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Eric Mathis

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  1. The statement we are dealing with is this from PoliticalJunkie: "The settlers were not immoral to 'take over' the land because the American Indians did not recognize property rights." Now, I think it is fair to say that socialists do not recognize property rights or, if they do, recognize them in very delimited ways. That is why I asked if it would be moral to take over the property of a socialist. Now your point seems to be that the socialist must believe "his bullcrap strongly enough to act on his supposed convictions,” because if he does believe in the "bullcrap" he would not object to his property being seized by the state. On the other hand, if he does object, he would not qualify as a socialist. But it should be noted that one of the doctrines of Marxism is that a variety of approaches may be taken to achieve the revolution, including but not limited to electoral politics, violence, and infiltration of the existing bourgeois order. Thus, the socialist who argues that he should not have his property confiscated could be acting consistently within his belief system, a system that aspires ultimately to utopian, propertyless communism. I suspect that it would be impossible for one to disprove this claim because any example offered to the contrary would likely be dismissed as someone who didn’t really “understand what” private property is. Yes, but often even when tribes practiced private property rights, they were dispossessed anyway.
  2. It ultimately comes from taxpayers. However, we cannot very well include bureaucrats, politicians and many of their welfare clients as taxpayers, since their net contribution to tax loot is less than zero. Thus, the burden for paying for my compensation will primarily fall not on those who are responsible in the first place for the looting of my income but on those who are themselves victims (i.e., net tax producers). See the link I provided and go from there. As I said in a previous post, “Those who accept government scholarships contribute to the ‘demand’ for such hand-outs. Bureaucracies receive budgetary allotments on the basis of how previous allotments were spent. If no one or few take advantage of a welfare program, it is difficult to get Congress to approve additional funds for it. So it is not exactly true that ‘If I accept a scholarship, no extra damage is being done.’ The greater the number of moochers, the greater the pressure on politicians to use tax money to win moocher votes.” Fine. If zero students applied for federal scholarships, virtually zero federal dollars would be spent on them. Fewer demands on the federal budget means less pressure on the branch of the government charged with revenue collection (i.e., the initiation of force). Whenever deficits climb, watch how there is a scramble to “close loopholes” and clamp down on “tax cheaters.”
  3. In that case, it would be moral to rob anyone on the grounds that you better than he could prevent his "funds from being used for evil." Yes, you overlook the fact that your government scholarship coming through force at someone else's expense is evil.
  4. But the socialist's claim to legal ownership and control of his house and car would not necessarily mean that he has altered his socialist ideology. 1) He may be lying. 2) He may fervently believe that one must use the system against itself, that any property in the hands of present socialists is to the good.
  5. How is the force used by the IRS to collect funds for my government scholarship retaliatory? When did the tax-slave who pays for my education first use force against me? By that reasoning no one may morally accept benefits paid for with money stolen from Objectivists or other advocates of laissez faire. Therefore, until taxes are lifted from all Objectivists, it would be immoral to accept benefits financed with those taxes.
  6. Does my compensation come from those who stole from me, from those who were paid benefits out of my wealth, or from some other tax-slave who has paid tens of thousands more in tribute than he has received in benefits? "Normally, proceeds from tariffs on imported goods go to the U.S. treasury. Not this time. A law passed in 2000 allows U.S. industries that win anti-dumping suits to keep the profits from tariffs imposed on foreign competitors. It's a called 'double compensation . . ." http://www.cato.org/dailys/01-03-05.html Now let’s contrast that with the recipient of a government scholarship. Is it really fair to say that those on the federal educational dole do injury to no one? That they just sit back and collect the loot that the boys at the IRS harvest for them? If that is the theory, then we can similarly argue that those who file discrimination suits are not the ones actually employing force. The force would be on the part of federal marshals or other enforcement officers of the court that ruled against the discriminator.
  7. Yes, but the question is whether it is moral to blow the whistle. Okay. Let us say A gets a scholarship paid for with money stolen from B. Now B is entitled to restitution money. Where will that money come from? It may come from A, but it may just as likely come from C. Now C is entitled to restitution money. Where will that money come from? From D? In short, at some point someone's restitution is going to come from someone who never did anyone a wrong.
  8. Those who accept government scholarships contribute to the "demand" for such hand-outs. Bureaucracies receive budgetary allotments on the basis of how previous allotments were spent. If no one or few take advantage of a welfare program, it is difficult to get Congress to approve additional funds for it. So it is not exactly true that "If I accept a scholarship, no extra damage is being done." The greater the number of moochers, the greater the pressure on politicians to use tax money to win moocher votes.
  9. As I have said before (Post #63), you have not demonstrated why anyone should necessarily prefer Objectivist “happiness” to some other form of satisfaction. Nor have I seen any proof, inductive or otherwise, for the claim that "every is implies an ought” or that the non-initiation of force can be consistently derived from selfishness. My position on this thread has not been that Objectivist ethical arguments must be deductive to be true, but rather that they are not convincing, deductively or inductively. For example, when Rand writes “So men cannot survive by attempting the method of animals, by rejecting reason and counting on productive men to serve as their prey” (“The Objectivist Ethics,” p. 24, VOS), her words are contradicted by the fact that hundreds of millions can and do survive by parasitic means. If every "is" implies an "ought" we could make a case for survival by looting. I’m perfectly willing to accept a good inductive proof for the non-initiation of force. I simply have not found one in the writings of Ayn Rand or her associates. I am well-versed in Rand’s writings on metaphysics/epistemology. Far from dismissing it or showing hostility, I agree with virtually all of it. But having correct principles regarding the nature of reality and knowledge does not make one’s ethical prescriptions universally or even “objectively” correct.
  10. Fascinating! Wish I could attend. The voice is the most overlooked and underrated instrument in performance and communication today. Your course would benefit anyone's career.
  11. Thank you for taking the trouble to clear this up. Your statement above is a testament to your integrity and intellectual good faith.
  12. As SoftwareNerd has said, the question of accepting government aid has been explored at some length on another thread. SoftwareNerd and I agree that "it is not moral to force one person to pay for another person's college education." But I do not see how can we go from that unambiguous premise to the position that "it is perfectly moral to accept scholarships" as long as "such a system exists"? How far can we go in justifying individual actions on the basis of what the "system" allows? How about collecting subsidies to raise bees or not to grow wheat? How about collecting a check paid from the tariffs imposed on a company that imports goods competing with mine? How about blowing the whistle on my competitor who employs illegal immigrants or pays less than minimum wage? How about using the threat of a racial discrimination claim against an employer who is about to fire me?
  13. First of all, as has already been noted in this thread, by the early 19th century not every Indian tribe "lived like savages" or practiced communal ownership. The Cherokees, for example, recognized individual ownership of homesteads, cattle, tilled land, etc. Secondly, if it is not immoral to take over the land belonging to people who not recognize property rights, would one be justified in taking over the house or car of a socialist living in the U.S.?
  14. Formal or informal, if an argument’s conclusions do not necessarily follow from its premises, then it is invalid. There may or may not be a rigorous case for the egoist to eschew the initiation of force. But I see no reason to lower the standards for reasoning and proof in order to make an argument “work.” Nothing much here to disagree with. Yes. of course people have been emotionally moved by Ayn Rand’s characters -- and have gone on from there to embrace the Objectivist philosophy. But a large number of Americans read the novels and completely reject Rand’s laissez faire conclusions. Conversely, I know quite a few advocates of minimal government who don’t much care for Rand as a fiction writer. I would hope that that the prospects for a free society do not hinge entirely on whether or not a majority of people can be made to love Rand’s novels. I was for the free market before I read a word of Rand. I was converted to laissez faire economics by the inescapable logic marshaled by Henry Hazlitt in Economics in One Lesson. In any case, if logic does not matter, why bother with it? Why should universities go to the trouble of offering courses in logic and philosophy, if philosophical arguments have no power to make people alter their judgment? The reason that “these arguments do not persuade those on the opposing side” is because they are without exception fallacious and unscientific. I think it is unfair to Objectivists to suggest that they couldn’t expect to do better than religionists in mounting an argument for their beliefs. Note to the moderator: the following sentence comes under the category of reductio ad absurdum, not sarcasm. Are you logically convinced of what you just said, or have you simply persuaded yourself with a “philosophical painkiller” that you are right? That would be very well if everyone who was potentially for individualism and capitalism all responded positively to Rand’s fiction. Unfortunately, there are some bright people who for one reason or another don’t like Rand’s novels. And some of these bright people have come to embrace the idea of a free society by reading Mises, Milton Friedman, Walter Williams or others.
  15. This is not animal welfare so much as protected business welfare. Raising the operating costs of small breeders is a way of protecting large breeders from competition.
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