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happiness

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Everything posted by happiness

  1. happiness

    Ethics of property damage

    I moved out of my apartment last month after living there for three years. When I moved out, my landlord decided that the carpet was damaged to the point that it had to be replaced based on the fact that it was stained and "torn" in several places. While I accept responsibility for the stains, the "tear" is really a split at the seam that I believe is consisting with normal wear since I was not unduly rough on the carpet. I don't know its age when I moved in, but it definitely was neither new nor in perfect condition, so I suspect it was on the tail end of its useful life by the time I left three years later anyway. At this time, the landlord is charging me $1000 for the full cost of replacing the carpet. I don't dispute the need for replacement; however, I'm uncertain whether I legally and morally owe the whole cost of replacing the carpet or a pro-rated amount based on the percentage of its remaining useful life that I "stole" from the owners. Almost everything I have read on the internet says that I should legally pay pro rata, but I can't find any information specific to my state or jurisdiction, nor would I know how to determine the useful life of the carpet. And then there's the moral side of it—even if the law might give me a way to get out of paying the full amount, is that just IRS accounting gimmickery and law slanted against businessmen?
  2. happiness

    How many Objectivists are there?

    Multiply the number of registered users of this forum x 1.
  3. The one college course I took in philosophy featured the most disorganized and anti-conceptual material I was ever exposed to (and was taught by a creep named Stephen Gardner who wears the trappings of an Aristotelian), and the TA blatantly singled me out with an utterly ridiculous accusation of plagiarism after I asserted my Objectivist views in several papers. I would not want to study philosophy, even non-Objectivist, in such a setting ever again. The only reason I would be willing to put up with it would be if I was planning to pursue a degree and career as an intellectual. Otherwise, I would stick to self-study. If you can't find the discipline to study a subject on your own, does the knowlege really fit into your life?
  4. happiness

    Violating a non-compete agreement

    I work primarily using the various freelance platforms on the Internet. Currently I use one platform exclusively, but have used another in the past and want to use others in the future. I just read my contract with the current platform in depth and realized that it contains a non-compete clause that prohibits me from partnering with any competing freelance platform for a period of two years after my contract with them ends. The platform I used before may have also had a restrictive period in its non-compete clause, in which case I'm currently in violation of it, though I honestly neither know nor even have access to that information any longer. How seriously should I take this? The reason I examined my contract thoroughly is because it's hard to fill up my schedule using the current platform alone, and I wanted to see whether I could work on two sites simultaneously. Observing the two year restrictive period is going to necessitate a drastic change in lifestyle. While it'sunlikely that representatives of any platform will find outs out my working for any other or care, it bothers me that I am breaking my commitment to maximum morality. Thoughts?
  5. happiness

    Violating a non-compete agreement

    No. Does that come into play?
  6. happiness

    "Human nature is selfish"

    Is there such as thing as "human nature," and if so, is it accurate to state that it is selfish?
  7. I'm seeking a precise definition of this phenomenon. My general impression is that the concrete-bound person treats immediate facts as the only possibilities and fails to make connections between facts. For example, a Sanders supper objects to free market reform in healthcare by saying "but what about people with pre-existing conditions? Do we just let them die?" To him, the fact that we pay for healthcare through insurance in America under the status quo is just the way things are and the only way they can ever be unless we resort to socialism—he can conceives of other alternatives than those that exist currently. What's really happening in this person's head epistemologically? And how does this happen to people?
  8. Take a game/series like Zelda where it's all fantasy, magic, monsters, and all things unreal. Does playing something like this clash with Objectivist values?
  9. I don't have any firm independent assumptions about what price level gold is going to reach or the time it will take to reach it—I'm not a sophisticated market analyst. Instead, I rely on the commentary of analysts whom I respect to inform my expectations of what is to come. Schiff predicts gold will eventually go 1:1 with the Dow, and Rogers predicts gold will overshoot and end in a bubble 2-4 years from now. I know only the following: 1) the financial mainstream has held the belief that we have been on the path to economic "recovery" and for the last 7 or so years; 2) seven years post-crisis, interest rates are still near 0%, yet, instead of economic recovery, we have a weak economy dependent on ongoing QE, and there are now clear warning signs of impending recession; and, 3) the moral that central bankers live by in our time is to print money like crazy whenever there is distress in the market. All of that is bullish for gold. Now even Schiff, the ultimate gold bull, recommends owning more stocks than metals, and chosing them according to the old fashioned Benjamin Graham approach, but qualifies this by saying you have to be invested according to the right macroeconomic assumptions: the US dollar is going to weaken, Americans are going to get poorer, and the countries currently subsidizing our consumption and those with stronger macroeconomic fundamentals are going to get richer (here's how his flagship international fund is invested).
  10. I think at the very least we can expect the USD to fall in terms of gold, and for the same reason, against commodities and tangible goods and services in general. It may be the case that all countries are debasing their currencies, but that won't negate the consequences of us doing so. As far as other currencies, at the present, the U.S. dollar is perceived as a safe haven, but that would be a flawed assumption—the U.S. is the biggest debtor nation in the history of the world in absolute terms. If interest rates rise and it becomes apparent that the government cannot pay the interest on the debt, that will change the world's perception of the USD as a safe haven and cause it to fall against other currencies, flawed as they may be.
  11. Markets around the world are tanking, and gold is rallying like I've never seen it. Listening to Bloomberg radio I've never heard so much talk in the mainstream questioning the credibility of central banks. The markets reacted negatively to the recent jobs report despite the unemployment rate dipping under 5%, which means people are actually beginning to question the credibility of these statistics. Basically the picture looks terrible. All this confirms to me Schiff's prediction that the Fed is going to reverse course and lower rates again to attempt to save the markets, which means negative real interest rates and diminished confidence in treasuries and the dollar.
  12. I think I'm going to vote against Sanders in the primary rather than for any particular Republican. What do you think of my strategy?
  13. So while it's hard to predict that the dollar will collapse against other currencies, do you agree that it's reasonable to predict that it and many currencies may collapse against the value of hard assets? The markets are clearly in turmoil, and the Fed and other central banks explicitly operate on the principle of printing money every time their economies enter recession. The Fed increased rates by a meaningless amount last month—according to Schiff, a symbolic move—and we right now it seems the news is getting pretty bad. As Rogers often points out, we historically have a recession every 4-6 years in the U.S., and it has been almost 7 since the last one, and rates are still near rock bottom. How can one conclude that the Fed is going to do anything other than print, print, and print some more in the coming years and that we are going to suffer major inflationary pain?
  14. There was a large amount of immigration to the U.S. between 1870 and 1930, during which time the country took its first big steps toward statism. Ayn Rand said that the corruption of American culture came about as a result of the importation of European philosophy. To what extend are these developments related? Did America lose its Americanism because European immigrants brought European values with them? Would an "Objectivist" country with an easy immigration policy be able to avoid a cultural-philosophical infection through the vigilance of its native intellectuals alone? Is this intellectual immune system what the U.S. lacked?
  15. happiness

    What do you think of the term "Big Pharma?"

    Did Shkreli do anything wrong? I don't see that he did.
  16. Is it straightforward anti capitalism, or does it have some merit in light of cronyism?
  17. I had a hard time following that dialogue but I wouldn't debate the minimum wage by speculating about how many jobs would be lost if it was hiked to X level, as doing so is only a short-term analysis at best anyway. I explain it in terms of individual rights the and consequences of violating them. The minimum wage violates the interests of employers by forcing them to pay higher wages than what their employees labor is worth to them. If it is not in their interest to hire people or retain them, they will not do so, and everyone will lose both the jobs and the values that result from them, leading to less demand for labor, lower wages, and lower value of money. This would be a good point at which to insert historical examples of employers laying people off when the minimum wage was imposed. If your opponent counters by saying "but nobody who works full-time should be unable to support a family," you point out that his "should" statement reflects his own arbitrary feelings, not actual facts. If he says "but academic economists agree that raising the minimum wage doesn't affect the unemployment rate," you point out the logical fallacies there, and depending on his attitude, maybe insult him for posturing as an expert on economics while not even knowing the basic rules of reasoning. It won't change the person's mind, at least you won't be tongue tied.
  18. I don't remember for sure where I read that, but I believe it was in "Ayn Rand Answers," which I no longer have. I should have checked this before posting.
  19. I'm writing a blog post about a particular type of argument that I see frequently in favor of socialized medicine. It goes like this: we in the U.S. should determine our course on healthcare policy by looking around the world at what other countries are doing and imitate whichever other country's policy "works" the best. And since the policy that clearly "works" the best is single-payer, the U.S. should adopt that. Off the top of my head, the problems with this are: 1) Nobody ever clarifies what the term "work" means, i.e. by what standard they judge the success or failure of a policy. They bypass the philosophical question of what ends should be chosen and proceed to cherry-pick statistics that appear to reflect favorably on single-payer while ignoring and whitewashing the inadequacies found in all countries that have it. 2) The method of comparing one country to another under the status quo is wrong because there is no objective benchmark against which to measure whether single-payer or any other given policy really does "work." There may be an ideal policy that all countries fall deplorably short of, in which case the comparison is between one failed policy and another. Although I can't put my finger on why, I sense that these are actually two different ways of saying the same thing. Can anyone tell me the connection between them?
  20. My understanding of socialism is that it is by definition government ownership of the means of production. If regulation of private enterprise represents the government exercising the privileges of ownership, it's it a form of socialism, albeit an incomplete one?
  21. happiness

    Living off the grid

    Seems like a silly anarchist idea to me. You'd lose more value by separating from a semi-free society than the government would take away from you if you stayed.
  22. happiness

    Subjectivism in the healthcare debate

    Is it a false cause fallacy since the statistics used in this case do not control for the degree of government control? This is aside from the fact that eftists often use the U.S. as a proxy for the "free market," which is a factual error that one has to take on separately.
  23. I recently decided to try my hand at sales. My long-term interest is in selling precious metals and related investments, but since the job I want is commission only, I decided to start with a non-commission sales job to get my feet wet and make sure I can stand selling at all. The company I’m selling for specialized in marketing online tech support services to seniors who are tech illiterate. I have no interest in the company or its product whatsoever and the further I get into the sales training, the less I like the company. The sales process goes like this: a confused tech illiterate person, usually elderly, types something like “I can't get into my email” into a search engine. Our company's site is one of the most prominent search results, and the link directs them to a page that prompts them to enter their contact information so we can call to help. They more tech illiterate the lead is, the more likely he is to assume this is part of his ISP’s service. Once we get his info, we call him. The sales agent asks to connect to the lead’s computer to do an audit of his system. The naive lead often thinks he's talking to some nice person who’s going to get him back into his email for free, but the real purpose of the audit is to see what kind of services his computer would benefit from (things like malware removal, software updates, security upgrades, cleaning up superfluous startup programs, etc. and to find out what he does with it) so the agent can upsell him on all the appropriate bells and whistles later in the call. So right off the bat, the agent is starting the conversation under false pretenses. The agent is required to start selling the “fix” for $149 regardless of how simple of a problem it is. The fix necessarily include a “tuneup and optimization” and malware removal even if the lead doesn't want it. The lead can talk the price down to $99 or $49, but I feel ridiculous even starting at $149 and suggesting that that's somehow good deal for something simple like a password reset. As a rebuttal when the lead declines because the price is too high, the suggests a script is, “I understand, but it's absolutely what needs to happen, and we're definitely going to be the cheapest option to get the work done.” Which is bullshit because it doesn't necessarily need to happen, and a few other services do offer cheaper options. The "fix" is meant to be a prelude to selling the person on a month-to-month membership that includes a lot of services like cloud storage and unlimited tech support in the future. These services are valuable to some people, so I have no problem with it in and of itself. However, although we're not required to use them, most of the suggested scripts we're encouraged to use are gimmicky at best, and in a few cases they're outright dishonest. For example, we’re taught to say that the particular antivirus program included in the company's service offering is better than whatever program the lead is already using (dubious, PC mag rates a few common programs higher) emphasize that it's used by “hospitals and universities” (while a few dozen institutions of those types apparently do use it, the majority of the thousands of other ones must use other antivirus programs), and then say it normally retails for $100 (the real price is $20-50). If the customer states that he owns multiple computers, we are required say ad verbatim “let's get that one connected too”—that is, assume the lead wants to do it rather than ask. Blaauurg. To the company's credit, at no point are we required to use high-pressure tactics, refuse to take no for an answer, or do anything flagrantly dishonest. But some of the things were expected to say are too far out of line with reality for my taste. Do you think the job is actually immoral, or am I just too conscientious for it?
  24. happiness

    Thalidomide!

    Any discussion of abolishing the FDA prompts leftists to scream "Thalidomide!" as if just saying that word over and over again somehow proves the need for government protectionism. But pre-Nazi Germany where the Thalidomide thing happened could not possibly have had a free market heatlhcare industry. Is there an argument that turns the tables on the left by showing that Thalidomide happend as a result or in spite of government intervention in the healthcare industry?
  25. happiness

    Thalidomide!

    Thanks for the correction. I had it in my head that this happened in the 30s. I'm trying to figure out whether German regulatory authorities approved thalidomide and doctors acted on the government's bad advice, but it does not appear to be the case. So far the best argument I can see is simply to say that one example does not prove the rule.
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