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Posts posted by tadmjones

  1. Just watched the debate. There seemed to be quite alot of a discussion of metaphysics. Which seemed to be not in accordance with the question at hand, though I think both parties deemed fundamental to the debate overall. I think Bernstein had some missed opportunities in that line of discussion to include that logically why a universe exists is not a valid question. Reason (big r) shows why, how the universe exists is a valid inquiry, but that even the suggestion of why the universe exists, denies primacy of existence.

  2. Congratulations. I hope you get the values you are looking for, and make the most of it.You'll never, ever be able to compute things at the level of detail you ask. You are born into a country where voters have decided on using force to hold people back from all sorts of economic activity. You did not design this system: a majority of taxpayers support it. The system forces you to comply to all its rules. By its nature, the system is designed to take from all sorts of people in all sorts of ways, and to give to all sorts of people in all sorts of ways. People who receive "tax breaks" or "subsidies" or "child credits" or "free schooling" or "college loans" or any of the various handouts are thus made to feel like beggars and moochers in a system they do not want, and where they have no choice to say: "I don't want your shit... don't take any of mine". If your education gets you to a point where you thrive financially, your fellow voters will take their pound of flesh, and more... and hope that you give it with guilt... because without their help you would not have made it. Don't fall for the gimmick.

    Take every dime of government money you can get legally, and if you have no use for it, donate it to an organization that fights for individual rights.

    Amen with the obligatory proviso "this system sucks, because.."


    Sorry I need you to write your rejections to my point more clearly. I am not sure how to respond to your post.

    I think the sturdiness of the American system comes from the knowledge and philisophical discourse of the founding fathers, the fact that the system was a compromise between diverse business interests, ancient anglo-saxon and nordic traditions of oath swearing (contracts), and the fundemental honesty revered in english speaking countries.

    So in otherwords, we have a culture that favors honesty, doesn't like tyranny, wants people to obey their contracts, but also expects government and business to cooperate in the name of public interests. These expectations alone explain the behavior of our republic.

    In obviously a poor way ,  I was actually trying to show agreement with your points, a "yeah no duh" moment. The analysis by economists as described in the OP 's link seems to take government intervention in all things economic as a given, which I guess from the perspective of analysing data is purposeful. And as has been pointed out economic theories used in that sense are not speaking to the foundations of what government or politics 'should' be , those theories only describe the actions of groups within a particular system. 


    The only thing I would question, but perhaps you know otherwise , is whether or not the founders' opinions toward oaths or pledges were influenced by any nordic traditions. 

  4. This kind of analysis really shows what is wrong with our system. Republics have always been plagued with businessmen and politicians using force to gain more money. Ancient republics were often ran by crime families that controlled everything. Our founding fathers understood the potential for chaos and tyranny in this because of what history had taught them and their experience with the constitutional monarchy of england, which a lot like a republic.

    America has a very sturdy system however. We have numerous devices to keep the govenrment safe from tyranny and corruption. I think that the main problem today is that people WANT business and politics to mix, and honestly every time we have had tyranny in this country it was because the people asked for it.

    What produced the 'sturdiness' of the American system?


    Do 'people' employ the same concepts ( business and politics ) the way a rational person would? Do they actually mean they want a coersive government power to oversee every trade?

  5. Minarchists hold that a state is necesary for the maintenance of objective law in society. Public Choice theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_choice_theory) posits that the nature of rational actors working within a state will automatically make the state a broken institution unless the government were somehow run by angels. Some economists, like David Friedman, even take this as far as to say that a proper understanding of public choice should lead one to embrace anarchy.


    Some examples of public choice principles:

    - Rational ignorance. Voters know nothing about politics or who they are voting for because it is not worth it to invest the time to find this information given how insignficant their vote is.

    - Dispersed costs, concentrated befits. Politics deals in spreading cosats for the sake of concentrated benefits. This creates broken incentives. Most Americans don't support farm subsidies, but are only chagred a few dollars per year for them in the form of taxes. Meanwhile, big agri companies spend millions of dollars per year to get these subsidies. What incentive do voters have to resist?

    - Bundled Packaging. When selecting a candiate, voters must select bundled packages of policies as opposed to the standard market practice of slecting individual goods. This leads to many distoritions.


    I have not heard the topic discuessed too much around here, so I am hoping to hear some opinions on public choice theory from fellow Objectivists.

    How can the  miarchanists'(which I guess is the new term for proponents of limited government ) view be reconciled with what seems like some postmodernist garbledee-gook?  I'm not sure I uunderstand the implications of the posted question

  6. I thought you realized my preference for the idea of constitutional republic based on the principles of objective law . The idea of three distinct branches I think is essential to limiting the power of the institution of government. Though given today's technology I'd rather the official constitution should be archived as an audio file with the text spoken by James Earl Jones.

  7. Since it seems I may not be up to the task of answering your tagteam questioning style, schoralistically enough, let's try it this way.

    Is there a difference between the Office of the Presidency of the United States and the person who holds that office?

    editting--shit-- just realized in the formulation of my question I compared an individual human... to well something other so maybe what I really should ask is what is an 'office' in the sense of objective law, it it a needful thing, is it even a legitimate term ?

  8. I didn't ask if individuals were complelled to do anything, the idea of the institutions of government are seperate from individuals, no? If not then , I think we are back to my 'assertion' that the very idea of what constitutes a government is actually the crux of the matter ( what I presume to be our different notions of what government is in the first place) 


    To begin with, I think it's worth asking whether there are any principles that work to compel the enforcement of objective law in a monopolist legal system.  I'm reminded of the (possibly apocryphal) story of, I believe Andrew Jackson, who disregarded a Supreme Court verdict saying "they have made their decision; now let us see them enforce it."


    So perhaps we could critique a "polycentric legal system" by asking what would happen if "justice dispensing agencies decided it was not worth their while" to dispense justice... but I think that's potentially an equal critique of any other legal system.  I mean, when you ask about a "frontier type city," my first point of reference (and perhaps yours as well) is to picture the "Wild West," which existed under the monopoly government of the United States.  Whether I can provide satisfactory answers to these kinds of questions, I guess my first answer is that these are problems with "governance" generally, and not unique to the kinds of systems under discussion.


    With respect to Objectivism, however, this is perhaps a more severe question... because we do not support even coercive taxation.  And so one may well wonder what should happen to the administration of justice if people decided not to contribute to those local agencies that provide this sort of service.  The United States government doesn't have such an issue.  Should you refuse to pay your taxes, they'll simply cast you into prison and seize your assets.  So yes -- if we take seriously the idea that people should work together through means of reason and not physical compulsion, it's worth asking: what if people simply opt not to work together at all?


    But this seems to me to be equivalent to the sorts of questions one gets asked when advocating the termination of any coercively provided good.  What happens when you eliminate public schooling?  Will people simply stop getting educated?  How can we be confident that children will continue to receive education if we're not forcing them to do it?


    To me, it ignores the reason as to why we're concerned about education in the first place -- it is a dear good.  So dear, that people are and will be willing to work to provide it for themselves.  In fact, it is that deep desire for education which provides the will to arrange for a public school system in the first place, and the funds, and the persistence to keep it running, even in the face of failure after failure.  "The people" want education.  But the means that they've chosen to acquire this education are coercive, immoral, and inefficient.


    Obviously, the kinds of justice (and, generally speaking, self-defense) we're discussing are indescribably dear, moreso than even education, and people flock to those who they believe will keep them safe (often in disastrous fashion).  I do not fear that the provision of justice will disappear from lack of interest, once people are no longer compelled to pay for it (or when there are multiple agencies providing it), anymore than education would disappear with public schooling.  Rather, I would expect a greater provision of justice -- shorter waiting times on trials; fewer criminals released for want of prison space; and etc.


    To look at one example, take the issue you've raised of the frontier town that is not being adequately served by existing institutions (and let us note that this is a problem, not alone in the "Wild West" days of the old U.S., but in current-day America, where poorer or harder-to-reach communities are sometimes poorly served).  Such a community would no longer have to write letters to their Congressmen, cross their fingers and hope that some bureaucrat decided to fund a little money in their direction, but they could take action themselves -- in the name of their own lives, and for their own self-defense -- and legally administer the justice that their community requires.


    So ultimately what this boils down to, is that individuals and groups of individuals would have to decide that justice is worth their while.  I'm not concerned for it, but there is no way around that.  And all such government is like this.  What preserves our rights in the United States?  The Constitution?  That document requires the Congress to respect it in their laws, and the courts, and furthermore... it is amendable.  The US system works -- insofar as it does -- because individuals believe in it, and work to uphold it.  Government only works because people make government work.


    If that's not a comforting thought, perhaps this is another way to look at it...


    Objectivists in my experience are sometimes a bit skeptical about political activism.  Rather, it is felt that the current culture could not support an Objectivist-friendly government.  And indeed, if it were to fall out of the sky, the people would immediately set about tearing it down and putting up something close to what we currently have.  We have a statist system, because most people are statists.  And so, we work on changing the culture, and improving the quality of educational materials (through things such as essay contests, inspiring students to read Rand's novels; and getting Objectivist professors in universities; and writing essays on hot-button political topics; and participating in debates).


    When Rand wrote about government financing -- and the complete elimination of coercive taxation -- she said:



    I believe that the issue of monopoly vs. "polycentric" is also a goal for a distant future.  It could only exist in a society that would also support what Rand here describes as a "fully free society, a society whose government has been constitutionally reduced to its proper, basic functions."  And in that sort of society, and among the men who would by necessity live in it, I do not fear that nobody would be interested in providing justice, or paying for it.

    You didn't answer my question.

  10. I disagree. This is analogous to the liberals who say that financial advisers want to rob their customers blind, restaurants want to poison their food, and doctors want to keep them sick. Of course there are shady businessmen, who operate primarily on false pretenses. That is undeniable. However, the right approach is to criticize such behavior as immoral and fraudulent.

    Granted if the show or network in question makes assertions that they are in fact producing what they endeavour to be unslanted content, and FOX would fell in this category, "we report you decide". I was refering to the idea that any broadcast media and its content has to seen in the context in which it operates, that being its ability to garner the most profit from any expected audience to which it appeals.

    Nor do I think this any fault, just a fact all should be cognizant of when refering to broadcast media for any 'facts'.

  11. This new-story is ancient history, but I was reading about it and figured I'd update this old thread. Turns out that the Californian schools did not ban the Declaration of Independence (no surprise) and that FOX spread the story by reporting only one side of it (again, no surprise).

    The Declaration, including the "creator" part is used in schools, and is displayed in schools. The particular teacher was banned from some "supplementary material" he wanted to show his students, to show them that the "creator" idea and God were also mentioned in other early American documents. This was an elementary school -- which is important for the context. Some parents complained to the school administration.

    The evidence points to this teacher being more of a supporter of the fallacious "Christian nation" thesis than he lets on.

    (The link in the OP is broken, but Google brings up lots of articles. In addition, see this summary from "Media Matters".

    That some reported news agency ran this story in a possibly slanted story, seems to imply that news agencies are somehow responsible to air only verifiable content without any editorial slants. The purpose of news is to produce revenue for the entity providing the capital(in a free society).

    I think it is a fallacy to believe that any content on any for profit medium is to be held to any standard other than profitability.

  12. In a polycentric legal system, are there any principles that work to compel the enforcement of objective law?


    From the arguments presented, it seems there could exist some population( a frontier type city or some such) that would not be protected in their rights, if there existed no monopoly agency for law enforcement. What if justice dispensing agencies did not come about, what if no indvidual or group of individuals decidied it was not worth their while provide those 'services'?

  13. You're advocating the initiation of force. The issue isn't one of taking a moral action "despite the uncomfortable probability of punishment." The issue is that you are proposing taking immoral actions despite the uncomfortable probability of just and deserved punishment. Contrary to what you say, Roark was indeed a man above the law. He perpetrated fraud and then initiated force when he didn't acquire the value that he had hoped to gain by perpetrating the fraud.

    Well then let's construct the scenario more to your liking. Let's say that your rational objective standards and judgements have led you to fall in love with a woman, and you want to experience the ultimate joy and value of having sex with her. She doesn't want to have sex with you, so, according to your theory of answering only to the individual rather than silly laws, you would have the right to rape her if you were willing to do the time for the crime.

    You appear to have completely misunderstood the Objectivist Ethics. It seems that you've very unsuccessfully tried to derive an Objectivist Ethics from the events in The Fountainhead rather than from reality or from Rand's non-fictional writings on the subject.


    do you actually equate the current understanding of the idiom"having sex with.." to rape?

  14. Tony,

    In your most recent posts, you seem to be taking the position that if a person is willing to do the time, then his crime wasn't immoral. If I sell a work of art to someone who then alters it (since it's his property and he can do with it what he chooses), and then I break into his house and destroy the defaced artwork, you appear to believe that I would be behaving morally because I value the artwork in its original state and oppose its alteration so much that I am willing to go to prison over it. Is that your position?


    If so, should we also apply the same principle to all other choices? For example, if a person values the act of sexually dominating other people so much that he is willing to go to prison for raping them, wouldn't you say that rape to him is therefore a high value, and it is therefore moral?



    Are you here addressing whether all laws are inherently moral?

  15. The relationship between force and rights is a very important one. At the beginning of his thread, I suggested that defenders of anarcho-capitalism read Understanding Objectivism. One of the key points covered in that book is the connection between the evil of force and individual rights.

    The following is a brief summary of my own notes on this topic as taken from the book.

    From the perspective of the hierarchy of Objectivism, the principle of the evil of the initiation of force is more fundamental than individual rights. However, this does not mean that you can move from the evil of force directly to politics and government (as anarchists typically do). Another step is necessary, and that step is the clarification of the nature of rights.

    The nature of individual rights is the base of politics. When discussing rights—or any other issue related to politics—we must hold the context of everything that precedes politics, including all of ethics. The evil of the initiation of force is part of ethics. But one cannot proceed from “force is evil” to “government should ban it.” Government does not exist for the purpose of upholding morality. It cannot outlaw dishonesty or sexual promiscuity or pornography.

    The principle relating ethics to politics is: What is moral in ethics must be possible in politics. Society must institutionalize the conditions which enable man to live morally. That’s why Rand defines rights as “conditions of existence required by man’s nature for his proper survival.”

    “If a man has a right to his own life, then he has the right to take all those actions that are necessary, by his nature as a rational being, to sustain and protect it. In order to prove that a certain action is in fact a right, you have to prove that it is required by man’s nature.”

    Ayn Rand, Objectively Speaking (p. 47)

    Consider the implications of this for another ‘hot button’ issue with anarchists: copyright laws and patents. Objectivism says that, in accordance with the requirements of human life, a man should be able to profit from the efforts of his own mind. Therefore, he has the right to control who profits from his artistic creations and inventions. But the anarchist says that, because this will require “initiating” force to stop others from duplicating his work without permission, the artist and inventor has no such right.

    The reason such anarchists cannot find any such “right” is that they have never grasped that the issue of the evil of the initiation of force is not a primary. Just that principle alone is not sufficient to build a political theory. It is necessary to understand why it is evil. It is not an axiom.

    Paraphrasing Peikoff: If you start with the non-initiation of force as your axiom, there is no way to know how to interpret or apply that principle. That error alone--an error which reflects the epistemology of rationalism--underlies most of the massive folly called anarcho-capitalism.

    I have no illusions that anarcho-capitalists will grasp this and suddenly “see the light.” The implications of this are obvious, but I am not about to waste my breath repeating myself while certain posters keep telling me that I have not ‘addressed’ this or that issue when I have addressed it over and over and over again. I have better things to do than to try convince anarchist “true believers.” My primary purpose in posting this is for the education of other readers on this thread.

    For more clarification on this, please read Peikoff’s Understanding Objectivism.

    I have that series on cassette tape, anyone else remember walkmans?

  16. Quid custodiet ad ipsos custodii? Who shall guard, the Guardians of justice? And what keeps a righteous group of citizens from becoming a vigilante gang?

    That problem is as old as the notion of government and justice. 8000 years later and there is still no sure fire answer.


    the question in my post was meant to be sarcastic

  17. I read the novel at least a couple of times, the first time was the most exciting seeing characters like that blew me away. Haven't lost anything on subsequent rereads.


    The only thing disappointing in FH world for me was Cooper as Roark, he's quite the cowboy but....

  18. My over all point is that courts are an instrument of government, that can not exist apart from that function. I think the idea of a private court is a floating abstraction, and no arguments here have dissuaded me of that view.


    The delegation of the right to self defense to a government is what produces the conditions necessary for a society of free men. By delegating that right to the institution of government , that government then is the institution that needs to be accountable for providing the protection that is to be gained from such delegation.


    The idea of a private court, or ad hoc individuals enacting or dispensing justice could only function in say the Gulch. It would function in a 'society' of pledge takers, if society was in fact constituted of such individuals there would be little need of courts, but the Gulch is a fiction.

  19. DonAthos quoted Rand

    The individual does possess the right of self-defense and that is the right which he delegates to the government, for the purpose of an orderly, legally defined enforcement.



    The right of self defense is delegated to the government, was Rand being ambiguous? Did she say that but mean, well of course as long as everything is kosher, agencies or individuals other than the government can in some or all instances take it upon themselves to dispense objective justice? If no , was she wrong?


    I don't mean to suggest that because Rand said such and such makes it true, but I'm not using quotes to prove my point.

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