There’s always something to howl about

Hey, Wisconsin: Here’s a better idea: Divest your state of its education monopoly!

I’m totally digging the contretemps in Wisconsin. My take is that a lot of formerly-innocent Americans are seeing the naked grasping of Rotarian Socialism in a new way. Even without 2008, I think most people got it that business and government lived hand-in-pocket with each other. But the holy aura of the union hid a lot of ugliness — which is not to say that many people were looking all that closely, anyway. But a few of the schoolteachers of Wisconsin and a passel of imported ideologues have managed to illustrate undeniably a very potent idea:

They see themselves as your owners and you as their slave.

[continue reading at]


29 Comments so far

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Real Estate Feeds and Tom Hunter, My REALTY. My REALTY said: Hey, Wisconsin: Here’s a better idea: Divest your state of its education monopoly!: I’m totally digging the cont… […]

  2. Jim Klein February 22nd, 2011 7:34 am

    Here’s the short answer: “Anti-altruism is not egoism.”

    Here’s the long answer. Sure it’s nice to see evil not succeed, but everyone is overlooking the opposition to the evil. The enemy of the enemy is not necessarily your friend, and the real enemy grows ever larger by the hour. That’s why I’ll stand by the comment that politically, it IS about individualism vs collectivism. Rand made a few mistakes, but that wasn’t one of them.

    The resolution has always rested in Joe Doe. It’s great that he can finally see the craziness of what’s gone on, but he hasn’t yet woken to what needs to be done. He is still a collectivist, he is still an altruist and he is still a statist.

    None of that bodes well at all, and you should be able to see the blood as easily as a 1-9 shot at Delmar. And yes, this is the topic for which Billy is King of the Hill.

    I’m not trying to be ornery and I’m especially not a fatalist. I admittedly get frustrated when the good isn’t spotted for the good, and that’s almost never a problem around here. But you see, I pay attention all around and I can hardly stomach the corpses I see between here and there. I only hope that you keep spouting what the good is, Billy keeps spouting what the bad is, and I’ll keep trying to translate for Joe!

  3. Teri Lussier February 22nd, 2011 8:25 am

    I don’t pretend to understand half of what y’all talk about during these discussions, so excuse me while I stick my toe into the deep end here…

    >“Anti-altruism is not egoism.”

    Is it the same to say egoism is not anti-altruism?

  4. Greg Swann February 22nd, 2011 8:47 am

    >> “Anti-altruism is not egoism.”

    > Is it the same to say egoism is not anti-altruism?

    Okay, but the matter is not of the essence.

    Anegoism is a word I coined to denote everything that is contrary to egoism, considered both as philosophy and as actual human behavior. Altruism is a subset of anegoism — a very successful and virulent strain.

    Altruism — “otherism” — is explicitly opposed to the concerns of the ego. Anti-altruism is not without virtue as a matter of philosophy, but it is alike unto altruism in that existentially, behaviorally, it is concerned entirely with other people and not with the self. This is what I mean by saying anti-altruism is not egoism.

    As a matter of behavior, egoism is solely concerned with the true needs of the self, and so other people do not even enter into the calculation, except as secondary considerations.

    From my point of view, “I’m a better egoist than you,” is an entirely “otheristic” statement. It is anegoist in se because the primary consideration is not “I” but “you.”

    Egoism is not anegoism by definition and as a matter of mutually-exclusive sets. But anti-altruism is not egoism because no amount of correcting other peoples’ errors will make me a better person.

    As always: Who am I to cast the first stone? I’m correcting my own errors, not yours or anyone else’s.

  5. Teri Lussier February 22nd, 2011 8:28 am

    Oh, and…

    >I’m totally digging the contretemps in Wisconsin. My take is that a lot of formerly-innocent Americans are seeing the naked grasping of Rotarian Socialism in a new way.

    I see it too. Happens every time teachers strike, the parents of public school kids think to themselves, “Seriously? I gotta go to work. Now I have to pay a sitter?” It’s a long road to solve this problem, but if you don’t start, you’ll never finish.

  6. Jim Klein February 22nd, 2011 8:44 am

    I guess it would be the same, Teri. Greg was making the valid and highly valuable point that recognizing (or standing against) the evils of altruism is not the same as understanding (or standing for) egoism. It’s the difference between being against Agony and for Splendor. The first does not necessarily imply the second. In the case at hand, he was saying that Billy Beck is against the evil, but not necessarily in favor of the good. Billy pointed out that his public persona is not him, and I added that AFAIK Greg is mistaken with the charge.

    Meanwhile, there are plenty of good things about the Madison spectacle, and I don’t mean to say otherwise. The thing is, it’s an awfully long road from Agony to Splendor and I’m a principled sort of guy. The principles remain missing for the most part IMO. FWIW if you were in charge, I’d worry less!

  7. Greg Swann February 22nd, 2011 8:54 am

    > Billy pointed out that his public persona is not him

    We are what we habitually do.

    But: It’s none of my business.

    And: I do not care in any case.

  8. Teri Lussier February 22nd, 2011 9:15 am


    I understand what you are saying. Thanks.
    Egoism is not anti-altruism just seems less brutal, perhaps. Less brutal to the self. I don’t know, I’m just working this out in my own mind… Egoism always sounds brutal, not the idea of it so much as the word- the sound of it on my ears. Splendor OTOH, sounds lovely. Same thing, but when I try to explain it elsewhere, splendor is a preferable word to use it seems to me. Anyway.


    >FWIW if you were in charge, I’d worry less!

    Oh lordy. Doubtful, but either way, I wouldn’t/couldn’t be “in charge”. 😉

  9. Greg Swann February 22nd, 2011 9:23 am

    > Egoism always sounds brutal, not the idea of it so much as the word- the sound of it on my ears.

    Perhaps a good reason to pick another coinage. There are three main historical exponents of philosophical egoism — Friedrich Nietzsche, Max Stirner and Ayn Rand — and I would exclude all three from the idea of egoism as I define it. Rather than trying to retrofit their term to fit my philosophy, perhaps I would do better to come up with a different word. It’s not like I don’t do this all the time already. 😉

  10. Teri Lussier February 22nd, 2011 9:30 am

    >It’s not like I don’t do this all the time already.

    I know, I know. Just working things out for myself, not a reflection on you at all. “Who am I to cast the first stone?” 😀

  11. Greg Swann February 22nd, 2011 9:40 am

    No, I’m totally with you. It’s better to use unfamiliar terms to discuss unfamiliar ideas. Altruism is always a problem, because people think it means to be charitable or empathetic. Better to use a different term to make it plain that what is being discussed is a philosophical war on Splendor. Same for egoism. Thanks to Nietzsche, Stirner and Gordon Gekko, people think egoism means self-sanctifying crime, not the relentless pursuit of Splendor. I’ll think about this. Thanks.

  12. Teri Lussier February 22nd, 2011 9:37 am

    I don’t even try to discuss these ideas, as limited as my ability is, with people who are familiar with different schools of thought because they’ve already closed their minds to thinking about ideas they’ve already decided they don’t like. Okay then. But to discuss it with people who might be open if it were presented well, that’s my problem. And it’s my problem, not suggesting it’s yours, just working it out for discussions I’m having. Hammering people over the head, while it has it’s pleasures, isn’t typically the most productive way to be understood for either them or me.

    It’s going to get ugly here in Ohio shortly, I think. I need to defend myself, just trying to be prepared as best I can.

  13. Nicole Arsenault February 22nd, 2011 12:48 pm

    Talk about a deep discussion for a Real Estate blog. I am used to discussions of where to ‘hang a mirror’ or ‘quartz vs granite.’ I was not expecting a thorough philisophical debate. I think this post recharged/awakened my brain better than a sudoku puzzle! 🙂

  14. Jim Klein February 22nd, 2011 5:39 pm

    Rand tried to separate egoism from egotism, but there’s no getting away from the sour feelings any sort of selfishness produces in many people. A lot of it is philosophical error arising from the scourge of altruism, but plenty of it is also an implication that selfishness means “at the expense of someone else.” Naturally, nothing could be further from the truth, particularly in the context of trade and capitalism.

    Maybe the way to go is just straight out. The real point of egoism, particularly Greg-style, is ego-adoration. This both says something clear and is accurate. There’s not a lot of room for confusion there, and it is the fundamental principle. I’ve been calling myself an ego-adorationist for some time now, at least in some corners.

    BTW Greg, when you think of Billy, you think of his political writing. I think of his stories about motorcycle-riding, flying and various other accomplishments and enjoyments. IMO it’s Splendor Squared, at least. You may not care about that, but you wouldn’t want the one guy who understands you, to be someone who misunderstands everything!

    It’s coincidental to me, though not wholly unrelated, that he’s also got epistemology and the Endarkenment pegged.

  15. Teri Lussier February 22nd, 2011 8:57 pm

    This may be heading wildly off topic at this point, but I personally am not looking for an -ism or a name, I’m just trying to figure out how to explain a way of approaching life that creates abundance. I think the words ego and altruism already have such set meanings for most people that if I were to use either word, I’d end up spending more explaining what it’s not, than explaining what it is.

    And anyway, I’m not sure I could explain egoism as Greg knows it. I don’t believe I know what that means. It would be a lie coming from my mouth, but still. I know what I know and it’s valid, it’s worthwhile. I have a desire to communicate. I want to share, be understood, etc. Events like the Ohio SB 5 give me a push to try to find a way, a chance to practice forming big thoughts, as I know them, anyway. Another reason to enjoy the friction, I think.

  16. Al Lorenz February 23rd, 2011 2:32 pm

    To take this a bit different direction, there is always an argument made in Washington State that the government doesn’t “fully fund” eduction as its constitution requires.

    However, the average cost of public education is nearly $11,000 per student per year, while the average cost of private education is around $8000 per student per year.

    So, the public schools are actually over funded by about $3000 per student per year. One big difference, but not the only difference, is that virtually no private schools are unionized while all the public schools are required to be.

    Getting rid of that monopoly on education would solve the problem of theft by the teachers’ unions. Thanks Greg!

  17. Greg Swann February 23rd, 2011 6:38 pm

    > Thanks Greg!

    Keep in mind that “get rid of it” is my solution for everything governmental. Liberating education would prove educational, though, for everyone who insists that certain things can only be done by a monopoly of armed functionaries. Two thirds of Wisconsin eighth graders can’t read — and the other third learned to read at home, just like every other American our age or younger who can read. A free market in education would achieve hugely better results than this. But, assuming someone disagrees with that prognostication, it would be very hard to argue that free-market education could produce worse results. Children with absolutely no formal education should be doing better than this.

  18. Sean Purcell February 23rd, 2011 8:25 pm

    Teri, I relate to what you’re saying. I have neither the educational grounding nor the years spent thinking about this that we find in Messrs. Swann, Klein, (and now) Beck. I had read Ayn Rand but it turns out I was intellectually skimming.

    Here’s what I use when talking to the uninitiated. (And I’m sure this will be extremely course sounding to the men I’ve mentioned, but it works for me.)

    Free-Marketeer Egoist. Rhymes with Three Musketeer… Almost everything we discuss in day-to-day conversations can be explained with an absolute fealty to a free market. Whether it be education, roads or transgressions. The market – left free of government-by-force’s “helpful” rules and regulations – will resolve anything that happens. It’s not always pretty, which is why we start down the road to hell: good intentions. But it works. As an egoist, I am interested in my own best interests. If I enter the market with that ideal, and encounter others in the bourse with the same ideal for themselves, we will all engage in an exchange that is definitionally egoist. What’s more surprising to those who haven’t thought this through, that exchange will work to benefit the most people too. (Though that’s not the point, it is a pleasant outcome.)

    I find that sharing free market ideals with people is something I can handle with the knowledge I have now, and its expression is one many others can understand. (Can’t say the same thing for anegoism, altruism and endarkenment…)

  19. Greg Swann February 23rd, 2011 8:48 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this, all of this, for two days, and I keep coming back to That site has never lived up to what I’ve wanted for it, but this is what it really should be doing: Selling these ideas. Not in any salesmaniacal way, but with evangelism in mind, even so.

    I keep hammering at this, but I’m not there yet: For creatures of free will, fatalism is an absurd resort, but, if it goes unchallenged, it is also a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think we can all be better people, and I think a lot of us can be persuaded to do better very soon, if we find the right way to communicate the benefits.

    Teri and Jimmy already have accounts. Say so — Sean, Brian, inlookers — if you want to play. I don’t know if that site will ever attract an audience, but anyone who writes or reads there should learn a lot. I do, in any case, which is why I write so much. Doing better starts with me, after all. 😉

  20. Jim Klein February 23rd, 2011 8:48 pm

    I once did some research on this, and there is indeed a correlation between how much is spent per pupil and the quality of the product. The thing is, it’s an inverse relationship! Al, you just gave us an example, on the assumption that the private schoolers come out better educated. Or look at home schoolers.

    In Wisconsin, Milwaukee is another example. Of course, all the collectivists who cry racist against everyone else, will say it’s because of race. And of course, it isn’t. Or check out Hillary’s record when she ran the Arkansas educational rackets. No shortage of money then, and no education. In many places and times, it’s a surprisingly direct (inverse) correlation.

    As a matter of principle, I’ve always believed there should be no public funding of education whatsoever. Then maybe the kids could actually learn facts and stuff that matters, instead of rules about yesterday’s industries. The funny thing is, right now it would do a whole lot to fix a ton of fiscal problems as well…it’s one of the few things that could actually be big enough to get us out of the abyss.

    Win, win…and with the internet, all the information is out there for free anyway. I guess that’s Greg’s specialty: Win, win—that’s why it doesn’t happen; everyone’s too busy trying to lose.

  21. Sean Purcell February 23rd, 2011 10:38 pm

    Greg, I’m very interested in this, as you know. But when I even click on the link above, I’m taken to Spendorquest and then quickly given the following message:

    “This website has been reported as unsafe

    We recommend that you do not continue to this website.

    Go to my home page instead

    This website has been reported to Microsoft for containing threats to your computer that might reveal personal or financial information.

    More information

    This website has been reported to contain the following threats:

    Malicious software threat: This site contains links to viruses or other software programs that can reveal personal information stored or typed on your computer to malicious persons.

    Learn more about phishing
    Learn more about malicious software
    Report that this site does not contain threats
    Disregard and continue (not recommended)”

    Not sure what all this is, but first step for me is why I’m getting this ominous message and can I just go around it. Help?

  22. Greg Swann February 23rd, 2011 10:47 pm

    Tell me where it suggested I go to correct these calumnies.

  23. Sean Purcell February 23rd, 2011 10:54 pm

    Here’s the link it takes me to if I select: “Report that this site does not contain threats.”

    Does that help?

  24. Greg Swann February 23rd, 2011 10:55 pm

    > Does that help?

    Indeed. Bless you. Thank you.

  25. Greg Swann February 23rd, 2011 11:12 pm

    Filled out a very dumb form. Got this in the mail:

    Thank you for contacting us about

    We have received the information you have provided and are currently reviewing it. If it is determined that the current designation is incorrect or no longer accurate the warning will be removed.

    We typically expect to take two business days for our investigation. During the investigation, you may not see changes to the status of your site. If the status of your site has not changed after two business days, please contact us in a reply to this message. Please include the URL address where the warning is occurring when replying. Please note that many issues are caused by a site compromised through addition of frames. Removing such frame references will immediately remove the warning from your site.

    You can find additional information by reviewing the Microsoft SmartScreen Filter FAQ –

    Thank you,
    Microsoft SmartScreen Filter Support

    We’ll see what happens.

    Meanwhile: I’m not seeing any of this in Safari. A mystery…

  26. Greg Swann February 23rd, 2011 11:21 pm

    > I’m not seeing any of this in Safari.

    Nor in Firefox, both on my Macs. I’ve looked at the folders on the server, and I’ve run scans for talismans of malice. I cannot positively swear that the SplendorQuest server has not been compromised, but I am not finding any evidence of this, for now. People looking in might report on their own experiences.

  27. Sean Purcell February 23rd, 2011 11:17 pm

    With these comments, it’s easy enough for others to now feel safe clicking on the “Disregard and continue” button. Worked for me. Thanks Greg, looking forward to some good reading.

  28. Teri Lussier February 24th, 2011 7:14 am


    >As an egoist, I am interested in my own best interests.

    As is everyone, really. We can hide behind the Church, we can practice Buddhism, we can shackle ourselves to a any Union we want… Ultimately, it’s what we think is best and in our own self-interest that is driving those actions. works fine for me this a.m.: Both Firefox and IE from a PC.

  29. Jim Klein February 24th, 2011 7:49 am

    No apparent problems using Firefox on Slackware.