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Daniel Giterman

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  1. This seems like the correct choice. I was actually considering doing this in the first place, but gave the teacher the benefit of a doubt. RealityCheck44, yes, it's going to be in class. In fact, the next essay will be during the mid term examination. And profit motive, I believe, is taken to mean by my teacher/class to be a system in which the incentive to work is the desire for money. And I don't think I should revert to the topic to individual rights, because that is almost precisely what I did with individual freedom. This was seen as "off topic rambling" and subsequently lowered my score. This is, of course, ignoring the fact that reverting the topic to individual rights is perfectly rational. Seems like sarcasm will be the way to go. Thick, however subtle, sarcasm. The only problem is that it may be easier for her to deduce that its sarcasm seeing as how my next essay will directly contradict this one.
  2. Finally got the essay back, after two weeks of marking. Mark? 7/15, or 47%. Criticism? She said that I went off topic by refusing to argue that Government should encourage profit motive (this is a contradiction). She said I refused to recognize that capitalism can exist in degrees, and instead discussed an all or nothing approach towards profit motive. Finally, she said that I confused the issue by introducing a new question. Meaning, I equated profit motive with individual freedom. The good news is that if I significantly improve on my next essay, she'll only count the second mark. Should I glorify Sweden?
  3. I wrote the essay today. It was an in class assignment, and we were only given one hour. This means no quotes, not much research, and little time. The topic given was "Should government encourage profit motive?". I wrote that the essay question itself was contradictary, and that the only way the government can "encourage" profit motive is by leaving the economy alone - ie. laissez-faire. The sad thing is I had to spend a good part of the beginning equating profit motive with capitalism, because for some ungodly reason my teacher thinks that they are two different things and can be mutually exclusive. Needless to say, I'm not expecting a good mark. Hoping for a seventy, maybe. Not that I think I wrote it badly, but just the fact that we were supposed to glorify the socialism of Sweden as a role model economic system (this was repeatedly implied). Instead, I bashed Sweden and contradicted the teacher and the curriculum. Interestingly enough, we were required to state the faults of our economic system. We were required to recognize that it was bad in some resepcts (ie. nothing is perfect), but how "overall" our system was the best. I didn't do that either.
  4. I currently attend Grade Eleven at an academic high school that is widely acclaimed as one of the best, if not the best, high school in all of Western Canada. Our current topic of discussion is economics. As the government holds a monopoly on education, I think that what we are taught is, in general, being taught all over Canada (or at least Alberta). We were give a "sample essay", written by a student, that recieved perfect marks according to Alberta Education requirements. I just want to show you what passes as 100% these days. I'm not going to reprint this entire essay, only several choice sections that best represent its overall intellectual state. The topic is (judging from the content of the essay): poverty and how it relates to different economic sysyems Introduction Paragraph: "Poverty is defined as the state of being poor. While some people believe that poverty is a natural part of life, relating it to the "survival of the fittest", poverty has a dettrimental effect on society. Everyone may not be born with equal abilities, but all are equal as human beings. If no help is offered to the impoverished, then society must carry the burden of crime but most importantly, the burden of lost potential. Governments should provide for citizens to the extent that their basic needs are fulfilled, including food, shelter, physical and psychological security. The government should not completely intervene in the economy like the U.S.S.R., nor should it maintain a completely laissez-faire approach like the U.S.A. Instead, governments need to take a balanced role, providing all citizens with the basic platform to develop potential without impeding on their motivation and initiative." (grammar mistakes are included) The essay then proceeds to bash the Stalinist system of government, pertaining to it's lack of efficiency. The following is all one paragraph, but I split it in order to make it readable. "Too little government intervention, however, also does not decrease poverty. The American economy is propelled by the profit motive, which often leads to the demoralization of the people and increased poverty. Even during the Industrial Revolution, capitalists were more converned with making money that providing humane conditions. Since the capitalist ethic preached no government intervention, buisinesses were free to do as they wished. Children, men, and women are exploited, having to work 12-hour days under atorcious conditions. Children were chained to machines and those who objected were beaten. The workers returned home to slums, that were overcrowded, badly lit and poorly ventilated. Garbage and wastes filled the streets. Crime, prostitution and poverty increased dramatically. Even today, the American economy is motivated by the desire to sell, leading to the denigration of the society. For example, marketers have tapped into the power of sex to sell. Sex has become such a common feature of AMerican society that most people are desensitized to it. The sex mania has put greater pressure on youner people to engage in sexual activity. It has degraded the image of women to purely sexual objects, who should be subservient to males. This has caused rippling effects on the American society, increasing teen pregnancies, prostitution, rape, child pornography, and sexual offenders. Those things that are the most profitable are not necessarily the best for society. The government needs to intervene to protect society and its values. The laissez-faire system not only demoralizes the people, but also creates instability. THe lack of government intervention during 1929, led a small group of financial investors to manipulate the stocks in what today would be called insider trading. The stock market crash propelled the depression. It was not the only factor, however, to cause it. Lack of government intervention, allowed huge corporations like GMC and General Electric to increase their production substantially, while wages did not increase. This lead to demand being lower than the high supply. Thousands of banks failed, again due to lack of government intervention. If the government had intervened in the economy to provide Federal Deposit Insurance, then the banks would not have collapsed because the government would have ensured people's savings. The greatest factor leading to the Depression, though, was the large gap between the rich and poor. Large corporations were increasing their profits, while wages remained stagnant. Five percent of the population was earning one third of the country's income. The rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer. The purchasing power of the average AMerican citizen became dangeorusly low. The economy was fuelled by consumer spending and collapsed once the average citizen was unable to afford basic amenities. All of the factors which caused the Depression had one common feature, lack of government intervention. The government did nothing to intervene or help the economy, leading to one of the worst periods of economic recession in the world, the Great Depression. During this period, people were depsperately poor. One fourth of the labour force was unemployed. One hundred thousand businesses failed, five thousand banks failed and wages declined by forty percent. The standard of living declined substantially. People struggled to afford food and shelter. The economic disarray and resulting plight of the people forced the government to implement drastic measures. Like Gorbachev who introducted perestroika to help the struggling economy, President Roosevelt introduced the New Deal. The American laissez-faire system does not decrease poverty and fosters a demoralized population with an unstable economy." Honestly, the blatant lack of logic and misrepresentation of history are so obvious that they are not even worth mentioning. If THIS is considered a role model essay for a graduating student (this was written in a Social Studies 30 IB class)...then.... Even worse is that I have to write one too. They want an illogical essay glorifying the current mixed economy state of Canada, and, sadly, a thorough defense of capitalism is going to be all but impossible in the time limit, given that the ABOVE is accepted unquestionably and as the ideal. Don't worry though; the last thing I am going to do is compromise on this important a topic.
  5. Thanks, Evangelical Capitalist. You understood the question, namely why is it in your best interest to not engage in force when the fear of government repercussion is gone, and answered it very well. I'll listen to the lecture.
  6. Tim, I see, by your sig and avatar, that you've read Terry Goodkind. That's actually the way I was introduced to Objectivism, through his transcripts! But to address your statement, of course there shall never be an opportunity for someone not to face the full repercussions of their actions. However, the question was if an Objectivist was presented with an opportunity, through any means whatever, of evading the physical consquences of imposing physical force towards his own end, what ethical principle would keep him from doing so, given the fact that Mr. Objectivist is concerned with his own selfish interests? If you say that the government exists for exactly this reason, you're admitting that an Objectivist would, in fact, do this if given the chance. Even worse, the Objectivist would seek these chances. So far, the answer to the question is that one of Objectivism's ethical principles is to neither sacrifice yourself to others, nor others to yourself. Since initiating force is a betrayal of this moral principle, and thus a betrayal of your own pursuit of happiness, it would not be in the self-interest of Mr. Objectivist do the deed. This statement is based on the premises that happiness is the end, to which the means is the attainment of your values. Basically, sacrificing your moral principles is not in your best interest because it would stunt your hapiness, and one of the moral principles is, of course, to not be a leech, ie - not to initiate physical force against another for personal benefit. I believe I just answered the question, with Andrew's help. Does anyone care to further crystallize the arguement, or is this good enough?
  7. Well, my background is, so far, only The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, and the Lexicon. Planning to read The Virtue of Selfishness in a few days, as David suggested. Thanks. Finally, a bastion of intelligence on the internet! . . . Alright. So a primary Objectivist ethical principle is neither sacrificing yourself to others, nor others to yourself. Since giving up a principle is always a sacrifice, contrary to your own rational self interest, the Objectivist would not initiate the use of force and act like a leech. And so the second question should be answered by reading The Virtue of Selfishness.
  8. Over the past few days, I've been debating with a certain student, two years my senior (in Gr. 12), who firmly stands on the grounds of Christianity. He is a devout Christian who believes that altruism is moral, and selflessness results in a better society as a whole. What benefits society will benefit you as well, he says, and thus the very definition of morality is altruism and sacrife for others. Most people on these forums would rightfully ignore this viewpoint, but he is a prominent speaker who has in fact participated in the International Speaking Tournament this year. I consider debating with him as a way of honing my skills, if you will. He knows that I am an Objectivist, though only recent. I didn't have any philosophical view point, except an inherent suspicion of altruism. Quite honestly, the first thing I remember thinking when I read Robin Hood was "...Why?". After reading the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged just a couple weeks ago, I quickly became immersed. We were discussing ethics today, and he asked a question that I had difficulty answering. He, of course, pointedly evades all of the contradictions I point out in his philosophy. But regardless, the question is as follows. We lived in a perfect laissez-faire, caitalist society, where everyone is Objectivist. Mr. X has a business. He is presented an opportunity where it is in his power to kill, or fraud out of business, one of his prime competitors with absolutely no fear of repercussion by the government. What, in terms of Objectivist ethics, would keep him from perpetrating this obviously immoral act? I'd also like to ask, on a related note: In a society of rational individuals, no conflict of interests exists, according to Objectivism. However, what about competition in the market between businessmen?
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