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Peter Schwartz

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NEWS & UPDATES

 


February 2019


In this issue, you will find links to: 1) my new article, “Has the Right Been Eviscerated by Trump?,” which shows how the right is now mirroring the collectivism and the anti-capitalism of the left; 2) my post on the latest environmentalist irrationality: granting “rights” to Lake Erie; and 3) my 2011 talk “Our Culture of Package-Dealing,” in light of the current legislative proposal to require large corporations to act in the interest of its “stakeholders.”

- Peter Schwartz

 


“Once upon a time the left and the right were political opposites. The left condemned capitalism and sought to expand government’s role in our lives; the right defended capitalism and endorsed limited government. Over the years, although the right became less and less committed to individual freedom and capitalism, it nonetheless presented a discernible alternative to the collectivism of the left.


“That differentiation, with the strong help of Donald Trump, is now becoming undetectable.”


 


“Many people find it difficult to believe that the essence of the environmentalist movement is the idea that nature must be preserved at the expense of man—that nature untouched by human hands and minds has intrinsic value, and should be protected against ‘encroachment.’. . . 


“In Toledo, Ohio, people will be voting later this month on a proposed ‘Lake Erie Bill of Rights,’ which declares that the lake has a legal right ‘to exist, flourish and naturally evolve.’ ”


 


To those who question whether abstract epistemological principles can have practical effects, here is an object lesson on the consequences of accepting an invalid concept.


Senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced the “Accountable Capitalism Act,” which, she explains, “requires corporate directors to consider the interests of all major corporate stakeholders—not only shareholders—in company decisions.” 


But “stakeholder” is not a valid concept. It negates the central function of a concept, which is to integrate essentially similar things into a single unit. “Stakeholder” is a fuzzy term that tries to unite dissimilar things. It refers vaguely to anyone who might be affected by a corporation’s actions—which means shareholders and anyone from customers and creditors to competitors and neighbors, including potential customers, creditors, competitors and neighbors—which means: virtually everyone. So the term “stakeholder” is actually a “package-deal”—not a legitimate concept, but an anti-concept, designed to eradicate the concept “shareholder.” 


As I say in my talk: “It’s an attempt to say that shareholders and non-shareholders are essentially similar. It’s an attempt to use the implications of the concept ‘shareholder’ and sneak them into non-shareholders. It’s an attempt to claim that the shareholder is just one of many ‘stakeholders’—that just as a company’s managers must be guided by the interests of shareholders, they must also be guided by the interests of anyone with a ‘stake’ in the firm. Which of course wipes out the very concept of ‘shareholder.’ “


So because people don’t understand what constitutes a valid concept, a bill in Congress now proposes to abolish the rights of stockholders.


 


Here is a worthwhile blog, from the American Council on Science and Health, debunking a Reader’s Digest list of “harmful” drugs.



 

IN DEFENSE OF SELFISHNESS: 

Why The Code of Self-SacrificeIs Unjust and Destructive


What if the central idea we’re all taught about morality is wrong?Virtually everyone regards self-sacrifice as a moral virtue. From childhood on, we are told that serving the needs of others, rather than our own, is the essence of morality and is the means of achieving social harmony. To be ethical—it is believed—is to be altruistic. Even questioning this premise is, to most people, equivalent to entertaining the notion that the earth is flat.My book questions this premise.