About Me

Mike LaFerrara

New Jersey

Greetings and welcome to my blog. My name is Michael A. (Mike) LaFerrara. I sometimes use the pen or "screen" name "Mike Zemack" or "Zemack" in online activism such as posted comments on articles. Zemack stands for the first letters of the names of my six grandchildren. I was born in 1949 in New Jersey, U.S.A., where I still reside with my wife of 42 years. I have two daughters and two sons-in-law. The goal and purpose of my blog is the discussion of current or historical human events based from an Objectivist perspective. For a full discription of the purpose of this blog, see my Introduction. One final introductory note: I strongly recommend Philosophy, Who Needs it, which highlights the inescapable importance of philosophy in every individual's life. I can be reached at mal.atlas@comcast.net. Thanks, Mike LaFerrara.

My Complete Profile

    Of Special Interest
FIRM Healthcare Publications
ARC On Healthcare
Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis
ARC's Response to the Financial Crisis
The Financial Crisis: Causes and Possible Cures

    Influential Books
-AYN RAND'S NORMATIVE ETHICS...The Virtuous Egoist Tara Smith
-FREE MARKET REVOLUTION: How Ayn Rand's Ideas can End Big Government Yaron Brook and Don Watkins
LIBERAL FASCISM...The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning Jonah Goldberg
-REAGAN'S WAR Peter Schweizer
-SOMETHING FOR NOTHING: The All-Consuming Desire that turns the American Dream into a Nightmare Brian Tracy
-STATE OF FEAR Michael Crichton
-THE OMINOUS PARALLELS...The Chaos of Pre-Hitler Germany...and The End of Freedom in America Leonard Peikoff
EXPLAINING POSTMODERNISM...Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault

    Recommended Reading
-Moral Health Care vs. “Universal Health Care” by Lin Zinser and Paul Hsieh

-Health Care is not a Right by Leonard Peikoff

FAQ on Free Market Health Insurance

Mandatory Health Insurance: Wrong for Massachusetts, Wrong for America

Principles of a Free Society

The Comprachicos

Why Individual Rights?

    Meaningful Quotes
-"I love getting older...I get to grow up and learn things." Madalyn, then 5 years old, Montessori student, and my grand-daughter

-"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." Francis Bacon

-"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." Ronald Reagan

-"Thinking is hard work. If it weren't, more people would do it." Henry Ford

-"Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; a free mind and a free market are corollaries." Ayn Rand

Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
"Citizens Climate Lobby" Turns to Force to Protect Nature at Human Expense
A recent letter responded to a NJ Star-Ledger editorial titled The march of climate change. The editorial promoted the government funded National Research Council's report on the climate. My post regarding this editorial was posted in December.

The letter was submitted by David Korfhage, the Montclair group leader of an outfit affiliated with something called the Citizens Climate Lobby. The letter was titled Climate needs our optimism and energy.

The Citizens Climate Lobby, writes Korfhage, is dedicated to pressuring "our leaders . . . to step up to their responsibility" to do something about climate change. He concludes, "We have the technology. We have the policies. We know our responsibility. Now we just need to make sure we have the political will."

If we don't exercise our "political will," he warns, "nature will make itself heard."

I left these comments:

Yes, "nature will make itself heard"—as it always has. And until very recently, historically speaking, humans were at nature's mercy.

Fossil fuels, and to a lesser extent nuclear and hydro-electric, have provided the cheap, plentiful, reliable energy needed to drive the industrialization that has transformed the hostile natural environment into a clean, healthy, comfortable, life-extending human environment. Today, humans have the means to protect themselves against nature's hostility. But we need the energy to do it.

You claim that "We have the technology. We have the policies. We know our responsibility. Now we just need to make sure we have the political will."

If Citizens Climate Lobby and other climate worshipers have the technology to replace the reliability of fossil fuel energy, then take responsibility and prove it. Forget "political will," which means guns. How about your free will? Develop and market your technology on the free market, where you need to demonstrate its practicality and convince people to voluntarily embrace it. Who will stop you? Then, we'll see if your wind and solar and whatever allegedly "renewables" you can conjure up works and can replace the reliability and affordability of fossil fuels. If you really do have the technology, you won't need to take the cowardly route and demand that legislators impose it by law (as if it is even possible that the whims of politicians can miraculously make it happen).

It can't, of course, which is why after decades of government subsidies solar and wind only accounts for 2% of the world's energy—with all of that 2% needing fossil fuel backup. You climate worshipers can keep fantasizing, but keep your "political will"—your guns—off of our life-giving fossil, nuclear, and hydro.

The extent to which human industrial activity is affecting climate, and whether or not the affect is good, bad, or neutral, is open to debate. But, whatever the case, the war against fossil fuels is demonstrably bad for man. 

Yet, the mantra of the Citizens Climate Lobby and its ilk boils down to: "To protect man from slightly more intense droughts, floods, cold waves, heat waves, and storms produced by climate change, we need to damage man's ability to cope with the slightly less intense droughts, floods, cold waves, heat waves, and storms of the pre-climate change past. 

Even on the climate worshipers' own premises—that climate change is bad, owes to human activity, and man has the power to reverse climate change and return to the climate of old—their call to roll back energy production and thus industrial progress makes no sense, except to people whose goal is to harm man's well-being.

Related Reading:

Japan's Earthquake Recovery: "Green Energy's" Failed Test
Ho-Hum: Another "Expert" Panel Pedaling Climate Change Scientology

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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Earth Day: The "Anti-Industrial Revolution"
“The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow”. - Ayn Rand

One such uncontested (except by Rand) absurdity was inaugurated on April 22, 1970…the first Earth Day. The inability or unwillingness of Americans to understand and appreciate the actual meaning behind that concept has allowed Earth Day to evolve into a powerful symbol of an ideology that is anti-human life.

Ayn Rand coined the term “anti-industrial revolution” to describe the “ecology” movement of the 1960s and 1970s. That movement was the precursor to the modern environmentalist movement.

The basic premise of Environmentalism is that “nature” in its raw state—which means unaltered by human intervention—has intrinsic value. But the concept "value" cannot be divorced from the concept valuer. Nothing can have intrinsic value ... i.e., value in and of itself. But that is exactly how environmentism sees nature. The consequences to human freedom and well-being by the acceptance of that doctrine are horrendous. Mark Levine puts it thus:

If nature has "intrinsic value" then nature exists for its own sake. Consequently, man is not to be preferred over any aspect of his natural surroundings. He is no better than any other organism and much worse because of his destructive existence.

Is not man, therefore, expendable? And if he is, is not the suppression of his liberty, the confiscation of his property, and the blunting of his progress at all times warranted where the purpose is to save the planet - or any part of it - from man himself? After all, it would seem that there can be no end to man's offenses against nature if he is not checked at every turn. (Liberty and Tyranny, pages 121-122)

Think of what it means if nature has intrinsic value. It means that whatever nature "does"—raw nature—is valuable and not to be altered. A volcano erupting and destroying Mount St. Helens, taking with it millions of trees and wild animals, is raw nature, and thus good. Man clearing a forest and “destroying” an ecosystem to build a housing development is not. Animals devouring one another to survive is raw nature. Man using animals for the purpose of testing (human) life-saving medicines is not. Crop-destroying insects or plant diseases is raw nature. Insecticides and bio-engineered pest- and disease-resistant crops is not. A black primordial goo lying underground is raw nature. Gasoline and heating oil is not.

The common denominator of that which is not “raw” nature is that it represents the application of human intelligence to the advance of man’s well-being and survival. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action. Every living species, from the lowest bacteria to the most advanced mammals, must act according to its nature to sustain its life. In other words, every living species is provided by nature with some means of survival, which it must rely on and exercise.

There is one crucial fact of nature that sets man apart from every other living species. Every other species must essentially adapt itself to its natural environmental background. It has no choice in the matter, since it basically has no way of altering that environment. It is thus equipped with the basic means of survival determined by its nature to survive in that manner. Any species that lacks or loses the means to adapt perishes. Man, however, is not equipped to adapt to raw nature. He must, if he is to survive and thrive, adapt his environmental background to his own needs ... by building homes, inventing medical treatments, developing advanced agriculture, producing fuel for transportation and heating ... all produced from exploiting the materials found in raw nature.

Environmentalism’s elevating of nature to the absurd and logically indefensible status of having intrinsic value is a direct assault on, and denial of, man’s method of survival; his need to transform raw nature as dictated by his very nature. That man is himself a product of nature does not daunt the environmentalist mindset. They champion nature, except the one creation of nature that sets man apart. Since man’s primary, basic means of achieving this is his rational mind, the anti-science of environmentalism is thus anti-mind, which means anti-man.

Environmentalism should not be confused with the idea of developing cleaner methods of producing and consuming that which we need to survive and thrive. That is not what the leaders of the environmental movement have in mind. It is human production and technology that is the enemy. Following are some quotes from some of those leaders:

The collective needs of non-human species must take precedence over the needs and desires of humans.

—Dr. Reed F. Noss, The Wildlands Project

Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, is not as important as a wild and healthy planet ... Some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.

—David Graber, biologist, National Park Service

The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable but a good thing....This is not to say that the rise of human civilization is insignificant, but there is no way of showing that it will be much help to the world in the long run.

—Economist editorial

I suspect that eradicating smallpox was wrong. It played an important part in balancing ecosystems.

—John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal

We, in the green movement, aspire to a cultural model in which killing a forest will be considered more contemptible and more criminal than the sale of 6-year-old children to Asian brothels.

—Carl Amery

We have wished, we ecofreaks, for a disaster or for a social change to come and bomb us into Stone Age, where we might live like Indians in our valley, with our localism, our appropriate technology, our gardens, our homemade religion—guilt-free at last!

—Stewart Brand (writing in the Whole Earth Catalogue).

This last is the ideal that drives environmentalism…the return of mankind to a pre-industrial age when man lived “in harmony” with nature. A time when nature was worshipped, rather than exploited for human gain. Rather than a warm winter home, they long for an existence of savages cowering in fear of natural forces. The name itself, “Environmentalism”, captures the very essence of its meaning, just as Communism or Nazism captures the essence of those systems. In fact, statists of every stripe have latched on to the environmental movement to further their anti-capitalist agendas.

But make no mistake. The agenda of the environmentalists is to thwart, roll back, and destroy the life-giving technology and industrialization of the modern age. This is not to say that I believe that they will succeed. Most people don’t equate environmentalism with an anti-man’s-life agenda. There is a real danger, though, that they will succeed at advancing a statist agenda under cover of environmentalism, leading to a deteriorating economy, rising impoverishment, and possible dictatorship. I submit in evidence the two news items cited in my 2010 Earth Day post.

By celebrating “Earth Day”, we should be aware of the enemies of man that we are helping to bring to power in America and around the world.

Rather than celebrate raw nature, as embodied in “Earth Day”, we should instead look around at all of the life-giving benefits we enjoy as a result of industrialization.

Earth Day is the “holiday” of the anti-industrial revolution. Instead, we should celebrate the holiday of the Industrial Revolution, Exploit The Earth Day!

Related Reading:

What “Going Green” Really Means—Collection by Voices for Reason 

On April 22, Celebrate Exploit-the-Earth Day—Craig Biddle


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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Economic Equality vs. Political Equality: Which is Your America?
The concern over  "inequality of wealth and income" is a manifestation of the socialists' agenda. It is an intellectual package deal that attempts to smuggle in the injustice of forced wealth redistribution under cover of the justice of equality. 

For example, a NJ Star-Ledger letter writer (‘Madiba’s’ legacy, R.F. Downey) approvingly cited the minimum wage demonstrations and then wrote:

    We can do the right thing by making sure people who work a 40-hour week can survive and their children can thrive.
    I was at a Jets game where a young man was selling hot chocolate for $10 each. I realized this was nearly his hourly pay. I was in New York City, where a young lady working at a burger joint dropped her drug store mascara. When I returned it, you would have thought I gave her $100. It probably represented two hours’ work.

He concluded with: "This is not my America. We can honor Mandela’s legacy by making economic equality a human right."

It never occurred to Downey to ask: How many hours would it take for "a young lady working at a burger joint" to produce that mascara from scratch?—i.e., to conceive of the knowledge, engineer, discover the raw materials that go into it, find them, dig them out of the earth, refine them, create the manufacturing processes and tools required to put these and myriad other steps together to create the final product called mascara. Weeks; months; years; assuming the virtual impossibility that she could do it at all? What about the tremendous productive knowledge and steps that go into creating the "low paying job" that enables the young woman to get that complex end product called mascara—in a mere two hours work?

The same kind of analyses can be applied to everything a low wage worker's, or anyone's, money can buy. When a low wage worker can afford mascara on a mere two hours work, that is called a high standard of living. What would her two hours of labor have bought her prior to the industrial revolution, when the average person worked sunup to sundown just to keep himself and his family one step ahead of starvation and death by exposure?

On the issue of equality, I left essentially these comments:

D.F. Downey's letter (‘Madiba’s’ legacy) raises an important question: What is equality? To the Founding Fathers, equality meant before the law, not equality of economic outcome. They understood rights as sanctions to freedom of action. They did not mean a claim to the same level of economic well-being as your neighbors regardless of your actions, . . . inaction, [or choices].

Every individual is unique in his intelligence, ability, productiveness, values, self-motivation, self-discipline, goals, physical attributes, ambition, and personal circumstances. Since the only proper way for people to deal with others in a civil society is by voluntary consent to mutual advantage–trade–it follows that each individual will earn according to his own unique personal attributes, life circumstances, and the extent to which others value what he produces by his own work. By definition, this means economic inequality as a natural consequence of human nature and civility. In a free society, economic inequality is a product of human diversity, and is both just and moral.

What is economic equality as a "right"? It can mean only one thing; that each of us is entitled to take by force what we have not earned from anyone who earns more. Since each of us who works earns both more than some and less than others, it means each of us is both the prey of those earning less and predator to those earning more. What kind of society does "economic equality as a human right" lead to? One in which every person is reduced to the level of the lowest, laziest, most shiftless dregs of society, because no one who earns anything is safe from the predators below him. 

What will then become of the "young lady working at a burger joint" when all of the highly productive people that she expects a financial piece of have been crushed out of existence? How far will her two hours work go in the world of economic equality envisioned by the egalitarians?

We've seen this evil before. It is the kind of evil that is led by the ignorant, the greedy, and the envious, and exploited by the power-hungry; the government officials charged with seizing and redistributing the nation's wealth.

The only kind of equality that is just and consistent with a civil society is political equality—the equal rights of all to freely act on one's own judgment; to pursue one's own values; to keep what property one earns by his own work and in voluntary association and trade with others.

Economic equality by right leads to a society marked by a steady downward pull into universal poverty and enslavement. The economic equality (or social "justice") movement is a crusade of the parasites and the power-lusters. Political equality by right leads to an upwardly mobile society of broad-based prosperity and opportunity for any self-responsible person willing to work. The political equality movement is a crusade of the productive and peaceful coexistence. You can have either economic equality or political equality, but you can't have both. Downey envisions one America. Which is your America? That is the fundamental question we face.

Related Reading:

The Left’s Egalitarian Trap (and Why Republicans Must Not Step In)

How Egalitarianism Rewards Failure and Penalizes Success

President Obama, Stop Damning the Achievers for their Virtues—Harry Binswanger

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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Friday, April 18, 2014
"Equality of Opportunity": What it Really Means
“Equality of Opportunity” is on the lips of “liberals” and conservatives alike. What does the term mean?

To the Founding Fathers, “equality” meant before the law; meaning, the government protects every individual’s inalienable rights to life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness equally and at all times. “Opportunity” meant political freedom; nothing else.

But today, “equality of opportunity” carries a completely different meaning. For example, let’s turn to a Gawker article written last year by Jim Cook, There’s a Simple Solution to the Public Schools Crisis: Let’s Ban Private Schools. Few people openly support legally banning private schools—yet—but Cook’s “solution” is instructive for what it says about “equality of opportunity.”

Public—i.e., government—schools, Cook notes, are beset with “stagnant or declining graduation rates, substandard educations, dilapidated schools, angry teachers, underserved students.”

These problems could be fixed by legally banning private schools, Cook rationalizes, because “Wealthy people tend to lobby effectively for their interests, and if their interests were to include adequate public funding for the schools their children attend,” we’d get better public schools.

But this is just superficial wishful thinking. More fundamentally, Cook believes “there’s also a moral argument for banning private education. . . .

Put simply: Equality of opportunity demands that children should not be penalized—or advantaged—by the accident of their birth. Educational benefits, which are the most crucial resource when it comes to determining the life-outcomes for children of all backgrounds, shouldn't be distributed based on how rich your parents are. They should be distributed equally.

Cook is not primarily motivated by the prospect of people lifting themselves up, but of tearing the best achievers down. In the name of equalizing “life-outcome” “opportunities” for all children, Cook callously demands the sacrifice of superior private schools for the sake of what he readily acknowledges are failing government schools. He demands the government violate the rights (and opportunity) of educators to establish private schools; the rights (and opportunity) of parents to pursue for their children the best schools that, in the parents’ judgment, educators have to offer; and the rights (and opportunity) of both educators and parents to contract voluntarily to mutual advantage.

This is what “equality of opportunity,” in today’s usage, looks like in action. Since life opportunities vary from person to person—e.g., the family a child is born into—the only way to equalize opportunity is to violate the rights and obliterate the opportunities of those who are “advantaged”—i.e., those who excel.

“Equality of opportunity” has morphed into an economic term; the flip side of the socialist coin labeled “equality of outcome.” To secure our liberty and rights—and prevent Cook-like education schemes from gaining political traction in the future—Americans must reject any government attempt to equalize economic opportunity, and demand that it return to its sole legitimate function of protecting the only kind of equality that is just and moral—equality before the law.

Related Reading:

Egalitarian Call to Abolish Schools is Morally Obscene and Economically Absurd

The Problem for Government School Apologists; American Ideals

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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Arctic vs. Antarctic: A Tale of Two Polar Ice Caps
In response to an editorial that implied that the polar ice caps are melting due to global warming, I posted a link to a National Geographic article that reported that the Antarctic ice sheet has grown to the largest ever recorded. In reply, a [perhaps] disappointed correspondent said to me: "You conveniently forgot to mention that the report also stated that the increase was in contrast to the Arctic cap which has been shrinking."

Here was my reply:

Nate: I didn't "conveniently forget." My purpose was to provide balance. Arctic late-summer sea ice is contracting because, well, it's a sea. Water temperatures are higher than land, so it doesn't take much atmospheric warming to melt sea ice, since sea ice is close to the freezing mark. (The atmosphere has warmed less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, right after the end of the Little Ice Age. Half of that warming occurred before major CO2 increases.)

The antarctic is a land mass, and thus much colder. A warming Earth feeds the growth of land ice sheets, because warmer air holds more moisture, which means more ice-sheet building snows in colder regions. There could be other reasons for Antarctic ice growth, as the article suggests. But the point is, this development was totally unexpected by the so-called "scientific consensus." We'd been told that the ice caps (plural) would melt. Not true, so why should we believe the other hysterical "consensus" catastrophes?

This is really beside the point, though. The real catastrophe is the unprecedented assault on the reliable, economical industrial-scale energy mainly provided now (and for the foreseeable future) by fossil fuels that our human lives depend on.

Related Reading:

Growing Antarctic Ice Sheet Belies "Melting Polar Caps" Hysteria

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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Stamato vs. the Koch Brothers: Campaign Finance and the First Amendment
In the comments section of the article Koch brothers and their money make America more dangerous by Rutgers faculty member Linda Stamato, I had several engagements with other correspondents. The main point of contention was the issue of campaign finance, or money in politics. 

The comments of other correspondents are block-quoted below, followed by my posted replies (in blue), and follow-up comments (in standard black):

ulyintewksbury wrote:

Dark money rules. It is the new paradigm in politics.

"Dark money?" Private money is only "dark" to state supremacists that oppose dissent.

A classic inversion perpetrated by statists is to characterize any unregulated or little regulated (i.e., free) element of the private sector as "dark," "shadowy," "below the radar"; something sinister that escapes the light of government control; a "loophole" in the fabric of society.

Spudwrench offered his own version of campaign finance reform:

Limiting donations to "persons" with a Social Security Number would be a good start.

So you would forbid associations of 2 or more persons from cooperatively engaging in free speech? The First Amendment also covers freedom of association (assembly). Your suggestion would mean that individuals forfeit their free speech rights as soon as they join with others—right along with their right to petition their government. This would greatly diminish the individual citizen's voice, and— in a country of 320 million people—probably spell the end of representative government. It would eviscerate the First Amendment, which you should re-read. And just to stop people from voicing their opinions in the public square. Very dangerous.

The First Amendment reads, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. 

HAL9 replied to me:

I do believe that you have supported Citizens United and the more recent campaign finance US Supreme Court decisions/

I'm not sure whether HAL9 though he had a "gotcha," or just sought clarification of my views. But I welcomed the chance to clarify:

HAL9: I fully support Citizens United. That was a major victory for free speech, as it involved the rights of private citizens to spend their own money on independent advocacy.

I'm undecided on the issue of direct contributions to political campaigns. However, I do believe the reaction to the recent SCOTUS [McCutcheon] decision was overblown. It left intact limits to individual candidates and disclosure requirements. The decision merely ended the limit on how many candidates a person can contribute to.

As Chief Justice Roberts reasonably wrote, “The government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.”

Smugwump also chimed in on campaign finance reform:

We need a constitutional amendment that gives congress the power to regulate campaign spending.

Translation: "We need a constitutional amendment that gives politicians the power to silence their own critics."

Immediately preceding that statement, Smugwump said, "McCain-feingold got overturned because it violated the first amendment. And rightfully so. Of course unions and corporations have their rights protected by the bill of rights." I chose to ignore the blatant contradiction.


They [the rich] are buying legislation that favors their business interests, often at the expense of the majority of citizens. How is this even defensible in a representative democracy?

"How is this even defensible in a representative democracy?"

Precisely because America has become a "representative democracy." If America were a constitutional republic limited to protecting individual rights equally and at all times, as it was originally intended, no one would be able to buy legislation that favors their interests, because the government wouldn't have the power to favor some interests over others.

James Madison understood that the secret to checking the power of special interests lie in checking the power of government. He wrote: 

"In every political society, parties are unavoidable. A difference of interests, real or supposed, is the most natural and fruitful source of them. The great object should be to combat the evil: 1. By establishing a political equality among all. 2. By withholding unnecessary opportunities from a few, to increase the inequality of property, by an immoderate, and especially an unmerited, accumulation of riches. 3. By the silent operation of laws, which, without violating the rights of property, reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity, and raise extreme indigence towards a state of comfort. 4. By abstaining from measures which operate differently on different interests, and particularly such as favor one interest at the expence of another. 5. By making one party a check on the other, so far as the existence of parties cannot be prevented, nor their views accommodated. If this is not the language of reason, it is that of republicanism."

Madison believed that wealth should be acquired and maintained by one's private productiveness, rather than rely on government favoritism ("an unmerited, accumulation of riches"). That's how I interpret "the silent operation of laws, which, without violating the rights of property. . ." 

Finally, 63 and out:

Money is not speech. Koch speaks no louder than me. If that is what you think our forefathers had in mind you're sadly mistaken.

63 and out: Money is the means to exercising free speech. Without spending money, there would be no newspapers, TV, Radio, books, or any other media forum—and no NJ.com, which enables you to state that "money is not speech." Any restrictions on the spending of money is a restriction on freedom of speech. First Amendment rights are inextricably linked to property rights.

63 and out's comeback:

So, You really ARE saying free speech is purchased?

No, but the means is.

Folks like 63 and out apparently believe that free speech begins and ends with the actual physical voice, as if the First Amendment merely sanctions a shouting match—with the loudest voice winning—and no means of reaching a wider audience allowed. They might respond; but some money can be allowed, but only with strict limits, which would mean that Congress would have the power to control the public debate—and to silence its critics.

Related Reading:

Ideas, Not Money, Matters in Political Campaigns

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Posted by Michael A. LaFerrara on
Monday, April 14, 2014
Why Are Anti-Capitalists so Obsessed with Mandatory Campaign Finance "Disclosure"?
In the comments section of the article Koch brothers and their money make America more dangerous by Rutgers faculty member Linda Stamato, the issue of disclosure requirements for those who finance political or issue advocacy was a central theme. 

In regards to that, correspondent TMoor commented:

The Koch brothers have been publicly linked to the Committee for Our Children's Future, a secretive Super PAC that spent nearly $8,000,000.00 on "issue advocacy" during the last election cycle in New Jersey. The value of free speech is greatly diminished if it is difficult to identify the speaker, particularly when those behind the curtain are spending huge amounts of money to get their message out.

I replied:

"The value of free speech is greatly diminished if it is difficult to identify the speaker. . ."

How so? The identity of the speaker is only relevant to ad hominem types. To any thinking person with something to say, the substance of the message is all that matters. Private citizens have a fundamental right to their anonymity, if they so choose.

Stamato responded here:

Of course private citizens have every right to be anonymous but it is also the case that what some, let's say in advocacy pieces that are obscured as objective information, knowing who wrote, who sponsored, etc., let's us in on why these things are appearing... Can't hurt to know that, can it? And, if information is so critically important to share, why not say from whence the information comes?

It seems that some people's anonymity rights are more equal than others. What kind of "right" is consistent with granting Congress the power to selectively violate that right? There are no "buts" about rights, so long as the rights of others are not violated. 

To make sense of Stamato's comment, let's consider her own column. From the get-go, Stamato's main concern is on who said it, not what is said. Early in the article, Stamato states that "They [the Kochs] do their best to keep their cover [but] the extent of the Koch reach is at least partially revealed in tax filings." Her search of these tax filings reveals that "In 2012, some 200 or so donors managed to cough up $250 million" for the Koch's "Freedom Partners," a "clearinghouse" that funds "their organizations of choice." We find out later the identities of some of these organizations:

They underwrite a huge network of foundations, think tanks and political front groups, including their own political action committee, Americans for Prosperity, and their brothers-in-arms at the Club for Growth, the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute.

The common denominator uniting these groups is that they advocate, more or less, free markets, individual liberty, and limited, rights-protecting government. Considering Stamato's hate-drenched smear piece and its ilk, can anyone blame the donors for desiring anonymity? Imagine if Stamato had the identities of those 200 anonymous donors. What would she do with that "critical information?" I think this column answers that question. The smear against the Koch brothers would not be possible if she couldn't uncover their identities from tax filings. Her column, as written, could not happen. Instead, she might actually have to deal with the free market intellectuals and the actual substance of their arguments. 

The Koch brothers, of course, do not choose anonymity—and they pay the Left's price. But Charles Koch understands what he's up against. In a Wall Street Journal piece, he wrote:

Instead of encouraging free and open debate, collectivists strive to discredit and intimidate opponents. They engage in character assassination. (I should know, as the almost daily target of their attacks.) This is the approach that Arthur Schopenhauer described in the 19th century, that Saul Alinsky famously advocated in the 20th, and that so many despots have infamously practiced. Such tactics are the antithesis of what is required for a free society—and a telltale sign that the collectivists do not have good answers.

What it boils down to is: Those who demand disclosure, which they euphemistically call "transparency," are more interested in ad hominem—to personally attack the speaker rather than answer what the speaker says—than intellectual combat on the battleground of ideas. Why? The answer is quite transparent: If you don't have a counter-argument to your opponents' ideas, all that's left is ad hominem.

Related Reading:

I'm Fighting to Restore a Free Society—Charles Koch

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