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Jon Southall

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Everything posted by Jon Southall

  1. Not whining Harrison. Where do you live? Can you name one viable plot of unowned land you could use to produce value from near to you? If you can't identify this how far would you have to relocate until you find this? At what cost? Didn't Rand state "reason is man's only absolute"? Seems like a wise statement. Feel free to think in absolutes, but wisdom is seldom found at the extremes but in the point of balance, harking back to Aristotle.
  2. Neither. I am in favour of property rights and in establishing ownership. My criticism is that under objectivism the basis for establishing ownership of natural resources (homesteading) is arbitrary and seems to contradict other aspects of objectivism (being free to direct your thoughts and productive effort to create value self interestedly in order to live).
  3. Thinking is not sufficient to live by, as is clear under Rand's arguments. You must be able to produce value and utilise it as well. My thought experiment is what happens if this second step (thought into value creation) is severely impeded by lack of access to resources due to existing social conventions. Specifically when those conventions force our character to trade. It would then be a matter of chance whether terms favourable to our character's self interest exists or not. If its a lesser of two evils situation (an immoral choice if I've understood Objectivist morality correctly) what is the resolution. This state of affairs is specifically where he can't produce value by himself otherwise. Do you follow? We are purposely limiting that variable and exploring the implications and what the resolution is. My point is if he could use natural resources without permission he could create his own value. The only reason he can't is that others control those resources exclusively. If he challenged this right, what would their defense be? The homesteading argument is pretty weak, hence me saying this is a flaw.
  4. That's the issue. Why should you get to use that space over someone else? Under objectivism you have the right to build yourself a house, or perhaps a statue. I will need to place both somewhere specifically. If someone said they want to use that space, what is an objectivists argument for refusing it? What if what someone else wants is for that space not to be used and they oppose you building a house there to start with, or choosing to locate your statue where you have done. Forget the original sin point about monopoly, that comment missed the point and its not my argument. Its mistaken to think it is. The monopoly term specifically refers to your exclusive use of the land. You want to be able to say, "I am using this land as the location of my house, which is my property. You cannot force me to move my property, because you have no property rights to the land. You may not use it or force me off of it". If they counterclaim that you do not own the land either and you should not have built your house there, that you are blocking them, then what would be your "defense". I mean specifically using Objectivist reasoning. Further their argument may be that by preventing them from using the space, you are as much violating their rights to use it, as forcing you off of the land would violate your rights. I'm curious how objectivists would resolve this.
  5. Read the word "viable" and it makes sense. Stop thinking in absolutes. Our character would still be dependent on the charity of others to travel vast distances to discover lands which he can utilise freely without interference from locals who would lay claim to it. And so being dependent on charity, he would not be able to become a self made man by his own thoughts and merits alone. Unless he resorts to theft and other criminal means. Does making conceited comments make you feel good about yourself? You would benefit from some self reflection on that. It doesn't have any bearing on my judgement, just so you know. I'm not going to indulge you.
  6. The concept of a thought experiment may have been lost here. Also missing is an argument in support of your final remark? 🤷🏻‍♂️
  7. In the situation I presented it was impossible. I dont think it is unreasonable to live independently! The only alternative to employment would be to starve to death in this situation. You could argue his employment is voluntary, a choice. Given he wants to live, finding employment becomes something he needs to survive (as much as he needs air to breathe). His survival depends solely now on him fulfilling someone else's needs. It is therefore decided socially, collectively perhaps, whether he survives or not, or better put whether he can live as a human being or not. I'm asking how this situation is a moral one under objectivism. When you consider objectivists place great value on the mind, and non interference with exercising rational decision making (and ensuing action), with Rand saying control over this is evil. When being able to live freely, independently is morally good, how is the situation our character finds himself in a moral one. Perhaps our perplexed character questions why his social peers control the resources exclusively. He is asking not who will let me, but who will stop me and why. He wants to know what grounds an Objectivist would give for granting such exclusive rights. When doing so grants a perpetual right to one person obtaining resources, at the expense of everyone else. Rand said if you invest in something for 5 years (homesteading) it establishes this right. But that is a significant, unearned, socially granted reward for the work, placing a long term restriction on everyone else. Surely the income produced by using the land productively is legitimate, but how is it moral to arbitrarily grant the producer a windfall bonus on top of those returns in the form of exclusive perpetual rights to occupy? It seems inconsistent with how one otherwise establishes property ownership under Objectivism.
  8. So how would you, as an Objectivist, answer those questions? How do you establish ownership of a natural resource? Objectivists sometimes confuse a house, or a city, or a development (all man made) with the resource I'm talking about. Perhaps another way of positioning the contradiction would be to ask this: The fact you have built your house (or bought it) establishes your ownership. However what establishes your right to place your house where it is? If I wanted to build a road and place it where your house currently is, why can't I just move your house somewhere else. What establishes your monopoly over occupying that space with your house?
  9. The difference is stark actually. A business owner has bought or built his business, it's a human endeavour at heart which clearly establishes property rights. You can work for him properly by mutual consent. That's not slavery but healthy human relations. Say you don't want to work for him and instead want to establish your own business. However to do so you require access to land but you are socially excluded from all viable locations. It is not then possible. So your only option is to work for someone. You cannot live independently but must agree to some employment terms and hope you can find some which are in your self interest. You must earn enough money to buy land. Why should you have to? Is it first come first served when it comes to something as vital to life as the rational self interested mind is? Its like being prevented or impeded mentally until you can pay others to lift these restrictions. That goes against objectivist morality, doesn't it?
  10. As you say this is a reflection point on maintaining or destroying rights to property. It doesn't touch on their establishment... Why did D'Anconia get to establish the copper mine to start with? If there was a dispute over the use of the land beforehand, how would it have been objectively settled by the justice system? Rand used the homesteading principle. Possibly on account of her admiration for much of how the US was founded. Nevertheless it's actually problematic as I said in my previous post. Imagine you come up with an invention in your mind which requires ongoing effort to become fruitful. Should you have to spend 5 years of dedicated effort on it before it is considered socially as your idea? (That makes as much sense of running a copper mine for five years before land ownership rights are established). Add to injury a permitting authority has to grant you permission to mine (akin to granting permission to allow your invention to begin with) and judging whether you've put sufficient effort into it... Then there is the fact that a copper mine is the consequence of human effort and thought. The wilderness or commons which existed beforehand was not. Who then had the right to transform it (or to prevent it from being transformed) to start with. It should belong to everyone or anyone. Just like the freedom to invent belongs to everyone. Objectivist argument on rational thought requires it not be impeded by others, that you are entitled to the fruits of your labour without requiring the permission of others to live. However natural resources are needed every bit as much as thinking. You can think about eating but without food you will go hungry. Get hungry enough and your thoughts will become impaired. Its a necessary partnership of thought and resources. In that case you should not require permission to appropriate those resources. Hence the contradiction, as by establishing ownership of land, you are establishing a system where you may only live by permission of those who own the land. But that then means anyone who doesn't control resources is enslaved. Its the equivalent to setting up a system where by new ideas are only granted by permission of an authority claiming to own knowledge per se. A bit like requiring permission of objectivists to expand on the philosophy which Rand mistakenly thought was a closed system. Ironically the heros in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged can be seen as going through struggles to be able to enjoy this partnership freely. The bonds of slavery were broken by using their minds to obtain just control of resources, through achievement, excellence and making money. That there are ever those bonds of slavery to begin with ought to be unjust under objectivism...
  11. My biggest issue with objectivism... Its inability to provide a sound basis for establishing private property of natural resources in the form of land. The homesteading argument is by any standards, and particularly against the strength of other objectivist arguments, a cop out. It is arbitrary, weak and poorly defined. It is even contradictory with other parts of objectivist philosophy.
  12. I haven't visited this forum in a while. It pleases me to see some of the recent contributions being made. Well considered & thought out. This is what this forum should be about.
  13. You asked for advice, here is mine: You're not in the right career. If you were doing something you truly loved and were passionate about, you'd not be thinking about when to quit. You need to find work that significantly challenges you, work which matters to your life on a fundamental level. The goals you have for "after" all seem to involve a degree of creativity, discovery and experimentation. It also sounds like you desire the autonomy to pursue your own interests. I'm deducing you're in your early 30's. It is possible by the time you get to "after", your ability to enjoy your interests will have been blunted. So start on it now. Let us know.
  14. Re the argument above. To simplify, killing using chemical weapons (although emotionally more distasteful) is no different from using conventional arms to kill someone because the end is the same in both cases. People are offended by indiscriminate killing because it is unreasonable and destroys lives that have value to them. The failure to discriminate tends to result in the violation of rights not just in war. Racism is another example of a failure to discriminate. Racism can be caused when people have had bad experiences with people of a certain race and falsely reason that people of that race are all the same. A person then defines the person's race as the driver of the behaviour they dislike. People say racists discriminate against a person's colour for example, but in fact it is a failure to discriminate that causes this position to be held. In war, people feel emotional about indiscriminate attacks causing massive suffering for the same kind of reason that they rationally reject and feel emotional about racism. In the cases of racism and warfare the action is blind to the individual differences of those subjected to attack, whether it is a chemical weapon killing non-combatants, or a racist police officer killing an innocent person at a traffic stop. The dead from war have no point of view. Although I'm sure most people of self esteem would not like to lose their life in a prolonged manner that inflicts great suffering when a quicker less painful alternative is available to them. It is the living witnesses, who are also injured by what has happened to the dead. No moral human being wants to see someone endure a slow agonising death, when this has been caused intentionally and indiscriminately it is an evil act. It is not wrong for those people to seek justice, to argue for such indiscriminate weapons from being banned from war. Just as there is nothing irrational about people calling for an end to racism. However just as it is not racist to arrest a black criminal (for example), it is not an atrocity to shoot and kill a combatant in war. There is no contradiction in saying one accepts bullets & guided bombs but rejects biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. In fact the contradiction is held by those who fail to recognise how unreasonable the use of the latter really is.
  15. You are incorrectly struck. The reality is, in my life I am not going to see billions of people switch from a life driven by emotion and dellusion. Interestingly, many Objectivists are the very quickest to assume malevolence, whilst rejecting the same premise. A contradiction with more than a hint of irony.
  16. Not to disagree with you, but to explore this further, what do you think the reason for this is? Nation states are recognised as legitimate entities, more so than other entities when it comes to the use of force. They typically command and can deploy more lethal force and more rapidly than other entities can. A role of a nation state is usually disarming its own people and putting as much control over the use of force in the hands of the nation state as possible. A nation state is typically better organised when it comes to warfare than private individuals are, even when they are working collaboratively (e.g. to offer some kind of resistance). When power is harnessed and concentrated in a confined and contained space, when that containment fails, the results will be catastrophic to the extent of the concentration of power. If the USA lost all constraint over the use of its military force, it would be massively more destructive than if a small African state were to. In my view, the initiation of force is directly a result of a failure of peoples to uphold justice objectively, where rights and obligations are not enshrined clearly or are not observed, thus preventing the justice system from resolving disputes peaceably. It is only these elements that stand in the way of the use of force. Whilst there remains numerous different nation states, many acting on the basis of different, irreconcilable value systems, there will inevitably be perceived injustices with no mechanism to resolve them peaceably. Therefore conflict is inevitable until such time that at a fundamental level, those value systems agree on the core elements. Objectivism sets out what those elements are. It is what the world needs if we want the ink to run out on that underscore. But we will never see it, because the world is mostly insane.
  17. I happened across this article: http://thefederalist.com/2016/12/14/inside-donald-trumps-secret-ayn-rand-conspiracy/ My initial reaction was one of incredulity. Then laughter. I felt I must share it here as I know you are all secretly Trump lovers.
  18. Thank you for the discussion so far. I liked reading your reasoning for what might come next. Some have looked at what Objectivism can be attributed with so far; interesting context but would be good to go further and explore where you think it is going. Also in terms of not winning the cultural battle yet, is this something you would like to see happen? What do you think it might take?
  19. I am genuinely interested to know what your views are on the future of Objectivism. There are different ways you could go about answering this; as long as it is constructive you can answer it how you choose. For some examples, your focus might be the practical application of the philosophy to how you live your life. It might be more to do with expanding the influence of Objectivism. It might be creating a new community. To what extent do you think its possible in your lifetime?
  20. Snerd, could you at least try to be a bit more discriminating before casting aspersions.
  21. Certainly the explosion of mortgage lending injected a lot of money into economy and helped fuel it. Of course increasing the supply ought to reduce prices, but that assumes there aren't also shifts in demand that are pushing prices back up. Certainly changes in lending criteria unleashed additional demand. I doubt the cost of building condominiums rose significantly in the run up to the bubble bursting, but the land value did. Economic rents were therefore rising. This drove up poverty and undermined entrepreneurism to the extent there was a massive recession. George's relationship is: 1. Production = Labour + Capital + Land 2. Wealth = Wages + Interest + Economic Rent 3. Wealth - Economic Rent = Wages + Interest. As economic rents rose, it necessarily reduced the share of production which is enjoyed by workers and entrepreneurs - despite the truth that all production was a consequence of them. When interest (meaning here return to capital) and wages moved towards levels of subsistence living or below, economic activity started to collapse. A land value tax diminishes the demand for economic rents, consequently land value increases won't be fuelled by customers having a greater disposable income. The existence of a land value tax doesn't mean the house prices would not have had a tendency to rise under increasing demand, but it would have reduced the costs faced by property developers as well as incentivising rapid development and land use optimisation. Also those developers would have retained more of the revenues from putting up condos. Under a free market this would have attracted more developers to supply more, so meeting rising demand without prices becoming unaffordable for home buyers or developers alike. The land value tax has to hit as much of the economic rents as possible but without taxing any property.
  22. According to this article, there is a realisation that property tax rises can be used to dampen the effects of house price inflation: http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-11/property-tax-rise-could-reduce-house-price-booms-and-busts/8018790 I disagree with this article because it is not precise. In application, a "property" tax applies to the value of land and the value of property. To the extent it falls on land value alone, the tax will reduce the likelihood of house price booms, but the efficacy will depend on the tax rate relative to the value of land. A fixed property tax rate for example may reduce house price inflation in Medway but have no real impact in London, because the relative value of land is unequal. The problem with a property tax is that it is too indiscriminate. If they tax just the land value, there will be no adverse economic impacts and indeed it will reduce house price inflation. They need to isolate that the tax needs to be less than or equal to the economic rent in order to have its desired effect.
  23. Take it up with Mr Swig. In his judgement, Gary Johnson is the closest to an Objectivist candidate in the USA. I had no reason to suspect his judgement was wrong - and he may wish to defend his evaluation. Whether it is Gary Johnson or not, the point is it ought to be a candidate who best represents what your values are. Does Clinton or Trump even come close to that? Not in my estimation.
  24. Yes, I see the problem. To get an Objectivist elected as president, or at least someone sharing key values like Gary Johnson, will take a lot of work and it won't of course happen in this election, or possibly a few to come. However we have to take a long term view and start now. It's like Brexit in the UK. It's a long term game.
  25. No it is meaningful Nicky. You just haven't got it, but it is ok. In order to win an election, a candidate needs to garner support, ultimately from voters. A candidate's chances of winning are elevated the more support they get. If you want a particular candidate to win, the only way you can directly influence the chance of that happening is by voting for them. If you think they will need more support and backing and you care enough about it, then donate, campaign with them etc. There is loads you can do. You won't get them elected perhaps, but what they stand for, their programme of change rises in prominence. The greater the support for this, the more likely it will become mainstream until the point it is possible that a deserving candidate can be elected as president. I don't want DT to win, but he's not a politician, just a rich businessman. He has destroyed the other Republican nominees and is depending on the polls very close to Clinton, a career politician backed by just about everyone. Yes its remotely possible he will win, but given his character and background, that he has come so close is truly remarkable. Who would have taken that seriously as a prospect from the outset? But why are you & I even discussing this. You value Clinton, you want her to be president - not even as the lesser of two evils. I'm not appealing to your "reason".
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