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Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: September 2005

Friday, September 30, 2005

Fearless Philosophy Blogpost of the Month (September 2005)

September naturally brought out a lot of introspection among bloggers who are concerned about the state of America four years after the cowardly attacks of 9/11. The three posts I selected this month deals with these issues in one way or another. On to the results…

Third Place goes to David Earney of dave’s not here with his post: Losing My Libertarian Heart. David is more than a little disenchanted with the Libertarian Party’s all-or-nothing approach as an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans.

David writes:

Though I haven't posted much about it here in the past year, I've been waging an internal struggle with my own feelings about my politics. I've been losing heart about the Libertarian Party the longer I remain in Iraq. I haven't paid Party dues in two years. I haven't agreed with much of what they have had to say on their website (or in Party meetings) since the start of the War on Terror. While my Party is vehemently anti-war, I am vehemently hawkish about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

These are the very issues that frustrate me as well with regard to the Libertarian Party. I do not think anyone really likes war per se, but I do think our freedoms are worth fighting for whether the fight is foreign or domestic.

David continues:

Lately my readings in the pages of the Cato Institute have brought me to think that there is a more pragmatic approach to libertarianism, so I began looking around to see if there were former LP members like myself out there - LP’ers who had lost faith in the Party because of the all or nothing approach that the Party has taken.
David, I think you have come to the right place and will find yourself quite comfortable within the Life, Liberty, and Property community. We are a diverse group but we agree on most of the fundamentals which founded this great country. Welcome home!

Second Place goes to Dan Melson of Searchlight Crusade with his post: Petroleum and Energy. Earlier this month I wrote a post on the same topic but I must say, Dan did a much better job of explaining the ins and outs of the energy industry and its impact on all of us. Dan’s post goes well beyond the high prices at the pump; our dependence on viable energy sources impacts our economy, our health, our lifestyles, and ultimately our freedom. This post is something of a cautionary tale of what will happen to America and the world economy if we continue down the current path. Some of his apocalyptic conclusions may seem to go a little too far down the slippery slope, however; each of these conclusions should be considered carefully. The effort put into this post really comes through in his attention to detail and apparent independent study the author put into it.

And the winner is…

The Fearless Philosophy Blogpost of the Month of September goes to Bill Whittle of Eject! Eject! Eject! with his post titled: Tribes. This post received a stunning 650 comments before its author had to turn the comments off. I ran across several other blogs which lifted excerpts from this post or otherwise encouraged readers to give it a look. Once I got through the first couple of paragraphs, I understood why.

Tribes is part rant, part politics, and general observations of humanity. Whittle categorizes people as either pink or grey. Pink individuals are lead more by their emotions while grey individuals are lead by logic. My only major criticism of this post is this either/or fallacy the author commits here. I find it a little too simplistic to separate individuals into 2 categories whether its pink/grey, black/ white, or conservative/liberal. Most people have a combination of pink and grey qualities. This criticism aside, Whittle does an excellent job of describing the human condition using examples from the news and how it is reported, past and present political figures, and historical events which have revealed human nature and exposing the tribes of which he speaks of .

Tribes is the kind of post that I wish I could have written. There were times I had to restrain myself from standing up and applauding this very daring and very honest post. I must caution; there is some coarse language and may not be suitable for younger readers.

Congratulations to this month’s winners!
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Monday, September 26, 2005


Life in free society can be boiled down to one core concept: choices. I am not only referring to the way we vote every so often about who our leaders should be or what policies should be adopted or not, but also the everyday choices we make individually as well as collectively.

The most accurate definition one could write for ‘life’ would be “a series of choices.” Everyday we all make choices. We choose what we are having for our meals, what we are going to wear, what time we will go to bed, what television shows are appropriate for the family, what news information sources to trust and what time we want to wake up. Some choices we make have greater consequences than these such as where to live, where to work, how to budget time and money, which automobile suits the family’s budget and needs, where to send the children to school, and marriage choice. There are obviously more choices which I have not listed.

There have been many questions raised in the wake of hurricane Katrina. One of the many questions that occurred to me about the displaced people who lost everything was: To what extent did these people have a choice? What choices did they have when they needed to evacuate? What choices did they make before hurricane season to prepare for a hurricane? Did they weigh the risks carefully before choosing to live in such a disaster prone area to begin with? With these risks in mind, how many chose to insure their property? Could they have chosen to live somewhere else?

Wolf Blitzer recently described some of the worst hit citizens of New Orleans as "so poor and so black." Obviously, no one has the choice about what skin color he or she will be born with but in the land of opportunity everyone makes choices which determines his or her lot in life. How many of these people (black, white or otherwise) took advantage of the many opportunities afforded to them? Anyone who wants to educate themselves and provide themselves with more choices of employment can do so in America. The truth of the matter is the poorer one is the better the chances are that he or she can have an education provided in the form of grants, loans, and scholarships. Minorities (wrongly) have an even better advantage where grants, loans and scholarships are concerned. Being poor in America is no excuse for not receiving higher education.

Opportunity does not always translate into success, however. Most successful people will tell you that they failed many times before finally succeeding. Earning an undergraduate, masters, or even a doctorate degree is no guarantee of success either. Individuals make choices as to how to use his or her education and apply it to the real world.

A term that has recently entered the political discourse that frightens me is ‘economic equality.’ What does ‘economic equality’ have to do with choice? In a word: everything. Why do some people live better than others? The answer usually has to do with choices. In a free society such as ours, people make good and bad choices which ultimately determine the quality of his or her life. No two people are ever going to make exactly the same choices; therefore, no two people will ever enjoy an equal quality of life.

It boggles my mind to believe that a country which supposedly values education can argue for such things as living wages, economic equality, and an endless list of demands of the government to make life more fair. If you don’t like working for minimum wage, learn some new marketable skills. If you want to make equal to what your wealthy neighbor is making, work harder, work smarter, and invest more wisely than he has. Chances are, he made the sacrifices and made prudent choices to be in that position.

On the other hand, if you make poor choices in life such as blowing a large portion of money on the lottery instead of investing, abuse drugs, engage in risky sexual behavior, have more children than you can afford, do not take advantage of educational choices available, and do not answer the door when opportunity knocks, your journey to success will be an uphill battle (but can be won if you make better choices now and in the future).

While it is true that we all live in the same country where our success is limited only by our imaginations and our willingness to achieve that success, it is also true that some people are born with some advantages others are not. What are we to do when others are born into wealthier families, are better looking, more talented, or are more intelligent? The short answer is that we have to work with the hand we are dealt and not worry about what others have which we do not. One of the wonderful things about living in a country which recognizes that individuals have the rights of life, liberty, and property is the ability to have the choice to pursue one’s own rational selfish needs and desires. There are many examples of people who did little with a lot and others who did a lot with a little depending on the choices these individuals made.

While at times it may be tempting to allow the government to take these choices away from us in favor of a false sense of security, we must never give in to this temptation. Individuals must be allowed to fail in order to learn. When we ask government to take choices away from the individual (i.e. illegal choices such as whether or not to use drugs, participate in prostitution, gambling, etc.), we are basically saying that government chooses for us what is moral and what is not. There are many laws on the books which are not moral. The government should restrict the law to protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizens (though individuals should be protect these rights first and foremost).

The individual's ability to make responsible choices makes all the difference in the world. We respond to poor choices by making better choices in the future. Choices should always be made with considerable, rational thought. I cannot decide what is best for you, neither can the government. It is your life; choose wisely.
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Friday, September 23, 2005

Blogrolling, Posting, and Etc.

The blogrolls for this site have finally been updated. You may have noticed that links have been categorized, added and subtracted from here. If I have placed your link under one category but would prefer for me to link you under another category, please leave me a message here (or email me if you have my super-secret email address).

From the top right you will find my favorite posts under “The Very Best of Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds.” These selections are ones I refer to often in new posts, are better than my usual writing, or generated some controversy and thoughtful commentary among my readers and myself. The main goals of this blog are to challenge conventional wisdom, encourage logical debate (a dying art), analyze philosophy/philosophers from around the world and offer new or little-known ideals from a Libertarian, Classical Liberal, and/or Objectivist philosophy. If this is the type of writing you are looking for, take a look at these posts.

Below the “Best of” roll you will find the “Blog Post of the Month Archive.” The author of the winning post for each month is identified to the right of each month. The links take the readers to my commentary of the top three posts for each month. Readers will find the links to each of the posts from there.

Next you will find the “Carnival of Liberty Archive.” Rather than announce where the next carnival is located each week I will update this archive when the latest carnival is up.

The familiar Life, Liberty, and Property and Fair Tax Fans blogrolls have a very diverse array of independent-minded bloggers from many perspectives. It is from these links I usually look to find the ‘Blogpost of the Month’ winning posts.

The next three blogrolls are all about politics: “Libertarian and Classical Liberals,” “The Right,” and “The Left.” I tried to find bloggers and pundits who advocate each of these positions accurately. Many of these links from “The Right” and “The Left” I do not typically agree with but I am not afraid to read (or link) views of those I disagree with.

“Philosophy, Science, and Religion” is a very broad category. Besides the obvious kinds of links I would have here I also plan on adding some humor in this category as well. I think humor is an important and often overlooked aspect of philosophy and most of us could use some more of it.

The next category, “Can You Handle the Truth?” has only four links listed so far. The first of these links is the Annenberg Political Fact Check. I have found this source to be helpful when trying to separate facts from political spin. If you have never looked at this site, I urge you to do so. Researchers examine political pronouncements and advertising and make a judgment as to the accuracy of the claims being made. I use the word ‘judgment’ because even those who try to ascertain the truth have their own biases. I tend to trust this site’s judgments because they seem to be fair to all sides of the debate. The remaining links have more to do with urban legends and myth busting. Ever receive an email from one of your friends about little known ‘facts’ about this or that? Snopes and are great resources to find out whether or not your friend’s email is a fib or a fact.

The next category is called ‘Resources’. What is a resource? For the purposes of this blog, resources can be historical documents such as the U.S. Constitution, news links (more will be added), think tanks, and advocacy groups. I have think tanks and advocacy groups here because resources are not only places to go for information, but also help you with things like organizing to make changes in our society and government.

My final category I have listed as “On Your Payroll”. These links are the official sites of all the branches of the federal government. I listed them under “On Your Payroll” because we must never forget who the government is supposed to serve: you and me.

If you were wondering why there were no new posts this week, this is why. Hopefully, organizing my site in this way makes the site easier to navigate. I may do some rearranging of these rolls in the future but I think this will be good for now.

If you would like to read something a little more thought-provoking than how I organized my blogrolls, read my post on the Life, Liberty, and Property Group Blog titled: Have We Not Learned Anything?. I chose to post there instead of here because I wanted to do my part to promote the blog and all the other fine bloggers who submit posts there.
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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Beam Me Up Scotty!

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said that he is declaring victory in cutting much of the fat out of the federal budget. I kid you not. The House Majority Leader actually said that about this congressional term.

DeLay told reporters:

My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet…


Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good.

Huh? Have I slipped into some sort of alternate reality? Either I have or Mr. DeLay has. In the reality I know, ther Republican-led congress has been a huge dissappiontment; especially where pork barrel spending is concerned. The spending we are talking about is non-military and non-Homeland Security spending.

DeLay says he’s looking for some ‘offsets’ (which I assume he means budget cuts). Let me see if I can offer a few suggestions:

Cancel the wasteful spending in the $128 billion transportation bill. This bill includes funding a bridge in Alaska which very few tax payers will ever have use of, $450,000 for Bean’s Café in Anchorage, flowers for the Ronald Reagan freeway in California (the Gipper must be spinning in his grave), and much, much more. Mr. DeLay can read the report from Citizens Against Government Waste if he needs more suggestions.

He could stop funding the war on drugs. Yeah, that’s going to happen.

Mr. DeLay could also stop funding the Endowment for the Arts, Amtrack, Americorp, and many other pet projects and spending which goes well beyond what the U.S. Constitution (you know, that pesky old thing) allows.

I hope DeLay’s constituants are paying attention to what he is saying here. Under his leadership, the Republican-led House has definatley proven that the Republican Party is not the party of limited government (the same can be said about the Senate Republicans and our Republican President). I certainly hope a Libertarian leaning Republican runs against DeLay but I doubt it. In any event, he does not deserve another term.

Let me ask my Republican readers out there: What does the Republican Party stand for? It is not a smaller and more efficient government. What are they doing about personal property rights? I don’t see any of them racing to do anything about the disasterous Kelo decision which effectivley says that government can take your property whenever the hell it feels like it!

Oh, I almost forgot. The Republican Party does stand for passing laws restricting individual liberty in the name of ‘family values,’ thanks to the therocrats of the Christian Right. And let’s not forget about McCain-Fiengold and its impacts on free speech during an election cycle.

If the Republican Party is better for individual liberty than the Democrat Party, it isn’t by much. Republicans control 2 of the 3 branches (arguably 3) of government yet the spending rivals that of Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ era spending.

The liberty-loving people who want fiscally responsible government have almost no representation in Washington. The Republican House has done a good job of cutting out the pork from the 2006 budget? Beam me up Scotty!
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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Kevin Boyd “alive and well”

I received an e-mail this morning from fellow Life, Liberty, and Property member Kevin Boyd the Louisiana Libertarian with the wonderful news that he is “alive and well.” The last we heard from Kevin prior to this message was at the end of August, right before Katrina hit Louisiana.

Kevin heeded the warnings to evacuate. In his e-mail message to the LLP group he wrote:

I went to a place called Madisonville, Texas and stayed there until this past Saturday night when I went to my cousin's house in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. I was finally able to get back to Slidell on Sunday. Fortunately, I sustained minor damage with my entire back fence taken out by a couple of trees and minor damage from a tree limb. Right now, I'm staying in Ponchatoula until the lights get back on in Slidell…”
Anyone who is interested in reading the entire e-mail message, Eric Cowperthwaite has it posted here. Kevin says he plans on posting his thoughts on his experience on his blog sometime tonight.

On a side note, one of Kevin’s posts was the runner-up for the Fearless Philosophy Blog Post of the Month for the month of August. Be sure to check it out if you haven't already. Welcome back Kevin!
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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Yes, I’m Angry About Gas Prices Too

Like so many Americans, my blood pressure rises every time I fill up my gas tank. The numbers indicating the price spin faster as the numbers indicating the number of gallons seems to be spinning much slower and I get angry. I’m Angry because my cost of living continues to increase while my income remains the same. Don’t mess with me when I’m filling my tank!

Unlike so many Americans however, my anger is directed mostly at the environmental extremist greenie-weenies, the politicians who pander to them, an American public that is largely economically illiterate, and the politicians/interest groups who exploit this illiteracy. Many Americans attribute blame to the ‘greedy BIG OIL companies’ because they are such a convenient target. Donald Trump even commented that the BIG OIL companies where exploiting the Hurricane Katrina disaster to raise prices on crude. It’s “as simple as that” Trump said. How could someone of such wealth be so economically ignorant?

Here is a simple economics lesson that everyone should know but apparently does not: supply and demand (I can’t believe I have to explain this to anyone; this is freshman high school economics 101 stuff). The more plentiful the ‘supply’ of a good or service and lower the demand of that good or service, the lower the price. As supplies become more scarce and the ‘demands’ increase, so does the price. That is what is happening with gas prices.

Based on the law of supply and demand let’s take a look at what is happening in the petroleum industry. Government environmental regulations prevent oil companies from exploring new promising deposits of oil. Among these finds are ANWR, off the coast of California, and off the coast of Florida – all these locations have great potential to increase the ‘supply’ of crude oil, yet increased drilling in these locations are off-limits thanks to the federal government. Therefore, the future supply of crude oil is decreased. Result: prices increase.

The second supply item to consider is refining capacity. Environmental regulations make it incredibly difficult to build a refinery anywhere in America. The refining capacity is not what it should be to meet the demands for gasoline. Again, with the increased demand, and limited supply the prices are raised.

The third item to consider is that much of the oil we import is from countries which do not like us all that much. OPEC has a great deal of influence in the price of crude. When something happens in the Arab world that causes instability, (such as the Iraq invasion of Kuwait in 1991) the future supply of oil is in jeopardy. People who buy oil futures do not like uncertainty, therefore the price is raised.

On the demand side of the equation, we have to look at…well the demand. Consider that there are now 2 automobiles for every American. Consider that more Americans have moved to the suburbs and drive more than ever. Consider that India and China (both with very large populations) are demanding more fossil fuels. What happens when demand increases and supplies decrease? You guessed it, the price increases. What is so hard to understand here?

Hurricane Katrina made all these matters that much worse. Offshore rigs had to be abandoned, refineries had to be evacuated, and major ports were inaccessible to foreign oil. Until these things are operational again, the future supply is decreased that much more. “It’s as simple as that” to quote Donald Trump.

I recently received a chain e-mail petition that was supposed to be sent to President Bush to lower the gas prices. There were already over 100 signatures on the petition; I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry. What is the president supposed to do, call his buddies in the oil business and tell them to lower the price as the loony leftsists and Michael Moore Fans (wouldn’t the proper term for Michael Moore fans be ‘Mooreons’?) would have you believe? Let’s get real.

I know, price controls! We’ll just have the government tell these greedy, price gouging oil companies the maximum price they can charge for a gallon of gas. That’ll show ‘em. Never mind the fact that gas stations must charge more in order to buy more gas at an increased price to maintain their current profit margin. How dare a company profit from a commodity everyone needs! Screw ‘em. While we are at it, we can have the government set the price for every commodity or service businesses sell. Because making money is such an evil thing, maybe we can ask the government to set a ‘maximum wage’ as well as the minimum wage for all Americans. Doesn’t that sound like a great idea? It worked so well in the Soviet Union!

So having the president speed-dial his oil buddies is out, price controls are out… so what can the government do? At a minimum, government needs to allow the free market to work. No act of congress can repeal the law of supply and demand any more than can congress repeal the law of gravity. If the governments (federal, state, local) really want to ‘do something’ to lower gas prices, they can temporarily remove their taxes which is calculated into the final price. In the long term, government needs to open ANWR and other restricted areas for oil exploration to increase the supply (and thus lower the price).

If the tone of this post seems to be one of anger, it is because I am angry. The longer we continue to want to have it both ways (want to be independent of foreign oil but not willing to drill for oil domestically), blame BIG OIL for everything, and continue in our ignorance of the very basic economic principle of supply and demand, we will continue to support policies and politicians who will make us even more dependant on foreign oil. The result of this increased dependence will be even higher prices and even more angry people asking the ignorant question: “Why are gas prices so high?”

Related Posts by Others:
The Price Gouging Myth by Robert Bell
You can't call it anything else by Perry Eidelbus
Price Gouging, Oil, and Gasoline by INDIVID
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Carnival of Liberty X is Up

Carnival of Liberty X is up at Mover Mike’s. Be sure to check it out!
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Friday, September 02, 2005

Fearless Philosophy Flashback: Generosity With Other People’s Money

In January of this year, I wrote a post titled Generosity With Other People’s Money in the wake of the tsunami in Asia. At the time, my point was that the U.S. government should not send foreign aid for the relief efforts but instead rely on the generosity of the American people. Eight months later, we are faced with another major natural disaster- this time at home. Hurricane Katrina has devastated the South generally but has hit Louisiana the hardest. I have nothing but compassion and empathy for these people. One of our own Life, Liberty, and Property members, Kevin Boyd of the Louisiana Libertarian was likely directly impacted by this storm and we have yet to hear from him since before Katrina attacked New Orleans. We all hope to hear from Kevin soon.

In a disaster of such size and scope hitting our own country, should our government provide aid for its citizens? Beyond the immediate need to rescue those who are currently in danger of losing their lives (some would even argue that this would be an inappropriate use of the federal government), the answer is still no. The mayor of New Orleans has some nerve to suggest that the federal government has not done enough for his city. If government should be involved, is this not the responsibility of the city first to make sure its citizens are safe? This disaster should be of no surprise to anyone who knows anything about the vulnerability New Orleans has to such a disaster. Experts have predicted an event such as this for decades, and still the City of New Orleans took no preventative measures. Should the federal government (the taxpayer) reimburse New Orleans for this dereliction of due diligence? Hell no!

I do however think that the American people are rising to the occasion despite the fact that we are already paying for the relief effort anyway. We of the Libertarian persuasion can sound quite heartless on issues such as these but I am very pleased to report that many within the Life, Liberty, and Property group are part of this national effort of citizens donating their own hard-earned money to help Katrina’s victims. We understand that private citizens do a better job of looking out for those in need than government ever will.

On that note, I present to you the Fearless Philosophy Flashback: Generosity With Other People’s Money to further explain my position on this matter.

Generosity With Other People’s Money
Once again the United States has come to the aid of people in desperate need of assistance; the tsunami disaster is only the latest example. Once again the United States is criticized by foreign diplomats for not contributing enough to help those who need the help. After all, the United States is the wealthiest country in the world therefore; the United States owes more to the relief effort. The sad truth is that not only are these comments coming from the socialist ideologues of Europe and the United Nations, but also from pundits and politicians on the Left and the Right in this country.

The actual amount the U.S. government should contribute to help the victims of the tsunami is $0. For those of you who do not subscribe to the Libertarian philosophy this may sound very cruel and harsh. The reason the U.S. government should not give foreign aid is because it isn’t the governments to give in the first place! Taking money from one person to give to another person, no matter how virtuous the cause, is wrong.

The government has no constitutional authority to spend taxes for any reason other than what is enumerated to the government in Article I Section 8. The wise men who wrote the constitution understood how governments could be generous with other people’s money; when spending someone else’s money, being generous is easy. The government is like a spoiled rich child who takes his parent’s wealth for granted. The child wrecks his new BMW and buys another one with his parent’s money. As a result, the child has no appreciation for the value, the hard work his parents had to put in to earn the money. Let’s suppose the spoiled child wants to do something good with his parent’s money such as feed a couple of hundred hungry people. Though he seems more virtuous in this scenario, the fact remains: it is easier to be generous with his parent’s money. If the parents decide to make their child earn his own money and he still wants to help feed the hungry, he is truly a generous person and the money he spends has value attached to it.

The government is our spoiled child that we have failed to discipline. We have allowed and even asked our child to spend our money for us on things that we (the private sector) could better provide for ourselves. In spite of the fact that the government is contributing our money to the relief efforts in Asia, Americans are willingly giving more. The American people are the most generous people on the earth, contributing over $1 billion beyond what the government has taken from us. This should be applauded; Americans should give to the less fortunate and have proven to do so with little or no convincing. When the government takes from its citizens in the name of charity and virtue, the government is still the thief, not only stealing the citizen's money, but also the joy in helping his common man.

Related posts by others:
Libertarians And Emergencies by Doug of Below the Beltway
Time for the Tough Questions? by Left Brain Female
Behold My Heartlessness by the Heartless Libertarian
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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Coming Attractions

Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds is undergoing some changes. Right now I am in the process of organizing multiple blogrolls for easier navigation and adding new links to each. The working categories I am toying with are: Best of FPFM, Philosophy, Science, & Religion, Libertarians & Classical Liberals, The Left, The Right, Blogpost of the Month (archive), On Your Payroll (Government), Can You Handle the Truth? (,, Mythbusters, etc.) Carnival of Liberty (blogroll with all past carnivals), and Documents of Freedom (U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, The Magna Carta etc.). If anyone has any good suggestions for me to add to any of these categories, leave me a comment.

Also, I am planning on adding a new feature called Fearless Philosophers. Fearless Philosophers will feature such courageous thinkers as Thomas Paine, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Ayn Rand, Frédéric Bastiat, and many others. I welcome readers to suggest other persons (alive or dead) who advanced philosophy geared toward freeing minds with science and reason releasing others from the bondage of superstition and mysticism. I cannot make any promises of when the first Fearless Philosopher will be profiled, but I plan on writing my first one soon.

I’m looking forward to your feedback to make this a better, more thought-provoking blog.
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