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Mikee

The Latest from Sam Harris

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This paragraph caught my attention:

Many of my critics imagine that they have no stake in the well-being of others. How could they possibly benefit from other people getting first-rate educations? How could they be harmed if the next generation is hurled into poverty and despair? Why should anyone care about other people’s children? It amazes me that such questions require answers.

The connection between taxing wealth and quality education (as well as general economic welfare) is automatic in his mind. It doesn't even occur to him that the state is an impediment to these very things or that a society of minds left free are the actual source of the very benefits he claims are realized almost exclusively through taxes.

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this sounds rather rawlsian:

Many of us have been extraordinarily lucky—and we did not earn it. Many good people have been extraordinarily unlucky—and they did not deserve it. And yet I get the distinct sense that if I asked some of my readers why they weren’t born with club feet, or orphaned before the age of five, they would not hesitate to take credit for these accomplishments. There is a stunning lack of insight into the unfolding of human events that passes for moral and economic wisdom in some circles. And it is pernicious. Followers of Rand, in particular, believe that only a blind reliance on market forces and the narrowest conception of self interest can steer us collectively toward the best civilization possible and that any attempt to impose wisdom or compassion from the top—no matter who is at the top and no matter what the need—is necessarily corrupting of the whole enterprise. This conviction is, at the very least, unproven. And there are many reasons to believe that it is dangerously wrong.

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This passage shows Sam Harris' total lack of regard to principles. Speak for yourself, Sam Harris, to further show the readers how much of an unprincipled "progressive" you really are. After understanding his stance on the individual, I would only assume Harris to say that principles are ever changing, such as a living constitution, and can be modified at will to better suit the "greater good"(yes, he even uses that floating abstraction.)

"It was disconcerting how many people felt the need to lecture me about the failure of Socialism. To worry about the current level of wealth inequality is not to endorse Socialism, or to claim that the equal distribution of goods should be an economic goal. I think a certain level of wealth inequality is probably a very good thing—being both reflective and encouraging of differences between people that should be recognized and rewarded. There are people who can be motivated to work 100 hours a week by the prospect of getting rich, and they often accomplish goals that are very beneficial. And there are people who are simply incapable of making similar contributions to society. But do you really think that Steve Jobs would have retired earlier if he knew that all the wealth he acquired beyond $5 billion would be taxed at 90 percent? Many of people apparently do. However, I think they are being far too cynical about the motivations of smart, creative people." - Sam Harris

How disgustingly progressive:

"Given the current condition of the human mind, we seem to need a State to set and enforce certain priorities. I share everyone’s concern that our political process is broken, that it can select for precisely the sorts of people one wouldn’t want in charge, and that fantastic sums of money get squandered. But no one has profited more from our current system, with all its flaws, than the ultra rich. They should be the last to take their money off the table. And they should be the first to realize when more resources are necessary to secure the common good."

Wow. Sam Harris is full on for the initiation of force. Mitigate such problems? Problems to whom? He is treating

the state as if the state has NOT seized a collection of money from private citizens...

"If private citizens cannot be motivated to allocate the necessary funds to mitigate such problems—as it seems we cannot—the State must do it. The State, however, is broke."

Sam Harris lost a following of readers for good reason!

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Wow. Sam Harris is full on for the initiation of force. Mitigate such problems? Problems to whom? He is treating

the state as if the state has NOT seized a collection of money from private citizens...

Not that it makes it any better, but he did acknowledge that taxation is theft even. He's just apparently the typical sort that says force is okay to get people to do rational things. There shouldn't be surprise in anything he had to say, since it's all totally consistent with the sort of person he always said he was.

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Not that it makes it any better, but he did acknowledge that taxation is theft even. He's just apparently the typical sort that says force is okay to get people to do rational things. There shouldn't be surprise in anything he had to say, since it's all totally consistent with the sort of person he always said he was.

Ah, yes: "For what it’s worth—and it won’t be worth much to many of you—I understand the ethical and economic concerns about taxation. I agree that everyone should be entitled to the fruits of his or her labors and that taxation, in the State of Nature, is a form of theft. But it appears to be a form of theft that we require, given how selfish and shortsighted most of us are. " - Sam Harris

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Short sighted? Funny, that's precisely what taxation of any class is. Would Harris support taxation of the poor if it helped the rich?

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'selfish and shortsighted'? Being selfish and being shortsighted are pretty much opposing orientations. Not surprising for someone who thinks that Rand advocated 'the narrowest conception of self interest' to make that mistake, I suppose...

Edited by Dante

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Tim Sandefur has some good posts on Harris. The latest is "Will Sam Harris force Charlize Theron to sleep with me (please)". (He has some earlier posts on Harris too.)

Update: Sandefur has done a new post on Harris here.

Edited by softwareNerd

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Tim Sandefur has some good posts on Harris. The latest is "Will Sam Harris force Charlize Theron to sleep with me (please)". (He has some earlier posts on Harris too.)

Thank you for posting these links. Sandefur's thinking and replies to Harris are excellent!

Although I do think Charlize Theron is attractive, can I pick someone else? I have a negative emotional sense that things could become quite unfair for Miss Theron.

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Does anyone else think this type of article is something you'd find on Maddox's site (''The Best Page in the Universe'')? It's just filled with stawmen, blatantly false statements about Objectivism, and mondless insults.

For what it’s worth—and it won’t be worth much to many of you—I understand the ethical and economic concerns about taxation. I agree that everyone should be entitled to the fruits of his or her labors and that taxation, in the State of Nature, is a form of theft. But it appears to be a form of theft that we require, given how selfish and shortsighted most of us are.
So, apparently this is Sam's logic: people own what they produce, and they should be allowed to keep all of it. However, since they're doing something I don't like with their money, they don't get to keep it. People can keep their money and spend it voluntarily, just as long as they voluntarily do what I want with it.

If nothing else, this approach to ethics was a triumph of marketing, as Objectivism is basically autism rebranded. And Rand’s attempt to make literature out of this awful philosophy produced some commensurately terrible writing.
I don't even understand this statement. Is he saying the fact that ''Objectivism is autism rebranded'' is a reason that it would be a triumph of marketing? Are such rebrands of autism usually very successful? Furthermore, is he saying that making terrible literature out of awful philosophy is a marketing triumph? If anything, this article was terrible writing; it's just a hodgepodge of assertions, with each sentence having nothing to do with the ones before and after it.

And I say this as someone who considers himself, in large part, a “libertarian”
Yet, he doesn't believe initiation of force is evil, and he advocates having the state to make decisions for us.

And lurking at the bottom of this morass one finds flagrantly irrational ideas about the human condition. Many of my critics pretend that they have been entirely self-made. They seem to feel responsible for their intellectual gifts, for their freedom from injury and disease, and for the fact that they were born at a specific moment in history. Many appear to have absolutely no awareness of how lucky one must be to succeed at anything in life, no matter how hard one works. One must be lucky to be able to work. One must be lucky to be intelligent, to not have cerebral palsy, or to not have been bankrupted in middle age by the mortal illness of a spouse.
Now it's the ''malevolent universe premise'' which statists know and love so much. Of course having cerebral palsy is the normal condition of human life, and anyone who doesn't have it is lucky.

Imagine opening the newspaper tomorrow and discovering that Buffett had convened a meeting of the entire Forbes 400 list, and everyone had agreed to put 50 percent of his or her wealth toward crucial infrastructure improvements and the development of renewable energy technologies.
Aye, but this won't happen, therefore we must coerce this 50% from them.

It seems in this article Harris is really advocating selfishness (he even said that it would be in people's self-interest to donate to education and prevent poverty), but hes too caught up in the package-deal version of ''selfishness'' to know this. He then realizes the only real way to get rid of (proper) selfishness is with initiation of force. In other words, he knows ''short-sighted selfishness'' is bad, and knows proper selfishness requires coercion to prevent, and concludes that it is good to use coercion to prevent selfishness altogether-- if that's not equivocation, I don't know what is.

All I had seen of Harris before this was his advocation of determinism (which was absolutely ridiculous), and his ''objective'' ethics, which was just unprincipled utilitarianism. I have no idea why people (atheists, namely) like him so much.

Edited by ObjectivistMathematician

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Sam Harris is a mystic, and one should expect nothing of substance from him. He attacks Abrahamic religion at the same time that he accepts the religious premise.

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