In a recent article, my dad and I criticize both McCain and Obama for their assault on individual rights. The article closes:
Ari feels free to mention that he’s seriously considering writing in John Galt for president. With so many political “leaders” blaming liberty for the problems caused by political controls, and promising as the answer more severe controls, this election is starting to feel a lot like the world of Atlas Shrugged.
Two letter writers make my point for me.
Jim Ciha replies:
As a forward-thinking progressive not stuck in the capitalistic pro-gun mindset, it’s always amusing to read Linn and Ari Armstrong’s column. In their latest diatribe, Ari considers voting for Obama because McCain is the worst evil in the race but then he changes his mind (shocking!) and decides not to vote for Obama.
Now, it’s pretty laughable to be told that Ari was ever considering voting for Obama when the two Armstrongs spend 13 paragraphs criticizing Obama and only two paragraphs criticizing McCain. The Armstrongs are such teasers. Just when you think they might turn into forward-thinking human beings working for the common good, they go ahead a fall back onto their hysterical Democrats-are-going-to-destroy-our-way-of-life routine. These Armstrongs are such kidders.
What’s remarkable about this letter is that it does not contain a single argument. Instead, it accuses me of dishonesty, ignoring the fact that the article explicitly mentions another piece of mine from June 6 in which I lay out my case for voting against McCain by casting my vote with Obama.
Ciha claims that he is “forward-thinking,” “progressive,” not “stuck” in some mindset presumed (but not shown) to be wrong, and an advocate of “the common good,” which of course Ciha doesn’t bother to define.
Like I said, “this election is starting to feel a lot like the world of Atlas Shrugged.”
In another letter, Robert I. Laitres writes:
The most recent Armstrong column (“How Obama lost another vote”) provides us with another example of intellectual myopia and the resultant view of the world.
Some of us do agree that religious organizations have absolutely no business receiving tax dollars. What amazes me in the Armstrong position is that they obviously ignore an even larger group of “pigs at the trough.”
We are speaking of industries, financial institutions and agricultural organizations who believe that they are “entitled” to subsidies and “incentives.” It would seem that, it being a much larger problem, the Armstrong[s] might rail against those even louder. But they do not. …
Where do the Armstrongs stand on those issues? Or is their belief in “corporatism” so deep that they cannot bring themselves to condemn the irresponsibility endemic in their philosophy and its consequences?
What of the reported food poisoning of thousands (the real figure is “reported cases” multiplied by 30 to 40) of citizens throughout the United States? Or are the Armstrong going to repeat their standard mantra of “The free market will take care of it?” It may, but after how many people have become sick and/or died?
Theory is fine, but even the Armstrongs will have to admit that people do not live in the theoretical world of John Galt? They live in, and have to deal with, the real one.
Laitress here simply accuses us of something of which are not guilty: accepting or in any way sanctioning “corporatism,” understood here as granting select businesses political favors. We have indeed routinely and loudly condemned all forms of corporate welfare and political favoritism. (The fact that we did not do so in the cited column proves only that we can’t solve the problems of the world in 800 words.) Yet Laitress tries to smear us with the corporatist position in order to discredit our free-market position, which is diametrically opposed to corporatism.
Laitres does bring up an interesting issue with poisonings; I assume he’s referring to the cases of bacterial contamination. In response, I point out that the free market did in fact take care of it. As soon as it becomes known that a certain product is contaminated, stores immediately clear their shelves of the item, and the company responsible takes a huge financial hit. A free market operates under laws protecting individual rights, including torts that protect against harm. Nobody argues that under a free market everyone and every product is perfect. Yet Laitres implicitly condemns us for (non-existent) utopianism.
The part of Laitres’s letter that reminds me of Atlas is his insistence that the “theoretical world” is not to be trusted. After completely misrepresenting what our theory actually is, Laitres suggests that theory per se is suspect. And according to what theory does Laitres make his arguments? He doesn’t bother to inquire.
It’s almost as though Ciha and Laitres were intentionally mimicking the minor villains of Atlas Shrugged.