Why People in America Almost Certainly Won’t Get Ebola

Image: Wikimedia Commons
Image: Wikimedia Commons

The Ebola outbreak in Africa certainly is frightening, and it’s a horrible tragedy for those affected. However, people in America are at very low risk of contracting the disease, according to doctors quoted by Lenny Bernstein in his Washington Post story. The difference is basically that Americans have better health practices and better health care—one of the many benefits of living in a wealthier nation. For example, Bernstein notes, some people in Africa “bury their own dead family members or friends” who have Ebola. Amesh Adalja of the Infectious Disease Society of America points out that Americans are more likely (although still very unlikely) to contract other infectious diseases, such as Lassa fever and bird flu, Bernstein reports. (Hat tip to Paul Hsieh.)

Morning Headlines 8/1/14

Gaza cease-fire unravels“—that didn’t take long.

Wisconsin [Supreme Court] backs Walker, controversial union law“—good news for fiscal conservatives.

The EPA is a toxic waste dump for lawlessness and disdain for the Constitution,” says Mark Levin, as quoted by Michelle Malkin. Did the EPA seek to influence the 2012 presidential election?

The Colorado Observer Ceases Publication

Colorado Senator King Faces Felony Charges over Time Cards

Until recently, Colorado state senator Steve King was running for Mesa County sheriff as his legislative term winds down. But, amid accusations that he falsified time cards while contracting with the sheriff’s office, he dropped out of the race; a vacancy committee found a replacement. Now, as Nancy Lofholm reports for the Denver Post, King has been charged with “three felonies and two misdemeanors for allegedly falsifying time cards, theft and failing to report income as required of state legislators.” As a Denver Post editorial pointed out, King seems not only to have billed over sixty hours per week at one point, but he seems to have asked for mileage and reimbursement on days off. Maybe there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for the apparent discrepancies, or maybe King played fast and loose with his paperwork. At any rate, at least Mesa County will hire a new sheriff who is not to my knowledge operating under a legal cloud.

In China, Muslim Terrorists Clash with Communist Police

Bloomberg describes bomb and knife attacks and police retaliations that “left dozens of people dead in China’s turbulent Xinjiang region, marking a new escalation of violence with the ethnic Uighur minority.” And who are the Uighur? The BBC is glad you asked: “The Uighurs are Muslims. . . . In the early part of the 20th Century, the Uighurs briefly declared independence. The region was brought under the complete control of communist China in 1949.” Hat tip to The Week.

TOS Blog Update: 3D Printing, Harris-Perry, Boston

Here I link to my recent blog entries for The Objective Standard. See my TOS category for a complete listing of my work for TOS.

April 14, 2013
3D Metal Printing Revolution Makes Possible the “Impossible”

April 21, 2013
Harris-Perry Doubles Down, Promoting “Collective Responsibility”

April 24, 2013
“There Are no Values” through Islam

Evil

Though the last thing we needed was another reminder, yes, some people are capable of committing horrific evil.

But we are Colorado. We will reach out to our neighbors. We will become a stronger community. We will build our lives and our values and oppose those who hate and destroy human values.

Sorrow quickly gave way to anger as I read the news accounts this morning. The new Batman movie is a global event and, because of that, a global discussion and shared experience. And the killer targeted that event specifically as an intentionally symbolic act of pure nihilism, pure destruction for destruction’s sake.

Undoubtedly we will now hear endless speculation about motives and influences. But, whatever the pretext, the killer chose to commit these atrocities against innocent and defenseless victims. The “reasons” why make no difference; there can be no reasons why, ultimately, except that he chose depravity.

We choose to live.

John David Lewis Fought for the Future

Historian John David Lewis passed away early Tuesday morning after fighting cancer. Lewis, who specialized in classical Greece, delivered several lectures in Colorado over the last few years for Front Range Objectivism, a group that shares Lewis’s appreciation for the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Rand once said, “Those who fight for the future live in it today.” Lewis, a man who studied the past, applied the lessons of his scholarship to the matter of creating a better future. To me, he was a profoundly insightful scholar, a modern champion of liberty, and a friend.

Lewis wrote three books: Early Greek LawgiversNothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History, and Salon the Thinker.

In addition, Lewis wrote many articles about current events for such publications as The Objective Standard and Capitalism Magazine.

Following is the material by or about Lewis that I have published:

Take War to the Enemy, Lewis Urges
Lewis discussed foreign policy at the University of Colorado, Boulder (as reviewed here).

Renaissance Man
In 2007, Lewis gave three talks in Colorado. The topics were individualism, early Greek law, and individual rights in medicine. My article summarizes those talks.

Lewis Illuminates Solon’s Political Thought
I further review one of Lewis’s 2007 talks, then discuss his book about Solon.

John Lewis At Tea Party
Lewis addressed a Tea Party event in Charlotte. See also his 2009 Tea Party talk (Part I and Part II).

John Lewis Reflects on Tea Parties
While in town for a lecture on the Athenian Constitution, Lewis reflected on the Tea Party movement.

John Lewis on Constitutions, Athens and Now
Lewis briefly summarized the basic conflict, in ancient Greece and in modern America, between democracy (mob rule) and constitutional government.

Photos of John

Following are several photos from John’s various trips to Colorado. Two of these photos show John talking with his former student, Joe Collins, now a teacher in Fort Collins. The photo of John and his wife Casey was taken by Kelly Valenzuela at the couple’s Fifteenth Anniversary celebration in Las Vegas. I’ve put these photos in a Picasa folder.

The John David Lewis Memorial Fund

The Ayn Rand Institute relates: “It was Dr. Lewis’s wish that in lieu of customary gestures of condolence, those wishing to honor his memory should send contributions to the John David Lewis Memorial Fund at theAnthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship and/or the John David Lewis Memorial Fund at the Ayn Rand Institute.”

In Remembrance of John

John will be deeply missed by friends and associates from around the country. (I’ll post updates.)

Remembering John Lewis – Alex Epstein

John David Lewis: A Man Who Lived – Craig Biddle

John Lewis, Hero and Friend – Diana Hsieh

In Memoriam: John David Lewis, 1955-2012 – Ayn Rand Institute

John Lewis – Leonard Peikoff

Colorado Tributes to John

Following are some memories of John from his friends in Colorado. (Others in Colorado who knew John are welcome to send me their comments as well.)

Kelly and Santiago Valenzuala:

John was one of the people in this world that we admired most and his loss is a great one to mankind. Fortunately, he left many of us with wonderful ideas to not only live by, but share and pass along in our efforts to improve the culture. On a personal level, John and Casey, their love and the way they lived their lives together, during good times and bad, was an inspiration to us. I will never forget their 15th wedding anniversary in Las Vegas and the wonderful pictures I took of them that week. Santiago and I have decided that should our baby be a boy (which is what we’re hoping for), his middle name will be Lewis, in honor of John.

Paul Hsieh:

I remember many things about John Lewis.

I remember his excellent lectures on ancient Greece at the OCON summer conferences. I remember a wonderful impromptu jazz piano performance he gave one evening at the Seaport Hotel in Boston. I remember when he was our house guest in Colorado raking horse manure, while telling fascinating tales about the battle tactics of the mounted Mongol archers.

But what I remember most about John was how he helped me regain my will to fight for my values back in 2009. At that time, the battle over ObamaCare health legislation was in full swing and I had become deeply discouraged. It seemed that despite all my blogging and letter writing, I wasn’t getting anywhere. My efforts seemed futile and pointless, like someone trying to fight a raging forest fire armed only with a tiny squirt gun. I was on the verge of quitting health care activism altogether.

But then one of John’s articles on ObamaCare got picked up by Rush Limbaugh.

Rush quoted extensively from John’s piece on his radio show, sending John’s words to millions of Americans. John’s example showed me that a single man, armed with the right ideas — and willing to articulate them with clarity and conviction — can indeed make a difference.

Fans of Ayn Rand’s book “The Fountainhead” may remember the scene when a young man is struggling to find his purpose in life after graduating from college. He finally finds his inspiration after seeing the recently completed Monadnock resort built by architect Howard Roark. For that young man, seeing another man’s achievement gave him “the courage to face a lifetime”.

John did the same for me. Seeing John’s ideas reach millions of eager Americans helped rekindle my enthusiasm to continue my own personal activism. His success gave me a spiritually vital “shot in the arm” at a time I needed it the most. John helped me understand that one is most alive when one is working to make one’s values real. In other words, John helped me understand what Ayn Rand meant when she said, “Anyone who fights for the future, lives in it today.”

Thank you, John, for helping me find my courage for my lifetime.

Betty Evans:

The world will be a less vibrant and exciting place without John Lewis. I was very privileged to know John and be the recipient of his knowledge and friendship. He was the best teacher that I ever had. I attended most of his lectures at Objectivist Conferences and had the pleasure to hear him in Denver and facilitate some of his Denver talks. I have always been envious of students who got to spend a whole semester with him, what a treat to spend that much time with him and learn so much. John had a true love of life and joy that was infectious. John was a fearless person who would tackle any battle and accept ‘Nothing Less than Victory.’ Unfortunately his last battle ended too quickly. I thank John for his knowledge, friendship and courage. He will be missed by me and many, many others but will be remembered often.

Richard Watts:

It’s inspiring to see what a human being can be capable of. John was a high achiever. He used his mind and his time very well. He was honest, sincere, diligent, courageous.

I don’t think John set any limit on how hard he would try. I think his first consideration was how important a thing was, not how much effort it would take. I think within the limits of whatever he had to work with, including however much energy he could generate, John considered only the value of one option vs. another.

He was also a friend of humanity, in the real way. He worked to make a better world, for himself and for Man. He did everything possible to him, toward this end, in large ways and in small. And he was quite generous. Though very busy, when asked for information or advice he would take a moment to help others to understand an issue or a needed course of action, the best he could. I think he did this for anyone he thought might have an honest, decent interest in trying to understand, as his time and priorities allowed.

John had an ability to get to the bottom of things, to identify what is important, to sweep aside the garbage and clutter, and to really understand the basic issues and their consequences. And then he would work to help others to understand too. I would not understand Objectivism nor political issues as well as I do, without John’s words.

Along with John’s great ability to understand, he had a great capacity to value. He loved good ideas, human achievement and good people.

John Lewis was just awesome.

Doug Krening:

I remember John Lewis as I first knew him. He was a brilliant lecturer whose passion for history was wickedly contagious. I remember the first lecture I attended; it became obvious during the question and answer session that this was a man who had all of the history of western civilization integrated in his mind and accessible in an instant.

I remember John Lewis as I came to know him. He was a friend whose love of life was almost tangible. I remember his love of music. I remember his love for his dear wife. I remember his love of his two puppies. I remember his concern for me as I dealt with what turned out to be minor health issues.

I remember John Lewis in his battle with cancer. He was a warrior who would accept “Nothing Less Than Victory”. I will always remember the lesson he taught us in that battle; that it is possible to live life fully and flourish by relentlessly pursuing ones values, even in the face of death. He could not control the cards that he was dealt, but I remember the inspiration with which he played them.

I remember John Lewis victorious.

Joseph Collins:

John Lewis shall be widely remembered, to each for his own reason. Scholarship and the field of history is at a loss, for Dr. Lewis’ reading and teaching history on principle was the oasis in an academic desert. Humanity too mourns at its loss, for Dr. Lewis, unlike so many intellectuals, never turned down an opportunity to discuss ideas and history with the up and coming. He treated his fellow students with dignity and made them feel visible.

What is generally unknown was that Dr. Lewis was a steadfast patron of our schools and education reform. He dedicated with tireless effort his time teaching summer institutes on classical history. His speeches and writings are and will be among education’s great sources for the classics. In fact, among those jewels in his works was a speech which I hope is out there somewhere, an address to a group of high school seniors on Martianus Capella’s The Seven Liberal Arts. His best? And to high school students? Whether walking with kings or with crowds, that was John Lewis.

On my first meeting Dr. Lewis, he invited me to walk with him, of all places, to the Post Office. It was our first walk of many, as he became my Socrates. On another of our walks he suddently broke into a shout and tossed me a sword, he taking another, and commenced to show me how a hoplite would thrust and slash. Onlookers were bewildered, a man in sandals swordfighting on campus.

I am deeply honored to have known this man, and am particularly indebted to C. Bradley Thompson for insisting over a decade ago that I go down the hall and meet a genuinely beautiful human being. And that was my friend. Teachers and intellectuals carry with them the DNA so to speak of the giants on whose shoulders they stand. For my own I shall carry his love for life, of ideas, of education, and of liberty into the field. In this way, as the Greeks said, Lewis has reached immortality. Reputation sufficeth. It’s all we have. Continue, he would say to us. Be brave. He would ask us to continue to contemplate, write, advocate, and fellowship. And we shall.

Joseph E. Collins
James Madison Fellow
Ridgeview Classical Schools
Fort Collins, Colorado

Ari Armstrong:

I thought I’d add a few additional notes of a more personal nature. I wish to recount two stories.

In 2007, John Lewis was in town, and Lin Zinser organized a breakfast at a Denver restaurant to discuss health policy. A surprising number of people showed up for this event, something like 25 or 30. This was when Lin and Paul Hsieh were beginning their work in health policy in Colorado. One idea was to start a new group dedicated to promoting the ideas of liberty, free markets, and individual rights in medicine. We had tossed around a few possible ideas for a name for this group, but nothing seemed to work. At one point John blurted out (paraphrasing), “How about Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine, or FIRM? As in ‘We stand FIRM for freedom.'” And that’s the name that stuck.

More recently, when John was pretty sick and his energy was sometimes low, he joined several us again at a Denver restaurant. Though, due to his surgeries, his voice was not as strong as it had once been, he spoke passionately about living. He said that, better than ever before, he understood the concrete meaning of the abstract fact that “life is the process of self-generated and self-sustaining action.” He was self-consciously living even in dealing with his illness. I was awe-inspired by his courageous fight against the cancer that eventually overtook his body, but never his spirit. Most men never live as fully when they are healthy, as he lived when he was ill.

On a broader note, I cannot help but wonder whether, if the United States had gone in the direction of greater economic freedom over the past century and a half rather than in the direction of more stifling political controls, medical technology would have already advanced to such a state that John’s cancer might have been curable or at least manageable for much longer. We cannot change the past, but we can still change the future. And John has emboldened me to fight for a future of Freedom and Individual Rights, not just in medicine, but in every area of life.

Hannah Krening:

Like so many who knew John, I will never forget his intensity, joy, and passion for everything he engaged in, and his brilliant mastery of all he took on.

But what I want to convey here is that John David Lewis was genuine to the core, and lived his last two years heroically. Though I knew him for years, I had a friendship with him that began in 2009 when he was first diagnosed with cancer. He knew I was a cancer survivor, and so he called me early one morning to share the news that “it is big and it is bad, but it is treatable.” I listened in shock. But it was immediately apparent that he was going to address this with the vigor he addressed everything else. And he did.

In our wide ranging conversations his focus was, to the last conversation, laser sharp. It is a huge accomplishment that he lived beyond all expectations, both in time and in productiveness. Despite the best medicine available, he lived with profound, life altering consequences of the treatment, and eventually the disease. It had an effect on his spirit; the reality of this disease is ugly. But a life force and commitment to reason that he had cultivated long before I knew him made him victorious over it until the very end.

John would sparkle when he spoke of Casey, and for good reasons. It was a delight for Doug and me to get to know them as a couple. We loved the time we spent with them and we treasure Casey’s friendship.

Ayn Rand’s Novels for Colorado Teachers

I am independently promoting funding for the Ayn Rand Institute’s “Books for Teachers” program for Colorado.

If you are a teacher, I encourage you to check out the program.

If you are interested in Rand’s works, I encourage you to donate funds to ARI specially marked to support Colorado’s “Books for Teachers” program.

If you donate to ARI for this purpose, please let me know as well. The total target for the campaign is $19,000. Coloradans have already contributed $1,100 to the campaign, and an anonymous donor has pledged $5,000 in matching funds for new donations. Please let me know whether you want me to use your name or remain anonymous. I’ll keep a running tally going below. Note that you can DOUBLE your donations with the matching funds.

Previous donations: $1,100 (includes $500 from Mike and Jennifer Rivers)
Matching funds from an anonymous donor: $5,000
“Galt’s Gulch” auction leader: David Weatherell for $3,100

The following contributions all qualify for matching funds:
Ari and Jennifer: $80
Doug and Hannah Krening: $500
Martin L. Buchanan: $100
Mike Williams and Cara: $35
Brian S.: $35
Howard and Susan: $160
Betty Evans: $500
Donovan Schafer: $320
Linn and Sharon Armstrong: $50
David Weatherell: $900
CG: $50
Patricia Tolleson: $100
Anonymous: $500
Mike Spalding: $20
Bill Faulkner: $400
JL: $2,000 (fulfills matching funds)

Richard Watts: $1,000
JV: $200
GF: $500
BM: $35
The Kempes: $160
KM: $25

TOTAL RAISED: $16,870

Of Quakes and Cultures

Thank goodness there have been no reported injuries or deaths resulting from the east-coast earthquake earlier today. I haven’t checked in with anybody I know there, but I hope for the best. There has been some structural damage, apparently of a relatively minor sort.

As we breathe a sigh of relief that, apparently, the damage was limited, we may turn to some of the cultural implications of the quake.

1. I wonder how long it will take for Islamists to interpret the earthquate as Alah’s displeasure with the U.S.? Or how long it will take American evangelicals to see in the quake rumblings of God’s discontent?

2. An earthquake, indeed, any form of destruction, is seen as “stimulating” the economy, according to many of today’s Keynesians. (Witness Paul Krugman’s comments about the “stimulating” effects of a hypothetical alien invasion.) But the French economist Frederic Bastiat offered the correct economic analysis back in 1850. As common sense suggests, destruction harms economic productivity.

3. While environmentalists like to blame all sorts of natural catastrophes on human-caused “global warming,” the earthquake reminds us that the planet does a fine job of threatening human life and prosperity, all on its own. As people, we should produce wealth to keep us safe from the ravages of nature, not worship nature as some sort of god.

4. Hurray, capitalism! Because we’re so wealthy, we can afford to build quality structures that can withstand earthquakes.

5. I love how Americans use humor to maintain good spirits. The first image I saw of the “destruction” is this one, making light of the quake. (Of course, this is only appropriate because the quake wasn’t too destructive.) On Twitter, people joked about how the left would blame the right for the quake and vice versa. One guy joked that the quake is actually the Founders finally rolling in their graves. I enjoy this “We can’t be beat” attitude. (To take another example, recently David Letterman mocked the Islamist threats against him.)

So we’ll keep hoping we don’t hear of more substantial problems.

The Rise of Envy

Given the existence of “flash mob” riots, the continued rise of the massive welfare state (which threatens to push our nation off the economic cliff), and snarling calls to further loot “the rich,” I was enormously saddened to read Ayn Rand’s comment from her 1971 essay, “Don’t Let It Go:”

“Americans admire achievement; they know what it takes. Europeans regard achievement with cynical suspicion and envy. Envy is not a widespread emotion in America (not yet); it is an overwhelmingly dominant emotion in Europe.”