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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 5, 2008 / 7 Mar-Cheshvan 5769

Joe the Plumber and Ayn the Philosopher: The Road Back for the Right

By Robert Tracinski


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Barack Obama's victory in the presidential election, combined with congressional gains for Democrats, will prompt a wave of soul-searching on the right. Among other things, we will be asking: What is the road back from the political wilderness? Where can we look for hope that the next four years will be a temporary lurch to the left from which America will soon recover?

Fortunately, a long search is not really necessary. The past few weeks have provided-too late, alas-two clear answers, from two seemingly different sources.

In the past week, Ayn Rand has been injected into the presidential race by Barack Obama, of all people, with his comment about opposition to high taxes coming from those who believe in the "virtue of selfishness"-which is the title of Rand's book on moral philosophy.

More recently, several readers have alerted me to a discussion on the right about the prospect of "going John Galt," a thread started by "Dr. Helen," the wife of famed Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds. The phrase refers to the idea of highly productive people going "on strike"-as they do in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged-to protest their exploitation under the higher taxes and meddling regulations that we all expect to face under an Obama administration.

The point isn't that people on the right will actually quit working. This is the right's equivalent of all the leftists who vowed to move to Canada after the 2004 election. Very few actually did so, because life in the United States is still far too good to give up-and because we still live in a free society, giving people of every political persuasion plenty of opportunity to pursue their goals through persuasion and activism.

So the point of all of this discussion is not that right-leaning voters are going to disappear to a valley somewhere in Colorado. The point is that Ayn Rand and her ideas are spontaneously coming to their minds as an answer to the financial crisis, to the panicked lurch toward statism, and to the prospect of an even bigger turn to the left under President Obama.

I have argued that a major source of our current problems is that the right has neglected to focus on the case for free markets, and particularly on the moral foundations of the free market. Well, they could not find a better place to start than with Ayn Rand's celebration of the independent achiever as the source of all values, and her defense of rational self-interest-the drive toward achievement and success-as the "motive power" of civilization.

That is precisely where some of them are beginning to turn. Of course, just about every conservative has long been aware of Ayn Rand and her ideas. Now perhaps they are starting to realize just how much they need her.

But is there an audience for these ideas? With the nation apparently turning to the left, what about the sense of life of the American people?

That, I can assure you, is still healthy. The final weeks of the election have introduced us to three men who remind us that, whatever horrible mistakes the American people have made in this election, the distinctive American outlook is not dead. Not remotely.

Those three men are Joe the Plumber, Tito the Builder, and Cory the Well Driller.

Joe the Plumber is Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, the Ohio plumber whose chance encounter with Barack Obama induced Obama to admit that he intends to "spread the wealth." The incident made Wurzelbacher a minor celebrity, appearing on talk show interviews to explain why he opposes being punished for pursuing success and the "American dream." Wurzelbacher's example has been followed by Tito the Builder: Tito Munoz, a Colombian immigrant and naturalized US citizen who owns a construction company in Virginia, and who has become a featured guest at Sarah Palin's campaign rallies. And now there is Cory the Well Driller: Cory Miller of C. Miller Drilling Co., who wrote an eloquent open letter to Barack Obama that has circulated widely on the Internet and earned him at least one television interview.

These men represent the best of the American "common man," whose salient characteristic is that he does not regard himself as "common"-not in the sense of being a helpless nobody who requires government help to survive. That is why Obama's answer to Joe the Plumber so completely missed the point. Asked about the higher taxes Joe would pay if he buys the plumbing firm he works for and expands it, Obama replied that "there are two ways of looking at it-I mean one way of looking at it is, now that you've become more successful through hard work, you don't want to be taxed as much." To which Wurzelbacher replied "exactly." Obama continued:

But another way of looking at it is 95% of folks who are making less than $250 [thousand], they may be working hard, too, but they're being taxed at a higher rate than they would be under [my plan]. So what I'm doing is, put yourself back 10 years ago when you were only making whatever, 60 or 70. Under my tax plan you would be keeping more of your paycheck, you'd be paying lower taxes.

It was clear that something Obama was saying just didn't connect with Joe the Plumber, and this is why. Obama was asking Joe to imagine all of the benefits that would come to him if he were not successful. But the whole key to guys like Joe is that they do not view themselves as being unsuccessful and do not focus on what would be best for them if they fail. They view themselves as successful-and they focus on how to achieve and improve on that success.

This is true of the American common man in general. Even when he is not (yet) successful, he thinks of himself as a potential success, as someone who is ambitious and hardworking and on the road to achievement. For him, self-reliance and success is the norm. The sign-off to Cory Miller's letter says it all; he describes himself as "just an ordinary, extraordinary American, the way most Americans used to be." Success and achievement-which Obama views as some kind of extraordinary luck-is viewed by these men as an ordinary product of hard work and dedication.

Note also that these manual workers-men without college educations-are surprisingly articulate. Now let me be clear: it is not a surprise to me that they are well-spoken. I am not among those snobbish elites who view anyone with a blue-collar job as someone who must have been too dumb to get into college. What is surprising to me is how much better these amateurs tend to be at explaining themselves than the hapless professional politicians.

In this regard, Cory Miller is the most interesting. The brief overview he gives of his career reads like the biography of one of Ayn Rand's self-made industrialists. He describes how he worked his way up from a single truck and a homemade rig to build the most respected well-drilling business in East Texas. He is a self-taught inventor who designed a new well screen service machine and a new mud pump, and he is an indefatigable entrepreneur who took on the crushing financial risks and impossible work demands of starting four businesses. He is clear about what made all of this possible.

I didn't get any help from the government, nor did I look for any…. My businesses did not start as a result of privilege. They are the result of my personal drive, personal ambition, self discipline, self reliance, and a determination to treat my customers fairly.

As a guy who has signed the front of a paycheck, he also knows how many worthless louts and malingerers there are among the people to whom Barack Obama wants to spread his wealth.

I know because I've had them work for me before. Hundreds of them over these 25 years. People who simply will not show up to work on time. People who just will not work 5 days in a week, much less 6 days. People always looking for a way to put less effort out. People who actually tell me that they would do more if I just would first pay them more. People who take off work to sit in government offices to apply to get free government handouts.

While plumbers and builders and well drillers may seem very different from a high-brow novelist and philosopher, there really is a connection between them. Joe and Tito and Cory are exactly the kind of people Ayn Rand wrote about; they were her heroes in Atlas Shrugged, the inventors and achievers who hold the world on their shoulders. And Ayn Rand is the intellectual who gave full voice to the creed they have lived by. She defined what makes the ordinary American extraordinary.

For those of you who have read Ayn Rand, see if this passage from Cory Miller sounds in the least bit familiar:

You see, Mr. Obama, I'm the guy you intend to raise taxes on. I'm the guy who has spent 25 years toiling and sweating, fretting and fighting, stressing and risking, to build a business and get ahead. I'm the guy who has been on the very edge of bankruptcy more than a dozen times over the last 25 years, and all the while creating more and more jobs for East Texans who didn't want to take a risk, and would not demand from themselves what I have demanded from myself. I'm the guy you characterize as "the Americans who can afford it the most" that you believe should be taxed more to provide income redistribution "to spread the wealth" to those who have never toiled, sweated, fretted, fought, stressed, or risked anything.

Has this man read Atlas Shrugged? As far as I can tell, no. But he has lived it.

So as the right considers how to rebuild a political movement, all of the materials are already there in front of us. For future leaders and spokesmen, forget Sarah Palin. I suggest looking for people like Joe the Plumber, Tito the Builder, and Cory the Well Driller. As for future intellectual direction, I suggest Ayn the Philosopher.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at TIADaily.com. He is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and TIADaily.com. Comment by clicking here.

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