Tuesday, August 15, 2017

'Tax Burden Justifies Immigration Restriction': Argument the Right Stole from Nanny-State Left

Stuart K. Hayashi



Screen shot from the motion picture "Born in East L.A.,"
prod. Peter Macgregor-Scott, dir. Cheech Marin (Universal Pictures, 1987).


I point out that a free republic allows for anything that is peaceful. If I want to lodge Mexicans on my land, and they want to lodge on my land, then there's no reason for the State to initiate the use of force upon us; this shouldn't even require a license from the government (visa). To this, the right-wing anti-immigrationists reply that it is their business, because we have a welfare state, and therefore, to reduce the tax burden, immigrants should be kept out. Then I say that anyone genuinely concerned about reducing the tax burden would demand cutting back government spending per se, having everyone -- native-born and foreign-born alike -- pay their own way. Then the right-wing anti-immigrationists say, "But the welfare state is never going away. Just accept it. The best we can do to reduce the tax burden is to restrict immigration." That's actually an argument they stole from left-wingers: specifically, the left-winger advocates of the Nanny State.

Attorney John Banzhaf, former Obama adviser Cass Sunstein, and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg lead the left-wing health police, saying the government should police your health. They want to protect you from your own lifestyle choices, such as imposing taxes on soda and other sugary beverages. To this, right-wing people generally point out that this is none of Cass Sunstein's business; if a right-wing man wants to drink lots of Coca-Cola, that is none of the government's business. To this, the left-wing health police reply, "But it is my business! Taxpayer funds now pay for everyone's health care, and, everything else being equal, healthcare spending on the obese is higher than it is for the non-obese. Therefore, to reduce the tax burden, we are justified in policing choices that contribute to obesity." To that, right-wing people properly respond that the solution is to cut government spending on healthcare across-the-board and let everyone pay their own way.

Now, how would those right-wing people like it if the left-wing health police said this?: "But taxpayer-funded healthcare is never going away. Just accept it. The best we can do to reduce the tax burden is to police people's health-related lifestyle choices."

Don't you think that right-wing people would properly rejoin?: "No, it's still none of your business. What I do with my own body peaceably is none of your business, and your citation of taxpayer funding doesn't justify policing what I may or may not peaceably consume."

If that's the case, then when it comes to immigration, the legitimate rejoinder to these right-wing anti-immigratoinists is, "No, it's still none of your business. The national origins of whom I invite peaceably onto my own land is none of your business, and your citation of taxpayer funding doesn't justify policing whom I may or may not peaceably invite onto my land."

Yet many of the same right-wing people who accept, as valid, that final rebuttal against the health police are the same people who arbitrarily reject that very same rebuttal when applied to the issue of immigration control.

When someone point outs that the real way to reduce the tax burden is to de-socialize medicine and let everyone pay their own way, the Nanny-State health police refuse to relent on their need to police your health. From that, I conclude that their claim to care about rolling back the tax burden is disingenuous; the real priority is to micromanage other people's lifestyle choices.

Likewise, when someone points out that the real way to reduce the tax burden is to shrink the welfare state for everyone and let everyone pay their own way and to have private charity, the anti-immigrationists refuse to relent on the supposed need to restrict immigration. From that, I conclude that their claim to care about rolling back the tax burden is disingenuous; the real priority is to block immigrants from poor countries in general.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

My Three Arguments for Free Will

Stuart K. Hayashi


There are three arguments repeatedly given against free will; I shall address them here.

Portrait of Spinoza from 1665; courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.



1 of 3: Does the Law of Cause-and-Effect Preclude Free Will, As Spinoza Insists?
For a long time, I struggled with Baruch Spinoza's argument against free will, which says that the Law of Causality/the Law of Cause-and-Effect precludes any entity from possessing free will. You may recall that I dealt with that argument before here, but, as a refresher, the argument goes: when we observe the Law of Identity with natural objects, we find that once we understand their nature, they become eminently predictable. For example, rain clouds, rocks, asteroids, and comets are all entities, each has its own nature. We can think of what happens when a rain cloud drops rain drops on a rock. What happens is that the rain pouring down on the rock will cause the rock to erode. Based on the respective natures of rain clouds and rocks, we know that any time a rain cloud rains down on a rock, the rain pouring down will cause a specific effect, the effect being the erosion of the rock. Once we know the natures of entities, we observe that under the same circumstances in the future, the entities will behave in the same manner as they did before; they are mechanistic and predictable. When rain falls on a rock, the rock will erode, and we know that the rock, by its nature, will not behave in any other manner; for the rock unexpectedly to react differently would be contrary to the rock's identity.

Spinoza's argument continues that humans are entities. Doesn't this mean that once we know the nature of human beings, it follows that once we know how a human will behave in a specific circumstance, that circumstance's re-occurrence will cause the human to behave exactly the same as before? Doesn't that mean that human beings, then, are just as mechanistic and predictable in their actions as a rock that has rain drops pouring down on it? Does the application of the Law of Identity and the Law of Causality (and the Law of Causality is the Law of Identity as applied to action) preclude free will in human beings? Spinoza says the answer is yes.

I like neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga's reply to Spinoza. Spinoza overlooked the occurrences of emergent properties. To recognize emergent properties in Nature is to reconcile the Law of Causality with free will. The idea behind Emergent Properties is that a set of components can be arranged in various fashions and, usually, nothing new happens; those components remain nothing more than the sum of the parts. However, there are cases in which those components, being arranged in a particular fashion, will educe an unprecedented phenomenon.

An example would be how the first microorganisms emerged from nonliving matter. For billions of years, the exact same chemicals existed on Earth. The chemicals react with one another but, for the most part, those reactions do not educe any unprecedented phenomenon. But one fateful day, when those chemicals were arranged in a particularly fortuitous fashion, it resulted not only in a chemical reaction, but a chemical reaction unlike any other. If you arrange chemicals in most arrangements, nothing new happens. However, one day four billion years ago, the chemicals were arranged in such a fashion that the first primitive organisms emerged: living organisms emerged from nonliving matter. That new phenomenon is the Emergent Property.

The net profit in utility that emerges from voluntary trade and cooperation is also an Emergent Property. Suppose that when you and I work alone, you produce 100 units of wealth, and I produce only 17. However, what if we work together to produce a new machine that is more efficient than what any one person could do through manual labor? As a consequence of our working together, you produce 10,000 units of wealth, whereas I produce 300. That net gain in productivity is also an Emergent Property.

The Big Bang would also be an Emergent Property. For an unspecified duration, the universe existed in one particular form. However, some components within the universe formed a particular fortuitous arrangement, setting off the Big Bang, causing the universe to take on another form (the present form).

Michael Gazzaniga says that the emergence of free will from entities that previously had no free will, is itself an Emergent Property. The first organisms, such as bacteria and protists and insects, are relatively mechanistic and predictable; beetles and cockroaches are like machines made out of meat. But mutations happened and caused organisms to grow ever more complex. In our primate ancestors, the matter eventually became arranged in some fortuitous fashion that sparked some new unprecedented phenomenon: volition.

Hence, the Law of Causality does not preclude free will. Rather, the cause-and-effect chain of events ultimately produced one particularly fortuitous effect, the fortuitous effect being that our species possesses the faculty of volition.



2 of 3: "The Very Fact That Every Choice of Yours Is a Response to Something External to You, Means Your Choices Are Never Proactive"
There is another type of argument that tries to cite the Law of Causality in an attempt to discredit the concept of free will. I call this argument "You only possess free will if you make choices in a vacuum."

The argument goes: in order for you to have free will truly, you would have to be proactive: you would have to perform actions that are not caused by -- that are not a response to -- any stimulus external to yourself. But the fact is that everything you do is a reaction to some stimulus. Hence, you are purely reactive; everything you do is a response to forces that are external to your conscious control. For example, you might take a particular course of action to obtain food, but that is merely in response to your body first indicating to you that it is hungry. Hence, you do not have free will; you are that rock that merely educes a predictable response to forces outside of itself.

That argument is a straw man, because the fact that you must make choices within a context, in consideration of conditions external to yourself, does not erase the fact that various options remain open to you and that you take the initiative to select among those options.

This notion that you only have free will if you take an action that is independent of any consideration or stimulus outside of your conscious control, is what I call the Rationalistic Interpretation of free will; this (mis)interpretation is quasi-Platonic and quasi-Kantian. The idea is that you make choices outside of any contextual considerations, not prompted by anything outside of yourself. That is, you make choices within a vacuum.

But reality is not like that. Of course there are entities and phenomena that exist outside of yourself. Of course there are circumstances outside of yourself that, despite not having been chosen by you, nonetheless necessitate action (and therefore decision-making) on your part. The Rationalistic argument simply takes for granted that you only have free will if you make choices regardless of context. And, of course, it is impossible to make choices regardless of context, because the "context" consists of the factual considerations all around you. Therefore, the Rationalists conclude that free will is nonexistent. But their argument consists of question-beginning. It is rigged. They try to pre-define free will, describing a situation that cannot exist. Then they simply point out the situation does not exist and thus declare victory over the concept of free will.

But we don't have to accept that false definition of free will. Instead, we define free will according to the facts; we recognize that there is some faculty of choice possessed by human beings; that faculty is what is to be recognized properly as free will.

Yes, the facts of reality cause you to feel hunger, and you must act in response to that; you don't have control over the fact that when your body needs food, you feel hunger. But, contrary to the Rationalists, that your actions constitute a response to such a fact of reality -- a fact you did not choose -- does not preclude you from having any choice per se. You must take a course of action to satisfy that hunger, but there are many avenues available to you by which you might go about to try to address this physiological need. You might forage for food; you might go hunting for it; you might become a farmer and grow it. You might go up to someone with food and ask for some of it. You might do a job to create wealth and trade that wealth for food. Sadly, some people choose to starve themselves (another psychiatric condition that involves selflessness).

We have the "You didn't build that" attack on free will. It is said that Steve Jobs never really produced his wealth, because he was born into fortuitous circumstances that caused him to do what he did; he was just as passive receptacle responding to the external stimuli around him. Steve Jobs was raised in that part of California where there were already computer engineers around him; his friends were the sons of computer engineers. Hence, Steve Jobs had a head start over someone born somewhere else -- say, in the American South -- who easily might have been interested in the same industry if he grew up around people from that industry.

That argument overlooks the fact that many people born in the same circumstances as Steve Jobs could have done what he did, and yet they did not. Many other people around Steve Jobs were born in that area and had friends who whose fathers were computer engineers; some of them were the children of computer engineers. Many people were in the same fortuitous circumstances as Steve Jobs and had the same resources available to them, but did not do what he did. The reason that Steve Jobs did what he did -- which others in the same privileged position did not do -- is that he chose it. He took the initiative to do it. When both person A and person B start off in the same circumstances but person A does something creative and that person B did not do, person A is being proactive. That person A is acting within some context that precipitated action on his part, does not preclude his action from being recognized, properly, as a proactive initiative. Proactivity does not mean acting in a vacuum, absent of any prior considerations or stimuli; to be proactive means that, in light of one's circumstances, one takes the initiative to go beyond what has long been the conventional and expected course of action that has been taken in response to those circumstances.

Free will does not mean that one must act independently of considerations of context. Rather, it is the context in which human beings find themselves that gave rise both to the need and ability to make the very choices that are the exercise of free will.



3 of 3: Your Conscious Mind Makes No Choices; It Only Rationalizes the Action Your Subconscious Pre-Selected for You?
I want to address a final attack on free will, which I have addressed in a previous post: Sam Harris's argument that all conscious decision-making is simply a rationalization for actions that your unconscious "reptilian brain" -- driven by instinct and emotion -- preselected for you.

Sam Harris cites experiments by Benjamin Libet on very simple, specific motor movements, such as whether you move your left index finger instead of your right index finger. The experiments supposedly show that when you are asked to perform a simple task involving such simple movements, the unconscious part of your brain is activated many seconds before the conscious decision-making prefrontal cortex is activated. From these rather simple results, Sam Harris makes the sweeping conclusion that all human actions are therefore governed by the subconscious, and when you activate your prefrontal cortex, what your conscious mind does is not part of the decision-making process at all. Citing Benjamin Libet's experiments, Sam Harris says that your conscious mind definitely does not initiate the decision-making process; the subconscious does. Therefore, concludes Harris, your conscious reasoning has no functioning other than to rationalize the course of action that was already put into motion by your subconscious.

Here is why Sam Harris's argument is one big straw man: Benjamin Libet's experiments only test physiological responses with respect to an isolated motor movement, and a long-term life decision -- such as embarking on a career in chemistry -- is not just one isolated motor movement; it's not one flick of the left index finger.

That your unconscious mind can precede your conscious mind in detecting the need for a decision is not the same as the unconscious mind making the decision for you. Moreover, a conscious choice -- which you can change -- consists not of one motor action but of many motor actions. For example, today I might choose to walk to the grocery store. If I do that, I don't consciously think out of every step of the way: "First I raise my left foot; then I lower my left foot; then I raise my right foot; then I lower my left foot." Of course my conscious mind does not think out every motor movement. Contra Sam Harris, recognition of that fact does not imply that going to the grocery store today was not a conscious choice on my part.

Buried in Sam Harris's citation of Libet's experiments is the assumption that Libet and other researchers can pinpoint the exact moments, on the noumenal level, where the decision-making process respectively begins and ends. Sam Harris has arbitrarily decided that the point in the experiment where the unconscious parts of the brain are activated is the time where the decision-making process begins. And he has arbitrarily decided that the point where the prefrontal cortex experiences blood flow is the time where the decision-making process ends.

In reality, the decision-making process is ongoing; it goes on continuously throughout all of waking experience. One small choice is part of a series of steps encompassing a much larger choice. I have made the life choice to be a writer. When I was six years old, I was drawing monsters (the drawings looked how you would expect a little boy's drawings to look, and I remain proud of them) and my mother, not taking it as seriously as I would, asked me if I wanted to staple the sheets together to make a book. I did that. Days later I stapled other sheets together to make other books. Each page had a drawing on it. Eventually, each drawing had a caption on it. I ended up adding more and more narrative prose. My mother said somewhat casually, "Maybe when you're older you will try to write as a your job." I laughed and said, "Ha ha; maybe." As this went on, I began to contemplate the prospect of that more seriously. Today I do try to write as a job. Sometimes I get very frustrated and wonder if I should quit. My refraining from quitting, counts as part of the choice to take the action of writing. Part of a long-term decision is maintaining one's commitment to it.

The question to ask Sam Harris here is: what point in Stuart's journey here marked, on the noumenal level, the beginning of the decision-making process when it came to his deciding to be a writer? I can tell you that I don't know, at what point, marks the true beginning of the decision-making process. And I'm not too worried about finding what I can call the precise starting point. What matters to me is whether I maintain commitment. The very fact that you keep at a task, when the option of quitting remains possible to you, evinces the presence of free will.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Evolutionary Psychology Has Made Accurate Predictions: Marlene Zuk's Examples

Stuart K. Hayashi



Diorama of Homo erectus at the National Museum of Mongolian History;
source: Wikimedia Commons.


An unfair proclamation I commonly hear is that evolutionary psychology should be dismissed because its theories have never been tested according to their predictive power. The criticism goes,

Evolutionary psychologists only speak of what happened in the past. But if it were a real science, then the principles it describes should apply consistently. And if the principle applies consistently, evolutionary psychologists should be able to apply that principle to make predictions in experiments. That doesn’t happen. Therefore, evolutionary psychology consists entirely of just-so stories wherein evolutionary psychologists observe some current social arrangement and then work backward, coming up with some story to explain how that arrangement came about.

I won’t argue that evolutionary psychology is perfect. Often evolutionary psychologists do come up with rationalizations for social and political collectivism. As I have pointed out before, many enthusiasts of evolutionary psychology, such as Jonathan Haidt and Michael Shermer, try to cite evolutionary psychology to proclaim that biology itself disproves Ayn Rand’s ethical theory. And even after frequently acknowledging that voluntary trades are win-win positive sum games, many evolutionary psychologists still subscribe to a fallacious neo-Malthusian economic paradigm that presumes that human beings under free enterprise will fritter away all nonrenewable natural resources and destroy themselves.

However, it is actually untrue that evolutionary psychology has not been applied to making accurate predictions. Zoologist Marlene Zuk provides several examples in Riddled With Life: Friendly Worms, Ladybug Sex, and the Parasites That Makes Us Who We Are, (Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2007).



Predictions and Tests of Evolutionary Psychologists’ Theories on Polygyny
Here is one example of a longstanding theory in evolutionary psychology. There are species that are called polygynous. The more polygynous a species is, the more it is a “harem species.” This means that many males compete against one another in displays of machismo. The male that wins the competition gets to have sex with many females, and the males that lose the competition will die without having mated at all. Some species are more severely polygynous than others, and evolutionary psychologists tend to describe our species as “mildly polygynous” (this is one reason why so many feminists disparage evolutionary psychology as one big rationalization for patriarchal gender norms).

The more aggressively polygynous a species is, the more different the males will look from the females -- the extent to which males and females of the same species look different is called sexual dimorphism. Generally if a species is aggressively polygynous, either the male is much more colorful than the female (males compete for female attention according to how they look; this is in birds) or the male is much larger than the female (as the males outright fight one another).

Evolutionary psychology continues that the more polygynous a species is, the more testosterone the males produce -- the testosterone contributes to the competitive aggression. Simultaneously, testosterone production weakens the immune system. This means that if the evolutionary psychologists’ theory about polygynous species is true, then -- everything else being equal -- the more polygynous a species is, the more vulnerable old-age males of the species will be to parasites than females of the same age. Note that this theory was developed before scientists put the theory to the test in experiments. And Marlene Zuk describes how this theory was indeed put to the test. Was the prediction accurate?

Sarah Moore and Ken Wilson from England found an ingenious way around the problem using a simple surrogate for the degree of male reproductive competition: the size differential between the sexes. Species in which the males are relatively larger are presumed to have experienced more male sexual competition in their evolutionary history. They used information available in the scientific literature on body size and parasites from 106 different mammals ranging from deer to elephants to mice, and they also used sophisticated methods for taking into account the ancestral relationships between species. The parasites included single-celled organisms, worms, mites, fleas, and ticks. Viral and bacterial infections, though potentially extremely important in the lives of the animals, are simply too difficult to document in wild populations, so Moore and Wilson left them out of the analysis. 
Moore and Wilson first found the same pattern that had been established in smaller studies: Males had persistently higher levels of parasitism than females. As they predicted, the greater the difference in size between males and females, the greater the disparity between male and female parasite levels. The scientists also gathered data on longevity in the sexes, and found that when males died at a younger age, they also had a disproportionately higher level of disease. Furthermore, where they could at least classify species into those in which males had the potential to mate with more than one female and those that were monogamous, Moore and Wilson showed that male-biased parasitism was more likely in the former. This is consistent with the idea that intense male competition leads to males being the sicker sex. [Marlene Zuk cites Sarah L. Moore and Ken Wilson, "Parasites as a Viability Cost of Sexual Selection in Natural Populations of Mammals," Science vol. 297, year 2002: pages 2015-2018.]

Those were from pages 136–37 of Marlene Zuk’s book.

You may recall my mentioning that William Donald “W.D.” Hamilton is the scientist who coined kin selection. With W. D. Hamilton, Marlene Zuk conducted her own experiment to test this theory. The brightness of a male peacock’s feathers indicates its resistance to disease. If a peacock is very bright blue, that does not indicate the absence of parasites in its system. Rather, the peacock’s bright blueness indicates that there are many parasites in the peacock’s system but that its immune system is so strong, the peacock is able to survive in spite of the parasites anyway. According to this understanding, then, evolutionary psychology predicts that the brighter blue a male peacock is, the more parasites should be found in its family history. Marlene Zuk and W. D. Hamilton ran a test on this and found that the evolutionary psychologists’ theory proved correct. (William D. Hamilton and Marlene Zuk, “Heritable True Fitness and Bright Birds: A role for Parasites?”, Science vol. 213, year 1982: pages 384-387.)



Does the Evolutionary Psychologists’ Prediction About Polygyny Apply to Human Societies As Well? Another Test
Moreover, evolutionary psychologists such as Bobbi S. Low have found that this theory has accurately predicted findings in human societies. According to evolutionary psychology theory, it is the case that -- everything else being equal -- the more severely polygynous a particular human society is, the more parasites will be found in the systems of the men. Is that the case?

That part, of course, could still be important, and Bobbi Low, a biologist at the University of Michigan, looked at human societies around the world to see whether parasites were more prevalent in cultures where polygyny, the practice of a single man having many wives or concubines, was more common. She reasoned that this was similar to our prediction about heavier parasite burdens leading to higher degrees of sexual selection and hence showier plumage in the birds. Indeed, societies where polygyny is common are more plagued by diseases such as malaria, sleeping sickness, and various worms.

That is from pages 160–61, citing Bobbi S. Low, “Marriage Systems and Pathogen Stress in Human Societies,” American Zoologist vol. 30, no. 2, year 1990: pages 325-339.



Evolutionary Psychologists’ Theory About Collectivism, Xenophobia, and Disease
Here is another evolutionary psychology theory -- one developed by W. J. Freeland in 1976: it is that particularly insular, collectivist, xenophobic societies are that way on account of communicable disease. The theory is that they started out as rather open to contact and trade with foreigners but, as a consequence, they contracted communicable diseases. The members of the society who survived the original epidemic were able to maintain their society by becoming less welcoming toward contact with foreigners and also more keen on enforcing social conformity.

If that theory were correct, then it follows that if you check the history of communicable diseases among various societies, the most insular and xenophobic of societies should also be the ones with the most severe histories of communicable diseases being passed from person to person. In 2009, a Canadian team led by Randy Thornhill conducted such an investigation. The team’s findings corroborated Freeland’s theory. See Randy Thornhill, et all., “Parasites, Democratization, and Liberalization of Values Across Contemporary Cultures,” Biological Reviews vol. 8 (no. 1, February 2009): pages 113–133.



Conclusion
Yes, evolutionary psychology theories have been used to make accurate predictions in experiments concerning human behavior and human societies.

The problems with evolutionary psychology normally come from the evolutionary psychologists’ misinterpretations of their own data. As I wrote of previously, evolutionary psychologists frequently observe the trend that hunter-gatherer societies foster a collectivist interpretation of ethics and morality, and thereby conclude that a modern, liberalized, industrial society also ought to be collectivist, making an ethics of peaceable self-interest unworkable. However, it is terribly inaccurate to proclaim that evolutionary psychology theory has never made accurate predictions that scientists have tested. No, evolutionary psychologists’ theories on how specific behaviors arose do not amount to mere “just-so stories.”

Monday, August 07, 2017

Murder Threats That Ingrid Johnsen 'Ledingham' Issued Publicly, and Her Other Public Morbid Gestures, Warrant Concern

Trigger warning:  I normally mock trigger warnings, but one truly is applicable in this case.  This blog post discusses issues pertaining to murder threats, child abuse, rape, incest, suicidal gestures, and mental illness.


Stuart K. Hayashi


Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham (Ingrid J from BiggerPockets) and me
before I learned the full extent of the physical danger 
she poses to herself and others (there were 
already troubling signs visible then, though).



This is a revised version of a post from here.  The difference is that, this time, I name names.  The reason is that there is evidence that there is a greater danger in my not doing so than in my doing so.

Some years ago I became very close to someone who suffers from a dangerous pathology -- demonstrably a physical danger to herself and others.  Unless she returns to regular psychiatric care and is forthcoming to acquaintances, co-workers, online correspondents, and people in general about the dangers that her condition poses -- having a history of suicidal, self-harming, and even homicidal ideation, all of which she has expressed publicly for years -- this is not something to let go.



Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham's Murder Threat for Her Mother, Lillian Johnsen, Made Publicly Viewable By Ingrid Herself
In 2004 in the town of Tromsø, Norway/ Norge, Ingrid Johnsen "Ledingham" -- daughter to Mark Ledingham, Tromsø kommune Web coordinator whose photos of the aurora borealis are internationally recognized --  put up this threat to kill her mother Lillian Johnsen.  Despite Norwegian being her first language, Ingrid wrote the murder threat in English and it has been publicly available on the World Wide Web this entire time.  It is not one of those terse threats that people write on Twitter or YouTube, along the lines of, 'You disagree with me? Then I hope you die!'  Though the threat is grammatically inept in composition, it is nonetheless serious in tone and intent.  Ingrid Johnsen "Ledingham" does not say that she has some long-term plan to kill.  Rather, she envisions that one day she will become so incensed by Lillian Johnsen's nagging that she will take a knife and thrust the knife into Lillian Johnsen.  This is described in graphic language as so:


Ingrid Johnsen "Ledingham" of  Tromsø threatening the life of her mother Lilian Johnsen; click on the link to enlarge.


The murder threat that Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham wrote for her mother, Lillian Johnsen, is documented and archived.  There are copies of it available, saved in multiple locations.

I have mentioned this to other people before -- including people whom both Ingrid and I mistook for friends of hers.  Those people turned out to be sycophantic "Nice Guys™"; they said it was evil for me to discuss Ingrid's situation with anyone else, even when I hid her name.  Those people elide the fact that a right to privacy does not extend to violent threats, especially not violent threats  made as publicly as the threat that Ingrid issued -- a murder threat Ingrid took the initiative to make publicly visible to a billion people -- even if that particular violent threat ends up not being acted upon (it may still be acted upon at a later date).  It is also everyone's business that Ingrid went around accusing a classmate of violently threatening her; a false accusation of violence is itself an initiation of the use of force, as someone falsely accused can be met with retaliatory force, such as by police or by a court summons.  As I have explained before, violent threats cannot be privatized, meaning they are necessarily everyone's rightful business to know about.  That applies if a relative raped you and you still try to shield that relative from the repercussions of that (my explanation).

Some people in our respective circles have rationalized that the murder threat that Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham put out is "long past." After all, they say, it is more than ten years old.  Moreover, four months after Ingrid wrote her original death threat, she wrote a follow-up post on that same thread where she claims to be all better:  "...im happy that i allowed myself to hate her [the mother]. otherwise nothing would have changed. I now love my mom to death like many other precious people in my surroundings."

But it wasn't all better.  Ingrid made it all too obvious she is not recovered.

For me, my fear is not that Ingrid will necessarily kill her mother; it's that she put up that murder threat at all, and just left it up for posterity.  Should Ingrid go untreated, there will easily come a day when Ingrid can do something extreme to anyone to whom she has felt emotional attachment (explanation below).  And it might not be direct violence on her part; it might come in the form of accusing someone falsely of a crime (that is also explained below).



Years After Threatening Her Mother Publicly, Ingrid Continued Exhibiting Publicly the Fixation on Violence and Death
I knew Ingrid when she was on Oahu from 2008 to 2012.  Her legal name was not "Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham," but "Ingrid Johnsen."

In late 2010, Ingrid got one of her enablers, the corpse artist Erlend Anker Barstad Mørk of Trondheim, Norway, to upload onto YouTube a video where she gives a monologue about being a neo-fascist "of the Fourth Reich" (Fourth Reich being a continuation of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich).  Ingrid had recited this monologue to me before, telling me it was a joke.  It was very disturbing even then.  From Erlend Anker Barstad Mørk's upload, it is not obvious that it is a joke, despite parts of the monologue sounding very strange; Erlend listed the video as "News and Politics."  And I am sad to admit that this was far from the first instance in which Ingrid boastfully compared herself to a neo-Nazi. :'-(

That Ingrid calling herself a neo-fascist "of the Fourth Reich" in the video was some joke is especially unclear for another reason: Ingrid and Erlend got embroiled within a sleazy Far Right political circle in Norway whose most prominent figures regularly demanded that Norway's government block immigrants from North Africa (evidence of the xenophobia here, here, here, and here; much of this relates to Kjetil Knausgård's pro-bigotry "Libertinius" page).  If you don't want people thinking you are a neo-Nazi, it's not wise to associate with a circle that promotes xenophobic propaganda.  (Sadly, Ingrid actually first heard of that political organization from me, before it became so brazenly sleazy and took on such a stridently bigoted position against north African immigrants; I heard about it under the false pretense that it was about promoting a free market.)  People in the xenophobic political circle are among the sycophants who wanted me to go along pretending that all of Ingrid's public morbid gestures were safe and fine.

Around 2014, Erlend "privated" the disturbing video.  But as I type this, Radaris retains a record of the video's existence -- complete with Ingrid's birth name (more about that later) -- and Radaris's record of it is documented and archived.  Again, there are multiple copies of this.



Since you're probably not Ingrid's mother, you are probably wondering, 'Why the hell should I care?'  Until Ingrid confirms that she has returned to psychiatric care on a regular basis, there are grounds to be concerned that Ingrid continues to pose a danger to colleagues with whom she networks, such as on the BiggerPockets real-estate investing forum. That could be you. Explaining this requires more context.  (If you want to learn an additional reason why Ingrid likely continues to pose a  physical danger both to herself and to others, that is below under the heading "The Accusation Against the Classmate.")



The Beginning of the Story Behind This
Before Ingrid showed me the murder threat and the disturbing "Fourth Reich" video, over a period of months she slowly introduced more and more clues indicating the danger.  First, she explained why she was born with her mother's last name instead of her father's, her father being an expatriate from Minnesota. (As should be clear by the end of this, this family history seems very pertinent to Ingrid's public suicidal, dysmorphic, and homicidal gestures.)

This is the story:  around the 1950s, there were three brothers in Minnesota (around Duluth but also around Woodbury and Brooklyn Park):  Wil Honkala, Maynard Duane Honkala, and Delbert Honkala. (Their other siblings were Clarence W., Marvin, Vivian, and Dory.)  Maynard Duane Honkala was supposed to care for the siblings Cheri Honkala (a radical left-wing political activist, U.S. presidential running mate with Jill Stein for the Green Party in 2012, and mother-in-law to a famous actress) and Cheri's older brother Mark Honkala.  This Mark Honkala suffered from depression and killed himself by jumping off a bridge.  According to various publicly available interviews and memoirs of Cheri Honkala's, both Cheri Honkala and her mother received domestic abuse.  When it comes to disclosing this, I am not disclosing information that Cheri Honkala herself has not availed to the public.  This is from Washington City Paper:

When an alcoholic stepfather stepped into the picture [for Cheri Honkala], physical and sexual abuse soon became household routines. . . . 
[Cheri] Honkala says she was hospitalized every year as a consequence of abuse. By the time she was 13, in 1976, Honkala told her mother that she had been abused not only physically but sexually as well.
Cheri Honkala's son, Mark Webber, is named after Cheri's brother.  (Mark Webber has also appeared in such famous motion pictures as Scott Pilgrim Versus the World.)

As Cheri Honkala's birth father left her mother "a couple of months" after Cheri's birth (page 215), Cheri received the last name of her stepfather: Honkala.

Maynard Duane Honkala's brother Wil Honkala (he spells it Wil with only one L) married Doris Ledingham.  They raised four children:  Nancy Honkala (now Nancy Henderson Honkala), Julie (now Julie Flynn), Brian Honkala, and Mark Honkala.  Yes, it appears that the two brothers each raised someone named Mark Honkala.  This Mark Honkala was brought up believing that Wil Honkala was his biological father, but that was not the case.  Again, Ingrid didn't tell me all the names of her aunts and uncles; I learned those names later.  But I give the full backstory now to get it out of the way.

Ingrid didn't tell me about Cheri Honkala or Maynard Duane Honkala either.  Nor did she tell me that there was more than one "Mark Honkala"; I learned about all that later.  I put that here now because, seeing this in retrospect, the context is much clearer if I state it all now.

This is what Ingrid did tell me directly, though initially her  telling of this was vague, leaving out some important details: Doris Ledingham Honkala had an extramarital affair, and this other Mark Honkala was the result.  After this Mark Honkala learned what had happened, he tracked down his biological father, but his biological father wanted nothing to do with him.  Around this time, Mark Honkala decided to change his last name to "Ledingham" -- his mother's maiden name.  He moved permanently to Tromsø kommune, Norway, where he became something of a civic figure, and where he took nature and landscape photos that have since become internationally renowned.  There, he married the divorcée Lillian Johnsen, and their daughter together was Ingrid Johnsen.

Ingrid said, "When it was the time to decide what name went on my birth certificate, my mom said to my dad, 'If we give her your last name, how do we know you won't just change it again? We'll give her my last name; it's simpler!' "  Ingrid laughed as she told me this.

Despite Ingrid writing in that follow-up in April 2004 that she was all better now,  she continued, between 2008 to 2012 on Oahu, displaying morbid and even violent gestures.  By late 2010, she made the morbid gestures very public. Many of these morbid gestures remain on the Web, and have been documented and archived. There are also copies of this evidence available as well. Of course, in the beginning the morbidity was not so obvious to me, though Ingrid was already making some isolated but bizarre hints at it.

When telling me about her father's history, Ingrid sounded vulnerable for the first time. She said that she puts on a front of bravado to hide her inner demons-- that she tries to make herself appear to other people that she is in a position of authority and responsibility, because she believes if people see her in such positions and seeming confident and professional, they will not question her judgment or sanity.  No red flags went off for me; I reassured her that there was nothing unusual about nursing self-doubts.



The Accusation Against the Classmate 
In the weeks that followed her telling me about the story behind her last name, Ingrid increasingly showed an obsession with child molesters.  The first joke she ever told me happened to be what she identified as her favorite signature on online postings:  'The internet is where men are men, women are men, and small children are undercover FBI agents," alluding to online sting operations against child predators.  Then Ingrid would reminisce about an ex-boyfriend back in Norway, Fritz.  She said that Fritz was a deep, caring person who empathized with everyone, a man of upstanding good taste.  Then she stared at the ground and giggled approvingly, "He always joked that he was a pedophile trying to lure kids into sex with him."

Then in February of 2010, Ingrid came to a professor and me, and told us a troubling story about a classmate of hers in that professor's class.  (I know the classmate's name but, for the time being, I won't provide it here. I might change that if later I find that it's necessary.)  Ingrid told the professor and me that the classmate had sexually propositioned her and, when she rejected him, he grew angry.  She continued that, based on his boasting about killing people in war and about his womanizing, she was afraid the classmate wanted to rape her.  They got into an argument and Ingrid had grown direly afraid of him.  A week later, Ingrid came to the professor and me and said that she was proven right to fear the classmate as violent, because he threatened her, "If you tell anyone what happened that night, I kill you!"

Ingrid insisted that we not go to the police (in retrospect, I should have reported this to the police against her wishes) but that she wanted the professor to keep the classmate and her separate from one another.  She did not file any formal complaints with Hawaii Pacific University (HPU), but she did go around informally circulating this accusation among several other schoolmates.  I completely believed the accusation at the time. (It's still important to listen.)

This is not the end of the classmate story; nor have we even reached the most disturbing part of it.  That is below, under the heading "The Danger Posed to Colleagues."

Then Ingrid told the professor, several other schoolmates, and me a troubling story where she accused her writing instructor of invading her personal space as he flirted with her.  Again, she did not file a formal complaint, and sternly insisted that none of us confidantes do so, either.  I completely believed this accusation as well.

I told her, "Ingrid, that's sexual harassment."

Then she laughed and replied, "No, no, no, no!  I would never say anything to get him in trouble."

I thought, Never say anything that could get the writing instructor in trouble? You just made that accusation right in front of a faculty member.



Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham's Repeated (and, At the Time, Seemingly Random) Mentions of Child Molesters
One night in April of 2010, when Ingrid and I were going out for an evening stroll, she said, out of nowhere, "Why are people so bigoted when a convicted child molester moves into the neighborhood?"

My eyes shot wide open and I sputtered, "Whah? . . . Wh-wh-wh-what do you mean?"

Ingrid explained, "Whenever someone who, as an adult, had sex with a small child moves into the neighborhood, people immediately want to run him out.  They should consider that the child consented to the sex."  She argued that a prepubescent child should be recognized as contractually competent to consent to sex with an adult caregiver.  She would not be swayed from this opinion, at least not this night.

Later, she also told me that when she was thirteen, she was groped by her then-best-friend, also thirteen years of age at the time.  She attributed her fear of men to the incidents of her friend groping her, though those incidents did not explain her obsession with child molesters in particular, nor her apparently fearing American-born men more than Norwegian-born men.



The Danger Posed to Colleagues (The Latest News Indicates This Danger Is Ongoing As This Is Posted)
Another night that same month, Ingrid was telling me about her day and then she said, very casually, that she bumped into the classmate.  I mean the same classmate she previously accused of threatening to kill her.  I was alarmed.  As calmly as I could, I asked her to go on.  What happened?  Ingrid said that she and the classmate had a nice talk, and he was just a nice, fun, friendly flirt.  Then she started into space, giggled, and said, "Hee-hee! I . . . like [Classmate's name]!"

I was stunned.  I couldn't say anything in response.  Ingrid only responded to the awkward silence by changing the subject.

Ingrid also frequently talked about how she has had a long history of wanting to die.  In high school, she threatened to kill herself several times.  Moreover, she mentioned hating her body and that this hatred for her body goes back to her early childhood, long before the boy groped her when they were both thirteen.  She mentioned that ever since she was little, she thought that female anatomy is disgusting because it makes her vulnerable to predatory males.  She did not elaborate on whether she felt threatened by one or two predatory males in particular.

The next day, I went to the professor to address him about Ingrid talking up that classmate as if she did not remember her allegation about him.  The professor brushed off my concerns.  Even as Ingrid made increasingly obvious and public morbid gestures, which the professor saw up close, the professor acted as if it was safe and acceptable.  For those reasons, I have lost a lot of respect for this man and, after years of closeness, have grown estranged from him.

Throughout May of 2010, Ingrid oscillated back and forth in her memory of the classmate. First she switched back to saying he violently threatened her, and she went around telling other schoolmates about this.  The next day, she oscillated to resuming talk about the classmate being just a nice, fun flirt. Two days later, she resumed saying he was violent and dangerous.  Every time Ingrid changed her story, she sounded as if she did not remember what she said the previous time, even if that previous time was no more than the day before.

Ingrid also showed me something else.  Years earlier, Ingrid Johnsen Ledingahm wrote this disturbing blog entry condoning rape:

Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham wrote this disturbing blog entry condoning rape;
click on the image to enlarge it and make it more readable.


My conjecture on this is that Ingrid is still being affected by something inflicted upon her before she was thirteen and that boy groped her, and the scenario she imagines, wherein Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham recasts herself as the rapist, is her way of trying to regain a feeling of power and control. But judging by the continuing public morbid gestures, Ingrid trying to imagine herself as the rapist has failed to have a lasting therapeutic effect for her.

I do suspect that the classmate acted in a threatening manner toward her.  After all this, I maintain that people need to listen to women when they speak out about having been raped.  I have heard of how there are many cases in which, after being raped, the rape victim continued to be friendly toward her rapist; the rape was so traumatizing to the victim that she tries to rationalize to herself that there must have been sort of some of misunderstanding, and that the the rapist is still a friend to her.  I understand that there are many cases where a rape victim tries to shield her rapist from facing the social repercussions of the public learning of what happened, especially if the rapist is a close relative.

If Ingrid was similarly rationalizing the incident with the classmate, that would not preclude the need for an intervention.  Most rape victims do not put murder threats for their mothers on the World Wide Web, keep those murder threats publicly visible for years and years, and then show those murder threats to you while trying to tell you that you are betraying her trust if you don't play along and pretend that the homicidal and self-harm gestures are safe and normal. Ingrid's original accusation against the classmate being true would not make her behavior in this situation any less dangerous.

By the autumn of 2010, Ingrid became very insistent on wearing the same garment to university class almost every day.  She had previously taken me to her apartment and she showed me all her clothes. It was not that she had lots of garments that looked alike.  No, it was the same black garment every day.  Then -- encouraged by the same enabler in Norway who uploaded the horrid "Fourth Reich" video -- Ingrid uploaded photos of herself photoshopped to have a chalky white face like a corpse.  Two of the corpse photos even went on Ingrid's LinkedIn account, next to her résumé, and one of them appeared on the official website of Hawaii University's SIFE chapter (SIFE later changed its name to Enactus).  I think some people tried to assume Ingrid was "just being a Goth or a Black Metal fan."  However,  Ingrid has a history of wanting to be dead literally (this is something Ingrid has documented publicly).  For that reason, I could not dismiss this as Ingrid "just being a Goth"; I had to take this seriously.

Here are the corpse pictures; you can judge for yourself if I overreacted.






The corpse image on the bottom is the
chronologically first photo
Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham
put on her LinkedIn page.
For some reason, people were
expected to interpret
the corpse image as
looking very professional
and businesslike.

Remember that this is from Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham's blog:

I wanna die... i wanna die.. 
i dont want this.. i dont wanna be alone.. im such a looser.. I`m gonna cut myself [cut her wrists with a blade] so bad tonight.. 
no point of this shit.. 
my "b/f" [boyfriend in sarcastic scare quotes] just called.. got me wondering if i was supposed to be at work tonight.. i owno.. [sic] hope not, i wanna just die, and cut [my wrists]


Ingrid had some other interesting (that is putting it euphemistically) posts on her blog. This blog post refers to the body dysmorphia:

cut my face up [ . . . ] 
wish i could get hold of a knife so i could cut up that "little pretty" face of mine.. Cut it up and make it ugly, just as ugly as I feel.. then shoot myself in the head so I no longer ever would be able to analyse or think FOR SHIT. [. . .]  I wish I could kill myself. [. . .]  I know how fucked up it is having to have some stupid bitch around u talking about killing herself. [. . .]

i wanna fuck my face up so no1 [no one] will ever recognize me..  [ . . . ] i hate you audio [Audio is short for Ingrid's username at the time, Audiobuster].. i swear to god u deserve a knife

Thankfully, Ingrid did not slice up her face. However, as you can see from the corpse-face images, Ingrid did find another morbid method of "fuck[ing] my face up so no1 will ever recognize me."

She told me (and this is briefly mentioned on her blog) that, often she will perform morbid gestures very openly but people around her will go on pretending everything is safe and normal.  She said she is of two minds about it.  On the one hand, she said, it's disconcerting to her that no one confronts her compassionately about her mental illness. On the other hand, she said, it's good that people are too cowardly to confront her because she fears confrontation, and the other people's tacit acceptance of her pathology makes it convenient for her to continue the self-destructive behavior. This is how she phrased it years earlier:

its so strange.. i live with two other people in this house, i go to school 450 pupils, no1 [no one] and i mean no1 [no one] notices the wounds on my wrist or the scars. [It turned out this was self-deception on Ingrid's part; people noticed but pretended that they didn't. --S.H.] its great really 
i`m wondering if i should cut it deeper... it hurts like a bitch but.. maybe I`ll go..
or die if u prefer that word.
I resolved that I would not be one of those idle bystanders who played along in pretending that Ingrid didn't need help when she does.



"A Lot of Abuse in My Family's Past[,] Including Sexual Abuse" 
--Ingrid's Aunt Julie (From the Honkala/Ledingham Pedigree) 
By this time, I already lost trust in Mark Ledingham's judgment. I did notice, though, that on Twitter he was following an eccentric woman from the same home state in the USA that he was from -- someone named Julie Flynn.  (This was before I knew the names of Ingrid's aunts and uncles.)  What got my attention was that the woman's website purported to be for a charity she set up, one for helping at-risk teens and twentysomethings (Ingrid's age range at the time).  All of the mental illness symptoms that this Julie Flynn woman's website described were the same as what Ingrid had either admitted to having or had exhibited to me directly. I thought, Who is this strange woman? Is she perhaps a psychologist with whom Mark Ledingham had consulted about Ingrid's problems in Norway?  About symptoms that are now becoming strong and publicly visible once again?

I contacted Julie Flynn. I told her I was interested in her website, because I had a friend in her twenties who was exhibiting the symptoms the website described.  I mentioned to this Julie Flynn woman, though, that I am worried that if she is a psychologist, she might consider it a conflict of interest for me to describe my friend's situation, as I think this Julie Flynn woman knows my friend somehow.  Julie Flynn replied she is not a psychologist and it is OK for me to tell her what concerns me.   I told her about the morbid gestures but had not yet mentioned anything about the accusations about the classmate, the fear of men in general, or the obsession with child molesters.  On September 4, 2010, she wrote, "I've figured out you are talking about my neice [sic] Ingrid."

Aunt Julie remarked that Ingrid's situation was both familiar and unfamiliar.  The situation was unfamiliar in that, this entire time, Aunt Julie was unaware that her Norwegian niece was going through all this. Yet, Aunt Julie continued, what I described was indeed familiar in one respect:  when Aunt Julie described mental illness symptoms on her own website, she was describing her own symptoms, and she was startled by how Ingrid's symptoms were similar to her own.

Before I could say anything about the child-molester fixation or the accusation about the classmate, Aunt Julie asked me whether Ingrid exhibited a prominent hang-up about sex.  Aunt Julie Flynn said (also on September 4, 2010), "There is a lot of abuse in my family's past[,] including sexual abuse." Throughout the months, Aunt Julie revealed that both a cousin and uncle of hers killed themselves, though in different ways. The cousin very deliberately committed suicide by throwing himself off a bridge (this was the other Mark Honkala, stepson to Maynard Duane Honkala and brother to Cheri Honkala). The uncle was Delbert Honkala, brother to Maynard Duane Honkala  and Wil Honkala.  Julie Flynn has written of having memories of being sexually assaulted by Uncle Delbert; Julie Flynn mentions that on her own website over here,

Between the ages of seven and twelve, I was sexually abused by two family members. It didn't last the entire time, one was one incident and the other I honestly don't remember as of yet how long it lasted. 
The incident I'm having trouble remembering, was done by my uncle who committed suicide when I was about the age of eleven [this isn't Maynard Duane Honkala].

Later, Aunt Julie alleged explicitly that not only Uncle Delbert, but her father Wil Honkala himself sexually abused her. She added that when she talked to Mark Ledingham about this, Mark Ledingham professed -- not entirely convincingly -- no knowledge of this.

I asked Aunt Julie if Ingrid had ever been left alone with Wil Honkala; Aunt Julie replied that that might have happened.

Julie Flynn went through the following pattern.  Every few weeks, she told me she would have a compassionate conversation with Ingrid about the public morbid gestures, and about their having so many symptoms and traumas in common.  But, last minute, Aunt Julie would delay this.  Then she would start talking to me about something else, such as her co-workers irritating her.  Eventually she told me that she would have the compassionate conversation after she had her own confrontation with Wil Honkala and Doris Ledingham Honkala -- with Wil Honkala for sexually abusing her and with Doris Ledingham Honkala for being an enabler who looked the other way as the abuse took place.  Aunt Julie planned on confronting her parents with this through a snail mail.  She typed up a draft and e-mailed it to me.  I still have the entire draft in my possession.

At the last minute, though, Aunt Julie decided against mailing the letter. She rationalized that Doris was in poor health and the confrontation would worsen it.  Then she became uncommunicative and rude, and I do not think the compassionate conversation with Ingrid ever happened.  It might have dawned on Aunt Julie that if she looked further into the matter with Ingrid, she might uncover something incriminating about a patriarch other than Wil Honkala, Maynard Duane Honkala, and Delbert Honkala.

Here is part of the draft.





Click on the image to enlarge it and make it more readable.


I have printed out Julie Flynn's letter; I have hard copies of it.  I have also saved all of the aforementioned information in multiple places.

Doris Ledingham Honkala died in October of 2016.

It took an embarrassingly long time -- more than a year -- for me to admit to myself that the sexual abuse that Julie Flynn and Cheri Honkala  alleged at the hands of Wil Honkala and Maynard Duane Honkala respectively might be connected to Ingrid's repeated and obsessive (and, at the time, seemingly random) mentions of child molestation.  It took me more than a year to acknowledge to myself the possibility that Ingrid's disturbing behavior might not have been fully attributable to that boy groping her when she was thirteen -- horrible as that was -- but that the disturbing behavior might have roots going back to something inflicted upon her much earlier in life, and possibly inflicted by someone closer to her than that boy.



Having to Go It Alone
It was up to me to have a compassionate conversation with Ingrid.  Most other people in our circles noticed the public morbid gestures but were too intimidated to say anything; they became perfect sycophants who helped Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham pretend that all of her public morbid gestures were safe and acceptable.

When I tried to talk to Ingrid about this, she feigned memory loss, pretending not to remember what she had told me about her obsession with child molesters and death and fear of men.  Then she added that by raising the topic with her directly, I was being more evil and frightening than the classmate who threatened to kill her.  She added that my confronting her about this was more evil and hurtful than all of the misogynistic epithets her ex-boyfriends hurled toward her.  Soon after saying all this, she again feigned memory loss, this time pretending not to remember being angry just minutes earlier.  As if she didn't know how the conversation started, she began talking casually about her day and then put on a smile and asked me how my day was.  I reminded her of what our conversation was about -- her violent and morbid gestures.  She then grew enraged again and intoned ominously, 'This is not over!"

For the sake of my physical safety, I had to cut off ties to Ingrid. But I never stopped caring.

Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham's public morbid gestures reminded me of what she wrote on her blog about the self-cutting.  When it came to her making the more recent public morbid gestures, she was again two minds about it:  making very obvious cries for help in public and, yet, when confronted about it, trying to cover up something -- and this time perhaps the horrible truth  struggling to reveal itself was not only about her, but also about someone else.



BiggerPockets.Com:  Where the Danger of Continued Violence Remains
More recently when I looked at the BiggerPockets real-estate investing forum, Ingrid -- of all people -- popped up.  She talked about how she is a big shot real-estate investor who owns a parking garage in Norway and who is interested in New York.  She finally stopped using the horrid corpse pictures for her avatar.

However, she changed her name; she now goes by "Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham."  To someone unaware of the context, that must seem a touching tribute to a man of obviously large meaning in her life.

But based on Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham's repeated unsolicited (and, at the time, mysterious) references to child molesters, and also based on what her aunts said about the patriarchs of the family, I am afraid that the name change appears to be yet another -- albeit subtler -- morbid gesture.

She has been talking about networking for her real-estate business.  This reminded me of what Ingrid said back in 2009 about how it's important that she project an image of being responsible and in charge, hoping that this will preclude anyone from questioning her sanity ever again.  If you network with Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham as a colleague, it would be prudent to remember her behavior with respect to her classmate and the writing instructor.  As long as Ingrid refuses to take responsibility publicly for her public morbid gestures -- including, but far from exclusively, the still-online murder threats and photoshop-corpse photos -- there is probable cause in concluding that the danger remains.

On Facebook, I noticed Ingrid Johnsen's mother, Lillian Johnsen.  I wrote her a private message re-introducing myself (Ingrid mentioned her to me before) and telling her about how Ingrid's murder threat for her is still on the Web for everyone to see.  Hours later, Lillian Johnsen blocked me. It was tempting to think, "Well, if Mrs. Lillian Johnsen is going to be like that, then I guess she deserves to face the repercussions of Ingrid's public morbid gestures going unaddressed, as hazardous as those repercussions could be."  But no, the truth is that Lillian Johnsen is not the only person in danger; the violence is something that can be directed toward anyone to whom Ingrid has felt some emotional attachment.

I wrote to BiggerPockets.Com about this. I didn't mention Ingrid's name, but I did mention that I recognized a person posting on the BiggerPockets website who still has a murder threat publicly viewable on the World Wide Web for everyone to read in English.  I wanted to add that, based on the incident with the classmate, I think it's dangerous for real-estate investors to network with my friend if she isn't openly receiving treatment for her condition.  Scott Trench of BiggerPockets replied to me that as long as the morbid gestures aren't on the BiggerPockets forum itself, none of that is his concern.

Because of Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham's refusal to return to psychiatric care concerning her condition, I had no other recourse but to bring this up publicly.

First off, falsely accusing someone of a violent crime is itself an initiation of the use of force.  The reason is this.  If X goes to Z and accuses Y of having committed violence against X, then Z may easily respond with violence toward Y, either doing the violence himself as retribution or going to the police (remember that government action is backed by the threat of violence).

Furthermore, every impassioned public threat of violence -- such as the one that Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham put on the Web publicly for her mother -- must be taken seriously.  Serious public threats of violence count as an initiation of the use of force.  The reason is that, although not all violent threats are acted upon, there is probable cause to judge that the person who issued the threat might still act upon it one day.  Even if Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham doesn't carry out her violent fantasy regarding her mother, she has given enough reason for people to suspect she might do something equally dangerous or retributive to someone else to whom she feels emotionally attached. You cannot justly hide behind the phrase 'This is my privacy and none of your business!' when the matter involves violent threats you have issued publicly against your own mother, particularly when you have continued, throughout the years, issuing public gestures indicating a continued obsession with death and violence.  And no, the right-wing Norwegian cliques' reinforcement of her suicidal, self-mutilating, body dysmorphic, and homicidal gestures does not constitute free speech -- as I argue here, reinforcement of someone's self-harm is not something to which that self-harmer is competent to authorize.

The implicit message behind Ingrid Johnsen
Ledingham's public morbid gestures.


If you have come into contact with Ingrid Johnsen Ledingham, even if only on a forum such as BiggerPockets, and truly care about her well-being and the safety of those around her, don't be like that professor and those phonies in that right-wing Norwegian political circle: don't play along and pretend that the situation with her is safe. That is not being a true friend but a sycophant. Please, please, please confront her compassionately and firmly (pardon that redundancy) about how her happiness, her being able to accept herself and her past, without all these evasions, is most important, and that the courage to return to regular psychiatric care is worth it.  Ingrid's internal well-being -- not putting on the image of being a big shot of a real-estate investor -- should be the priority.  Be an in-patient if that's what it takes to address the lingering fixation on child molesters and incest. People around Ingrid -- even if only co-workers or acquaintances, and if they only know her through online communication -- do have a right to know about her violent threats and the inconsistency in her accusations about crime, and they do have a right to expect (a) that she be in regular treatment for her condition and (b) that, for their safety, she be transparent with them about her condition.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Posing As Winston Smith from '1984' ≠ Recovery

Remember what Winston Smith's job was in 1984 -- to cover up the past and try to rewrite accounts of what really happened.

Pretending that a traumatic event never happened should not be confused with having gotten over the trauma or having triumphed over it -- especially not when your morbid gestures alluding to the trauma are still all over the place, in public even.  There is a big difference.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Honda Motor's Founder Behaved and Spoke Like an Ayn Rand Hero

Stuart K. Hayashi


 A Honda Motor logo; image courtesy of Pixabay.

Much of this blog post, especially the section on Soichiro Honda, is adapted from a Facebook Note I originally published on November 27, 2009.



Back in January of 2003, Thor Halvorssen -- who would later go on to found the Oslo Freedom Forum -- asked the question, "Is John Galt Venezuelan?" He was referring to how, at the start of the year -- back when The Guardian (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), Bernie Sanders, Michael Moore (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), Jeremy Corbyn (1, 2, 3, 4), Noam Chomsky, Salon magazine, Anita Sarkeesian sidekick Jonathan McIntosh, and Nobel Prize-winning former World Bank economist Joseph Stiglitz were still singing Hugo Chavez's praises -- there was already a noble rebellion underway against the Marxist dictatorship. The nation's largest labor union teamed up with the Chamber of Commerce to effect a nationwide strike to force a referendum on Hugo Chavez's power.

Amy Chua, who would eventually become an overrated darling to the USA's social conservatives and its political Right, inaccurately proclaimed at the time that the strike "was instigated by Venezuela's wealthy business elite," specifically Venezuela's middleman minority that is wealthier than the majority ethnic population, comparable to Jews in the West, "Chinese in Indonesia, whites in Zimbabwe and Indians in Kenya..." Hence Amy Chua sneered that the strike's leitmotif amounted to "Power to the Privileged." We know the unfortunate outcome:  Chavez and his Marxist regime remained in control, and now we see the final results of that, results so terrible that not even The Guardian and Salon can cover them up.  As what is going on in Venezuela very much mirrors the events described in Atlas Shrugged, Thor Halvorssen's question was prescient.  And it inspires me to ask a similar question:  Is Hank Rearden Japanese?

While Japan is famous for its commercial success, it is not a culture that immediately comes to mind when one inquires as to which countries other than the United States does one most expect Ayn Rand's philosophy to gain popularity.  Since the Middle Ages, Japan has been known for its social collectivism, and that has not changed even as Japan emerged as a liberalized commercial republic subsequent to the second World War.  Throughout the 1980s, many politically collectivist American commentators even proclaimed that for the United States to reclaim its competitiveness, American companies should learn to embrace Japan's cultural collectivism.  Yes, Japan is commercially successful, they said, but one should not credit laissez-faire individualism for this.  Rather, Japanese business succeeds exactly because Japanese are taught that the individual must be subordinated to the social collective -- that the individual must sacrifice for the well-being of the corporation and, far better, sacrifice for the society and the wilderness ecosystem at large.  These same American collectivists also added that much of Japan's success should be attributed to government interventions on the part of MITI (the Ministry of International Trade and Technology); we shall revisit this claim about MITI by the end of this post.


Japanese Business Succeeded Because of Collectivism and Conformity? 
Representative of the collectivist mindset for which Japan is known are these remarks from Mitsubishi managing director Tachi Kiuchi,

The economic bottom line only exists to feed the social bottom line. 
My philosophy is this: We don't run our companies to earn profits. We earn profits to run our companies. . . .

That suggests the final lesson I learned -- so far -- from the rainforest: 
The mission of business -- the mission of civilization -- is to develop the human ecosystem sustainably. . . . What I learned from the rainforest is easy to understand.. . . Consume less, and be more. It is the only way. . . . They are the Japanese omote and ura, the Chinese yin and yang, Christianity and Islam, product and process, economy and ecology, mind and spirit -- two halves. 
Only together can we make the world whole [emphases Kiuchi's]. 

The website that published those remarks describes Kiuchi rather disingenuously as "one of Japan's most iconoclastic corporate executives." Iconoclasm is not demonstrated in the remarks the site published -- those are platitudes spoken by almost every Asian businessman, probably by almost every Asian-American businessman.  That very collectivist mindset is described very negatively by an actual Japanese iconoclast, Masao Miyamoto, in his worthwhile book Straitjacket Society:  An Insider's Irreverent View of Bureaucratic Japan.  He warns,

The [government] bureaucracy is the biggest trade barrier to entry into the Japanese market, since the bureaucracy controls the entire market through a system of regulations and permits. If the market were truly open, it would enrich the lives of consumers in both Japan and the West. But this would mean downsizing and restructuring, to which the bureaucrats would never agree. . . .  
To expand Japan Inc., the [government] bureaucracy introduced the philosophy of messhi hoko, or self-sacrifice for the sake of the group. This philosophy requires the subordination of individual lives to the good of the whole. Since all Japanese invariably belong to some sort of group, through this philosophy they end up sacrificing their personal lives, voluntarily or otherwise [New York: Kodansha International, 1994), 20].

Contrary to the American left-wingers who boosted Japan in the 1980s, it was not because of that general collectivist mentality, but in spite of it, that Japan ascended to prosperity in the postwar period.  Japan indeed has had its share of independent-minded freethinkers who are comparable in stature to Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, and Polaroid founder Edwin Land.  In this post I will provide case studies of two Japanese individualists in particular who behaved very much like Ayn Rand heroes -- the latter of whom even talked like an Ayn Rand hero.



"It Seems Like Serious Inventors...Get Persecuted"
Toyota Motor Corporation was started in 1937 by Kiichiro Toyoda, but the family fortune behind this company was built much earlier by Kiichiro's father, Sakichi Toyoda.  Growing up during the Meiji Restoration, as the old shogunate's power waned and gave way to openness to Western technologies and imports, Sakichi was enamored with industrialization.  Tinkering with his grandmother's hand loom, Sakichi directed his efforts and attention toward devising methods to improve upon its design.  As I wrote earlier, innovative entrepreneurs seldom start out by saying "First I'm an entrepreneur; now that that's settled, I have to figure out what to sell..."  Rather, the innovator simply started out as some weirdo who was really obsessed with something and then later developed a strategy for monetizing that obsession.

At the start, Sakichi was almost entirely alone in having confidence in this project.  His father was a carpenter and, as was customary, the father expected Sakichi to follow in his footsteps and become a carpenter as well.  Sakichi instead pursuing this foolhardy mission broke Toyoda Senior's heart, the only consolation being that Sakichi applied what he had learned of carpentry to the fashioning of wood for his looms.  As everyone knew everyone else in this small village, the other villagers did not take kindly to this young inventor showing such impertinence to their patriarchal neighbor, to the man who provided the seed that brought Sakichi into existence in the first place. Sakichi's breach with tradition caused his neighbors to view him as strange at best and selfish at worst.

As elaborated by a book officially approved by the company, "Despite opposition from his father and many of the villagers, who largely regarded him as an eccentric, Sakichi's enthusiasm for inventing only grew" (Toyota: A History of the First 50 Years, [Tokyo, Japan: Toyota Motor Corporation, 1988], 25).  Sakichi's nephew Eiji, who would go on to become Toyota Motor's CEO, confirmed in his own autobiography that Sakichi was "regarded as an eccentric all his life..."

Such social disapproval and ridicule did not daunt Sakichi; he forged ahead.  His improvements on hand looms led to his development of various automated looms.  Although Japan still had a reputation back then for producing low-quality items, Sakichi's looms were coveted even in the West.

Reminiscing of his early entrepreneurship, Sakichi said, "I was like a man possessed. People around me probably thought I was some kind of a madman" (ibid.). It appears that Sakichi would have appreciated the first several paragraphs of Howard Roark's courtroom speech, as Sakichi concurs with the general thrust of them:

It seems like serious inventors always end up being poor and being cut off from others; sometimes they even get persecuted. It’s as if an inventor has to have his fill of hardship before he can fulfill his ambitions [ibid, 26].

Sakichi gained success as an inventor of power looms but his ambitions were not sated.  Upon a visit to the United States, he caught his first sight of an automobile.  Marveling at it, he understood that this new machine would be the future of civilization.  His son, Kiichiro, decided to become an engineer and inventor as well.  However, in his final years, Sakichi told Kiichiro that the next great industry in Japan would be the production of automobiles, and that it would ultimately be more lucrative than the loom business.  Taking such wisdom to heart and mind, Kiichiro took the money his father left him and founded the Toyota Motor Corporation.

Toyoda is Japanese for "rice field," and Kiichiro thought that Japanese consumers would not be able to associate rice fields mentally with automobiles, and that is why, for the sake of convenient branding, he gave the company the name Toyota with a T instead of Toyoda with a D.

Kiichiro's shifting of investment capital from the loom business to a new auto plant was not something that his father's business associates immediately commended; they had their doubts.  As Toyota's official history notes (p. 47),
...Kiichiro [Toyoda] asked Risaburo Toyoda [his father's old company] to convene an emergency board of directors meeting. At the meeting, Kiichiro submitted his plan to move into auto production and asked the board to call a general stockholder meeting to obtain approval. ... Aware that even Mitsui and Mitsubishi had abandoned their efforts to enter the industry, some directors opposed the idea, but Kiichiro argued his case convincingly.

At the motor company, the trend of innovation continued.  Kiichiro found assistance there from his cousin -- and Sakichi's nephew -- Eiji Toyoda, also an engineer.  In 1950, Eiji got to tour a Ford Motor Company factory in Detroit.  At the time, Toyoda Motor could only turn out 32 auto units a day, whereas Ford produced 8,000 units a day.  For a period of six weeks Eiji pestered the engineers and assembly workers with questions.

Through his research, Eiji ascertained that the secret to maximizing high-quality output had to do with the system of inventory-taking.  Eiji and Kiichiro thus pioneered in using Just-In-Time (JIT) Inventory.  By timing every step of process so that new auto parts arrived at the plant at precisely the right moment where they would be added to production, Toyota managers could efficiently move the highest number of quality-controlled units within the very limited factory space that they had.  Eiji and Kiichiro were able to have this process commence speedily, for they had the assembly line workers signal to one another using special cards with special labels, the special labels indicating which step of the assembly process they were presently in, and indicating which auto parts immediately needed to be resupplied.

By 1980, the roles were reversed -- Ford Motor Company sent 8,000 engineers to a Toyota plant to take notes on Toyota's inventory system.  As I said above, Eiji Toyoda would succeed his cousin as CEO (Mark Weston, Giants of Japan: Lives of Japan's Great Men and Women, [New York: Kodansha International, 1999], 58).  To this day, Just-In-Time Inventory is employed with the production of a variety of products, including personal computers.

Although the Toyodas exhibited independence in their business decisions,  they were not so independent in their ethical philosophies.  When Kiichiro laid out the corporate philosophy of Toyota Motor, it sounded much the same as Mitsubishi's Tachi Kiuchi, mouthing the same platitudes about the company's growth being justified by nothing more than the collective benefit of society as a whole.  The Toyodas were very much like Howard Roark in their professional choices, but not so much in their personal philosophies of what constitutes ethical living.  However, Japan has had at least one inventor-engineer-entrepreneur who was not only like an Ayn Rand hero in his professional choices, but even talked like an Ayn Rand hero when explaining the philosophy behind his overall approach.  That was Soichiro Honda, who founded Honda Motor Co., Ltd., decades after Toyota's head start.



"To Hell With the Specified Industry Promotion Law!"
Twelve years Kiichiro Toyoda's junior, Soichiro Honda started off as a boy who was monomanical about machines, particularly motorcycles and automobiles.  On days when he was particularly inspired in his tinkering, he lost track of time, spending endless hours in the garage and, in the words of one journalist, seeming "a hermit" (Tesuo Sakiya, Honda Motor:  The Men, the Management, the Machines, trans. Kiyoshi Ikemi, [New York:  Kodansha International, updated 1987 mass market paperback edition {1982}], 54).  Soichiro eventually decided he wanted to start his own business making vehicles of his own design; he had to decide between motorcycles and automobiles. He chose the former. His reasoning was that in the 1950s, very few Japanese households could afford a whole automobile, but a motorcycle was within their price range.

 After having settled upon that, Soichiro encountered other problems.  There was still a great social stigma against motorcycles, especially in Japan. First, they were commonly associated with criminals, specifically motorcycle gangs.  Secondly, the engines were considered too loud; no self-respecting Japanese person wanted to ride around on a vehicle that disrupted other people's peace and quiet.  With his engineering skills, Soichiro devised a very benign-looking motor bike with a silent engine.  (If you come across a motorcycle today with a roaring engine, be aware that the noisiness is not an inexorable consequence of something that motorcycle engines must do to function; the owner might have gone out of his way to supe it up to call attention to himself.)  Thanks to the marketing genius of his investor and partner Takeo Fujisawa -- himself known as "a loner" -- Soichiro was able to convince middle-class households that motorcycles were respectable enough for them to purchase.   To demonstrate the safety of his own models, Soichiro entered his motorcycles in official industry-sponsored races . . . and drove the motorcycle himself in many of those races!

For his part, Takeo Fujisawa cautioned against trusting in someone just because he seems to be in a position of social authority:
"President"...isn't a rank expressing greatness in a person. When some people become president, however, they start strutting about like they're field marshal. President is the most hazardous occupation known to man.
Honda motorcycles sold well, but this was not enough for Soichiro.  In 1963 he announced that at last he could take his profits and re-invest them as capital for the production of what he wanted most of all:  automobiles. "I am not satisfied with being number one only in the motorcycle world," he explained. "Progress is when you go forward, when you keep graduating from one stage to another" (qtd. by Mark Weston, Giants of Japan, 46).

Yet Soichiro's dream of producing automobiles faced another obstacle -- the government.  Doing the bidding of the regulatory agency known as MITI (the Ministry of International Trade and Industry), the Japanese legislature -- called "the Diet" -- sought to pass a regulation restricting competition.  MITI decided that Japan should only have three auto manufacturers -- Toyota, Nissan, and a third one that would result from the State-forced merging of all the smaller auto companies.  As one website tells the story,
MITI and the Department of Transportation tried to discourage Honda from adding to the number of companies, but he persisted. He won MITI's permission by coming out with a low-priced small sportscar, the S 500, which was different from anything produced by the other companies [that is, Soichiro initially tried to exploit a loophole; the S 500 was so much smaller than conventional automobiles that he hoped he could get away with having it classified as a type of vehicle not subjected to the regulation over whom could manufacture conventional automobiles]. He followed it up with other sports models. His company was still very small, producing only three thousand cars in 1966 -- half of what Toyota was turning out in a week.

This is from Soichiro's own recounting of these events:
I deluged him [the MITI bureaucrat] with complaints, because I couldn't understand it at all. To hell with the Specified Industry Promotion Law! I had the right to manufacture automobiles, and they couldn't enforce a law that would allow only the existing manufacturers to build them while preventing us from doing the same. We were free to do exactly what we wanted. Besides, no one could say for certain that those in power would remain there forever. Look at history. Eventually, a new power would always arise. I shouted at him angrily, saying that if MITI wanted us to merge (form a joint venture with another company), then they should buy our shares and propose it at our shareholders' meeting. After all, we were a public company [he means a privately owned company that is publicly traded on the stock market]. The government couldn't tell me what to do.

The government couldn't tell him what to do? If only! As always, the government most certainly did tell him what to do.  Fortunately, Soichiro won:

The basic MITI policy regarding Japan's car industry was compiled into the Temporary Measures Bill for the Promotion of Specified Industries in March 1963, and was submitted to the 43rd Session of the National Diet. However, the session was adjourned in July without a resolution. The bill was resubmitted to the 46th session starting in January 1964, but did not pass. The bill was eventually abandoned without anyone really knowing its ultimate destiny.

Justice prevailed, which is why the economy did as well. Can you imagine how much worse off Japan, the USA, the planet, and common decency would have been had that regulation been enacted?



"The Most Important Thing for Me . . . Is Me! 😃"
On January 12, 1987, the New York Times published an inspiring article about the man.  Susan Chira interviewed him first-hand, and the Times published the English translations of his replies to Ms. Chira's inquiries.  These are among the tidbits from Soichiro published:

  • "Generally speaking, people work harder and are more innovative if working voluntarily..."
  • "'I think it's very important to be sensitive to seemingly trivial psychological matters."
  • "I have some ideas. But I always find out that younger people have done them already. Young people are wonderful -- I just can't beat them. They've learned from our experience, and then they add their own ideas. Many older people talk [disparagingly] about 'kids these days.' I have never used that expression."

Still smarting over the MITI's initiative to constrain him, Soichiro protested that government regulators too often "become an obstacle when you try to do something new." I know many left-wing people who assume that all businessmen say that. Ah, if all businessmen said that, the world would be a wiser place. Soichiro's opinion is the minority opinion among businessmen throughout Japan, the United States, and the world -- it is especially the minority opinion among American businesspeople of Japanese ancestry. Most businesspeople, at least publicly, repeat the favored platitudes of Mitsubishi's Tachi Kiuchi: "Conventional wisdom is that the highest mission of a corporation is to maximize profits [lie --S.H.], maximize return to shareholders [lie; that was never the conventional wisdom, not even in the nineteenth century --S.H.]. That is a myth. It has never been true. ...profits are not an end" (emphasis Kiuchi's).

And in complete contrast to what the Japan-boosting American left-wingers were saying in the 1980s, Soichiro added that Japan's greatness could never be based on any notion of the individual sacrificing him- or herself to a corporation or a nation.  As the Times quotes Soichiro,
First, each individual should work for himself -- that's important. People will not sacrifice themselves for the company [nor should they --S.H.]. They come to work at the company to enjoy themselves. That feeling would lead to innovation. The most important thing for me, is me [boldface added].

Although the quotation is traced originally to Soichiro's interview with Susan Chira for the Times, I first heard of it from Edwin A. Locke's excellent book The Prime Movers:  Traits of the Great Wealth Creators.

Following this quotation of Soichiro's, Susan Chira adds, "This attitude has not endeared him to bureaucrats." It is also why the sub-headline of the article correctly noted that, at 80 years of age in 1987, Soichiro remained "a fiery maverick."

I showed those quotations to an Objectivist who lived in Japan and who is much more fluent in Japanese than I am.  I asked him what he thought of Soichiro's words.  That Objectivist replied that it is indeed unusual for a Japanese national to make such statements, even in old age (when it comes to moral judgment, senior citizens in Japan are given more latitude in what they say).

That Objectivist mentioned that it would have been interesting for him if what Soichiro said in the original Japanese was recorded, as he could compare the English translation and see how close the transliteration was.  After all, many of the nuances and connotations of words can change in the translation.  I agree with that Objectivist and find it unfortunate that the original Japanese recordings of Soichiro's interview with Susan Chira have been lost to posterity.  Based on the English translations that we have, though, it is legitimate to judge that Soichiro spoke like an Ayn Rand hero, at least much more so that what one would expect of almost any Japanese national (or even almost any Japanese-American other than myself).

I admire that man a lot.  Even the initials of his name are good.😉



Is Hank Rearden Japanese?
It is true that Japan has too much social conformity and cultural collectivism (actually, the most individualistic countries still have too much collectivism). However, it is entirely inconceivable that post-World-War-II Japan could have become such an innovative economic powerhouse if its private sector didn't tolerate a certain level of Roarkian originality and innovation in business. Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita of Sony are similar to the Toyodas in that, while they did not live their private lives with the same independence as Roark, they nevertheless showed comparable independence in their professional lives. They found a technology invented in the United States called "video-tape recording" (partially invented by Ray Dolby of Dolby Stereo fame), and noticed that no one in the USA utilized it because it was too expensive. Ibuka -- an engineer and inventor himself -- put his best engineers on the project and developed a new cost-feasible model of this invention. The Masao Miyamoto I quoted earlier -- the one who wrote Straitjacket Society -- is right to praise Soichiro Honda and the Sony founders for their "Western-style leadership" (page 156).

Even from the time of the Meiji Restoration to its pinnacle of power during World War Two, Japan existed in what we would consider "Third World subsistence poverty." Were it not for some exercises in Roarkian independence from 1945 onward in the scientific, engineering, and industrial sectors, Japan would not be the wealthy powerhouse that it is today. This is why, as Yaron Brook has documented, Ayn Rand has a fan base even in Japan. Ayn Rand once told a Japanese architect, who wrote to her of his appreciation for the Fountainhead movie, that

philosophical ideas hold true for all people everywhere and...there will always be men who will respond to a philosophical truth in every country on earth. . . .  
Thank you very much for the pictures of your building which you sent me.  I was very impressed with your work and I think that it is an excellent example of modern architecture [letter to Y. Ashihari, February 26, 1951, in Letters of Ayn Rand, ed. Michael S. Berliner, (New York: Plume, 1997), 493].

A common criticism leveled at Ayn Rand goes, "Yeah, it might be a neat story, but in real life there are no people like Howard Roark, Dagny Taggart, or Hank Rearden."  Now you know better.  There was indeed a man in real life who behaved and -- judging by the English translations -- even spoke like those characters, and he succeeded in the sort of culture where one would least expect such a staunch individualist to emerge.

You can find qualities like Hank Rearden's in real people. If you have yet to find such qualities, you might want to consider searching with greater concentration and scrutiny. And it wouldn't hurt to practice such virtues oneself.😊