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Walter E Williams on What's Rule of Law

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... at what point does it start to remind you of the company towns?
...

 

You suggest that's a bad thing?

 

My position is that if subsidized security is good, then the same argument makes subsidized education good too.  The former provides security for the body and the latter for the mind.  Conversely, if subsidy is the negative then allow private enterprise to fill both positions.  The contradiction seems to me to be in allowing that it's good to subsidize physical security, but not mental security.

 

Claiming that it's good for one man to sudsidize the security of another's intellectual property is a case in point.

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My challenge to you and softwareNerd is to explain why a 3rd party provider of education is any less desirable than a 3rd party provider of security.  It seems to me that arguments for and against are essentially the same for both services; either you trust the servant to perform their duty, or you don't.

Do you think government should be running the food industry, without which we cannot live for more than few days? If not, I'd say take those reasons and assume those are the reasons government should not be running schools.

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You suggest that's a bad thing?

 

My position is that if subsidized security is good, then the same argument makes subsidized education good too.  The former provides security for the body and the latter for the mind.  Conversely, if subsidy is the negative then allow private enterprise to fill both positions.  The contradiction seems to me to be in allowing that it's good to subsidize physical security, but not mental security.

 

Claiming that it's good for one man to sudsidize the security of another's intellectual property is a case in point.

I don't think I've claimed that it is good for one man to subsidize the security of another's property, intellectual or otherwise. Again, this gets into identification of how government might volitionally be funded, especially by a citizenry that views it as a type of assurance insurance.

 

As to "company towns", I assumed a familiarity on your behalf of how they were used to deny the workers the freedom of quitting by paying them less than what it cost to purchase their sustenance from the "company store".

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Do you think government should be running the food industry, without which we cannot live for more than few days? If not, I'd say take those reasons and assume those are the reasons government should not be running schools.

 

There's a distinction between "running" things and being the final arbiter of objective rules.  The citizens determine the rules; they run things.  Government is the instrument of the people, not vice versa.

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I don't think I've claimed that it is good for one man to subsidize the security of another's property, intellectual or otherwise. Again, this gets into identification of how government might volitionally be funded, especially by a citizenry that views it as a type of assurance insurance.

 

...

 

Subsidizing the security of another man's property is the premise of taxation to support government's monopoly on force.  As an Objectivist, are you opposed to that?

 

...

 

As to "company towns", I assumed a familiarity on your behalf of how they were used to deny the workers the freedom of quitting by paying them less than what it cost to purchase their sustenance from the "company store".

 

Did these workers enter into this arrangement voluntarily??

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There's a distinction between "running" things and being the final arbiter of objective rules.  The citizens determine the rules; they run things.  Government is the instrument of the people, not vice versa.

And in what way do you think the government should be running or arbitrating the education industry as opposed to the food industry?

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Subsidizing the security of another man's property is the premise of taxation to support government's monopoly on force.  As an Objectivist, are you opposed to that?

Yes, I am opposed to coercive funding.

I owned my last home free and clear, I still carried home-owners insurance. I also recognize that the police cannot be counted on to be at my front door simultaneously in the event a knuckle-dragging neanderthal should decide to show up with malicious intent. My own immediate and personal security is my responsibility.

 

Did these workers enter into this arrangement voluntarily??

Did the workers enter the arrangement knowing that the cost of living/wage ratio was engineered as such? If not, the term fraud comes to mind.

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And in what way do you think the government should be running or arbitrating the education industry as opposed to the food industry?

 

I think the degree of governance is entirely up to the will of the citizens.  If a case can be made for public servants in the food industry and the public is willing to be taxed for that service then so be it.  Such is the way of life in a democracy.  The obvious problem is an economic one where taxation eventually overcomes taxable wages and the political overhead crushes the society it serves. 

 

You suggested that the premise of one person subsidizing another's education was flawed as a form of wealth redistribution.  Apparently you're OK with the redistribution of wealth to support a 3rd party arbiter of disputes over property, but not of disputes over education. By extension then it's acceptable to subsidize the security of an illiterate society, but not (as a matter of security) to subsidize the education of a literate society.

 

Which do you suppose poses the greater social threat?

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I think the degree of governance is entirely up to the will of the citizens.

Are you playing devil's advocate here? I never knew you were for unlimited democracy. I assume you're aware the objectivists on this board do not buy into unlimited democracy.

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Yes, I am opposed to coercive funding.

I owned my last home free and clear, I still carried home-owners insurance. I also recognize that the police cannot be counted on to be at my front door simultaneously in the event a knuckle-dragging neanderthal should decide to show up with malicious intent. My own immediate and personal security is my responsibility.

 

Did the workers enter the arrangement knowing that the cost of living/wage ratio was engineered as such? If not, the term fraud comes to mind.

 

This presents to me a mixture of liberal mInarchism.  Are wage earners presumed to be naïve and employers exploitative?  I guess I'm not following your argument.

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Are you playing devil's advocate here? I never knew you were for unlimited democracy. I assume you're aware the objectivists on this board do not buy into unlimited democracy.

 

Politically I support a republic and consider an unlimited democracy dangerous to individual freedom.  My interest here is primarily on exploring public education in the context of security.

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softwareNerd and dream_weaver,

 

Here's a link to what I subscribe to politically.  I don't find it particularily inconsistent with what I've heard expressed by Objectivcists about Objectivism, but I'll allow that you are both better judges of that:

 

https://www.1215.org/lawnotes/lawnotes/repvsdem.htm

 

It would be helpful to me to have either or both of you describe to me how an Objectivist distinguishes himself from this view regarding the nature of a republic and its citizens, and how government services are paid for...

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This presents to me a mixture of liberal mInarchism.  Are wage earners presumed to be naïve and employers exploitative?  I guess I'm not following your argument.

Note that wikipedia contains an entry on minarchism with a sub-section referencing Objectivisim. It's not glaringly obvious, but it does contain the subtle omission of the mention of public education as one of the proper functions of government. It also does not outline how such functions are to be financed, although Rand's position on taxation is referenced in the Ideology section..

 

Under the "company towns", the 'employers' were being exploitative, their marks lured in with the promise of higher wages while omitting the cost-of-living details. I understand that this was the late 1800's - early 1900's, and the wage earners were savvy enough to zip on down to the local library and run a quick google search to determine the first question that comes to your mind when considering relocation for a better opportunity - what is the relevant cost of living difference between my current location and this new location, or to cross reference the BBB records with regard to others experience dealing with the same company.

 

I'm presuming the "company town" is the argument you are not necessarily following.

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My interest here is primarily on exploring public education in the context of security.

 

What you end up with is corporatism which, in the context of education, this is not a good thing. We have this already within education and if you like administrative bloat then this is for you. Under the present system the purpose of educational reform is administrative advancement. As someone who has directly witnessed this within higher education, I can assure you that student outcomes have little to do with education reform. If you truly wish for a security for the mind, then you should advocate breaking down the corporatist structures that currently exist within education at all levels.

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What you end up with is corporatism ...

 

Thank you aleph_1, that's an argument that hits me where I live.

 

I personally value teachers as much as officers of the law, and consider them officers of the mind.  Whether the rules pertain to due process or grammer, the service these professionals perform for their community is of equal value (to me).  However the bureaucracy these professionals struggle under does have a negative impact on their ability to perform.  I'm just not convinced government bureaucracy can be distinguished from corporate bureaucracy in that regard, and I hesitate to blame all bureaucrats for the problem.

 

The other problem I have in the context of security is, how does one punish illiteracy as a crime?  It seems like a crime to me given the importance of maintaining a literate population as a check on governance, but I'm really uncomfortable with the notion of punishing parents who home school (or no school) for raising illiterate children.  In terms of preserving choice (liberty), I think government has a role to play in education, if for nothing else than to guarentee all children have the oppertunity to basic education, and I think that's where I side with President Adams.  But the competition of private schools would most likely improve the situation.

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Here's a link to what I subscribe to politically.  I don't find it particularily inconsistent with what I've heard expressed by Objectivcists about Objectivism, but I'll allow that you are both better judges of that:

 

https://www.1215.org/lawnotes/lawnotes/repvsdem.htm

Well, the example starts by indicating that absolute democracy (which it calls, simply, democracy) is where 51% get to lord it over the rest any way they wish. It then says that a republic allows individuals to pick and choose if they will follow the government.

In contrast, Objectivism says that the protection of individual rights are the starting point and the basis for government. People are not free to reject laws simply because they don't like them. The author of that article does not offer any objective approach to deciding what laws are right or wrong. He says people are free to follow or not follow the law, but does not indicate any non-subjective philosophy of law. That's a huge difference from Objectivism.

Secondly, the person says that anyone is free to disregard the law. He's really stealing a concept here. For example, he talks of some environmental law and says that it includes fines; but, he also says that people are free to do what they like. So, the fine is a fiction, and the law itself is a fiction. This concept of "law" is far less substantial than what minarchists suggest. It is even slimmer than the equivalent suggestion from anarchists. After all, anarchists will probably say that the 51% may make a binding agreement to follow some environmental rules, and then that should at least bind that 51%. However, in the concept of law given in the example, people are free to do what they like. In essence, there is no law at all.

The single place where I could find a real law is where the author says that if a 100% of a jury finds a person guilty, then that is enforceable. Again, we are not offered a philosophy of law beyond the subjective will of the jury. It's also unclear if this jury can catch someone who decided not to follow the environmental law, and send him to jail.

I rarely read articles to which people provide links, and this weak article is an example of why. It reads like something written by someone who really has a weak grasp on the issues.

Edited by softwareNerd

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softwareNerd and dream_weaver,

...

It would be helpful to me to have either or both of you describe to me how an Objectivist distinguishes himself from this view regarding the nature of a republic and its citizens, and how government services are paid for...

 

Well, the example starts by indicating that absolute democracy (which it calls, simply, democracy) is where 51% get to lord it over the rest any way they wish. It then says that a republic allows individuals to pick and choose if they will follow the government...

 

I don't see anything in your response that distinguishes how an Objectivist pays for government services.  When I consult the lexicon under Taxation, I get:

 

"In a fully free society, taxation—or, to be exact, payment for governmental services—would be voluntary. Since the proper services of a government—the police, the armed forces, the law courts—are demonstrably needed by individual citizens and affect their interests directly, the citizens would (and should) be willing to pay for such services, as they pay for insurance."

 

I suppose that implies an Objectivist avoids paying taxes for government services by calling them voluntary service fees, but it sounds a lot like the kind of picking and choosing you fault the author of the article I linked to for.  Again, I don't find the author's view of citizens subjecting themselves to the law so very different than Objectivist views, but I won't press the point.

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Again, I don't find the author's view of citizens subjecting themselves to the law so very different than Objectivist views, but I won't press the point.

But, his view is the exact opposite of the Objectivist position. To take his example, if a Objectivist government had an environmental law nobody would have a choice to disobey.

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But, his view is the exact opposite of the Objectivist position. To take his example, if a Objectivist government had an environmental law nobody would have a choice to disobey.

His example demonstrates that the majority wouldn't have the ability to impose individual mandates on the minority, and parallels your own representation of an anarchist view that, "51% may make a binding agreement to follow some environmental rules, and then that should at least bind that 51%" (post #42); that the will of the majority is advisory. He also points out that justice in a republic requires 100% of a jury to deprive one person of their rights and that certainly doesn't suggest that the accused can then pick and choose whether or not he will be punished.

 

How is that the exact opposite of the Objectivist position to "voluntarily" support taxes to pay for government services?

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His example demonstrates that the majority wouldn't have the ability to impose individual mandates on the minority, and parallels your own representation of an anarchist view that, "51% may make a binding agreement to follow some environmental rules, and then that should at least bind that 51%" (post #42); that the will of the majority is advisory.

I presented that "anarchist" view to show that it was not an Objectivist view. Objectivism has the opposite view: in Objectivism there is a government and it is not at all voluntary to follow its laws. You do not get to pick and choose without taking the consequences of jail time etc. 

 

Also, the anarchist actually advocates more of a government-like structure than presented in that article. An anarchist would say that if some people enter into a binding agreement, then that should be binding. On the contrary, that article does not view binding agreement as the alternative. Instead, its laws are more like an open forum discussion, followed by a documentation of the majority viewpoint, and any voting is like a Gallup Poll rather than an agreement. We vote our assent and then do whatever we fell like. 

 

Do you not see that the article makes a mockery of the term "government". Suppose I start an open discussion and get people across the country to agree with me. Then, I create an online poll and ask: who agrees with me. 51% of people say they do. According to that article, this makes my poll a "law". it has all the force of the law under the definition of that article.

 

So, the opposite aspect is this: Objectivism is not anarchism and is not anything like presented in that article where every aspect of government is simply voluntary.

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...

So, the opposite aspect is this: Objectivism is not anarchism and is not anything like presented in that article where every aspect of government is simply voluntary.

 

I thought it was clear enough by stating it was "your representation of an anarchist view" that you weren't suggesting Objectivism is anarchism.  Clearly you believe there is some distinction, as yet undefined by anything other than "voluntary", in the aspect of taxation to pay for an Objectivist government.  What that distinction is remains a mystery to me.  How does a voluntary means of generating revenue for government services avoid free riders, which then presents the flawed premise you stated earlier of one person subsidizing another's access to those services?  I guess you're seeing some obvious distinction that keeps going over my head.

 

Since the article annoys you, let's set it aside and simply focus on how Objectivist taxes/fees/whatever are collected such that subsidy as a means of wealth redistribution is avoided...

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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Since the article annoys you, let's set it aside and simply focus on how Objectivist taxes/fees/whatever are collected such that subsidy as a means of wealth redistribution is avoided...

Nope, I don't intend to. You continue to switch from something like an environmental law, back to the subject of taxes. Voluntary taxes may be an integral part of the Objectivist viewpoint, but it is nevertheless secondary to the question of the role and nature of government. 

 

In your concept of government, will an individual be free to ignore an environmental law, without consequences? 

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How many people on the welfare dole are paying taxes, or for that matter,how many earn less than the threshold for the 1040 amount for paying taxes. Not to mention the earned income credit that actually returns more to the individual than was deducted from their payroll.

 

I would submit that the issue would also have to touch base on transitioning to free-market monetary policy as well.

 

Do you think a voluntarily financed government could afford to subsidize, and thus encourage as many free-riders to climb aboard? (Think tax what you don't want, subsidize what you want more of.)

 

Jury nullification is another tool at the public's disposal. How often do you hear of it being used to repeal "bad law"? How effectively is that process being taught in the public indoctrination centers?

Edited by dream_weaver
added a link to jury nullification

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You suggest that's a bad thing?

 

My position is that if subsidized security is good, then the same argument makes subsidized education good too.  The former provides security for the body and the latter for the mind.  Conversely, if subsidy is the negative then allow private enterprise to fill both positions.  The contradiction seems to me to be in allowing that it's good to subsidize physical security, but not mental security.

 

Claiming that it's good for one man to sudsidize the security of another's intellectual property is a case in point.

 

 

Going back to your earlier post, I think you're missing a very important distinction between "physical security" and education. By 'physical security' we're referring to the retaliatory use of physical coercion. Force is not just another product to be transacted in. In the most fundamental sense, force is different from education in that force is not about the creation of values. By the fact that values are the product of a process of rational thought, force simply can't create value at all. It can only destroy, and used in the best possible capacity, it merely destroys a destroyer. Force can protect an existing value but it cannot bring value into existence.

 

At the end of page one you said:

 

 

My challenge to you and softwareNerd is to explain why a 3rd party provider of education is any less desirable than a 3rd party provider of security.  It seems to me that arguments for and against are essentially the same for both services; either you trust the servant to perform their duty, or you don't.

 

This is an equivocation between two fundamentally different 'services'. The objectivist argument for a government police force tasked with the protection of individual rights is that force is special in this fundamental sense. The argument can't be extended to education.

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