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Swerve of Shore posted a topic in Introductions and Personal NotesI am here seeking intelligent discussion. On the spectrum of individualism to collectivism, I lean toward collectivism. On the spectrum of objectivism to relativism, I lean toward relativism. I am a fervent atheist and anti-militarist. I read Atlas Shrugged (AS) in the summer of 2011 and was fascinated. Saddened by the state of public discourse, which has been debased ever since the polar opposites of Goldwater and Reagan taught self-styled conservatives that they can achieve their objectives better through misdirection and bombast than through reason and civility, I am thrilled to find a community like this one. Rather than talking to the converted at Daily Kos, here I can test my assumptions and see other perspectives. At least at first, I probably will not comment on others’ posts, but rather will start a series of threads laying out what seem to me to be the faults or inadequacies of objectivism. I look forward to reasoned responses. By way of background, I was born in Southern California in 1963 to a Catholic mother and agnostic father. I was raised Catholic and participated in Boy Scouts, which largely shaped my father’s moral code. Before I was 10 years old, I began questioning Christianity and theism in general … first on logical grounds and later on moral grounds, disagreeing with teachings on sexuality and other issues. Later, as an adult, I tried evangelical Christianity and studied the Bible more closely. This cemented my atheism as I was appalled by the Bible’s sanction of genocide and other atrocities. My own moral code was nonetheless strongly influenced by the teachings of Jesus, including his skepticism of wealth, his rejection of violence and his emphasis on altruism. Driven by reason and justice rather than mysticism or fear, I was naturally drawn to communist ideals. I went to Berkeley in the early 1980’s, where I studied impractical humanities and protested Reagan’s illegal wars in Central America. Over time, I came to realize that true communism is impossible outside of a small community setting. As Ayn Rand showed clearly with AS’s Twentieth Century Motor Company, it creates harmful incentives and is inherently prone to corruption. As a youth, although I appreciated the idealism in the maxim “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, I realized that it pessimistically assumed there would be no surplus created. My view at the time was that the surplus should, in theory, be distributed in proportion to the extent to which each person achieves his potential. Obviously, this could only be theory since it would require godlike insight to implement and therefore is certain to be applied incompetently or corruptly. I came to understand that capitalism was a powerful engine of prosperity that harnesses human nature (what I believe objectivists call egoism) and realistic incentives. However, I continue to believe that capitalism must be tempered by fairness and redistribution is necessary to reduce the major roles played by luck and happenstance. While there is no perfect and incorruptible system to do this, I believe multiparty democracy is better suited to the task in the long run than any alternative. After a few years doing computer programming, in the early 1990’s, I first went to Columbia University where I got a law degree (JD) and then went to New York University for a masters in taxation (LLM). I practice international corporate tax law at a major accounting firm, having worked for the IRS for several years. Given my radical and progressive roots, my practice paradoxically includes helping companies move intellectual property offshore. I am able to do this with a clear conscience since I do not believe in the corporate tax, which is economically distortive and has an unknown incidence. From a tax policy perspective, I believe in a strongly progressive tax on individual income or consumption. My name, Swerve of Shore, comes from the first line of Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce. For professional reasons, I cannot share my real name at this time – perhaps, when I retire.