom.

Americans face many challenges, too, especially this political season. What believer in liberty could savor a presidential match-up between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? Or Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz? It’s enough for many of us to consider committing ritual seppuku.

Nevertheless, the United States remains largely invulnerable to foreign attack. Only a couple of nations could launch a nuclear assault, and they would be annihilated in return. None can challenge America conventionally: indeed, Washington spends so much on the military to enable it to attack others, not to protect the homeland. Yet, America’s prosperous and populous allies, like the Europeans, prefer to fund generous welfare states rather than potent defenses.

Horrific conflicts elsewhere appropriately tug at Americans’ heartstrings, but that is no reason to turn foreign tragedies into domestic tragedies. Terrorism remains America’s most serious security concern, but it does not threaten the nation’s existence, as did conflict during the Cold War. Less promiscuous intervention abroad is the surest means to limit such attacks at home.

America’s economic dream of a constantly improving future has lagged, but the United States is not alone in that regard. And the wounds are largely self-inflicted: foolish regulatory, spending, and tax policies that weaken Americans’ ability to compete in the world. It’s a lesson that even Europe has had painfully to learn.

No one should wish America’s political system on anyone else, yet a similar populist uprising is occurring in many European nations. It’s a problem born of frustration with bipartisan elites who rig the game for their own benefit. Who can blame people for believing that it really doesn’t matter who they vote for? There is a permanent national government that works most assiduously to ensure its permanence, irrespective of the wishes of those it governs.

The ongoing populist response is fraught with danger. Nevertheless, American supporters of liberty remain alert, constitutional protections persist, checks and balances abound, and for at least two decades, Washington pols have perfected their ability to block and frustrate their opponents. Despite fevered claims this political season, America remains far from a fascist dictatorship.

There is much in America about which to be concerned and even anguished. Yet, traveling the world reminds one just how special Americans remain. Rather than give up in despair, we should remember our blessings and redouble our efforts to reclaim the Founders’ revolutionary legacy. We don’t need to try to remake the world, as so many people seem to desire. Rather, we should concentrate on reviving America.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of a number of books on economics and politics. He writes regularly on military non-interventionism.

This article was originally published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

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Aspirations, Gaza Death Tunnels, Schools of Hope – Article by Edward Hudgins

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The New Renaissance HatEdward Hudgins
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Geopolitical decisions often reflect the aspirations of peoples. The Hamas rulers of Gaza made no secret of their aspirations when they built a secret tunnel from their territory into Israel: to kidnap and kill Jews. But a focus on the physical tunnel itself lends a telling perspective on the self-made hell of these moral monsters.

Hamas_tunnel_map

Death tunnel or schools?

The latest of many tunnels discovered by the Israeli Defense Forces was said to measure a mile and a quarter long, wide enough to bring people easily through it. It was made of concrete, and supplied with electricity and ventilation. And it was to come out near a kibbutz, allowing easy access for the infiltrating murderers to potential victims.

My back-of-the-envelope calculation finds that a tunnel of this length, with 8-foot-high and wide walls, dug 100 feet deep, would require about 250,000 square feet of concrete. But what else could that material have been used to build?

An elementary school close to where I live is a two-story structure that is about 190 feet square. Such a space could fit 18 decent-sized classrooms, a few administrative offices, and a large rec-room/cafeteria, all with concrete interior walls. Such a school could educate around 1,000 kids at a time.

I calculate that such a school would require about 125,000 square feet of concrete. In other words, the 250,000 square feet in the Hamas death tunnel could have built two elementary schools to educate 2,000 children at a time.

Condemning their own children

The Gazans chose their Hamas rulers who reflected the people’s aspirations when they built that tunnel to kill Jewish children. But they’ve no doubt killed many Gazan children as well. You see, one report suggested that at least 160 Palestinian children died as forced laborers building the tunnels that the Israeli Defense Forces discovered and destroyed two years ago.

A tunnel-versus-school decision was not put to a vote—nothing is in Gaza. But the aspirations of the Gazans is reflected in this fact: rather than sitting in school rooms to improve their minds in order to improve their young lives, many of those young lives were worked to agonizing deaths to sate the insatiable hatred of parents who would condemn their young children to such a fate.

The hope

The Nazis used concrete to build gas chambers so they could exterminate six million Jews. But an aspiration different from that of the Gazans and Nazis came out of the Holocaust. A few days after the Bergen-Belsen death camp was liberated by the Allies in 1945, a visiting journalist recorded an extraordinary event. With bodies of the murder victims still lying unburied, a British chaplain concluded a seder for the weakened, physically wrecked, surviving Jews. They sang the “Hatikva,” the Zionist anthem that became the national anthem of the new state of Israel three years later. Hatikva means “the hope.” Those survivors voiced their aspirations to rebuild their lives and to build a country in which they and their children could live without fear and could achieve the productive goals that should be the aspiration of every individual.

Bergen_Belsen_postDuring the seven days of Passover, Jews reflect on their liberation from ancient slavery and hope that they might liberate their souls from any hate and anger that might still imprison them. And it is a hope at this season that the hearts and minds of Gazans, Palestinians, and all individuals might aspire to turn to the works of peace and prosperity.

Dr. Edward Hudgins directs advocacy and is a senior scholar for The Atlas Society, the center for Objectivism in Washington, D.C.

Copyright The Atlas Society. For more information, please visit www.atlassociety.org.

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Yes, Prince Faisal, We Need to ‘Recalibrate’ Our Relationship – Article by Ron Paul

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The New Renaissance HatRon Paul
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For decades the US and Saudi Arabia have shared a peculiar relationship: the Saudis sell relatively cheap oil to the United States for which they accept our fiat currency. They then recycle those paper dollars into the US military-industrial complex through the purchase of billions of dollars worth of military equipment, and the US guarantees the security of the Saudi monarchy.

By accepting only dollars for the sale of its oil, the Saudis help the dollar remain the world’s reserve currency. This has meant that we can export inflation, finance the warfare/welfare state, and delay our day of financial reckoning.

But it seems this longstanding entangling alliance is coming apart.

First, the US nuclear deal with Iran has infuriated the Saudis. They view Iran as bitter rivals and spared no expense in Washington to derail the deal. They were not successful – at least not yet. They have also been frustrated that the US has not devoted more of its resources to the Saudi “regime change” project in Syria, seen as a way to reduce Iranian influence in the Middle East.

But it is the potential release of the secret 28 pages of the 9/11 Report that purportedly show Saudi government involvement in the attacks on New York and Washington that threatens to really blow up US/Saudi relations. The relatives of the victims are demanding the right to hold the Saudi government legally accountable if it is shown to have had a role in the attacks, and the Senate’s “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” would lift Saudi sovereign immunity and allow lawsuits to go forward. The Saudis threaten to dump three-quarters of a trillion dollars in US assets if the bill becomes law – a move that could rock world markets and even the shaky Saudi economy.

President Obama’s disastrous visit to the Saudi capital last week may have been seen as the last straw. Billed in Washington as a trip to shore up relations, President Obama got the cold shoulder as the Saudi monarch sent a low-level functionary to meet the US president’s plane while he met an incoming delegation from the Gulf Cooperation Council. The message was pretty clear.

The Obama PR team tried to put a positive spin on the visit, saying it “really cleared the air” between the two countries. But influential former Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Turki Al-Faisal disagreed, telling CNN that there is going to have to be “a recalibration of our relationship with America.”

I happen to agree with Prince Faisal. We are long overdue for a recalibration of our relationship. While I do not believe we have any business telling the Saudis how to run their country, the decades-long special arrangement must come to an end. No more US-taxpayer subsidized arms deals to a Saudi Arabia that slaughters civilians in Yemen, transfers weapons to ISIS and other Islamist extremists in Syria and elsewhere, beheads its own citizens for minor offenses, finances terrorism overseas, and threatens other countries in the region. It should be known that no longer will the US guarantee the security of the Saudi kingdom.

If the Saudis refuse to sell us their oil in protest, there are other producers who would be happy to step in. The Iranians have long been prevented from selling their oil on the world market. If the Saudi government was involved in the 9/11 attacks, it should enjoy no immunity from justice. If that means reciprocal moves from other countries against the harm US foreign policy causes overseas, so be it.

Yes, Prince Faisal. By all means let’s “recalibrate” our relationship. No more entangling alliances with Saudi Arabia!

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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Private Cities: A Path to Liberty – Article by Titus Gebel

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The New Renaissance Hat
Titus Gebel
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Given Voluntary Cooperation, Everything Is Possible

Let us analyze the market for governance: states exist, at least in part, because there is demand for them. A functioning state offers a stable framework of law and order, which enables the coexistence and interaction of a large number of people. This is so attractive that most people are willing to accept significant limitations on their personal freedom in exchange. Probably even most North Koreans would prefer staying in their country compared to living free but alone as a Robinson Crusoe on a remote island. Humans are social animals.

However, if you could offer the services of a state and also avoid its disadvantages, you would have created a better product. But after decades of political activity, I have come to the conclusion that real liberty, in the sense of voluntariness and self-determination, can’t be achieved by tinkering with existing states through the democratic process. There is simply not enough demand for these values at the moment.

However, someone could offer this as a niche product for interested parties. It might be possible for private companies to provide all of the necessary services that government normally monopolizes. I want to start such a company.

Private Cities

All that we know from the free market could be applied to what I call the “market of living together”: voluntary exchange (including the right to reject any offer), competition between products, and the resulting diversity of the product range. A “government services provider” could offer a specific model of living together within a defined territory and only the ones who like the offer settle there. Such offers have to be attractive — otherwise there will be no customers.

This is the idea of a private city: a voluntary, for-profit, private enterprise that offers protection for life, liberty, and property in a given territory — better, cheaper, and freer than existing state models. Residence would depend on a predefined contractual relationship between residents and the operator. In case there is a conflict about the interpretation of the contract, there will be independent arbitration.

Private cities are not meant as a retreat for the rich. Run properly, they would develop along the lines of Hong Kong, offering opportunities to rich and poor alike. New residents who are willing to work but without means could negotiate a deferral of their payment obligations, and employers seeking a workforce could take over their contractual payment obligations.

The incentive for the operator of a private city would be profit: offering an attractive product at the right price. This would likely include public goods, such as a clean environment, police, and fire protection, as well as some infrastructure and social rules. But the operator’s main service is to ensure that the free order is not disturbed and that residents’ life and property are secure.

In practice, the operator can only guarantee this if he or she can control who is coming (prevention) and is entitled to throw out disrupters (reaction). For everything beyond this framework, there are private entrepreneurs, insurance, and civil society groups. Of course, all activity ends where the rights of others are infringed. Other than that, the proper corrective is competition and demand.

Order and Exit

Will the threat of competition bring sufficient protection to the residents? Consider this: the Principality of Monaco is a constitutional monarchy. It concedes zero political participation rights for residents without Monegasque citizenship — some 80 percent of the population, including myself. Nevertheless, there are far more applicants for residency than the small housing market of this tiny place (two square kilometers) may take.

Why is this so? Three reasons: there are no direct taxes in Monaco for individuals; it is extremely secure; and the government leaves you alone. If Monaco changed this, people would just move away to other jurisdictions. Thus, despite the prince’s formal position of great power, competition with other jurisdictions — not separation of powers, not a constitution, and not voting — ensures the residents’ freedom.

Accordingly, there is also no need for parliaments. Rather, such representative bodies are a constant danger to liberty, since special interest groups inevitably hijack and mutate them into self-service stores for the political class. Unfortunately, the rule of law does not provide adequate protection against this tendency in contemporary Western societies. If laws or constitutions are standing in the way, they will be quickly modified or interpreted in a politically convenient way.

Competition has been proven as the only effective method in human history for limitation of power. In a private city, contract and arbitration are efficient tools in favor of the residents. But ultimately, it is competition and the possibility of a speedy exit that guarantee that the operator remains a service provider and does not become a dictator.

A private city is not a utopian, constructivist idea. Instead, it is simply a known business model applied to another sector, the market of living together. In essence, the operator is a mere service provider, establishing and maintaining the framework within which the society can develop, open-ended, with no predefined goal.

The only permanent requirement in favor of freedom and self-determination is the contract with the operator. Only this contract can create mandatory obligations. For example, residents can agree on establishing a council. But even if 99 percent of the residents support the idea and voluntarily submit to the council’s decisions, this body has no right to impose their ideas on the remaining 1 percent. And this is the crucial point, which failed regularly in past and present systems: a reliable guarantee of individual liberty.

Where to Begin

In order to start this project, autonomy from existing sovereignties must be secured. It need not entail complete territorial independence, but it must include the right to regulate the city’s internal affairs. The establishment of a private city therefore requires first an agreement with an existing state. The parent state grants the operator the right to establish a private city and to set its own rules within a defined territory, ideally with access to the sea and formerly unincorporated.

Existing states can be sold on this concept when they can expect to reap benefits from it. The quasi-city states of Hong Kong, Singapore, and Monaco have a cordon of densely populated and affluent areas adjacent to their borders. These areas are part of the parent states and their residents pay taxes to the mother country. Now, if such structures are formed around a previously underdeveloped or unpopulated area, this is a gain for the parent state. Negotiating with a government to surrender partial sovereignty is certainly no easy task, but it is in my view more promising than attempts to “change the system from within.”

Private cities are much more than just a nice idea for a few people on the margins. They have the potential to subject existing states to creative destruction. If private cities are developed across the world, they will put states under considerable pressure to change their systems towards more freedom, or else they may lose subjects and revenue.

It is precisely this positive effect of competition that has been lacking in the state market to date. Not all private cities need conform to my own ideal rules. Specialized cities offering social security or catering to specific religious or ideological concerns are conceivable. Within this framework, even socialists would be free to try to prove that their system done properly really does work. But this time one thing is different: others do not have to suffer from this (or any other) social experiment. The superstructure of voluntary association allows many different systems to flourish. Given voluntary participation, everything is possible.

This simple rule has the potential to disarm and transform even a totalitarian ideology into just one product among many. I firmly believe that private cities or similar autonomous regions, such as charter cities or LEAP-zones, are inevitable. People of all social and economic groups will not forever agree to be looted, bullied, and patronized by the political class, without ever having a meaningful choice. Private cities are a peaceful, voluntary alternative that can transform our societies without revolution or violence — or even majority consensus. My guess: we will see the first private city within the next ten years. I hope to see you there.

Titus Gebel is a German entrepreneur with a PhD in law. He previously founded Deutsche Rohstoff AG, among others, and now lives with his family in Monaco.

This article was originally published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

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Government by Contract – Article by Kyrel Zantonavitch

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The New Renaissance Hat
Kyrel Zantonavitch
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Government should be by contract only. The citizen and the state should come to a mutual, official, legal agreement. All adults, upon turning 18 or 21 or so, should sign a formal, written, binding, social compact in which they agree to abide by the constitution and the laws of a given country in exchange for government services. This means in exchange for the defense of their liberty and the protection of their rights.

This essentially means the systematic, careful, full-time safeguarding of their person and property by professionally trained and armed government agents or civil servants. The would-be citizen or resident should freely agree to pay a certain fee – say 3% per year of his local income or .5% per year of his local net worth – in trade for expert police and military defense, plus court and jail services, plus the government administration thereof.

In theory the contractee of the state might be commanded to surrender some of his rights — such as serving one year of military duty, or a lifetime of no slander or defamation in speech, or being subjected to subpoena coercion at any time. But the potential citizen or resident is always perfectly free to quit, or to refuse to join, such a slightly despotic state.

It’s understood that at any time, for any reason, the citizen is free to immediately, unilaterally cancel his contractual agreement by giving brief, official, public or written notice. Thus he renounces his citizenship — and consequent legal obedience and political loyalty — to his former country and government. It’s also understood that the government can strip him of his citizenship or political rights — also by providing official, public notification slightly in advance — for major violations of the constitution or law.

In both cases the person involved can either join another government or become a temporarily or permanently stateless person. But no fines, jail terms, or other civil penalties are allowed due to his “treason,” especially not any property or wealth confiscation. If the former citizen owns land, and so chooses, he can theoretically become a one-man country. Or the previously-signed government contract may require him to sell his land for a fair price and then leave.

Because the former citizen or resident is no longer bound under political contract to some social group, and thus is no longer paying his service fees or “taxes”, the old government will now stay off his private real estate, and will no longer necessarily protect his person or property from criminals and invaders, i.e. from any attackers or rights-violators. He must defend himself.

Moreover the newly independent person can no longer visit his former country without government permission, such as a visa of some kind. When such a person does visit he must temporarily subject himself to the local laws of the foreign government, and perhaps also pay some sort of visitor’s fee.

Government by contract ensures that any given state is fully legitimate and proper in that it clearly and openly enjoys 100% of the consent of the governed, from its voluntary members. Convicted criminals may dispute this, but they freely chose to become citizens or residents prior to conviction. Their arrest, trial, and punishment should be entirely open, and a matter of public record, as well as completely based upon the principles of justice and individual rights, and a product of laws that the convicted criminal previously freely agreed to.

Any given government should follow the legitimate and proper course of attaining a formal, serious, contractual assent from the totality of its adult citizenry, and all free, sovereign individuals therein. A government not founded on the consent of the governed is a type of criminal syndicate or imposed tyranny which desperately needs to be avoided.

Kyrel Zantonavitch is the founder of The Liberal Institute  (http://www.liberalinstitute.com/) and author of Pure Liberal Fire: Brief Essays on the New, General, and Perfected Philosophy of Western Liberalism.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

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Earth Day’s Subtle Pollution – Article by Edward Hudgins

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The New Renaissance HatEdward Hudgins
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On the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, my high school class traveled to the Mall in D.C. to mark the occasion. Me? I skipped the trip. Instead, I stayed home to watch the crippled Apollo 13 spacecraft return to Earth. My classmates and I had different values. And in the years since, I’ve watched as some of the sub-rosa values of Earth Day have spread to pollute our culture.

save-the-planet-kill-yourselfEarth Day as soft indoctrination

To get the obvious out of the way, it is valid to be concerned about the measurable adverse effects on human health of raw sewage, or toxic waste dumped into rivers, or poisonous factory fumes pumped out to choking lungs. But that concern has metastasized into a cultural hypochondria, a fear that everything created by humans is dangerous and, worse, is dangerous to an abstraction called “the environment” rather than to humans. What happened? For four and a half decades Earth Day has spread a form of soft indoctrination. Every year, school kids cut out little paper trees and leaves, visit recycling plants, watch Al Gore’s Earth in the Balance, and are generally asked by teachers, “What are you doing to help the environment?” Local news reporters visit the Earth Day Greenpeace booths at the town park and interview local politicos or business folks about how they are conserving the planet.
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All value is for humans

What’s missing from this picture? Humans! Certainly the messages are mixed. Certainly there is talk about our kids living healthier lives if they are not exposed to carcinogens and the like. But the subtle shift fostered by this annual April ritual is from the material world being of value to humans to the material world being of value in and of itself.

Forests are of value to humans because we can use their trees for lumber for our houses—good for our material well-being—or walk through them to enjoy their beauty—good for our spiritual well-being. But they are not of value in and of themselves. Yet Earth Day has conditioned two generations to anthropomorphize forests, rivers, oceans, and “the environment” as entities with rights apart from us, the conscious valuers. And these two generations are now susceptible to the appeals of the environmental extremists who argue, in essence, that humans are trespassers on the planet. Thus, we see arguments for public policies that would demonstrably harm humans, especially those in less developed countries.

The value of technology and achievement

Worse, an unthinking regard for the environment blinds many to real future challenges and their only solutions. As poorer countries develop higher living standards, they will not be able to consume resources at the rate Western countries did when they were industrializing. New technologies that allow for more efficient and, as a result, less polluting ways to use resources will be essential. Technology is what created cities, skyscrapers, factories, trains, planes, cars, rockets, and most things that radical environmentalists want to curtail. Technologies are achievements of the human mind that, in turn, empower us to achieve more in our lives and in the world.

31st_centuryThis vision of the future is already grating on those who have been poisoned by the subtle extremist message of Earth Day. But the achievements in recent decades in information technology and the emerging achievements in nanotech, biotech, and artificial intelligence are causing many young people especially to shake off the destructive Earth Day ideology. These individuals understand not only that technology will help us meet true challenges to human well-being. They also appreciate that human well-being is the standard of value.

Let’s hope that in the future Earth Day is superseded by Human Achievement Day!

Dr. Edward Hudgins directs advocacy and is a senior scholar for The Atlas Society, the center for Objectivism in Washington, D.C.

Copyright The Atlas Society. For more information, please visit www.atlassociety.org.

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The Need for a “Buy Human” Program – Article by Bradley Doucet

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

The New Renaissance HatBradley Doucet
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The Canadian government is apparently facing growing pressure to graft a Buy Canadian program onto its billions of dollars of planned infrastructure spending. That way, all those taxpayer dollars would help support employment and economic growth here at home instead of shipping it across the border and overseas. Who could object to such a well-meaning policy to prop up good, Canadian jobs?

Well, for starters, someone concerned with cost-effectiveness could raise an objection. Such a person might argue that our representatives in government have a responsibility to see that we taxpayers get our money’s worth when they, for example, decide from whom to buy the steel that will be used to build our bridges. Before raising our taxes even higher than they already are, or sinking us further into debt and saddling our kids with the bill, they should try to stretch each tax dollar as far as it’ll go. And if getting the best value for our money means buying steel from China, then that’s what they should do.

Someone who understands the general benefits of trade and specialization could also easily object to a Buy Canadian program. When we engage in voluntary exchange with other people, we do so because we expect to benefit—and the people we trade with do the same. By specializing in some form of production, we can get better at it, becoming more skilled and even finding better ways of doing things. Then, through trade, we benefit not only from our own skills and innovations, but from other people’s as well. Importantly, this dynamic holds whether our trading partners are across the street or on the other side of the planet.

On the flipside, someone who understands how harmful a trade war is to everyone concerned would have good reason to object to measures like a Buy Canadian program. All parties are losers in a trade war, as protectionist barriers beget more protectionist barriers. It’s like two imbeciles in a gunfight: one shoots himself in the foot, and his rival retaliates by shooting himself in his foot. As our economies limp along with these self-inflicted wounds, we are also in increased danger of seeing our strained relations deteriorate into actual wars, since instead of at least valuing foreigners for what we can get from them through trade, we find it easier to denigrate them as something less than human, the better to justify dropping bombs on them. If this seems farfetched, just think of how certain media outlets portray the people who are currently having bombs dropped on them.

And speaking of foreigners, someone whose concern for the well-being of his or her fellow humans doesn’t stop at an imaginary line on a map could also find a Buy Canadian program objectionable. It’s true that some people’s lives here at home are disrupted when businesses close, or when certain kinds of jobs disappear altogether from the local landscape. But the people we trade with in other countries? They’re people too, and trade benefits them just as it benefits someone in this country. Why their well-being should matter less to me because they live in a different country, I’ve never understood.

If we want to lend a hand to our neighbours who lose their jobs, we can help them transition to some other kind of work. But “we” shouldn’t keep making steel if “we” can’t make it at a competitive price anymore; instead, we should switch to doing something else, and buy our steel from people willing and able to produce it and sell it at a lower price. They in turn will buy from us the things that we are comparatively good at. And if other governments want to subsidize their steel industries—and therefore our purchases of steel—then our own governments shouldn’t compound the mistake by following suit.

Think about it: If it makes sense to Buy Canadian, then why not Buy Quebecois? Buy Montreal? Buy Mile-End? Buy Fairmount-between-St-Laurent-and-Clark? The simple fact is that global trade has made the globe richer, helping to bring us closer than we’ve ever been to eradicating extreme poverty, and allowing everyone not living under the boot heel of authoritarianism the opportunity to live a decent life. Parochialism will only make us poorer and less connected with other people around the world. Instead of Buy Canadian or Buy American programs, what we really need is a Buy Human policy, trading with whichever of our fellow human beings are offering us the best value for our money in their efforts to improve their own lives.

Bradley Doucet is a writer living in Montreal. He has studied philosophy and economics, and is currently completing a novel on the pursuit of happiness. He also is QL’s English Editor.

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Is Trump a Howard Roark? – Article by Edward Hudgins

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

The New Renaissance HatEdward Hudgins
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Roark vs. TrumpDonald Trump recently said he’s a fan of Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead. Even if you haven’t read it, a reflection on the key characters in that excellent work will help you understand much of what’s wrong with The Donald. Not wishing to write a book-length treatment on the subject, I’ll focus on just one thing that’s relevant to the presidential election: how one treats others.

In an interview with Kristen Powers, Trump said of The Fountainhead, “It relates to business … beauty … life and inner emotions. That book relates to … everything.” (Here he’s right!) He identified with Howard Roark, the novel’s architect hero, loosely based on Frank Lloyd Wright. Trump builds buildings too, so no doubt a novel on the subject would interest him. But much of the resemblance between Roark and Trump ends there.

Roark treats people with respect
Howard Roark loves the creative work of designing buildings for the purpose of seeing them built just the way he designs them. His work is his source of pride. He doesn’t work for the approval of others.

Roark must struggle because in his world established architects simply want to imitate the styles of the past, mainly to impress other people who, for the most part, aren’t particularly impressed in any case.

Roark must find individuals and enterprises that want his buildings. But he is quite clear that “I don’t build in order to have clients. I have clients in order to build.” He does not bastardize his buildings—sticking columns or balconies on them just to make sales. He has his standards. He is honest with his prospective clients and tries to educate them. He respects them enough to treat them like intelligent individuals. If they can’t accept his style, that is unfortunate, but Roark will not pander. Roark has integrity.

Wynand panders to the lowest
Another major character in the novel is Gail Wynand, who rose from nothing to build a chain of “Banner” newspapers. Wynand is good at what he does but what he does is not good. He builds his empire by appealing to the lowest common denominator among his readers. He is a yellow journalist who feeds them scandal, sensation, and schlock. He sees his readers as basically stupid and irrational, and his idea of success is not to appeal to the best within them but, rather, the worst, assuming they deserve nothing better.

And that is how Trump approaches prospective voters in his political campaign. It’s all a sensationalist, headline-grabbing show. It’s saying the most outrageous things to appeal to emotions on the assumption that his audience can’t or doesn’t want to actually think.

Which works?
But there is a major difference between Wynand and Trump. Wynand wants power over others but his sense of self-worth is not dependent on the adulation of the mob he wants to rule. Trump, on the other hand, seems to drink up the applause of his audience, and if someone challenges him, it’s personal and rates the response of the most insecure playground bully.

By contrast, in The Fountainhead, when the novel’s most malicious villain who has tried to block Roark’s career approaches him and asks “What do you think of me?” Roark responds, “But I don’t think of you.” That’s true self-esteem!

Which approach works better: Roark’s career built on dealing with people based on reason, or Wynand’s career built on treating people like idiots? Read The Fountainhead to discover the intriguing answer you probably already suspect. In terms of Trump’s political career, it will depend on how many voters prefer to be treated like idiots rather than with respect.

Dr. Edward Hudgins directs advocacy and is a senior scholar for The Atlas Society, the center for Objectivism in Washington, D.C.

Copyright The Atlas Society. For more information, please visit www.atlassociety.org.

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What Did Fed Chairman Yellen Tell Obama? – Article by Ron Paul

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

The New Renaissance HatRon Paul
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This week, President Obama and Vice President Biden held a hastily arranged secret meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen. According to the one paragraph statement released by the White House following the meeting, Yellen, Obama, and Biden simply “exchanged notes” about the economy and the progress of financial reform. Because the meeting was held behind closed doors, the American people have no way of knowing what else the three might have discussed.

Yellen’s secret meeting at the White House followed an emergency secret Federal Reserve Board meeting. The Fed then held another secret meeting to discuss bank reform. These secret meetings come on the heels of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s estimate that first quarter GDP growth was .01 percent, dangerously close to the official definition of recession.

Thus the real reason for all these secret meetings could be a panic that the Fed’s eight-year explosion of money creation has not just failed to revive the economy, but is about to cause another major market meltdown.

Establishment politicians and economists find the Fed’s failures puzzling. According to the Keynesian paradigm that still dominates the thinking of most policymakers, the Fed’s money creation should have produced such robust growth that today the Fed would be raising interest rates to prevent the economy from “overheating.”

The Fed’s response to its failures is to find new ways to pump money into the economy. Hence the Fed is actually considering implementing “negative interest rates.” Negative interest rates are a hidden tax on savings. Negative interest rates may create the short-term illusion of growth, but, by discouraging savings, they will cause tremendous long-term economic damage.

Even as Yellen admits that the Fed “has not taken negative interest rates off the table,” she and other Fed officials are still promising to raise rates this year. The Federal Reserve needs to promise future rate increases in order to stop nervous investors from fleeing US markets and challenging the dollar’s reserve currency status.

The Fed can only keep the wolves at bay with promises of future rate increases for so long before its polices cause a major dollar crisis. However, raising rates could also cause major economic problems. Higher interest rates will hurt the millions of Americans struggling with student loan, credit card, and other forms of debt. Already over 40 percent of Americans who owe student loan debt are defaulting on their payments. If Federal Reserve policies increase the burden of student loan debt, the number of defaults will dramatically increase leading to a bursting of the student loan bubble.

By increasing the federal government’s cost of borrowing, an interest rate increase will also make it harder for the federal government to manage its debt. Increased costs of debt financing will place increased burden on the American people and could be the last straw that finally pushes the federal government into a Greek-style financial crisis.

The no-win situation the Fed finds itself in is a sign that we are reaching the inevitable collapse of the fiat currency system. Unless immediate steps are taken to manage the transition, this collapse could usher in an economic catastrophe dwarfing the Great Depression. Therefore, those of us who know the truth must redouble our efforts to spread the ideas of liberty.

If we are successful, we may be able to force Congress to properly manage the transition by cutting spending in all areas and auditing, then ending, the Federal Reserve. We may also be able to ensure the current crisis ends not just the Fed but the entire welfare-warfare state.

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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