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What to expect in the next 4 years

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I think I stated earlier in a another thread that I don't like the Obama-Hitler comparisons. But I don't like the "Bush=Hitler" chanting either. Because the criteria that people apply to make the judgment can be applied to pretty much any politician or charismatic leader. For instance, look at Ron Paul. He has a more devoted following then Barack Obama in my opinion. Does that make Ron Paul a Hitler? Reagen was very charismatic and popular, and Bush had some pretty weird border-line worshipers as well. So are they all Hitlers? I've noticed every party/candidate has some really devoted fan base. Every political rally I've been to or seen has attracted nut jobs from all over. I don't understand why when it's Obama then all the sudden it makes him Zombie-Hitler-in-disguise and back with a vengeance*

While I think the Hitler comparisons are vastly overstated, I have to admit that Obama definitely has more of this kind of following than any other recent American politician. His inauguration is expected to have something like 4 times as many attendees as the previous record. He has developed what can only be called a cult of personality, though I don't think he is necessarily to blame for that. He hasn't exactly discouraged it, but I never saw anything to make me think that he was intentionally trying to turn himself into a Messianic figure.

On another note, you may be familiar with Godwin's Law. Simply stated, it says that an internet debate is automatically over as soon as anyone draws a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis, with that person automatically losing the debate. Therefore, I invoke Godwin's Law, meaning that I automatically win this thread.

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Sure. Soon as I get my apple. ;)

Short version is that negative liberties are the rights to life liberty and property. Things that require only that you not do something to someone else. Positive liberties are the sort that Marx supported. "Freedom from hunger," "freedom from uncomfortable shoes," etc. Essentially these so called positive liberties, are entitlements granted to some at the expense of another.

http://www.wikio.com/video/545578?start=75...t=15&sort=0

Okay, fair enough. I don't remember hearing him say that, but I wouldn't be surprised. I obviously consider it to be a terrible idea, but I think it's just more of the same trend we've been seeing for decades.

I don't think it's the same at all. First, the distance from top to bottom is much greater when comparing the Sec. Of Def to a couple privates and the trainer in ACORN to the leaders of the organization. Unlike Abu Ghraib, this was a normal part of their operating procedure.

Point taken, but I still see no reason to assume that Obama knew about the plot. Innocent until proven guilty, I say.

66% of people below 30 voted for him. Hopefully it's just youthful irrationality, but I don't think so. I think it's an indicator of direction. Also the fact that someone as leftist as he is even stands a chance of being elected is a pretty clear indicator to me, that the time they are a changin. Which is really my deepest concern. Not only is he horrible, but he is in my estimation a gateway socialist. I hope, but doubt, that the economy remains horrible for the next 4-8 years. At least then there might be a pendulum swing the other direction. The more likely scenario is he inflates our currency so much that it feels better for a little while.

I think it's a combination of youthful idealism, the fact that many people wanted to see a black president, and the fact that people are just fed up with the Republicans. Bush is the most unpopular president since Nixon. The 2010 Congressional elections will be very telling. If the Dems gain seats, that's a very good indicator that you've called it right. If the Republicans gain back some of their former ground, I'd say it's a good bet that the 2008 election was just another example of a swing in American political ideology, rather than a fundamental shift in values that won't be reversed.

I do too. I just don't put politicians in that same genus(people). I am not as forgiving with 47 year olds. I think you can be 20 and possess a poor political outlook honestly. If you are 47 not so much without being completely uneducated. And someone who has studied and lived it all their life? Forget about it. There is no "hey...never thought of it like that," going on. This man has heard the arguments for liberty and free markets and rejected them outright, through some combination of evasion and pursued ignorance.

Once again, I see your point but I have to disagree. This is one area where I part ways with Objectivists. I don't think that free markets are the obvious answer to all educated people, and I don't think that everyone who leans left is automatically ill-informed or just plain irrational.

I believe strongly in free markets, but I frequently find myself unable to defend my positions against people who understand economics better than me. When I get in this situation, I fall back on the morality of individualism, which most people find to be shockingly heartless. The people I have these debates with are good people, smart people, and highly-educated people.

As a non-Objectivist, I do not agree with many people here that Ayn Rand discovered the final answers to everything and that only Objectivism has got everything right. I agree with most of the central tenets, but I also thinks that our species is essentially still in its infancy, and that we have a lot left to discover about moral and political philosophy. So when I disagree with people, even people who are on the left, I don't necessarily think they are irrational. They start from a different moral system than I do and, while I strongly disagree with the moral system they start with, I confess that I cannot prove my own moral system to be correct. I think it is correct and that, in the future, it may be scientifically possible to prove it to be the best way to achieve human happiness. But I don't think this has happened yet and, as such, I can still respect people who start from a different moral system, so long as their conclusions about politics are consistent with that system.

My point was that this concept of "good intentions" is too broad to be meaningful. I read Mein Kampf. The man actually believed the world would be better off without Jews and with Germany in charge of everything. He never claimed to want to "watch the world burn," but his policies were effective to that end. I don't regard the "good intentioned" concept as useful. It is too broad. It defines evil out of existence because everyone is the hero in their own story.

Sure, he thought the world would be better off without the Jews. Unfortunately, the Jews were part of the world and this view necessarily included outright malice towards large numbers of people, not to mention the homosexuals, gypsies, etc. Not all socialists hate the rich and want to see them die. I don't know a single left-winger who thinks that everyone should even own the same amount of wealth...they just think it should be redistributed to the point that everyone has at least the basic necessities of modern life, but no one thinks that everyone should be able to afford the same amount of luxury. They don't see their policies as taking away the happiness of the rich because, let's face it, if you take away an extra 10% of the income of someone who makes $3 million/year, it will not noticeably affect that person's standard of living. That doesn't make it okay, but I think it shows that these policies are not necessarily born out of malice for a certain class of people, in this case, the rich.

There is a difference in kind between the eisenhower's and carter's of the world and the FDR's and, what I think will be the BHO's. Only time will tell of course, but I think he's a leaper not a creeper, as socialism goes.

Well, I agree that only time will tell. Four years from now, if I have changed my mind and agree with you, I'll owe you a beer. I will point out, however, that he has appointed a pretty centrist economic team.

It really doesn't. Slow slides into ideology only ensures that it lasts for 100 generations instead of 3.

I think the 80's are a nice counter-example. Whatever his other flaws may have been, Reagan restored faith in the free market system. While I don't like Clinton, even he wasn't exactly a leftist and didn't do a whole lot to reverse Reagan's economic policies. If I'm wrong about this, then I won't try to argue it anymore, because it wasn't until Bush was in office that I was mature enough to start taking a real interest in politics, but this is the way I understand the past few presidencies with regards to economics.

Edited by Moose

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Okay, fair enough. I don't remember hearing him say that, but I wouldn't be surprised. I obviously consider it to be a terrible idea, but I think it's just more of the same trend we've been seeing for decades.

The difference is that he is explicitly opposed to rights and most people don't care because they don't know what they are.

Point taken, but I still see no reason to assume that Obama knew about the plot. Innocent until proven guilty, I say.

It's not court. It is a consideration of his potential danger to rights. The thing is, those actions are mostly what they did. It would be akin to the president of Ford being surprised to learn that they manufacture f-150's. Or better yet, being surprised to learn that they were not all made by hand. It's possible but not likely.

I think it's a combination of youthful idealism, the fact that many people wanted to see a black president, and the fact that people are just fed up with the Republicans. Bush is the most unpopular president since Nixon. The 2010 Congressional elections will be very telling. If the Dems gain seats, that's a very good indicator that you've called it right. If the Republicans gain back some of their former ground, I'd say it's a good bet that the 2008 election was just another example of a swing in American political ideology, rather than a fundamental shift in values that won't be reversed.

I hope you're right about this.

Once again, I see your point but I have to disagree. This is one area where I part ways with Objectivists. I don't think that free markets are the obvious answer to all educated people, and I don't think that everyone who leans left is automatically ill-informed or just plain irrational.

Not all educated people. Just all honest ones. There is no way to consider any part of the history of the last century as anything less than a victory for freedom. Without exception the more free a country is the better off it's inhabitants are. Even in culturally indistinguishable places(N. Korea vs. S. Korea, East Germany vs. West, etc) the difference is exceedingly obvious. More capitalism=good, less capitalism=bad.

As a non-Objectivist, I do not agree with many people here that Ayn Rand discovered the final answers to everything.

I don't know that most Objectivists would believe that. (At least the ones I've met in person, online is another animal altogether.) The thing is that there is a logical trap here that any competing theory has to over come. One which the founders were acutely aware of. That is, that if people are not fit to rule themselves(including economically) then some people are never fit to rule others. Wealth distribution always rests on this fundamentally illogical and horribly childishly, arrogant view, that I know how best to distribute the product of your efforts. So to the extent that someone disagrees when they are not simply ignorant or evil, since many don't consider that term to describe anyone except for hitler, I would say that they are children having a tantrum against the facts of reality in some emotional way.

Sure, he thought the world would be better off without the Jews. Unfortunately, the Jews were part of the world and this view necessarily included outright malice towards large numbers of people, not to mention the homosexuals, gypsies, etc.

Your making me feel a little dirty defending Hitler, but I don't know if you are getting my point. He was a pragmatist. particularly, he was a utilitarian. Killing the Jews(as well as Poles, the handicapped, and intellectuals) was the best way to accomplish his goals of purifying the human race. Leftists think that making me the slave and servant of every poor person in existence is perfectly valid because it eliminates their suffering. Their goals of equality of circumstance are every bit as in opposition to reality and living life as a human being as Hitlers. The argument that they don't want complete equality, they just want to bring up the bottom is besides the point. It would be as if Hitler didn't kill these other people, he just took away everything they owned and told them they could not work to sustain themselves. The fundamental aspect is the same. Also, probably you have seen the list of what all the "poor" people in America have.(Cable, etc) The list of what basics someone needs keeps growing. As a case in point, during one of the debates, BHO was asked why he would raise capital gains taxes when lowering them produces more revenue. His reply was that it would be more fair. He has already accepted evil as his fundamental view. The only question that remains is how far he can push his noxious beliefs.

Well, I agree that only time will tell. Four years from now, if I have changed my mind and agree with you, I'll owe you a beer. I will point out, however, that he has appointed a pretty centrist economic team.

I know...all those republicans should balance it out. ;) It's a frightening time to me when Hillary Clinton looks like a centrist compared to the president. Keep in mind her first notable act was to try to nationalize healthcare.

I think the 80's are a nice counter-example. Whatever his other flaws may have been, Reagan restored faith in the free market system. While I don't like Clinton, even he wasn't exactly a leftist and didn't do a whole lot to reverse Reagan's economic policies. If I'm wrong about this, then I won't try to argue it anymore, because it wasn't until Bush was in office that I was mature enough to start taking a real interest in politics, but this is the way I understand the past few presidencies with regards to economics.

That's true. I would only measure your optimism by pointing out that Clinton had a strongly pro free market republican congress to deal with. Obama has a weakened republican party that has rejected the free market.

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The difference is that he is explicitly opposed to rights and most people don't care because they don't know what they are.

No argument.

It's not court. It is a consideration of his potential danger to rights. The thing is, those actions are mostly what they did. It would be akin to the president of Ford being surprised to learn that they manufacture f-150's. Or better yet, being surprised to learn that they were not all made by hand. It's possible but not likely.

ACORN's primary purpose is to register Democratic voters, but nothing in that purpose necessitates registering dead people and Disney characters.

I hope you're right about this.

I think what is likely to happen is the same thing that happened with Carter, although it may not happen as quickly. Carter's price controls had enough immediate effects, that he was voted out after one term. Obama's policies, if they are as far left as some people think they will be, will take a little longer to have a real effect. If it makes things sufficiently bad, I think there will be a strong shift to the right after his 2nd term.

Not all educated people. Just all honest ones. There is no way to consider any part of the history of the last century as anything less than a victory for freedom. Without exception the more free a country is the better off it's inhabitants are. Even in culturally indistinguishable places(N. Korea vs. S. Korea, East Germany vs. West, etc) the difference is exceedingly obvious. More capitalism=good, less capitalism=bad.

The only thing in here that I disagree with is that you can't be an honest socialist. "Dishonesty" has to be conscious. If you've deluded yourself into believing something that is in contradiction to reality, it doesn't mean you're dishonest. You can't tell a lie, if you are unaware that the lie is false.

And the differences you're describing are differences between a relatively free economy on the one hand, and then a Communist, totalitarian shithole on the other hand. Virtually no one argues for Communism anymore. What I'm talking about is things like the difference between the US and Norway. Norway has been called, by a number of different indices, the happiest country in the world and the place where the population in general is the most well-off. That doesn't mean "financially" well-off, necessarily, because their income per capita is not as much as, say, ours, Luxembourg's (which is something like $80K per person) or Kuwait's (which is an even more ungodly number). It just means general standard of living.

Now, I know there are all sorts of ways to poke holes in any index like that, and I'm not suggesting that we should adopt Norway's social welfare system. I'm just saying that it's not completely unreasonable for someone to look at that and think it's a good model, depending on the person's stated moral system. If someone, like myself, with a strong pro-individualist moral system were to admire Norway's social systems, that wouldn't make any sense. But, as I said, I don't think I can prove that my moral system is the right one. I just think it is, based on my own observations and thinking about the matter. But I'm sure people with other moral systems think their's is just as valid. I disagree and I think they are wrong. Maybe mine will be proven right some day. But until I see something that I regard as undeniable proof, I'm not going to label people as "irrational" or "dishonest" for taking their moral system to its logical conclusion.

Now, this isn't some form of moral relativism. I think there are many moral/political systems (i.e. Nazism, Communism, Islamic fascism) that can be objectively proven to be evil and detrimental to human happiness.

I don't know that most Objectivists would believe that. (At least the ones I've met in person, online is another animal altogether.) The thing is that there is a logical trap here that any competing theory has to over come. One which the founders were acutely aware of. That is, that if people are not fit to rule themselves(including economically) then some people are never fit to rule others. Wealth distribution always rests on this fundamentally illogical and horribly childishly, arrogant view, that I know how best to distribute the product of your efforts. So to the extent that someone disagrees when they are not simply ignorant or evil, since many don't consider that term to describe anyone except for hitler, I would say that they are children having a tantrum against the facts of reality in some emotional way.

I agree, and this is an argument that I frequently use. But then my opponent will invariably turn around with an argument about how capitalism is just an excuse some people have found for wanting to horde wealth to themselves, at the expense of other people. I know that economics is not a zero-sum game, but some people disagree. Economics is a science and, as with any other science, various theories conflict with each other. It's like biologists arguing for punctuated equilibrium instead of gradual evolution. One day, one of these will be more or less proven correct, but it doesn't make the incorrect people irrational...it just means they turned out to be wrong.

One thing to remember is that the debate over the nature of "property" is relatively new. Civilization has been around for about 10,000 years, and the debate over how property should be arranged, controlled, etc. is only a couple of hundred years old. I'm willing to give it more time before I declare my opponents as irrational and dishonest. Communists, radical Islamists, etc....yes, I'm willing to call them evil, irrational and dishonest. People who lean to the left economically...I'm willing to wait until my viewpoint is conclusively proven.

Your making me feel a little dirty defending Hitler, but I don't know if you are getting my point. He was a pragmatist. particularly, he was a utilitarian. Killing the Jews(as well as Poles, the handicapped, and intellectuals) was the best way to accomplish his goals of purifying the human race. Leftists think that making me the slave and servant of every poor person in existence is perfectly valid because it eliminates their suffering. Their goals of equality of circumstance are every bit as in opposition to reality and living life as a human being as Hitlers. The argument that they don't want complete equality, they just want to bring up the bottom is besides the point. It would be as if Hitler didn't kill these other people, he just took away everything they owned and told them they could not work to sustain themselves. The fundamental aspect is the same. Also, probably you have seen the list of what all the "poor" people in America have.(Cable, etc) The list of what basics someone needs keeps growing. As a case in point, during one of the debates, BHO was asked why he would raise capital gains taxes when lowering them produces more revenue. His reply was that it would be more fair. He has already accepted evil as his fundamental view. The only question that remains is how far he can push his noxious beliefs.

I just think it's a matter of scale. I think that wanting to benefit one race of people by exterminating another is exponentially worse than wanting to benefit poor people by taking some of the rich's income. It's not like left-wingers want to take everything the rich own and give it all to the poor. They typically want to take just enough to make the poor somewhat comfortable. Is it wrong? Sure. But it's not as wrong as "hey, let's throw this entire race into an oven."

I know...all those republicans should balance it out. :D It's a frightening time to me when Hillary Clinton looks like a centrist compared to the president. Keep in mind her first notable act was to try to nationalize healthcare.

Well, Hillary isn't on the economic team. I'm referring more to Summers, et al.

That's true. I would only measure your optimism by pointing out that Clinton had a strongly pro free market republican congress to deal with. Obama has a weakened republican party that has rejected the free market.

And I'm thinking the Republicans will make significant gains in 2010 (I hate that, soon, I won't be able to use the '0X system for years anymore), though probably not taking control of Congress.

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ACORN's primary purpose is to register Democratic voters, but nothing in that purpose necessitates registering dead people and Disney characters.

Maybe we are talking about different things here. I am referring to large groups protesting inside banks to call them racists and following bank owners and managers to their homes to force them to make loans to minorities while the part of their organization which did not get its hands dirty, put pressure on fannie and freddie to buy these garbage loans once the commercial banks had taken them. It was a one-two punch and if this wasn't intentional and strategic then I'll buy you beer for a month.

If it makes things sufficiently bad, I think there will be a strong shift to the right after his 2nd term.

Here's to hoping.

The only thing in here that I disagree with is that you can't be an honest socialist. "Dishonesty" has to be conscious. If you've deluded yourself into believing something that is in contradiction to reality, it doesn't mean you're dishonest. You can't tell a lie, if you are unaware that the lie is false.

edit: Here's my prediction for the next 4 years...

http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssFinanci...749135120081207

I agree with you regarding honesty with others. People, especially the best liars, are dishonest with regard to themselves. They tell themselves the same lie so much that they come to believe it. They ignore evidence opposed to their views and seek out only information which corroborates it. Imagine an objectivist that only read Rand, and who left conversations immediately when there was any serious criticism of her ideas. This is the sort of dishonesty I am referring to.

And the differences you're describing are differences between a relatively free economy on the one hand, and then a Communist, totalitarian shithole on the other hand. Virtually no one argues for Communism anymore. What I'm talking about is things like the difference between the US and Norway. Norway has been called, by a number of different indices, the happiest country in the world and the place where the population in general is the most well-off. That doesn't mean "financially" well-off, necessarily, because their income per capita is not as much as, say, ours, Luxembourg's (which is something like $80K per person) or Kuwait's (which is an even more ungodly number). It just means general standard of living.

Now, I know there are all sorts of ways to poke holes in any index like that, and I'm not suggesting that we should adopt Norway's social welfare system. I'm just saying that it's not completely unreasonable for someone to look at that and think it's a good model, depending on the person's stated moral system. If someone, like myself, with a strong pro-individualist moral system were to admire Norway's social systems, that wouldn't make any sense. But, as I said, I don't think I can prove that my moral system is the right one. I just think it is, based on my own observations and thinking about the matter. But I'm sure people with other moral systems think their's is just as valid. I disagree and I think they are wrong. Maybe mine will be proven right some day. But until I see something that I regard as undeniable proof, I'm not going to label people as "irrational" or "dishonest" for taking their moral system to its logical conclusion.

That's entirely possible and maybe even likely. They are not feeding the whole world with their welfare programs so it's possible that a larger percent actually gets back to the tax payers. For example, I pay a minimum of 45% excluding inflation in taxes. In terms of services as a single white male of moderate income I get almost nothing back and qualify for no great benefits. I in all likelihood will never.(Roads that I drive on and the 2% of the military defending the homeland and not rebuilding foreign countries are the exceptions, but they are fairly minuscule) In Norway, by comparison, maybe they take 60% but get back 20% by having 2 months paid leave and free health care. People often point to the US as an example of capitalism(and therefore, capitalism's failure) but you know as well as I do, that it's not. We are marginally less regulated and taxed then Europe but we get nothing back. The vast majority of our stolen GDP is propping up the rest of the world through the World bank, direct foreign aid, and military protection. If all of that money was spent on programs that actually came back to the public and any significant way, there would be a noticeable improvement in the quality of life.

This is what leads to my fear of a big spree into socialism. Obama could real easily institute way more government programs which in the immediate sense would seem better and gain public esteem for socialism.

Take health care. Right now 50% is purchased by the government directly through medicare and medicaid with the rest heavily regulated. Imagine taking the whole system and socializing it with more lax codes in certain areas and deficit spending on the rest. Initially for several years, it would appear that the system is better.

It is not fair to compare different socialist systems as a way of gauging capitalisms value. This is why your pragmatic approach to capitalism, waiting for empirical proof and what not, is bound to failure. There is no way for our little minds to completely wrap themselves around the complexity of these mixed systems. Too many variables in too many pathways. This is why the moral argument is the only one that has weight. We can know with no exceptions that if everyone's life is not their own, then neither is the leaders. Without individual autonomy, which in the only meaningful sense requires a right to property, no values, and hence no meaning or morality can exist. If you are waiting around for science or sociology to explain the most efficient way to control people for their own good, you've got a long wait ahead of you.

I agree, and this is an argument that I frequently use. But then my opponent will invariably turn around with an argument about how capitalism is just an excuse some people have found for wanting to horde wealth to themselves, at the expense of other people. I know that economics is not a zero-sum game, but some people disagree. Economics is a science and, as with any other science, various theories conflict with each other. It's like biologists arguing for punctuated equilibrium instead of gradual evolution. One day, one of these will be more or less proven correct, but it doesn't make the incorrect people irrational...it just means they turned out to be wrong.

You're having difficulty with them because you accept their premises. Try having them prove to you that economics is a science. Don't be fooled by the math. Numbers don't make a science. Neither do correlational studies. They need to be able to perform controllable, falsafiable, double blind studies on a national scale, or it's science in the same way social science is a science. Even psychology hasn't been a science in any real sense of the word until the last ten years when the began using FMRI's and PET's. Don't accept their premise and stick to the philosophical argument. The moral one. Nothing else has validity.

And I'm thinking the Republicans will make significant gains in 2010 (I hate that, soon, I won't be able to use the '0X system for years anymore), though probably not taking control of Congress.

Only if by some small miracle Obama allows the depression we need and does not prop us up with inflationary spending. I don't see it.

Edited by aequalsa

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Maybe we are talking about different things here. I am referring to large groups protesting inside banks to call them racists and following bank owners and managers to their homes to force them to make loans to minorities while the part of their organization which did not get its hands dirty, put pressure on fannie and freddie to buy these garbage loans once the commercial banks had taken them. It was a one-two punch and if this wasn't intentional and strategic then I'll buy you beer for a month.

You're right, we are talking about different things. I was not aware of whatever it is you're talking about, so I won't comment anymore on it.

I agree with you regarding honesty with others. People, especially the best liars, are dishonest with regard to themselves. They tell themselves the same lie so much that they come to believe it. They ignore evidence opposed to their views and seek out only information which corroborates it. Imagine an objectivist that only read Rand, and who left conversations immediately when there was any serious criticism of her ideas. This is the sort of dishonesty I am referring to.

But if you "believe" something, is it really a lie?

While I don't know any Objectivists who only read Rand and leave conversations as soon as she is criticized, I have seen many instances on these boards where people react to criticism the same way that a fundamentalist Christian acts when his religion is criticized.

You say that people ignore evidence opposed to their views and seek out confirmation. Well, yeah, that's human nature. I won't say that I'm completely innocent of it, though I try to minimize it. But that isn't dishonesty. It would be better described as weakness. Furthermore, people of all stripes throw that accusation at people who disagree with them. There are people who have told me that I am so blind in my faith in free markets and individualism that I won't consider evidence to the contrary. I try not to let that be an accurate description, but I admit that I am not a moral philosopher or an economist and, as such, I don't claim to know for 100% certainty that my views are right or that their views are wrong. I think they're wrong, but I cannot in good conscience rule out the fact that they might have some reasonable points or, if not, have at least come by their errors honestly. I don't blame people from the Middle Ages for thinking the earth was the center of the universe. How, then, can I say that all socialists are dishonest and immoral when the modern scientific study of economics is far younger now than astronomy was in the Middle Ages?

That's entirely possible and maybe even likely. They are not feeding the whole world with their welfare programs so it's possible that a larger percent actually gets back to the tax payers. For example, I pay a minimum of 45% excluding inflation in taxes. In terms of services as a single white male of moderate income I get almost nothing back and qualify for no great benefits. I in all likelihood will never.(Roads that I drive on and the 2% of the military defending the homeland and not rebuilding foreign countries are the exceptions, but they are fairly minuscule) In Norway, by comparison, maybe they take 60% but get back 20% by having 2 months paid leave and free health care. People often point to the US as an example of capitalism(and therefore, capitalism's failure) but you know as well as I do, that it's not. We are marginally less regulated and taxed then Europe but we get nothing back. The vast majority of our stolen GDP is propping up the rest of the world through the World bank, direct foreign aid, and military protection. If all of that money was spent on programs that actually came back to the public and any significant way, there would be a noticeable improvement in the quality of life.

Fair points, but my argument remains. It isn't unreasonable for someone of a particular moral system to look at Norway and think that it's a good model for human society. I rest my moral philosophy on certain assumptions, but assumptions they remain. Until I think that I can prove my assumptions correct, I can't characterize my opponents in broad, sweeping terms of dishonesty and immorality.

This is what leads to my fear of a big spree into socialism. Obama could real easily institute way more government programs which in the immediate sense would seem better and gain public esteem for socialism.

Take health care. Right now 50% is purchased by the government directly through medicare and medicaid with the rest heavily regulated. Imagine taking the whole system and socializing it with more lax codes in certain areas and deficit spending on the rest. Initially for several years, it would appear that the system is better.

It is not fair to compare different socialist systems as a way of gauging capitalisms value. This is why your pragmatic approach to capitalism, waiting for empirical proof and what not, is bound to failure. There is no way for our little minds to completely wrap themselves around the complexity of these mixed systems. Too many variables in too many pathways. This is why the moral argument is the only one that has weight. We can know with no exceptions that if everyone's life is not their own, then neither is the leaders. Without individual autonomy, which in the only meaningful sense requires a right to property, no values, and hence no meaning or morality can exist. If you are waiting around for science or sociology to explain the most efficient way to control people for their own good, you've got a long wait ahead of you.

I agree with your morals here...but not everyone does, and I just don't buy any arguments that this moral system has (yet) been proven correct. Maybe it will some day, but I haven't seen anything to make me think it is conclusively proven.

You're having difficulty with them because you accept their premises. Try having them prove to you that economics is a science. Don't be fooled by the math. Numbers don't make a science. Neither do correlational studies. They need to be able to perform controllable, falsafiable, double blind studies on a national scale, or it's science in the same way social science is a science. Even psychology hasn't been a science in any real sense of the word until the last ten years when the began using FMRI's and PET's. Don't accept their premise and stick to the philosophical argument. The moral one. Nothing else has validity.

When I talk about "science," I mean "can be studied scientifically with experiments" rather than "acts in a deterministic fashion." Economics does have a few things that are called "laws," but they aren't laws in the same sense as the law of gravity. And I disagree strongly with your statement about psychology. I have a psychology degree, and psychology has been studied scientifically for over 100 years. Psychology has used double blind studies with controlled variables and falsifiable hypotheses since 1879 when Wilhelm Wundt founded the first experimental psychology laboratories.

I agree with you that the moral argument ultimately trumps the political one. But, (and this is the point I keep coming back to) not everyone agrees with this morality. It's okay to argue with them and tell them why you think they're wrong, but I think it is unfair and unfounded to accuse everyone who disagrees with you of dishonesty, immorality, and ignoring the evidence. Moral philosophy, economics, and similar disciplines are complicated subjects, and no one person is going to have a complete mastery of any one of them, let alone all at the same time.

I'm coming to realize that this is more of a meta-argument than an actual argument. I've stated that I don't think these moral/political systems have been proven. Now, since you think they can be proven, the logical reaction is for you to try and prove them. But this misses the point. I can sit here and try to poke holes in your logic, but this also misses the point. You would then turn around and say "those aren't really logic holes, and here is why," but that STILL misses the point. The point is that I believe they are holes in logic and that other people believe they are holes in logic. If we're wrong, then we're wrong. But it doesn't mean that we are dishonest and immoral. It means that we have not yet been convinced by your arguments. By this logic, scientists who argue on the wrong side (since one of the sides must ultimately be wrong) of M Theory are dishonest and immoral. Or a better example: weathermen are immoral and ignoring the evidence when they get the forecast wrong. Or is it just that they do not yet possess the tools to perfectly predict the weather? Likewise, I am arguing that humanity does not yet possess the tools to completely and conclusively prove any one moral system.

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This whole discussion is an example of why I think the notion of "inherently dishonest ideas" is so dangerous. I'm not sure if aequalsa is making the same argument that Peikoff did, but it seems to at least borrow from it.

I agree with you that the moral argument ultimately trumps the political one. But, (and this is the point I keep coming back to) not everyone agrees with this morality. It's okay to argue with them and tell them why you think they're wrong, but I think it is unfair and unfounded to accuse everyone who disagrees with you of dishonesty, immorality, and ignoring the evidence. Moral philosophy, economics, and similar disciplines are complicated subjects, and no one person is going to have a complete mastery of any one of them, let alone all at the same time.

I'm coming to realize that this is more of a meta-argument than an actual argument. I've stated that I don't think these moral/political systems have been proven. Now, since you think they can be proven, the logical reaction is for you to try and prove them. But this misses the point. I can sit here and try to poke holes in your logic, but this also misses the point. You would then turn around and say "those aren't really logic holes, and here is why," but that STILL misses the point. The point is that I believe they are holes in logic and that other people believe they are holes in logic. If we're wrong, then we're wrong. But it doesn't mean that we are dishonest and immoral. It means that we have not yet been convinced by your arguments. By this logic, scientists who argue on the wrong side (since one of the sides must ultimately be wrong) of M Theory are dishonest and immoral. Or a better example: weathermen are immoral and ignoring the evidence when they get the forecast wrong. Or is it just that they do not yet possess the tools to perfectly predict the weather? Likewise, I am arguing that humanity does not yet possess the tools to completely and conclusively prove any one moral system.

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But if you "believe" something, is it really a lie?

Certainly. Their entire methodology for dealing with information is dishonest. I've unfortunately known people like this. Say you start telling me something I don't want to hear and my response is to put my fingers in my ears and yell "Nah,nah,nah,nah..." Later, I suffer the consequences of my ignorance. Am I then to have been considered by others to have handled the situation to the best of my abilities with all of the knowledge I possessed? Technically it would be true, but I would still be a dishonest person in my avoidance of truth. Reality doesn't give people who use this fundamentally dishonest approach to life a pass and neither do I. Which really is the point I am most interested in making. My judgment of someone as dishonest or evil is just that. My Judgment. It does not mean(assuming I have not been trespassed) that they are going to jail or going to be spanked. It means, I regard them as a menace and a danger and will oppose them to the extent I am able and concerned about the threat the pose to my life and values. Or in cases where the effect on me is negligable it may simply mean that they will suffer the consequences of their actions. Whether they "mean it" or not and how they try to rationalize their immorality is not relevant to me. People tell themselves all kinds of lies to dull the internal guilt they carry around. So what? It doesn't change the nature of the behavior.

I don't know you well enough to say whether this applies to you, but my experience has been that many people who were formally religious have a deep rooted opposition to moral judgment of this sort because it correlates too closely with their former beliefs, which they have since rejected. I think that it's a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. These terms are useful descriptors even if they sometimes require explanation.

You say that people ignore evidence opposed to their views and seek out confirmation. Well, yeah, that's human nature. I won't say that I'm completely innocent of it, though I try to minimize it. But that isn't dishonesty. It would be better described as weakness. Furthermore, people of all stripes throw that accusation at people who disagree with them. There are people who have told me that I am so blind in my faith in free markets and individualism that I won't consider evidence to the contrary. I try not to let that be an accurate description, but I admit that I am not a moral philosopher or an economist and, as such, I don't claim to know for 100% certainty that my views are right or that their views are wrong. I think they're wrong, but I cannot in good conscience rule out the fact that they might have some reasonable points or, if not, have at least come by their errors honestly. I don't blame people from the Middle Ages for thinking the earth was the center of the universe. How, then, can I say that all socialists are dishonest and immoral when the modern scientific study of economics is far younger now than astronomy was in the Middle Ages?

I am not sure I understand where you are. You say that it would be possible at some point to prove that free markets are superior, but reject the idea that the sum total of our economic experiences support it strongly enough. Can you give me some idea of what that sort of proof would look like?

Fair points, but my argument remains. It isn't unreasonable for someone of a particular moral system to look at Norway and think that it's a good model for human society. I rest my moral philosophy on certain assumptions, but assumptions they remain. Until I think that I can prove my assumptions correct, I can't characterize my opponents in broad, sweeping terms of dishonesty and immorality.

If you don't mind me asking, hat assumptions? I need a little concretization, here.

When I talk about "science," I mean "can be studied scientifically with experiments" rather than "acts in a deterministic fashion." Economics does have a few things that are called "laws," but they aren't laws in the same sense as the law of gravity. And I disagree strongly with your statement about psychology. I have a psychology degree, and psychology has been studied scientifically for over 100 years. Psychology has used double blind studies with controlled variables and falsifiable hypotheses since 1879 when Wilhelm Wundt founded the first experimental psychology laboratories.

Most studies that I am familiar with seem to be largely correlational in nature. I don't mean, by the way, to discount it as a field of study. I think it has had many legitimate advances. I was trying to use it for an example of how something that was formally not "provable" in the sense you seem to require of morality but that advances were making it increasingly so.

I agree with you that the moral argument ultimately trumps the political one. But, (and this is the point I keep coming back to) not everyone agrees with this morality. It's okay to argue with them and tell them why you think they're wrong, but I think it is unfair and unfounded to accuse everyone who disagrees with you of dishonesty, immorality, and ignoring the evidence. Moral philosophy, economics, and similar disciplines are complicated subjects, and no one person is going to have a complete mastery of any one of them, let alone all at the same time.

This is important. I do not accuse everyone of it. Most people are simply ignorant. I think someone can be unknowledgable about a subject and make the best decision they can, based on the data they happen to possess. In regard to a politician/lawyer/teacher of constitutional law/president, the likelihood of being ignorant or honestly mistaken is slim at best. And again, even on the slim chance that he is honestly mistaken about his views, I regard him as a serious danger to myself and my values and will treat him accordingly regardless of how well intentioned he comes across in his teleprompted oratories..

I'm coming to realize that this is more of a meta-argument than an actual argument. I've stated that I don't think these moral/political systems have been proven. Now, since you think they can be proven, the logical reaction is for you to try and prove them. But this misses the point. I can sit here and try to poke holes in your logic, but this also misses the point. You would then turn around and say "those aren't really logic holes, and here is why," but that STILL misses the point. The point is that I believe they are holes in logic and that other people believe they are holes in logic. If we're wrong, then we're wrong. But it doesn't mean that we are dishonest and immoral. It means that we have not yet been convinced by your arguments. By this logic, scientists who argue on the wrong side (since one of the sides must ultimately be wrong) of M Theory are dishonest and immoral. Or a better example: weathermen are immoral and ignoring the evidence when they get the forecast wrong. Or is it just that they do not yet possess the tools to perfectly predict the weather? Likewise, I am arguing that humanity does not yet possess the tools to completely and conclusively prove any one moral system.

I would say that is unfair to weathermen. I don't regard this as a case of making a prediction about a huge number of variables that you lack the tools to quantify. I would say that misdiagnosing the impacts of free markets vs. those socialist states would be closer to a weather man who looks outside during a hurricane and then tells me to go to the beach because it's beautiful and sunny out. In that case I wouldn't say he is mistaken. I would say he is lying. I have yet to find a single example of a problem "caused by capitalism" that does not have 1 to 38 government hands involved in this process that is allegedly free. More importantly, I have been presented with no case in which it can be shown that some men have a moral right to control the lives of others or their property. Freedom is the default. The burden of proof does not lie with us. It is with them who believe that they have a right to force me to surrender one second of my time to them.

This whole discussion is an example of why I think the notion of "inherently dishonest ideas" is so dangerous. I'm not sure if aequalsa is making the same argument that Peikoff did, but it seems to at least borrow from it.

I am sorry, Kat, but I do not understand what you are referring to. Was I talking about "inherently dishonest ideas," or is that in something Peikoff wrote?

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"Inherently dishonest ideas" was something that Peikoff talked about. As far as I know it's his concept. You were not specifically talking about "inherently dishonest ideas" but a lot of the way you were structuring your explanation reminded me of Peikoff's argument. Essentially he said that there were certain positions that were nearly impossible (or completely impossible, I don't remember) to hold honestly except perhaps by the very young. Check it out, I think most of the relevant material on this is in "Fact and Value."

I am sorry, Kat, but I do not understand what you are referring to. Was I talking about "inherently dishonest ideas," or is that in something Peikoff wrote?

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"Inherently dishonest ideas" was something that Peikoff talked about. As far as I know it's his concept. You were not specifically talking about "inherently dishonest ideas" but a lot of the way you were structuring your explanation reminded me of Peikoff's argument. Essentially he said that there were certain positions that were nearly impossible (or completely impossible, I don't remember) to hold honestly except perhaps by the very young. Check it out, I think most of the relevant material on this is in "Fact and Value."

Ah...thanks for the clarification. I've read that. I would only clarify that I do believe someone could be legitimately ignorant of something without being very young. But I don't believe for a minute, that Obama, for example, doesn't realize what he is saying when he advocates against negative liberties.

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Certainly. Their entire methodology for dealing with information is dishonest. I've unfortunately known people like this. Say you start telling me something I don't want to hear and my response is to put my fingers in my ears and yell "Nah,nah,nah,nah..." Later, I suffer the consequences of my ignorance. Am I then to have been considered by others to have handled the situation to the best of my abilities with all of the knowledge I possessed? Technically it would be true, but I would still be a dishonest person in my avoidance of truth. Reality doesn't give people who use this fundamentally dishonest approach to life a pass and neither do I.

I think this is just a semantic difference. I don't call this dishonesty, because it does not involve knowingly saying something that is false.

Which really is the point I am most interested in making. My judgment of someone as dishonest or evil is just that. My Judgment. It does not mean(assuming I have not been trespassed) that they are going to jail or going to be spanked. It means, I regard them as a menace and a danger and will oppose them to the extent I am able and concerned about the threat the pose to my life and values. Or in cases where the effect on me is negligable it may simply mean that they will suffer the consequences of their actions. Whether they "mean it" or not and how they try to rationalize their immorality is not relevant to me. People tell themselves all kinds of lies to dull the internal guilt they carry around. So what? It doesn't change the nature of the behavior.

I can regard someone as a threat to my life without going so far as to call them "evil." By this logic, practically everyone I know is evil since they're all liberals, with the exception of my ultraconservative family members, who are equally threatening. They all vote for things that I consider to be a threat to my happiness. But I'm not ready to condemn them all as evil.

I don't know you well enough to say whether this applies to you, but my experience has been that many people who were formally religious have a deep rooted opposition to moral judgment of this sort because it correlates too closely with their former beliefs, which they have since rejected. I think that it's a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. These terms are useful descriptors even if they sometimes require explanation.

I don't have an opposition to moral judgment at all. I just think we should be careful about throwing around words like "evil" and "immoral." I think that good people can do bad things, and still be considered good people. The Founders of this country did a few things that were certainly immoral and, in many cases, the acts themselves could be rightly described as evil. But that doesn't make them "evil" people. Why hold them to a different standard?

I am perfectly willing to call socialism an immoral system, because I think it is detrimental to human happiness. Regardless of whether I mean individual happiness (which I do) or overall human happiness is irrelevant, because I think it is detrimental to both. But that doesn't mean that some people can't arrive at that conclusion and still be good people who are making honest mistakes.

I am not sure I understand where you are. You say that it would be possible at some point to prove that free markets are superior, but reject the idea that the sum total of our economic experiences support it strongly enough. Can you give me some idea of what that sort of proof would look like?

A left-winger can easily turn this around on you. They would argue that the sum total of our economic experiences point to the fact that unfettered free market capitalism has failed. They will then point to numerous instances that they consider to be failures of the free market system. You can sit there and pick those points apart if you like, but that isn't the point. The point is that they really believe it and are not necessarily being dishonest. I don't see what's so controversial about the point that generally good, rational people can look at the same set of data and come to different conclusions. It happens all the time. Both people can't be right, but that doesn't make the wrong person "evil."

This line of argument kind of reminds me of the way some Christians argue. I used to have this conversation with my dad, but have long since abandoned such futile attempts. My dad thinks everyone who doesn't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is going to spend eternity in Hell. When I point out to him that the vast majority of people will die while believing in the same religion they were born into, thus making this an unjust punishment, he invariably would counter by saying that the Bible calls them "without excuse" for not believing in Christianity. And that's the end of the argument. Christians of this particular stripe think the evidence in their favor is so overwhelming that the rest of the world is "without excuse" for not adopting Christianity. This is the same kind of argumentation you're using here. You're saying that the evidence for individualistic morality and capitalism is so overwhelming, that nothing other than self-deception or ignorance can be the explanation. Well, the evidence has been enough to convince me, but I'm sure they think the same about their own ideas.

This is why I think it's important that people of differing viewpoints be able to talk to each other without throwing out accusations of dishonesty and immorality. My arch-Christian parents and my liberal friends/coworkers are good people. They have what I think are some mistaken ideas. But they're not going to take my ideas seriously if I just assert that the evidence is overwhelmingly in my favor. That is the behavior of religious fanatics. I can present my evidence, but they still won't take me seriously if I tell them that I think they are being dishonest by not accepting my views.

If you don't mind me asking, hat assumptions? I need a little concretization, here.

I start with the assumption: "Happiness is good." Because if happiness is not good, then I am perfectly content to remain an evil son of a bitch and have nothing to do with morality.

My next assumption is that, since only individuals experience emotions, it is individual happiness that matters.

Those are the assumptions that my morality rests on. No one will disagree with the first. Most people will agree with the second. But some people will argue that universal health care, education, etc. are necessary in order for individuals to achieve happiness. I disagree, but once again, this isn't the point. The point is that they have a train of logic which leads them to their views. Even though I consider it flawed, it doesn't make them dishonest.

This is important. I do not accuse everyone of it. Most people are simply ignorant. I think someone can be unknowledgable about a subject and make the best decision they can, based on the data they happen to possess. In regard to a politician/lawyer/teacher of constitutional law/president, the likelihood of being ignorant or honestly mistaken is slim at best. And again, even on the slim chance that he is honestly mistaken about his views, I regard him as a serious danger to myself and my values and will treat him accordingly regardless of how well intentioned he comes across in his teleprompted oratories..

Well, here I just have to say the same thing I said above. This argumentation reminds me of how a Christian argues against people who don't share his views.

I would say that is unfair to weathermen. I don't regard this as a case of making a prediction about a huge number of variables that you lack the tools to quantify. I would say that misdiagnosing the impacts of free markets vs. those socialist states would be closer to a weather man who looks outside during a hurricane and then tells me to go to the beach because it's beautiful and sunny out. In that case I wouldn't say he is mistaken. I would say he is lying. I have yet to find a single example of a problem "caused by capitalism" that does not have 1 to 38 government hands involved in this process that is allegedly free. More importantly, I have been presented with no case in which it can be shown that some men have a moral right to control the lives of others or their property. Freedom is the default. The burden of proof does not lie with us. It is with them who believe that they have a right to force me to surrender one second of my time to them.

Once again, while I agree with you lots of people don't. I'm not asking for you to prove that capitalism works. You're preaching to the choir, if you try. All I'm saying is that you don't have to be ignorant, dishonest, or power-hungry in order to disagree.

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I would have been stunned if he had NOT been selected.
And the selection is a good one, given TIME magazine's criteria. They do not try to identify the "best person" of the year. Rather, they try to identify the person who has created the most news. That's why the Ayatollah Khomeini was the man-of-the-year one time. I'm guessing this year's choices were Obama or someone associated with the financial crisis.

Maybe a few years from now they'll do a "men-of-the-year" cover featuring the Czars of all our industries!

Edited by softwareNerd

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Obama is Time's Person of the Year. The prophecies are coming true! :lol:

A picture says a thousand words...

obamacoolmanoftheyeardk6.jpg

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