Atlas Shrugged: Make the Trains Run on Time

AtlasLocomotive

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter VThe band of crossties swept in wide curves around granite corners, clinging to the mountainsides of Colorado. Dagny walked down the ties, keeping her hands in her coat pockets, and her eyes on the meaningless distance ahead; only the familiar movement of straining her steps to the spacing of the ties gave her the physical sense of an action pertaining to a railroad.Dagny and Hank have traveled to Colorado. Ostensibly it's to buy and ship out any … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Men With Guns

Prison

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IIIEntering Rearden's office, Dr. Floyd Ferris wore the expression of a man so certain of the success of his quest that he could afford a benevolent smile.Rearden asks why he requested an appointment, and Ferris says it's in regard to the five thousand tons of Rearden Metal that the State Science Institute ordered several months ago. Rearden reminds Ferris that he already turned them down and has no intention of reconsidering."But that was five … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Offshore Accounts

TropicalIsland

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IIAll the movers and shakers, including Hank and Lillian, have showed up for James Taggart's wedding in New York. Dagny is also there, and obviously she and Hank have to keep up the pretense that there's nothing between them. This makes Hank grit his teeth at his inability to, I don't know, have sex with her right there on the ballroom floor:...he wondered why he stood here, he wondered who had the right to demand that he waste a single irreplaceable … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Second Amendment Remedies

AR15Rifle

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IThe government has passed a so-called Fair Share Law which requires Hank to sell Rearden Metal to anyone who wants it. In practice, this means that politically connected businesses can buy it in quantity, while industries that desperately need it, like Ken Danagger's coal mines, are being left empty-handed. To make it worse, the government has sent a young flunky, whom Rand nicknames the Wet Nurse, to oversee Rearden's mills:"Mr. Rearden," he had said … [Read more...]

The Problem of Private Armies

Since I started reading Atlas Shrugged, I've become interested in libertarian theories of how the state should operate. Like many libertarian writers, Rand is full of outrage against the intrusive laws of Big Government, but the book ends when that society collapses. She says very little about the new society that's going to take its place.I'm going to tackle a different answer to that question, given in "The Problem of Authority" by Michael Huemer, an anarchist libertarian. He makes a … [Read more...]

The Arab Spring in Danger

640px-Tahrir_Square_on_November_20

I first covered the Arab Spring just over two years ago, and since then, I've written about whether the revolutions were a setback for women's rights, as well as the unresolved tension between democracy and Islamism among Arab populations.I didn't report on events in the Middle East very much last year, since I thought there were fewer major developments to cover. It seemed like the worst violence was over, and all that was left was the sausage-making process of democracy, writing new … [Read more...]

Why I’m Not a Gun Owner

AR15Rifle

Last month, Sam Harris wrote a controversial essay arguing for private gun ownership:It is true that my work as a writer has added to my security concerns somewhat, but my involvement with guns goes back decades. I have always wanted to be able to protect myself and my family, and I have never had any illusions about how quickly the police can respond when called. I have expressed my views on self-defense elsewhere. Suffice it to say, if a person enters your home for the purpose of harming … [Read more...]

Why You Should Be a Voter

In my earlier post about whether to vote for third parties, there were some commenters who asserted that there's no good reason to vote at all. Since we're now right on the verge of Election Day, I thought it was worthwhile to address this argument. Putting aside the inevitable paranoid conspiracy theories, the most common argument I've seen for the no-vote position is that the time and effort required to cast one's vote can be significant, whereas the probability of a single vote playing the … [Read more...]

Blogging Better Angels: Hobbes Was Right

The most famous human being of prehistoric times is probably Otzi the Iceman, a Neolithic human whose mummified body was discovered frozen in a glacier in the Alps in 1991. What's less well known about Otzi is that he met his death violently: an arrowhead was lodged in his back, and he was carrying an arrow and a flint knife which had traces of three people's blood, none of them his own. Anthropologists speculate that he was part of a raiding party that attacked a rival tribe and was killed … [Read more...]

Why I’m Not Voting Third-Party

Last week, four third-party U.S. presidential candidates had a debate in Chicago. As is usual in American politics, third-party debates tend to be all over the map: a mixture of completely loony ideas and eminently sensible ideas that no major candidate dares touch. On the surface, I probably look like the kind of voter third-party candidates would have a good chance of reaching. I'm liberal enough that Obama has disappointed me pretty often, and I live in New York, a safe Democratic state, so … [Read more...]


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