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About nemethnm

  • Birthday 12/08/1981

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    Purdue University
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    Objectivism, *POLITICS/AECONOMICS*, physics, art (to a lesser extent)

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    United States
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  • Real Name
    Nicolaus Nemeth
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    Purdue University
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  1. A sales tax is a compulsory tax. We live in a division of labor society. This means that each person produces, or helps to produce, just one good or at most only a few goods and relies on the production of others for the vast majority of his needs. This means that in order to survive a person in a division of labor of society needs to trade with others. In a division of labor society, the institution of money develops to facilitate trade of goods. This means that in a division of labor society, such as the one that we have, one must trade money with others for the goods he wants in order to survive. This is why, unless one were to lie about the purchases he made, a sales tax is a compulsory tax. The only other choice to paying the tax is to starve to death naked in the street. The example of a man who lives on a self-sufficient farm is not counter to my claim. Such a man and any persons with him have removed themselves from the division of labor and are outside of the realm of Economic science, which is the study of the production of wealth within a division of labor society.
  2. I have thought about each of your comments and I have reached a conclusion. A sales tax as a substitute for an income tax will receive my support if congress proposes it in the right context. First, congress should present the bill in the light that it is indeed a temporary measure to move away from taxation in general and toward a voluntary donation of funds. Furthermore, congress should propose the tax in addition to other legislation that would prove that freedom and the establishment of Capitalism is indeed the purpose of congress. An example of this other legislation is the removal of the welfare system (Social Security, Welfare, Medicare, etc.). The current proposed legislation is not an incidence of a situation as I described above. At the official fair tax website, the official purpose stated is that the bill’s purpose is only to simplify the current tax system. The website gives specific arguments to show that the new tax system would bring in a comparable amount of yearly revenue for the government. Reducing the amount of taxes collected is not a goal of the proposed tax. In addition, there is no mention of the temporary nature of the tax. If the tax were a legitimate step toward freedom then the temporary status of the tax would be explicit. This newly proposed tax is to simplify the collection of taxes and not a step toward freedom. For these reasons, I cannot support the currently proposed sales tax.
  3. Recently, I received a letter from my "community coordinator" for the new fair tax bill that has been proposed in congress. The letter asked that our local Objectivist Club for the University (I'm the vice-president) support the proposed legislation. I turned him down saying that as Objectivists we believe that the only fair tax is a voluntary tax. However, we recognize the importance of a sales tax over an income tax. In addition, we realize that a sales tax is a stepping-stone toward a voluntary tax system. Therefore, although we cannot explicitly sanction the bill, we encourage you to continue working toward a voluntary tax system. You can learn about the bill at http://www.fairtax.org. What do you think? Would you support the bill? Do you think that a sales tax is superior to an income tax in terms of fostering economic progress?
  4. Since this thread was originally geared toward Environmentalism I have decided to post this link. It is an article titled The Toxicity of Environmentalism by George Reisman, an Objectivist Economist (and a personal hero of mine). The article is an excerpt from his incredible book Capitalism: A Treatise On Economics. If I have understood Dr. Reisman correctly, I think he believes that the fundamental philosophical flaw that the Environmentalists make is that they believe in intrinsic value. The Environmentalists claim that nature has an intrinsic value in and of itself and independent of any judge of value. Man must, by his nature, change his surroundings so that they are in a better relationship with him. If one holds that nature has an intrinsic value then any changes that man makes to his surroundings destroy nature. Furthermore, since man must make such changes in order to survive then he is inherently evil. Therefore, the logical end of Environmentalism is a burning hatred of man because of his inherent evilness.
  5. Recently I have found through some much-needed introspection that I have some premises that I'd like to change. The thing is that I'm not sure how one is to go about changing subconscious premises. I know that there are many of you on the forum that are very experienced Objectivists. Maybe some of you know of the procedures or less formal activities that help. I've heard that Dr. Ellen Kenner has made suggestions about how to do this. If she has, does anybody know if she has published her ideas? I thank you in advance for any help that you offer.
  6. The U.S. was, in the north, a close approximation of Capitalism throughout most of the nineteenth century. The south has never really had an approximation to capitalism due to slavery and after the civil war its “Jim Crow” laws. Of course, the country as a whole hasn’t been an approximation to capitalism maybe since the Federal Reserve System was made and definitely after FDR’s New Deal legislation. The main issue of vigilantism is that in a proper society a member of such has given up all claims to retaliatory force to the government. The use of such force is thus subject to the laws that define the institutions of the government and its statutes which describe objectively the various crimes as well as the punishment for those found guilty of such crimes. Even in the case of a vigilante correctly knowing the guilt of somebody who has escaped the legal system the vigilante is not right in pursuing his own justice since to do so would undermine the primary principle of a government; namely that it has a monopoly on the use of retaliatory force. It is this, then, the very undermining of the foundation of a government, which is its monopoly on retaliatory force, that I say is the reason vigilantism furthers anarchy. Yes, sometimes a few guilty parties would slip through the cracks for various reason but such cases would be the exception and not the norm.
  7. I wanted to add to my post a clarification of my position on smoking and its harmfulness. I think that smoking is harmful especially in large quantities. However, it is a logical flaw to say that smoking causes things such as lung cancer and other desises related to smoking. From what I've seen so far there is a correlation but no proof of causation.
  8. Rights are freedoms the most fundamental of which is the right to life. This doesn't mean that I can make a demand of somebody walking down the street to give me medicine when I'm sick because I have a right to life. What it really means is that I have the freedom to act in a way that (provided I don't harm another in the process) I think sustains my life. If I think that smoking sustains my life then I may do so as long as I'm not harming another. I agree with Punk that the main problem with smoking or any other type of "air pollution" is that property rights have not been defined nor given properly. We have a right to property because one must have physical means to sustain one's life (such as food and shelter and such). What this means is that I have the freedom to act in a way such that material things (property) can sustain my life as I see fit. There are many side issues to this but the one that we are most worried about here is that when something is determined to be mine then it is used as "I see fit." As banana-eater points out, the idea that smoking is harmful is very susceptible to doubt. Nobody has yet put forward an argument that proves that smoking is harmful at all. However, even if it were pure poison and death was all but guaranteed there should not be a law telling the owners of property how they are to use it. Such is a violation of property rights as it usurps the decision of the property owner as to what may or may not sustain his life. For this reason it should be left to the bar/restaraunt owner to decide if smoking is allowed or not. When the government passes a law such as baning smoking, going along with what you seemed to give a start at, it is most definitely anti-life. A requirement of man's life is that he must act on his own independent judgment. This is the recognition of the fact that there is no collective consciousness. Everybody has their own brain so as to support their own self. By taking away the freedom (right) to act upon one's own mind is taking away a fundamental requirement for life. This leaves room for nothing but death. The proper way to deal with "air pollution" is through the establishment of property rights. Basically it comes down to who was there first. Say there is a factory that puts out billowing smoke all day so that ash coats the land that is downwind from the factory. If the factory is there first and then somebody moves onto that land they do so with full knowledge of the fact that the factory spews ash on that land regularly and this gives the factory as established right to do so. However, if the factory is put in place second then the factory could not spew ash as it has been established that ash is not spewed downwind from it. Furthermore, even if it if were to be established second the owners of the downwind land would have to prove that they are harmed by the ash. This also gives us insight into how smoking is dealt with in "common" areas. If somebody is smoking and then a non-smoker comes within range of his smoke he does so knowingly and the smoker has established his right to do so. However, even if the situation were reversed the non-smoker would have to prove that the smoke was harmful to him. Since nobody has yet to prove that cigarette smoke is harmful then even in public places smoking should always be allowed and one should never feel obligated to not smoke. I will say, though, that in the case where the smoker is second to arrive that it is not very courteous to do so even if it is morally and legally permissible if the non-smoker has made it clear that he prefers not to be around the smoke.
  9. So, I'm sitting here tonight reading the posts about movies when I started to get upset about how nobody is making any really good films recently. What about any of you or people you know? Are there any Objectivists (or people who make almost-good films) out there working on original material?
  10. I too saw an off-Broadway version of it a few years back. Sorry to say that I wasn't into the arts the way I am now to really appreciate it much. However, I think I might have to go against what I said in my The Aviator post and go see this instead! I had an aquantince in my past that was very into the Phantom of the Opera and I am actually quite fond of the music behind it even if I don't remember the plot.
  11. It's too bad that the movie wasn't done very well. I was looking forward to an excellent movie since I haven't seen one (a good movie) come out of Hollywood in a while. I think I'll still go to see The Aviator anyway since it seems to be the best one out there right now and who knows, I might disagree with your conclusions in the end.
  12. I have to say that I want to eventually spend most of my time in either New York or Chicago. With that said, I also want a large estate in the country to use for my leisure.
  13. The "innocent until proven guilty" phrase is not in response to making sure that innocent people are not punished. The idea that men are innocent until proven guilty is an adaptation of epistemology to how a court should operate. It means merely that the plaintiff in a court case has the burden of proof. It is up to him to prove that his assertion of guilt is true. Think about the opposite case in which guilt was assumed and the burden of proof was placed upon the convicted to "prove" that he were innocent. The same epistemological error is committed by people who say, "You cannot disprove God, so He must exist." As for the slavery issue I would have to say that in the context of pre-emancipation US that yes it would be immoral to help runaway slaves. The government at that time was a close approximation to Capitalism. The way one would “fight” such an issue would be to do so intellectually by voicing one’s opinion. In the context of an actual slave state (such as the USSR) it is impossible to say what is moral or immoral. One of the preconditions of morality is that life is possible when one acts rationally. When rational action no longer guarantees the successful obtainment of values then morality is not possible. This is why in the case of an actual slave state disobeying a law is not immoral… no action is immoral.
  14. First off, I would like to state for the record that I am not for anarchy in any form. I use the term democracy to mean only the political philosophy of, as you put it, "pure" democracy. This actually brings up a good point that I'd like to make. I am actually tired of people using the word to mean any government that has instituted democratic principles. I think that the widespread and rampant use of such a loose terminology is the effect of a successful smear campaign. In the US we live not in a democracy but in a republic. Yes, a republic does institute democratic principles (such as electing certain men to run the government) but it is not a democracy. This smear has lead to ideas common place ideas such as "if a majority doesn't support our government then it no longer has any sovreignty." That off my chest, thank you Hal for those observations about anarchy. I had not thought about it like that before. Now I see that anarchy isn't like a democracy because a democracy is still a government while an anarchy is truly the lack of any government at all.
  15. If the man is guilty and you live under a proper government or one that is a close approximation to it, then the answer is: no, you cannot be a vigilante. This is because you have chosen by living in that country to give up any claim to the power of punishing those who have initiated force against you. One of the fundamental ideas behind a government is that the people have given up any claim to retaliatory force to the government so that its use may be ruled by objective means (the laws and institutions of the government) rather than have it as the mere caprice of emotionally charged victims or by whoever has the most "might" (in which case they might not even be a victim in the first place). A second point to mention is that under a proper government there would be very little chance, if any at all, for a guilty person to not be convicted. A government of that nature could only come about from the support of a culture of reason. So, a jury or judge is not likely to not be swayed by your arguments (you said that you KNOW that he is guilty and so you have implied that there is indeed a rational argument for his guilt). Also, there would be a sever lack of loopholes within the law itself. The law, being based on sound reason, would be very objective and set out strict criteria for what each crime was and the punishment for it.
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