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Objectivism Online Forum
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  • Country
    United States
  • State (US/Canadian)
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    No Answer
  • Real Name
    Tanner Jones
  • Copyright
    Public Domain
  • Biography/Intro
    BA Economics, University of Oklahoma JD, Columbia Law School (focus on international finance and tax)
  • Experience with Objectivism
    Read pretty much everything by Ayn Rand and much of Nathaniel Branden. Always attracted by the idea of an ethics derived from the facts of nature, but never satisfied with her explanation.
  • Occupation
    Positive human relationships

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  1. I wanted to cap off this discussion and summarize my position as it has developed. If Intel engineers an advanced new microchip but chooses not sell the patent or even necessarily license it, then this is not something Objectivists would tend to criticize on philosophical grounds. If Pepsi distributes a new product to people outside a baseball stadium for free as part of their marketing, again I don't see any Objectivists tending to criticize this on philosophical grounds. If Starbucks invests in developing its employees' management skills and promotes internally, engendering loyalty in its employees, this is normal and not criticized on philosophical grounds. Patents, brands, and employee loyalty are all components of "goodwill," which is an intangible asset that is generally recognized on the books of companies when they are sold. It is derivative -- like discovering planets through analyzing slight wobbles in stars rather than direct visual observation -- and a whole valuation industry exists to measure things like this. No one would object philosophically to productive activity which is not subjected to external accounting valuation until a later date. Yet suddenly, when I propose that this accounting model applies equally well to individuals as it does to businesses, it seems like all hell breaks loose. Companies like I mentioned above all have complex, sophisticated, and fascinating accounting and financial systems that people spend years studying. This sort of thing was one of my core areas of focus in undergrad and law school. To suggest that these types of financial and accounting models are probably more appropriate to intelligent, educated, and competent individuals than current financial models does not seem to be a stretch to me. Companies like Pave and Upstart are beginning to build the framework for what I believe is a 21st-century model of personal finance. If you've read the Unincorporated Man novels, I am somewhat of a Mosh in my belief system on personal incorporation. How does this square, you might ask, with my argument that the concept of currency, itself, is becoming obsolete? Perhaps I should moderate what I said previously. I am not sure so much sure that currency, itself, is completely obsolete as I am that many uses of government-issued currency are going to be supplanted by more complex financial products. For example, the computer science and engineering field has advanced to the point that I could easily see seamless transactions not based on "credit." Perhaps in 5-10 years people will be paying for dinner with shares of American Express transferred to the restaurant through a card or thumbprint rather than paying for dinner out with credit issued by American Express. Most educated, financially savvy people under 25 have no more of a relationship with currency (physical dollar bills) than they do with physical stock share certificates. At the point where you can sell shares of AMEX on a low-volume peer-to-peer automated after-hours stock exchange and use the proceeds to pay for dinner with a snap of the finger, more complex financial assets (stocks, derivatives, etc.) would become psychologically fungible for most everyday uses. I believe moralist has it right when he says: I think of this as the gratitude, self-respect, and investment model of currency. We give currency to others as a recognition of our appreciation for what they do and gratitude for the fact that they have chosen to do it. We also give currency to correct a psychological power imbalance by clearing a debt (however temporary) when someone does something useful for us. Finally, we give currency to create and reinforce social relationships based on trust and mutual productivity because greater trust leads to greater opportunity for business relationships. In other words, currency exchange and production of goodwill are not mutually exclusive. However, I stand by my thesis that investment of production in goodwill as a personal capital asset is often much more productive than investment in more easily accountable tangible capital assets.
  2. @Spiral Architect: You do need currency to buy something by definition. You're not stating anything interesting there. I know that. You are also continuing to argue with positions I have explicitly stated I am not advocating (such as putting something above myself as a primary value). Currency is not required for housing, cars, etc. The consent of productive people is. There is nothing inherently parasitic about not using currency. As long as your focus remains on production of real value for yourself through producing value for others, currency is simply unnecessary. @bluecherry: You seem to believe that complex products can't be produced in any more efficient way without employing currency. Identifying inefficiencies in a production process (idle capacity, bottlenecks, etc.) and correcting them has nothing to do with currency. We have been inserting an extra, unnecessary step. Let me state the principle clearly: The value that others produce for me is always directly proportional to my production of value for others. I only have to focus on value production for others as a secondary value to get anything I desire for my primary value. If you demonstrate to others that helping them is a high priority, this creates a self-interested motivation in others to invest in you in any way possible. This is not some vague spiritual notion of karma, but based in evidence, experience, and rationality. Why wouldn't someone want to invest in another person with an appropriate psychoepistemology? Galt demonstrated to Rearden that we have every reason to promote the success of others even if these others end up outcompeting us.
  3. Are you even awake, Spiral Architect? I don't know how I could make any clearer that I agree with you on all these points with one slight variation. You state that currency is a product of the need to save work for future use. I would add that nothing but unawareness of a better alternative makes it a necessary or even efficient step to fulfill this need. I would even go so far as to poke at the idea of "saving for the future". If you are a manager you are well aware and likely employ the principle of "Just in Time" logistics.
  4. @bluecherry: You created a false dilemma. I am not proposing abandoning complex production chains, but rather integrating them further for increased trust and communication to eliminate logistical inefficiencies. Currency cannot solve a problem. Substituting a full understanding of all individuals' behavior patterns and motivations in a supply chain for thought-numbing currency... well, you decide what to do. Again, if you study my quotations from Francisco's money speech you may begin to see the mind-substituting nature of currency use everywhere.
  5. You have conflated currency with capital. This is a poor analogy. Seed stock demonstrates the concepts of capital and investment. Mutually productive trade equates to mutual investment, since it makes all parties better able to produce in the future. Consider the benefits of putting others as your first value after your primary one.
  6. I agree with Nicky's suggestion that writing about things you care about is the best way to improve written communication. I disagree with the usefulness of computer spell check software as a primary tool for learning spelling. I've found that acquisition of language is most natural in the context of human relationships, so I'd rather have red ink all over a paper from a human grader correcting mistakes than a red squiggly line from a computer program. This is because I know the computer program doesn't care if I correct my writing or continue making mistakes, but that a human audience appreciates flawless writing.
  7. You simply live until you physically die. It helps to focus on envisioning past negative experiences and behavior patterns concurrently with the knowledge that you have perceived and learned from those past experiences and grown the possibility of creating a positive future through this understanding.
  8. It's important to perceive the real differences between people's behavior patterns towards physically short people and behavior patterns towards physically tall people. Go forward confident in the principle that new knowledge of reality is always a positive and confident that you will use it correctly to better achieve your goals.
  9. Neurological research actually strongly supports this method of producing good ideas. When we engage in "mindless" physical activities that require us to be very aware of our surroundings, our brains enter a state where we naturally merge ideas from fields we wouldn't have otherwise thought of as related. This is one of the reasons I strongly support a merger between work and leisure and the idea of pay for creation as a better alternative to pay for time.
  10. Your words, not mine. Although I do sometimes enjoy walking, I would prefer teleporters to cars when I want to get somewhere fast.
  11. Yes and creation of the first car required horse transportation. I just realized I am doing the equivalent of Henry Ford calling horses inefficient.
  12. So your position then is not that I need to use currency to be productive and create anything I want to create, but rather that it's required for any hypothetical profitable microwave manufacturer to use it?
  13. Define a large scale operation for me and explain exactly when that will occur, why I should conduct it, and why it will require me to use currency. This thread has already had 705 views and 70 posts. That's a much larger scale than I operated on previously, and none of this productive discussion has required me to use currency. You haven't presented any evidence to me to support an assertion that I will need currency at some indefinite time in the future for some indefinite purpose, or for an assertion that I should worry about earning currency before such a need arises. Are these claims reflective of your position?
  14. Another way to think of my point is that exchanges a based on deep mutual understanding of one another are the most valuable ones. I have been gradually shifting away from these types of trustless interactions you mention towards ones based more on rationally founded trust with those who know me well and who I know well.
  15. That is how currency is used and the function it fulfills, but I don't have these "problems" that supposedly quickly arise. Tractors are used for farming but if I can produce the same results with less effort without the tractor, it is inefficient. Everyone is having a hard time understanding this because it seems so different from the way most people live. The best example I can give is Galt's philosophical conversion of the AS protagonists. He did not even ask for gold currency or any other property right in exchange but only something intangible that was already the natural effect of his productive actions. This was the most valuable type of thing he did in the novel, so just expand that principle and maybe you'll see what I am going for.
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