Do you want to be a Millionaire?

MillionaireThat’s the question that I saw posted on Facebook and the vehemence of my reaction surprised me. Fuck no.

I want to earn millions of dollars. I write my books and I want people to love them. I love writing them. I want people to read my books and understand the philosophical ideology behind them. That we make our destiny in this world of ours. That those who work hard and treat others with honor earn their millions. Don’t give me a million dollars because I picked a randoms series of numbers.

I want people to buy my books by the millions. I want movie studios to understand the power of the words I write and offer me millions, tens of millions of dollars because turning my books into movies will entertain countless fans and earn money for other people. I don’t want you to spend your $2.99 on my books to make me a millionaire. I want you to spend that money because you love reading my books. I want you to spend that money because the ideas of decency, fair-play, hard-work, personal responsibility, and independent action resonate with you.

I do not pursue millions of dollars. I pursue doing things I love. I pursue writing books I love. I pursue a fulfilling life. I pursue spending my time with interesting people who enrich my life.

This is what Ayn Rand was writing about and she was right. Howard Rourke did not pursue wealth. He pursued the glory of his craft. John Galt did not pursue millions nor did Dagny Taggert and Francisco d’Anconia. Those who think the point Rand made was that money is the motivator don’t understand her and they won’t understand this post.

No!

No, I do not want to “be” a millionaire. I reject the notion out of hand. I want to earn millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions. I want you to read my books. I want you to love reading my books as much as I love writing them.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery Fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Purchase The Broken Throne today!
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When $500 means more than money

herb-kohlThere’s a feel good story making the rounds in the sporting world and I feel compelled to write a blog about it. The owner of the Milwaukee Bucks sold the team for $550 million after having purchased it for $18 million in 1985. That’s a good return on his investment to say the least. That’s not the nice part of the story although it is certainly good for Mr. Herb Kohl.

Mr. Kohl was a rather reluctant purchaser back in 1985 only agreeing to buy the team to keep it in Wisconsin. They were at the time playing in the smallest arena in the league and no other local investors were stepping forward. Eventually a new arena, the Bradley Center, was donated by a local couple.

There was much pressure over the years to sell the team for a lot of money to investors in larger cities who hoped to move the team but Mr. Kohl refused to make such sales even spurning a very generous offer from Michael Jordan’s group. He didn’t have much success as an owner during his years and Bucks won no championships and often did not make the playoffs. This past season they finished with the worst record in the league.

Mr. Kohl agreed to sell the team to a pair of investors from New York who have pledged to keep the team in Milwaukee. It seems likely he could have sold it for more to other investors who wanted to move the team to a larger city where profits would likely be higher. He chose not to do so.

All that is really just background to the nice part of the story.

After the sale in which Mr. Kohl realized a very nice profit of $532 million for a 39 year investment he decided to send each of the employees of the Bradley Center a check for $500.

I know the cynics out there will suggest the amount is small compared to his profit but I don’t see it as such. Judging by the reactions of those who received the money; from the president and CEO of the building to an usher, they don’t think so either.

The employees of the BMO Harris Bradley Center are like family to Senator Kohl, and this was a way for him to demonstrate his appreciation.

I am not quick to shed tears. I sat there and shed tears for maybe five to 10 minutes because nobody just walks up, gives you $500.

I think the main trap that those of us who like to quote Ayn Rand fall into is equating money to achievement. They think Mr. Kohl should be praised for making so much money. It’s fine and good that Mr. Kohl made all that money but his real goal was to keep the team in his city and provide entertainment for the fans. It’s a real shame that the Bucks weren’t better under his stewardship.

Mr. Kohl didn’t buy the team because he loved basketball. He didn’t purchase them to make any money. He did it to keep them in his town. He did it because it was the right thing for him to do. It ended up being the financially right thing for him as well. Funny how that happened, isn’t it?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

Mt. Everest – Am I Orville Wright if I fly a Plane?

Norgay atop EverestThere’s an awful story in the news about a group of people killed in an avalanche at Mount Everest and it made me consider the nature of achievement.

The tragedy killed at least thirteen Sherpa guides on the mountain last week. When I first read the story I wondered why only guides were killed and no climbers. It’s because climbing Mount Everest has become more of an expensive tourist attraction than a glorious achievement.

The Sherpas were setting up ropes and supply camps along the route that the “climbers” were to take later this year. Getting to the summit of Mount Everest was once a very difficult thing and required tremendous skill, stamina, and sheer guts. The first men atop the mountain were Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and his companion New Zealand mountain climber Edmund Hillary on May 29, 1953. The courage of those men and the others before them who failed or died trying is not to be doubted.

On May 23, 2010 a total of 169 people reached the summit. That one day total represented more people than had been to the top since the first summit in 1953.

At this point the well-funded tourists wait in line to get to the top aided by the Sherpas who set up equipment and ropes for them to use. It is still an arduous trip to be certain but is it an achievement? That’s my question.

Orville and Wilbur Wright were the first to fly a plane. A lot of people fly planes today and it is still an accomplishment. Getting your pilot’s license is not easy. Ascending to the top of Mount Everest is not easy.

A real achiever by the name of Reinhold Messner said, … a mountain without danger is not a mountain.

So why are people with little to no climbing experience paying up to $80,000 to get to the top of Mount Everest? Why are they waiting in line on the few good days a year it’s possible to reach the peak?

I think it’s because they yearn to achieve something great. That’s a fantastic and deeply ingrained human desire. Each time I near the completion of a new novel I dream that it will be lauded as a great piece of literature to be read throughout the ages. I dream about making riches as well, but the underpinning is always the idea that I will have accomplished something that gives others inspiration and joy.

This is a wellspring of humanity that Ayn Rand speaks about in her novels. This is the underlying force that drives the philosophy of Objectivism. It’s not about gaining wealth and fame, it’s about driving oneself to the be the best human one can be. It’s about doing great things and the sense of worth that it gives us. It’s about achieving.

I’m convinced this fundamental drive is in each of us. That in order to make this world a Utopia we just need to convince everyone that their happiness derives from their achievements in life. That as more people become like Norgay, like Hillary, and like Messner, the rest of us will join them for the ride!

Follow your dreams. Dare to be great but do it in a practical way. Make your plans and carry them out with determination.

Greatness awaits and the reward is a life filled with joy.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere

McDonalds Advises Employees to Eat Healthier – a Good Thing

McDonalds Food AdviceThere’s a rather interesting story in the news these days about fast food giant McDonald’s. The company hired a third-party vendor to provide guidance to employees on how to live a healthier and more balanced life. This is a trend among industry these days because healthy employees are far more productive than unhealthy employees. It’s an excellent example of the kind of ideas that Ayn Rand explores her novels.

The company benefits if they give their employees healthy lifestyle choices. This sort of behavior helps the company and it helps the employees. This is something often overlooked with our current business model. Things that maximize profits over the long-term are generally not things that hurt employees, they are things that help employees.

The reason this story is making the news is that the company in question offered eating advice suggesting that cheeseburgers and fries are unhealthy choices. This is exactly the kind of food that McDonald’s serves. So there is the appearance of hypocrisy from McDonald’s. Many people found the advice amusing and the company immediately faced a storm of social media posts. As of today McDonald’s has closed their McResources website in order to determine how to best handle the situation.

This comes on top of earlier incidents when McDonald’s offered their workforce tips on how to pay for personal trainers and swimming pool cleaners (these being services that average McDonald’s workers do not use) and another where McDonald’s gave workers a suggested budget allowance that included no money for HVAC and estimated that health care should cost about $20 a month.

In each case the sites were removed and McDonald’s forced to explain their actions.

It is providing good fodder for ridicule but I’m of the opinion that McDonald’s is behaving in a responsible way that not only helps their bottom line but also the lives of their employees. I certainly think that any budget advice should include HVAC expenses as well as realistic health care expenditures. Any advice on tipping should reflect the tips that people of various income levels should provide including waste management crews and postal delivery employees.

The reality is that we all know fast food is generally unhealthy. McDonald’s wants their employees to be healthy because such employees call in sick less frequently and visit the doctors less. This has a positive impact on the company’s profit but also on the lives of their employees. By making McDonald’s a better place to work they attract more qualified candidates. This is one of those employment issues that is important to understand. Happy and healthy employees are far more productive workers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying increase everyone’s wages, I’m saying that what McDonald’s is trying to do through these programs should be applauded, not ridiculed. Sure, there is some fine-tuning to be done but the effort is good.

As for the actual advice. It’s true. Fast food is generally unhealthy but it is also very convenient. It’s not as if people don’t understand this. People understand cigarettes are unhealthy and choose to smoke them anyway. Perhaps the vendor should have listed guidelines limiting the number of cheeseburgers eaten in a month with the knowledge that the site was used by employees of the fast food industry.

As to the people ridiculing McDonald’s: stop it! The company is actually behaving in a responsible way and should be applauded for their efforts.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Star Trek Replicator – What it Means for Society

ReplicatorI wrote a post yesterday about how I thought unemployment was based upon money rather than there not being jobs to do. The idea being that there is plenty of actual work to be done, it is a matter of being willing to pay people to do that work. That if there were enough money to pay people, the only unemployment would be those who chose not to work.

In the Star Trek universe they have a device called a replicator. This device will fabricate what you want out of base elements. You want something to eat? The replicator provides. You want something off which to eat it? The replicator provides.

Today we are in the early stages of creating a replicator. We call it a 3D printer. This device uses base element to print layer after layer of an object until it is complete. These printers are soon going to be on space missions to print food, much in the same way the replicator worked on Star Trek.

I’m going to take a little leap ahead here. What if the material for these devices was incredibly cheap? What would that mean for society? For employment?

The Star Trek universe does not explore these ideas but I’ve thought about them quite a bit.

One of the arguments we hear against entitlements is that people who do not need to do anything, don’t do anything. If people are given things in life then they don’t understand what it is to work. This is a philosophy espoused to a certain degree by Ayn Rand and I largely agree with the principle of the matter.

If we give people food and shelter they will then be unmotivated to do anything. They will lay about getting fat and eventually they will die. They will be endlessly entertained by their Holodeck wasting their life away. That society will suffer from all these people doing nothing.

Another idea is that if people are freed from the massive effort of providing food and shelter they can use their lives in far more productive ways. They can get an education, learn an art, use their minds and their time to improve society.

So if the replicator is coming, if cheap food, cheap energy, and cheap shelter are soon to be available to all (and I think they will be), and if robotics will free us from mundane tasks; what is the looming future? Will we become a society of do nothing people or a society of great achievers?

I think it all depends on the individual. It all depends on how we choose to educate and motivate people. People who are motivated to achieve will do so at levels we cannot imagine. Productivity has skyrocketed and will continue to do so as automation increasingly enters our life. People who decide to lay around doing nothing will be allowed to do so because of amazing technology created by the achievers.

The most important thing to understand is the true meaning of life.

Happiness is derived from relationships with friends and family and achievement. Happiness is not derived from sitting around doing nothing all day. That only makes us feel miserable in the end. We are happy when we accomplish something, when we overcome a difficulty, when we achieve.

The joy in my life comes from teaching a good class, helping create a good website, helping a company improve their Search Engine results, finishing a session at the gym, running a good Dungeons and Dragons game for my friends.

Let us use Candy Crush as an example. This game taps into the human desire to achieve. Games that sell are those that allow us to achieve by overcoming obstacles. They are not too hard and not too easy. They have low-level, moderate level, and high level goals. When we achieve them we are happy.

This is life.

The Automation Age is coming. People will eventually be free from spending their lives finding food and shelter. If we help people understand that the real way to happiness is through achievement this will become a Utopia. Don’t be fooled though, we could also become an indolent society, trapped in holodecks, overweight, uneducated, feeding our base desires, and miserable because of it.

My advice, get out there and achieve!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

American Exceptionalism – Myth?

American ExceptionalismI’ve been hearing the term American Exceptionalism bandied about a lot lately and I thought it was good fodder for a blog. I think there are a lot of definitions as to what it means.

I’d urge you to read the Wikipedia Article but I’m going to go over some highlights and tell you what I think of the idea of American Exceptionalism, particularly the modern interpretation.

The first we hear of American Exceptionalism is from Alexis de Tocqueville and his book Democracy in America. He didn’t use the term exactly but it’s the origin of the idea. What de Tocqueville meant was that America was physically separate from Europe and its long political and social traditions. This meant that America could do things in a different way. He means that America is an exception to the traditional rules. He does not mean that Americans are exceptional as in superior.

This meaning of American Exceptionalism is no longer valid. The idea that we are physically separate from the rest of the world is just not true anymore. World economies are now intertwined and the politics of one nation directly influence others regardless of physical distance. If you subscribe to de Tocqueville’s definition then it no longer applies.

In the 1920’s and 1930’s Communist Russia was on the rise and there were many that felt the United States would be the next nation to embrace communism. A fellow named Jay Lovestone was originally a communist but eventually became fervently anti-communist. He argued that the United States was immune to communist ideology because of its strong capitalism and apparently limitless resources. A fellow by the name of Joseph Stalin refuted this argument and was the first to use the words American Exceptionalism.

The United States eventually rejected communism so it can be argued that Lovestone was correct and our exceptional circumstances granted us this immunity. This definition of American Exceptionalism proved at least partially accurate and our strong capitalistic history continues to mean that communist ideology has difficulty gaining a foothold. Therefore, for those of you who subscribe to this definition, it is still true.

Now I get to what happened in the late 1980’s and the rise of the neoconservative movement. This is real purpose of my post. Neoconservatives define American Exceptionalism as meaning that people born in the United States are superior to other people simply by the geographic location of their birth. That our nation as a whole is superior automatically.

From an Objectivist, Libertarian, Randian point of view I can say without hesitation that this idea is antithetical to everything I think is true. What makes a person exceptional is what happens after birth and has nothing whatsoever to do with their physical location when emerging from their mother’s womb.

To me the very idea that a person or nation is superior because of location is a vile and sick assertion. The reason you found success in life is because you worked hard, you studied hard, you made a place for yourself. The reason you failed in life is largely because you made bad decisions. It is the decisions you make after you are born that are important.

To anyone who believes that this is the meaning of American Exceptionalism I absolutely and totally reject your argument. This is a concept espoused by an entitled person, a weak-minded individual who doesn’t know what it is that makes people superior, exceptional.

To anyone who believes this nonsense I say; read Ayn Rand.

If you want to be exceptional, superior; get to work doing it. It’s not easy. It requires hard work, it requires attention to detail, it requires boldness, it requires strength of will. It doesn’t matter where you were born, what language you speak, how tall you are, how big are your breasts, or anything at all regarding the circumstances of your birth.

Every person can be exceptional. The nation that has the most exceptional people succeeds.

You can be exceptional but you aren’t born that way. You want to be exceptional? Get to work!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 for a full length eBook)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

The Price of Gold

Gold PricesThere was a very interesting article in Yahoo Finance about the price of gold and what will happen to it in the coming months and years. The point of the article that I found fascinating was the interview with a fellow named Jim Rogers who is considered somewhat of a commodities genius.

After reading the interview I can see why he’s done extremely well in his chosen profession. He is a clear, analytically minded thinker, yes. But he has one quality that sets him apart and that’s what I wanted to talk about today. His forecast for gold is based on what he calls the Mystics, the True Believers.

Gold is a strange thing. Despite what people tell you it has very little inherent value other than its scarcity. I wrote about the various gold standards and elastic currency along with their benefits and shortcomings a while ago but that’s not going to be the focus of today’s thoughts.

What Jim understands, something I often fail to grasp myself, is that so-called mystics who place their faith in belief rather than facts are not to be completely scorned. I have a problem with that. Once I see a person is incapable or unwilling to engage in logical thinking I pretty much discount them. This is a person who offers me nothing in conversation, nothing in ideology, nothing in intellectual stimulation. To me the price of gold is based solely on its usefulness. When I look at making an investment in gold or anything else I make my determinations on solid facts.

This is where Jim proves me wrong. It is the mystics, the true believers, those who have faith despite the facts, that drive many markets, many decisions. This is not only the case in commodities but they are certainly a good case-study. The price of gold is based on people’s belief of its value, not its real value. The salary I’m paid is to some degree based on my perceived value to my company, not my actual value.

This non-logical thinking pervades the world and sets the price of things, the value of things, to something that is inaccurate. I rail against this faith-based thinking in blog after blog but the fact that it exists, that it influences our world, is undeniable. This is where Jim succeeds and I fail.

He takes faith into account when making his decisions. He understands faith-based belief and, using logical thinking, comes to accurate and lucrative conclusions. He is wealthy and successful. I could learn a lesson there. I argue that decisions should be based on logical thinking only. That the price of gold should reflect its real value.

Maybe Jim would argue the same thing, I can’t say. However, this illogical, faith-based thinking and his understanding of it have made him a rich man. I’m not unhappy with my life by any stretch. I have good friends, I like my co-workers, and I have good relationships with my family members.

Jim does offer a lesson for me. Rather than sit there baffled as I listen to someone making irrational decisions I should make my own decisions to take advantage of their way of thinking. Rand tells us to make the most of a situation, to do our best. No great insights here today.

No axes to grind. Just some simple advice for the other logical thinkers out there in the world. If other people choose to think illogically it’s not your fault. It’s not wrong to take advantage of it. I’m not saying to actively practice to deceive but if an advantage arises because of someone else’s inability to think clearly, grab it! Thanks, Jim. I learned a lesson today.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist

Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 it’s a logical decision to buy it at that price!)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Good and Evil

Good and EvilI wrote a series of posts in March of 2012 about stupid platitudes and one of them passingly referenced prayer. The post wasn’t really about prayer at all but about the stupid platitude. Nevertheless I did suggest that prayer was rather silly. I went further into that concept in another post much later.

In any case, a reader stumbled upon the platitude post and began a dialog with me expounding on why I was wrong about prayer. I replied and so on. Eventually the person began to wander far afield from the original premise and posted the following:

… if you personally know that there is no God, what do you believe about things like little girls in the Congo being raped to death? Is that bad? If so, why? Who decided it was bad? I believe rape and murder are EVIL and horrific, and my worldview has an explanation for the concept of evil. A gap in the godless explanation of the universe is that there I have found no convincing evidence as to why we should view anything as bad or good.

I read this to mean that in a world without god there is no differentiating between raping and murdering little girls and serving them tea and cookies. I was physically upset by this argument. My stomach churned, I felt like vomiting. That the lack of belief in god meant lack of belief in evil, or good for that matter. Not even just the belief of evil but that evil and good do not exist without god.

I suppose one could argue that without god the world would not exist and good and evil are part of the world but I don’t think that is what is meant here. I think what is meant here is that if the world exists, but wasn’t created and governed by god, that there is no difference between good and evil.

I was so horrified, so outraged, that I decided to wait a few days before posting anything.

“Who decided it was bad?” How about every single human culture that has ever existed, regardless of their religious view. Long before you, long before Jesus, long before the Jews, people knew it was bad.

Rape, by the way, is mentioned in a number of place in the bible. My favorite is Deuteronomy 22:28-29 in which the rapists is punished by having to give the father of the rape victim fifty bucks and has to marry the woman he just raped.

After I settled down I began to wonder if the person commenting actually had a christian view of evil or if they were misinterpreting the concept. I did some research.

I went around and read articles about evil and articles about divine law. From everything that I can find, the christian view of evil is not that god defines it. There are broad parameters of wrong but by in large god decided to allow evil to exist because otherwise people would not know good. Nowhere could I find a clear definition. In a number of places christians try to explain why in the old testament god orders his people to murder, to rape, to enslave their enemies but in no place is evil defined. Rape is largely explained as wrong because it is fornication, sex outside of wedlock, not because you are forcing yourself on a woman who doesn’t want to have sex with you.

There are many restrictions in the bible, in particular the Book of Leviticus; adultery, eating four-legged insects (used to be birds but got changed on reinterpretation), offering grain without yeast, eating blood or fat, giving birth to a boy, skin disease, moldy clothes, well I could go on and on. The point is evil is not defined. Behavior, certainly. Evil simply exists.

So, in the end I can’t get too upset. Either the person making the comment didn’t explain what she meant very well or she is confused as to the biblical interpretation of evil.

The concept is interesting though because I’m often asked by religious people when they find out I’m an atheist, “Why are you good? What keeps you from doing bad things?”

The answer of course is everything Rand. I do good because it’s in my best interest to do good. If I raped little girls I’d be thrown into prison, murdered by outraged parents, beaten to a pulp by brothers and friends.

Even if I was a soldier, invading an enemy land, and could rape a girl without consequence I would not do it because I respect her as a human being, I respect myself as a human being. Because I know if someone raped one of my sisters I’d want to kill that person. As would anyone, regardless of their religious beliefs, since the beginning of humanity.

Why do I think rape is evil? Because I decided it is.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 is a bargain for 300+ pages of great reading)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Passion and Hard Work

Hard work and PassionWhile my legion of loyal followers knows me as a prolific blogger and author of stupendous Sword and Sorcery novels I’m not ashamed to admit that neither one of those endeavors pays the bills. I’d like for my novels to become best-sellers and box-office blockbusters but, as of this moment, what allows me to live comfortably is my job at Acumen Consulting as a Technical Trainer and Website Developer.

One of our former employees likewise has a real passion outside of her daytime job and that is massage therapy. She invited me to come and talk to a group that she and a few of her fellow therapists created called the Bloom Connection. The association is designed to give massage therapists a resource to help grow their business. I was to spend a few minutes talking about Search Engine Optimization which is one of my specialties in the web development industry.

After my presentation the next fellow up was Nick Dunne who works as a the social media director for SCOSAG. They are a non-profit organization that helps children learn about art in the St. Louis area. After we both finished our lecture we answered questions. People wanted to know from Nick how important it was to have a Facebook presence, a Twitter presence, a LinkedIn presence, a Pinterest presence, etc. He suggested that the more things you do the better off you are but all this blogging, website building, and tweeting was intimidating to the group. They just wanted to use their hands (and feet) to make people feel better. That’s when something emerged from the murky recesses of my brain.

I blurted out, If you’re passionate about what you do and work hard, you’re likely to succeed.

If that isn’t the United States of America then I don’t know what is. That’s why people from around the world flock to the United States. They are passionate about something in their lives. They want to work hard. Be they from Mexico or Iraq. Be they Jews, Sikhs, Muslims, Christian, Atheists, or anything else.

In other places in this world working hard isn’t nearly as important as is paying off the powers that be. In other places in this world working hard is no substitute for having friends in government. In other places in this world if your skin is the wrong color or you religion is frowned upon you cannot succeed, no matter your passion or your work ethic. In other places in the world your passion will end up sending you to prison or the gallows.

And that’s the message of this blog. Let’s not stifle hard work. Let’s not promote graft and crony capitalism. Let’s not mindlessly support laziness from people of our race, religion, or political affiliation. Let’s purchase products and services from passionate people who care about their community, who care about what they do, who work hard at a job they love. It doesn’t matter if they are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Mexicans, Lebanese, or anything else.

By golly, let’s be more like America and less like those other places.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery novels with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water (passionately written at the great price of $2.99)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Crony Capitalism and the Abrams Tank

M1 AbramsThere was a story this morning on Yahoo about how Congress was pushing purchases for more of the United State’s main battle tank, the M1 Abrams. When I got back from the gym today I had a difficult time finding the story which means it didn’t garner much interest from the clicking audience. The reason: Republicans have no trouble with wasteful spending if it is on the military. Democrats have no trouble with wasteful spending.

The tank’s service life is winding down and the Army Chief of Staff and others do not want to spend any more money on upgrades or new tanks. They are on record as saying they have enough, they want to spend money elsewhere. Can you guess why Congress is quickly moving to force the army to spend $437 million on new tanks? Crony Capitalism of course.

The tanks are built primarily in Ohio but in other places around the country as well. If that production stops then jobs are lost. I’m not particularly mad at Congressman Jim Jordan who represents the district where the tanks are built. It’s his job to do the best he can for his district. It’s all the other Congressmen who support this that rouse my ire although I expect nothing less.

Crony Capitalism has the word capitalism in it but it is the furthest thing from true capitalism you can imagine. It is simply the government picking which business they want to survive and funding it. It doesn’t matter that this happens to be defense related; it’s just that nearly half a billion dollars is a good amount of money and draws the eye. This isn’t an isolated case. This sort of behavior is extremely dangerous to our freedom.

The reason this is so dangerous to our nation is because the very heart of capitalism is that well-run businesses succeed while poorly run businesses fail. A company that makes a product that no one wants must fail. If it does not the nature of capitalism is undermined. Men and women who strive to succeed and build a strong company, employ good workers at a fair wage, contribute to their community, and otherwise further the ends of the people must be allowed to succeed. When people like that see others who do not run good companies succeed, at their expense, they stop trying. That’s one of the central messages of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead.

We’ve seen time and time again that moneyed interests bribe our politician into rewarding failure. Each time we do this we encourage someone else to fail and discourage those who want to succeed. Failure must be allowed just as success must be rewarded, otherwise capitalism is undermined.

The real point of my post today is that the government far too often is the final decider in the success or failure of a business. Congress has decided, against the will of men and women in charge of the army, that a bunch of businesses in Ohio and other places will not fail. Congress alone has made that decision, not the market. We are the worse for that decision and many others just like it.

This Congressional intervention, this Crony Capitalism, subverts the system so badly that good businesses are destroyed while bad ones thrive. Today, the best way to succeed is to contribute to Congressional elections and running a business properly is less important. The year after year repercussion of this is inferior products made by inferior people. That’s not how the United States became the greatest country in the world and it is in no small way the explanation of our recent decline.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water (a story of fear and how a scared little girl learns to overcome it)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

P.S. I just returned from Atlanta, Georgia from my sister’s wedding. To the people of Atlanta: Your road signage is outstanding. Well marked, large, visible, repeated regularly. Excellent job. A big tip of the hat from this St. Louis Cardinal’s fan.

Super Bowl – Breaking Rules to Win

Holding on SafetyThere was an interesting incident at the Super Bowl this year when the Baltimore Ravens intentionally broke a rule to help them win the game.

In this case the Ravens were winning by five points with eleven seconds left in the game. They decided to run a play in which the punter just moved around in the end zone running as much clock as possible and then taking a safety which is worth two points. The idea here was that if they punted there was a chance of a punt return or a punt block but that’s not where the rule breaking comes in. On the play the Ravens players blatantly held the 49er players which is normally a ten yard penalty and a repeat of the down. Well, a repeat of the down would have meant that Baltimore could have done the exact same thing but this time run the clock to zero. So, by blatantly holding the players for the other team they were allowed to dither more time from the clock, essentially, they gained a competitive advantage by breaking the rules.

My plan isn’t to talk about this particular rule or how it was broken to gain an advantage but the incident just got me thinking about the point of rules and the point of laws in general. It goes to an Ayn Rand’s quotes of which I’m quite fond; The  only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well,  when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things  to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking  laws.

Let me give an example of what I’m trying to suggest here by using the Socratic Method.

What is the purpose of laws against driving your car too fast?

The obvious answer is that the law is to protect innocents from out of control drivers crashing into them. At first glance this seems readily apparent and true. But, let me offer another option, the law is designed to generate money for the police force. Which one do you think is true? In my opinion both are true but only one should be true. We have so many laws that are designed not for the safety of the general public but to enforce ethical codes, to generate revenue, to punish those we dislike, and on and on. A law or a rule should be designed so that it serves the purpose of society or the game.

In the case of the Super Bowl the rule is fundamentally flawed because it was broken to gain an advantage. I’m not saying it’s an intentionally bad rule, I’m just staying that it’s flawed and doesn’t serve the purpose for which it was designed. This happens not infrequently. When a law doesn’t serve society or a rule doesn’t serve the game then it should be altered or eliminated.

Does regulating individual’s use of marijuana serve society? Does regulating sexual behavior serve society? Does restricting gun ownership serve society? I’m for an open and critical examination of all the laws that we have, this ever-growing prison population, this revenue driven police force, this moral self-righteousness. I think we need to purge the system of many, many laws but I’m willing to listen to those who think otherwise.

The NFL will address their rule. Can we as a society apply the same logic to our laws? Can we discuss them rationally with one another and listen to arguments on both sides? I’d like to think so.

What do you think?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

RG III and the I didn’t know Excuse

RG IIIAs my one or two loyal followers well know; sports is my first love. Long before I was writing Ayn Rand tribute novels dedicated to the ideas of Objectivism and Libertarianism I was living and dying, mostly dying, with the St. Louis Cardinals (football and baseball) and St. Louis Blues sports teams. While things have changed to some degree, I still love sports.

Last night I was doing some research into ACL injuries because of the Robert Griffin III situation with the Washington Redskins. I have an oar in the water on this one. My beloved, yes, I said “my”, read my Cardinals blog on the subject, my beloved St. Louis Rams have the Redskin’s first round pick next year and the year after. So, if RG III is disabled that would seem to indicate this pick might be of more value.

That’s not the subject of my blog today. What I want to talk about is how people use willful ignorance to avoid responsibility. Griffin is just my example.

The evidence that this is the case is a bizarre exchange between the doctor and the head coach of the Redskins. Griffin suffered an injury in an earlier game, came out for a play, and then went back in. Coach Mike Shanahan was asked about the incident and said that the doctored said it was ok for Griffin to return. The doctor, days later, denied even examining Griffin or clearing him saying he was very concerned by his return. Later the doctor hedged saying he didn’t examine Griffin and the quarterback went into the game largely on his own although the doctor gave some sort of a signal to the coach indicating it was ok for Griffin to return.

Here’s what really happened, in my opinion. Griffin partially tore his ACL at that moment. He knew something was wrong and avoided the doctor because that’s what incredibly tough football players do. Then he went back into the game. The coach didn’t want to ask the doctor because he wanted Griffin in the game. The doctor didn’t insist on examining Griffin because he also wanted Griffin in the game. The next few weeks the Redskin willfully pretended that things were ok by not doing thorough examinations. They didn’t want to know because knowing might be bad.

In the grand scheme of things this isn’t a huge deal but it mirrors something I see in today’s society and particular in our supposed leaders. These are the men and women who are supposed to be setting examples for all of us. They are our leaders, the men and women Ayn Rand writes about, the high achievers.

In the George W. Bush administration there was willful ignorance about our soldiers brutally torturing prisoners of war. There was a willful unwillingness to pass along information about the murder of a true Randian hero, Pat Tillman. President Obama didn’t know anything about the situation in Benghazi. Executives at Enron had no idea of the financial manipulations. The housing industry’s meltdown was systemic but no one wanted stand up and make hard decisions. No one wanted responsibility and underlings knew this and thus willfully refused to pass along pertinent information.

Rand writes specifically about this in the early chapters of Atlas Shrugged with Dagny Taggart makes a hard decision about the train on which she is riding. The people who are supposed to make the decision are paralyzed with fear that they will make the wrong decision and do nothing. She steps in and takes charge.

Failing to heed the moral of this story will bring this nation down. Leaders need to lead. They need to make hard decisions and sometimes make incorrect decisions. Voters need to elect those who are willing to make tough decision and be less eager to attack anyone who makes a mistake. Business leaders must lead instead of grub for more money and bail themselves out with golden parachutes.

I don’t want to be overly negative here. All is not lost. There are many leaders out there who are not afraid to make tough decisions and want what’s best their company, their constituents, their soldiers, and their country. Not only must such men and women step forward but we must honor those who do so and stop making excuses for those who don’t, even if they are from the party for which we vote.

Reward courage. Reward loyalty. Reward honesty. Reward honor. Reward kindness. Stop rewarding cowardice, betrayal, hate, and greed. Stop it in your own life wherever you encounter it, in the little things, in our everyday life.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Great Movie Monday – Rollerball

RollerballI’m sometimes accused of being a bit of a downer and I can see how my relentless Libertarian, Randian opinion along with all my philosophical rhetoric might become a bit tiresome. I thought I’d break things up with Movie Mondays for a few weeks at least and list some of all-time favorite movies.

Of course, I can’t be completely frivolous and I’ll talk about why the movies I enjoy often have a Libertarian spirit. We’ll start with my absolutely favorite movie of all time and one that is right up the Randian alley of objectivism.

Rollerball (the 1975 version). I prefer to pretend the remake never happened. There was a remake? Really? Never knew that. Was it any good?

Rollerball tells the story of Jonathon E, played by James Caan. It is a dystopian future in which corporate entities have taken over the world and brought peace, health, and comfort to the masses at the expense of freedom. One thing about the movie I find interesting is while it promotes the ideas of Objectivism and Ayn Rand it is a world that is exactly the opposite of what she feared in 1950’s communist leery America. She feared communism not corporate corruption although she certainly recognized that thugs could take leadership roles in place of true people of achievement.

In any case, the point of the game of Rollerball is to show the futility of individual action. This is demonstrated by the sheer difficulty and violence of the game in which one man cannot excel long without being incapacitated by opponents. Jonathon E is the exception to this rule as he has become the one true superstar as he leads the Houston (Energy) team to victory. It is decided that Jonathon must be stopped and the movie is about the corporations trying to make that happen in various ways.

It is a raw film. In one scene a woman is sent to Jonathon as a lover but she is truly a spy and agent of the corporations. Before he leaves for the Tokyo game where the rules have been changed to promote more violence and hopefully the death of Jonathon this woman tells Jonathon that she is “supposed” to go with him. He throws her down and slashes her upper cheek with the spike on his Rollerball glove. This sort of violence against a woman is both shocking and telling about Jonathon. He is a man who will take enemies on without subtlety. Then, fearing that his private helicopter is sabotaged he flies with the team to Tokyo.

Eventually the corporations try to bribe Jonathon with his ex-wife and she pleads with him not to play in the final game because the rule changes have ensured that everyone will be maimed (no time limit to the game). She argues for the corporations with this line:

But comfort is freedom. It always has been. The whole history of civilization is a struggle against poverty and need.”

Jonathon replies:

No! No… that’s not it. That’s never been it! Them privileges just buy us off.”

Clearly a marker of the world we live in today.

Jonathon understands that individual achievement is what drives a society forward. One man or one woman with drive, spirit, and ideas. Sure, they form alliances and teams but it is the power of the individual that makes it all possible. Jonathon realizes that and so he goes on.

In the end Jonathon emerges triumphant by doing the one thing that can win the game. I’ll leave it to you to see the movie.

Tell me your favorite movie, and why, in the comments!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
New Release: The Hammer of Fire

Internet – World Wide Web Consortium

W3C LogoThe perception is that the internet is without controls or standards and while there is truth in this idea the reality is that an organization founded by Tim Berners-Lee, The World Wide Web Consortium, is largely in charge. The W3C is located at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and manages the standards for the World Wide Web.

Standards might not be exactly what you think they are. It is not an organization concerned with moral or ethical factors. The standards of the internet are the programming languages used by those who create web pages. It is an important organization because there are a number of different browsers like Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and others less well-known. Each of these browsers interprets documents or pages which are written in languages like HTML, XHTML, CSS, ASP, and many others. If there were no standards on how to construct pages then browsers would have an impossible task trying to interpret whatever people used.

However, I don’t want to spend this blog in a technical discussion of web site building, alphabet soups of initialisms, and things of that nature. I do want to talk about how the W3C standards function on the basis of what works best. This embodies the ideas of Ayn Rand and Ojectivism. Rand envisioned a society where the most creative and dynamic people were allowed to pursue their dreams without restraint and were rewarded for those efforts. She believed that such a society would develop generation after generation of achievers. I’m not going to comment on her philosophy as a whole here and now, but I do think there is a lot of merit to this idea.

Now, as for the W3C. While the member groups of the W3C decide on the standards there is a specific process of making these decisions that works as follows:

  1. Working Draft
  2. Last Call Working Draft
  3. Call for implementation
  4. Call for Review of a Proposed Recommendation
  5. W3C Recommendation (REC).

The basic gist of this is that proposals are created and sent out to every web developer to use as they see fit. This is what we chess players call Best by Test. In chess it is often jokingly referred to as the first move of 1. e4 but there is deep meaning in the phrase. In this case it means that a web standard has been used by literally millions of people and after an analysis phase deemed to be superior to other methods. Were that everything in life went through such a process. Think about all the things you do at work and at home and imagine if millions of people tested each process first and came up with the most efficient way to do it!

This is a powerful, powerful tool.

This is something that is available to us as a world thanks to the ability to communicate across any distance with anyone who is connected to the internet. The potential to create products, methods, processes, and communicate ideas is open to each person on earth. Everyone can contribute and more ideas, more tests, more people doing crazy experiments increases the potential for better things.

So, in summation, the W3C does things in a fashion that should be emulated. Use the power of the internet and its ability to reach billions of people to test your ideas. Don’t be afraid of the new technology as, sadly, many industries remain. Be a leader at your company. It’s a new way of thinking about things but one well worthwhile!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist

Internet Week – DARPA

World Wide WebIt’s hard to believe that there was no such thing as the Internet and the World Wide Web not that long ago. I’m going to take this week to praise some of the men and women who are responsible for our ability to communicate and transfer information via things like this blogs.

Let’s start with DARPA. According to Wiki, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military. It was originally created as a way to avoid being surprised by foreign nations’ technology as had happened with Sputnik. Telling aspects of DARPA are its size and management philosophy. It currently employs about 140 highly skilled people, only two levels of management, and the freedom to hire and fire who it desires without standard government rules. All positions are rotated regularly and people are hired generally for four to six-year terms. They understand failure is a necessary component of innovation and eventual success.

Now, onto how DARPA invented the internet.

A computer scientist named J. C. R. Licklider conceived the idea of sending information from computer to computer as a network and became a project director at what was then named ARPA. He assembled a team to see this vision through. One of his team members, Bob Taylor, then created a plan and opened it up for bidding to contractors. A company called BBN Technologies won the bid.

The first network messages was routed on the campus of UCLA on Oct 29, 1969 about a year and a half after Licklider conceived the idea. It caused the system to crash! In November of that year UCLA connected permanently with another station at Stanford. By 1973 foreign countries, Norway initially, began to connect to the system. In 1975 it was declared operational and turned over to the Department of Defense.

A lot has happened between then and now and I’ll talk about that as the week progresses but for the moment I want to focus on the ideas behind DARPA and some of its successes and past projects.

DARPA is probably as close a thing as we have to Ayn Rand’s concept of Galt’s Gulch in Atlas Shrugged. It is a place where intelligent and motivated people are allowed to pursue their dreams. The ideas brought to reality by DARPA include the Internet, The Aspen Movie Map (think about every movie you watch on the internet), drones and other unmanned vehicles which are increasing in use both private, public, and government, something called the Semantic Web which helps us find information more easily and was pioneered by a fellow you’ve never heard of named Tim Berners-Lee. You’ll hear a lot about him later in the week. Well, the list goes on and on.

My point here is to think about what kind of world we would live in if everyone worked in a DARPA like environment. The problem is that most people don’t have the ability of the chosen few in Galt’s Gulch and DARPA. I’ve discussed this before but the way to make it happen is through proper education. It’s important to teach children to think critically about everything to which they are exposed. Critical thinking leads to everything else. We must reward people for achievement and understand failure is a part of that process. This, by the way, is one of my biggest problem’s with Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand’s philosophy in general. Her characters are too archetypal and seem to me to be unrealistic. There are no John Galts in the world but we do everyone a service when we give the John Galt wannabes an opportunity to fail and to succeed.

Dare to dream but make a plan of action, envision obstacles and solutions, hire competent people, reward achievers, and make the world something beyond imagination!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist

Government Week – Meritocracy

GovernmentWe’ve reached the final day of Government Week, hold the applause, and I want to spend it discussing a form of government that does not exist, Meritocracy. It is defined thusly: Meritocracy, in the first, most administrative sense, is a system of government or other administration (such as business administration) wherein appointments and responsibilities are objectively assigned to individuals based upon their “merits”, namely intelligence, credentials, and education, determined through evaluations or examinations.

The general trouble with the idea of Meritocracy is defining who is the best. In a Representative Republic like the United States that is determined by polling the people and coming up with an answer. This is a good way to get representatives that people want but not necessarily a good way to get the people best suited for the job. However, I’m of the opinion that it can be both!

What needs to happen is that the voters must do a better job of objectively determining what candidate is going to be well suited to the position. Another factor, and an important one, is that people who are best suited to govern must be encouraged to run for office. I’m of the opinion that the current political environment in the U.S. doesn’t attract the sorts who are good at making the country better. Instead, people encouraged to run seem to be those with massive egos and those whose primary interest is having power and using it enrich themselves and those who bribe them enough.

Ayn Rand writes of a certain character type in her novels. When people of achievement are not rewarded for their efforts then they do not try to succeed anymore and into that vacuum comes the Thug. The Thug wants power to hurt other people and enrich him or herself. The Thug is incompetent and enjoys squashing those who are competent. The Thug hires more thugs and puts them in key positions. They are good at manipulation and pitting people against each other to distract them from real issues. They are good at defeating high achievers. Thugs are generally charming and good looking with a way of saying catchy but meaningless things. The Thugs destroy what they touch and laugh all the way to bank while doing it. U.S. politics is currently dominated by Thugs.

So, Tom, you may ask, how do we get the achievers to run for office and make my community, my state, my country, my world a better place? Easy. Vote for candidates who are qualified to lead. Don’t vote for candidates who focus you on nonsense issues and twist every word their opponent says into something malign. Don’t vote for candidates that grossly misrepresent opponent’s plans of action. Don’t vote for a candidate that tells you his or her opponent is evil or a total failure. Don’t vote for a candidate that says they have all the answers. Vote for candidates who care more about the U.S. than they do about winning an election. Vote for candidates who have read the Constitution of the United States and like it. Vote for candidates who think critically and not with their faith. Vote for the best candidate even if you don’t agree with everything they say and the rest will fall into place.

The power is in your hands, use it.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist

You can do Anything if You Set your Mind to it

PlatitudeThe final day of my weeklong attack against Facebook Platitudes has arrived and I like to think I’ve save the best, and by that I mean most egregious, for last.

You can do anything if you set your mind to it.

I can do no better than to quote the magnificent Penn Jillette, “Eat the sun”.

I’m fairly certain I could simply call it a blog right there but I’m going to analyze the idea behind the platitude, the well-intentioned hopes, and the disastrous results.

There are two thoughts behind making this statement one of which is well-intentioned and the other is malicious. The first is to encourage a person to be adventurous and try things. This is excellent advice. Life is better if we enjoy it broadly rather than narrowly. There is much that is good in this world and being afraid to try things leaves us with a less than full life. It’s great to encourage a person to try things. This is just a poor platitude to do it.

Parents encourage their children with this platitude in the hopes the kids will leave their fear behind and experience life to its fullest. Again, excellent sentiment, I wholeheartedly approve.

The negative situation where I see this platitude thrown around is to blame people for failing to complete a particular task. It is often used when the failure is beyond the person’s control and is the tactic of a bully to deflect their own culpability in the events leading up to the failure.

You didn’t finish the job? Why not, you can do anything if you set your mind to it.

The bullies of the world take over when the achievers are not allowed to succeed. This is one of the central messages of Randian Objectivism and I’ll talk about it in another post.

Now let’s move onto why this idea is not only silly but dangerous.

If we tell children they can do anything they might actually believe us. A child that is told they can do anything is doomed to disappointment. They cannot do anything. They can accomplish more than they think they can, they can do amazing things if they plan and execute with realistic, objective thinking. But, this platitude sends a ridiculous message of entitlement. I’m going to talk about the sense of entitlement that pervades our culture in a later post. I really do think that telling kids they can do anything leads to adults who are unrealistic and entitled. This is bad for our nation. When we talk about greatness it is usually in reference to people who achieved after a great struggle. People who think they are entitled don’t bother with struggle. They quickly give up. Having to work for something is not a bad thing, in fact it is the opposite.

I’m playing a lot of chess lately and because I live in St. Louis, Missouri with its world-class chess club I get to see guys like Hikaru Nakamura play. Thanks to modern computers I get to watch a fellow with the monikor Chess Network play live on Twitch and actually get to play him now and again. I’m not of the opinion that I can beat either of them. However, I’m working on my game, playing better chess, advancing, and feeling pretty good about that.

This to me is the most important thing of all. We can’t raise a generation of people who have unrealistic expectations about themselves and about the world and hope to see western style democracy finish what the founding fathers started. So, don’t tell your children they can do anything. Teach them to think objectively, to plan, to try new things. And don’t just teach them. Show them. Be the example. It can be something as small as trying a new thing at the restaurant but not with peanuts if you are allergic to them! Be bold but understand the challenges and your limitations. Be prepared!

Tweet, Like, Stumble, Comment, Digg, Pinterest, and otherwise share if you think someone else might like to read this.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist

The Secret

PlatitudeToday I take on not a single dumb platitude but the concepts of the book and movie, The Secret, which takes much of its philosophy from the biblical quote: “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

The idea being that if you believe something to be true hard enough you can make it true, particularly by praying for it. What’s interesting about this philosophical idea is that it actually has some pretty firm roots and there are ideas here that are quite worthwhile. But, on the whole it is a dangerously delusional idea to promulgate.

The platitude that I’ll choose from the book/movie, which in all fairness I’ve only read summaries, is the one used on Wikipedia:

“One of the most powerful uses of gratitude can be incorporated in the Creative Process to turbo-charge what you want”

This is one of the main tenants of the Laws of Attraction that are the fundamental backbone of the philosophy. This Laws of Attraction essentially state that our thoughts can change the physical state of the world around us and much of this philosophy comes from books written by Thomas Troward.

First, I want to talk about where this idea has a lot of merit and then I’ll move on to why it is incredibly dangerous. Positive thinking is a great idea. Confidence is good. When I played a lot of golf the last thing I wanted to think before I began my swing was “Don’t hit it in the water”. Much better was “Hit it in the Fairway”. So, the power of thought on our physical actions is, in my opinion, unquestionable. When we do something with confidence the chances are better that we will carry the action through to success than when we move with hesitation.

The physical manifestation of this idea is expressed in the platitude, “Put your head down”. The idea here is to charge forward with confidence rather than with hesitation and, again, this has merit. I really like the concepts of positive thought. Before you try something look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I can do it.” Put your fears away and attack the issue. This is all good and I approve completely.

The idea that things are going to work out helps you become more confident and that confidence in turn leads to actual success. I know, I know, it seems like I’m a proponent of The Secret and the concepts it promulgates. But, here’s where things take a turn to the very bad.

It’s dangerous to tell people that all they have to do is think their way to success. You can’t just put your head down and jump the Grand Canyon. You’ll die. You can’t just tell yourself you’re going to get rich and then get rich. You have to have a plan of action that is based on the real and tangible world. You can’t expect tens of thousands of people to purchase your novels if you don’t write them, publish them, and promote them.

This is where I have the big problem. The movie/book promotes the idea that thought and prayer are the mode to achieve whatever you want in life. This is false.

The way to succeed in life is to critically analyze the situation, come up with an objective plan to achieve the goal, and physically carry out that strategy. Even then, success is not guaranteed, happiness is not guaranteed. Hard work is mandatory!

I’ll make no secret about it. The primary reason I’m writing this blog is to bring attention to my novels to promote sales. If people learn about Libertarianism, Ayn Rand, Objective Thinking, and other concepts that I think are valuable then so be it. But, I’ll tell you this much, I’m not going to get sales by thinking my books will sell or praying they will sell.

So, get out there, think positively, be confident, make a realistic plan, objectively analyze each roadblock as it arises, act on the plan, persevere through obstacles, and find success and happiness! That is the real Secret!

Like, Tweet, Comment, Share, Pinterest, Digg, Stumble and all the rest using the buttons at the under the post!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist

Don't ask for a Lighter Load, Pray for a Stronger Shoulder

PlatitudeDumb platitude week starts off with this gem that’s been making the rounds on Facebook of late.

Don’t ask for a lighter load, pray for a stronger shoulder.

First let’s examine the meaning of the platitude and then I’ll move on to why I think it is unhealthy and destructive. Basically, it is saying that life is difficult and rather than proactively trying to make it easier, simply accept the burden.

A charitable interpretation might be that it is encouraging people to struggle past obstacles rather than give up. This is a reasonable platitude but I don’t see that as being the meaning here. To me, this is something that the sadistic boss would say to the meek employee.

The reason I think it is destructive has everything to do with Libertarian ideals. It’s might seem backwards as individual freedom and achievement is one of the main themes of Ayn Rand and the Libertarianism as a whole, but there is nothing in the philosophy that tells a person not to ask for help when it is required.

If we look at this statement in a more objective fashion let’s examine the results.You are given a heavy load to carry. It is too heavy, you aren’t going to make it. Rather than simply ask a friend to help with the load or ask for a lighter assignment you simply struggle through and eventually collapse or injure yourself. Not good.

When I worked at the golf course years ago one of my friends was the assistant pro. At a golf course you work long hours and weekends over the summer and thus miss most of the summer holidays. My friend’s family had a lake house and he complained to me that he never got to go because he was always assigned to work. I simply advised him to ask for Independence Day off but offer to work another day in return. Can you guess what happened? Of course, he got the weekend off and had a great time with his family.

Even more destructive is the idea that prayer can lighten a load. The load is going to weigh the same no matter what (unless we take it to the moon or some other body where gravity is increased or diminished). This, by the way, is a good experiment for those who believe in the power of prayer. Pray all you want the chair on which you sit will turn to gold. Not going to happen. Prayer, like a placebo, can be effective but only when the person praying or being prayed for believes it. The chair doesn’t think and therefore isn’t going to change to gold. It is important to understand this, no matter how many million people pray for that chair to turn to gold – it never will. Never.

If we don’t ask for the things we want then no one is going to give them to us. This is a central theme of Libertarianism. We can’t expect people to give us things and if we work hard and don’t ask for a prize we aren’t going to get it.

So, for this platitude I would substitute: When the load is too heavy, lighten it.

Or: God helps those who help themselves. I strongly urge you to follow this link to learn about that platitude. You will be surprised.

As always, Like, Tweet, Stumble, Pinterest or otherwise share and if you disagree feel free to Comment!

Speaking of which, my mother sent me an email in partial disagreement over a recent post. Hey, mom! I’m trying to drum up publicity for my books, don’t send me a private email, comment! Let’s get some controversy started.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist

Don’t ask for a Lighter Load, Pray for a Stronger Shoulder

PlatitudeDumb platitude week starts off with this gem that’s been making the rounds on Facebook of late.

Don’t ask for a lighter load, pray for a stronger shoulder.

First let’s examine the meaning of the platitude and then I’ll move on to why I think it is unhealthy and destructive. Basically, it is saying that life is difficult and rather than proactively trying to make it easier, simply accept the burden.

A charitable interpretation might be that it is encouraging people to struggle past obstacles rather than give up. This is a reasonable platitude but I don’t see that as being the meaning here. To me, this is something that the sadistic boss would say to the meek employee.

The reason I think it is destructive has everything to do with Libertarian ideals. It’s might seem backwards as individual freedom and achievement is one of the main themes of Ayn Rand and the Libertarianism as a whole, but there is nothing in the philosophy that tells a person not to ask for help when it is required.

If we look at this statement in a more objective fashion let’s examine the results.You are given a heavy load to carry. It is too heavy, you aren’t going to make it. Rather than simply ask a friend to help with the load or ask for a lighter assignment you simply struggle through and eventually collapse or injure yourself. Not good.

When I worked at the golf course years ago one of my friends was the assistant pro. At a golf course you work long hours and weekends over the summer and thus miss most of the summer holidays. My friend’s family had a lake house and he complained to me that he never got to go because he was always assigned to work. I simply advised him to ask for Independence Day off but offer to work another day in return. Can you guess what happened? Of course, he got the weekend off and had a great time with his family.

Even more destructive is the idea that prayer can lighten a load. The load is going to weigh the same no matter what (unless we take it to the moon or some other body where gravity is increased or diminished). This, by the way, is a good experiment for those who believe in the power of prayer. Pray all you want the chair on which you sit will turn to gold. Not going to happen. Prayer, like a placebo, can be effective but only when the person praying or being prayed for believes it. The chair doesn’t think and therefore isn’t going to change to gold. It is important to understand this, no matter how many million people pray for that chair to turn to gold – it never will. Never.

If we don’t ask for the things we want then no one is going to give them to us. This is a central theme of Libertarianism. We can’t expect people to give us things and if we work hard and don’t ask for a prize we aren’t going to get it.

So, for this platitude I would substitute: When the load is too heavy, lighten it.

Or: God helps those who help themselves. I strongly urge you to follow this link to learn about that platitude. You will be surprised.

As always, Like, Tweet, Stumble, Pinterest or otherwise share and if you disagree feel free to Comment!

Speaking of which, my mother sent me an email in partial disagreement over a recent post. Hey, mom! I’m trying to drum up publicity for my books, don’t send me a private email, comment! Let’s get some controversy started.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist