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Everything posted by gags

  1. Honestly RosszValaki, the green is really hard for me to read.
  2. Yes, the unemployment tax is ultimately a wealth redistribution scheme. However, it is also different from general taxation in that it is essentially an insurance premium (or a user fee) paid to participate in the unemployment insurance system. Is it taken at the point of a gun? Sure it is. However, one pays the premium to receive a specific benefit in the event of a specific occurrence (the loss of employment). If you don’t work and pay a dedicated tax that funds the unemployment insurance system, you can’t collect unemployment benefits. Also, if you’re self-employed, you still pay income tax but likely do not pay the unemployment tax. In that case you can’t receive unemployment benefits. We’re talking about a specific system set up for employed persons who pay a specific tax to support certain benefits, not a general tax being used for whatever the politicians choose. Nevertheless, I suppose that in some ways taking these benefits is only different from looting the general tax fund (through NEA grants and Stadium Subsidies) by a matter of degree and not principal. However, the issue of the degree of evil is important here. This gets back to a point I made earlier, which is that with the size and scope of our current government, one could hardly step outside and drive down the street without being the beneficiary of a government wealth distribution scheme. Are we all tainted by the current system of taxation and wealth redistribution? Hell yes, it’s impossible to not be tainted. The distinctions may not be that great. Of course nobody is forced to go into the auto insurance business. However, we are forced to pay auto premiums if we drive, the same way we are forced to pay unemployment insurance premiums if we work. Also, the insurance business is heavily regulated in most states. In Michigan, there are all sorts of controls on the companies operating in our market. This isn’t an important point, but I believe that the ins. companies are forced to offer minimum policies at regulated premiums to every driver. So your point that the premium is based on your driving record is true only to a degree. Bad drivers who couldn’t get any policy in an unregulated market are able to get minimum policies in Michigan. Although the coverage on these minimum policies is bad, the effect is still the same. The good drivers are subsidizing the bad the same way people who lose their jobs often are subsidizing those of us who remain employed. Again I come back to the fact that we’re all tainted by the current system, so it really does become something of a matter of degree. In the case of unemployment, I’m taking money from a system that is admittedly redistributionist, however, I also paid directly for those benefits. By my calculations, the NEA receives approximately .005% of the total amount of the current $2.7 trillion federal budget. Therefore, an artist paying $50,000 per year (which would be a lot for an artist) in Federal Income Tax would have paid all of about $2.50 toward the NEA’s budget. If the artist pays taxes for the next 10,000 years, he’ll have contributed enough into the system to take out a $25,000 NEA grant. This clearly isn’t a principled argument that I’m making, but it is a practical one in a system where we’ve turned everyone into a thief.
  3. I always vote in my local millage elections. I consistently vote against any increase in the millage and against any renewals. I'm also consistently on the losing side.
  4. Isn't that simply an extension of the right to life?
  5. E. Mathis: I’ve cleared up my thinking on this a bit and it seems to me that the nature of the unemployment insurance programs that are funded by FUTA and SUTA is an important factor to consider when deciding whether taking money from them is moral. As with any form of insurance, you may never use it, or you may find it necessary to draw out benefits that exceed the premiums you've paid. In many ways unemployment insurance is analogous to auto insurance in my state. We have a no-fault insurance program and the State of Michigan requires everyone to purchase auto insurance. You risk going to jail if you are caught driving without insurance. The state government also skims part of the premium off the top and puts it into a fund specifically designed to pay for people who suffer catastrophic injuries in auto accidents. Given that the government forces me to pay the auto insurance premiums (the same way it forces me to pay for unemployment insurance), would it be morally wrong to accept money from the insurance company if I were in a car crash? If I received horrible injuries in the crash, would it be morally wrong to accept compensation from the state sponsored and controlled catastrophic accident fund? I think the answer to both of these questions is no.
  6. On the one hand we're talking about paying into what is essentially an insurance system run by the government, presumably for the benefit of working people. It is set up specifically to provide income in the event that you become unemployed. Of course, you are paying for the insurance coverage whether you want it or not. Nevertheless, I can't see why it would be immoral to access the specific benefit for which you have paid directly. Perhaps you can explain it to me (if that's what you're arguing)? Your other examples involve the government confiscating wealth from everyone and giving it to a chosen few (the well-connected businessman, the politically correct artist, etc....). That is theft, plain and simple. Why should anyone be forced to support something like a baseball stadium unless they willingly choose to buy a ticket?
  7. I agree with you that the unemployment insurance system redistributes wealth and should be abolished. However, working people are forced to pay a dedicated tax (FUTA and/or SUTA) into the unemployment insurance fund. If one were to calculate the amount you have paid into the unemployment system, I can't see a moral problem with taking that specific amount (no more) out in the form of benefits. In the case of an NEA grant, the person receiving the grant would be taking far more in benefits than he or she had paid in taxes to support the NEA.
  8. No I don't. Both should be abolished because neither is a legitimate function of government (among other reasons). My only point in mentioning sports stadiums and public universities is that government subsidies are everywhere. You could hardly walk out your door if you insisted on avoiding all things that have been susidized in any way by the government with stolen funds. Unemployment benefits are a little different in that people who work pay a specific tax (FUTA) that is deducted from their payroll in order to fund these benefits. Given that we're all forced to pay the tax, why not take advantage of unemployment benefits if you need them?
  9. In 21st century America, the welfare state and the far reach of government are so omnipresent that it's nearly impossible to not be touched by both on a daily basis. If I go see a ball game in a tax supported stadium, I'm benefiting from government theft. If I send my child to a public university, I'm also benefitting from government theft. The welfare state is particularly pernicious because it encourages and even forces people to access the "goodies" it offers so freely. I don't see a problem with Softwarenerd's view of unemployment compensation. I know that I have personally paid far more into the system than I could ever draw out. However, if the time came when I needed to access unemployment, I would do it without hesitation. After all, if the government confiscated less of our wealth, my savings would be far greater and I wouldn't have a need for unemployment in the event I lost my job.
  10. Oh sorry, I misunderstood. Another example is a private security force. These private guards fill a need that arises when government is incapable of performing one of its core duties. One more example is a private adoption agency. Many adoptions are handled through state agencies, but some are arranged by private companies in exchange for a fee.
  11. There are so many examples it's difficult to list them all. Government is involved in virtually every asepct of our lives and almost everything outside of its core duties would be an example. A few are: the National Park System, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Education and education funding in general, etc....
  12. First, let me say that this is a great thread. Cheers to all who have offered their rational opinions. If the orphanages were supported by charitable donations from individuals and/or organizations, I'd assume that the donors would care enough about where their money is going, and how it is being used, to check on the conditions in these homes. Running an unsafe or unclean facility would not be a way to attract future donations. If the orphanages were run for profit, then the owners would have the same incentive that a rancher has to care for his cattle or sheep. Not to compare orphans with cattle or sheep, but the principle is similar. If the intent of the orphanage is to eventually be paid a fee by parents willing to adopt the child in question, it wouldn't be good for business to allow the child to become sick or malnourished. Also, isn't the operator of the orphanage the temporary guardian of the children? That being the case, the operator would be initiating force against the child by not providing proper care. In that case, the state should step in and stop the abuse from occuring. Just as an aside, I have had a considerable amount of contact with the government foster care system that deals with orphaned, abandoned and abused children in Michigan. It is poorly run and often functions against the best interests of the children who are placed in its care. I could relate a few rather disturbing stories, but this doesn't seem like the time nor the place. It is also often the case that older children who are abused and/or abandoned have a difficult time being adopted. People want to adopt babies, they don't want to adopt 10 year old boys who have been sexually molested by their parents. It's very sad.
  13. In either of those situations, it would be entirely moral to die for a principal or an idea that you value highly. In fact, volunteer members of our military have made this choice many times over the years.
  14. gags

    Moral Absolutes

    Burgess, you were absolutely right with your original comments. I can't see any reason to continue discussing/arguing with Mr. Nihilist. This would be far more productive: Just for laughs, I'll quote a few things he said in our last discussion. Mr. Nihilist made comments to the effect that "reality is subjective." "Everything is point of view." I asked him whether he thought reality exists independent of perception. His response: On the subject of Morality: he believes it isn't "part of reality". I wonder what it's a part of then? His view of Ethics: I suggested he might read some Ayn Rand, and this is the response I received. I view it as Mr. Nihilist's crowning achievment: He despises rationality. I appreciate his honesty.
  15. As I was driving to work this morning, I heard a conservative (what a surprise!) radio talk show host exclaim, "well, anything is possible." I'm sorry, but I despise that commonly used phrase. MANY things are possible, but ANYTHING? No. Not to be naive, but how can people so readily dissmiss reality?
  16. After reading the thread on Col. Univ. professor Ward Churchill, I was struck by the horrible double standards in American academia. If you're not aware, Larry Summers (President of Harvard U.) is being attacked for his comments regarding women during a conference that took place in January, 2005. His critics are now calling for his resignation. Here's the Boston Globe story. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachus...ted_transcript/ Apparently one should feel free to call the innocent victims of Islamic fascism "little Eichmans" and seek the detruction of this country (as Churchill did). However, if you attempt to answer the question as to why women are underrepresented in certain professions, the left will go after you with a vengeance. It's not that one should expect anything but hypocrisy from the left, I just find it disgusting. If you'd like to read the transcript of Summers' comments, it's here: http://www.president.harvard.edu/speeches/2005/nber.html
  17. gags

    Moral Absolutes

    Your line about "philosphical pathologist" still has me laughing and I read it over an hour ago. I'll ask him the questions you posed. They're excellent. Thank you again for assisting me with my thinking on the subject.
  18. gags

    Moral Absolutes

    By absolute, I mean something that is always true or always the case. A moral truth. Thank you Burgess for referring me back to The Lexicon, I'll read that section. Thank you, context is clearly important here. Thank you too Hal. The self-defense example is an excellent one. I've been arguing with a self-described Nihilist who refuses to recognize any ethical absolutes. He's a true cynic who insists that moral rights and wrongs are entirely subjective. It's difficult to argue with such a constantly moving target. You've all helped me a great deal. I'd apreciate any further thoughts you might have.
  19. gags

    Moral Absolutes

    Can anyone provide me with some concrete examples of "moral absolutes"? To say that "killing is always bad" ignores the fact that killing in self defense might be justified. Sorry if I'm being a bit dim here, but I need some examples of moral absolutes. Thanks.
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