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Everything posted by mrocktor

  1. Great post, this point is fundamental. Being against religion is ultimately pointless, you have to be for something.
  2. If you cannot see the difference between forcing an action ("give me money or else") and demanding restraint of actions that violate rights ("don't hit people in the face or else") you should not be in this discussion. You should be back studying the basic principle of individual rights. I suggest "Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand", it is a great book.
  3. On the other hand, compared to the significance of spreading the proper understanding of Objectivism and the legacy of Ayn Rand $1 million is... less than infinitesimal. Thus the question, I believe.
  4. No, a "mass" cannot consent. Only an individual can consent. What do you do to the individual who disagrees? Force him to pay? Then your government is criminal. Exactly. This is why a legitimate government is funded by donation - those who consent to fund the government pay for it, those who do not, don't. Yes, people receive protection without paying for it (which seems unjust at first), but when you realize that it is in everyone's interest (including, and most importantly, to the rational government funding citizen) to protect everyone's rights, it makes perfect sense. It is not in my interest to allow my neighbor (who is a leech and does not fund the government) to live with his rights unprotected. Shun him I will. Leave him as free prey for a real criminal I will not.
  5. There is no down side to curing aging. You can kill yourself at any time, after all.
  6. It would only be consistent with the principle of individual rights if these non-paying pariahs were allowed to defend themselves. You see, the only claim a government has on the legitimate monopoly on the use of retaliatory force (and personally I consider it a tenuous claim in the first place) is that you choose not to use retaliatory force yourself, though you have a right to, because the government will use it on your behalf. If you make rights protection conditional at all this premise is out the window and it is morally mandatory to accept the individual's right to use force to defend himself - including in retaliation to extract compensation for a crime suffered. Otherwise you are actually denying that individual's rights. This is what Grames cut directly to: Conditional rights protection is a surrender of the monopoly on the use of retaliatory force.
  7. To write that email and not be embarassed enough to retract it or provide the context in which it is not a simple and transparent strong arm tactic to avoid rational debate (if that context can even exist - I confess I fail to imagine it) is quite enough for me to form judgment. I struggled to imagine a scenario where that email to the board is not simple bullying. And failed. PS: Of course Brook is going to minimize the whole issue, that was the whole point of the resignation - to allow the board to pretend it is not being bullied.
  8. You are adding non essentials to the definition of the concept. A donation is a voluntary unilateral transfer of property. Period. The reason why selective enforcement of rights, as you propose, is incompatible with legitimate government is that it effectively makes rights conditional to payment. In effect, you have no rights unless you pay up - therefore rights are bought from the government. Imagine that for a moment - you don't pay your "protection fee", you get mugged. You can't chase down the robber, beat him up and take your stuff back (presumably the government won't let you extract compensation yourself) and the government won't protect you either. Now you can't argue here "you should have paid your protection money". The victim of robbery here may have been a free rider - but his property was his none the less. He has a right to it. Your system denies him the means to have that right protected (unless your government covers pre-existing "conditions"?). Also, you cannot count on after the fact fees ("Hello sir, retrieving your wallet and jailing the mugger will be $500, would you like to purchase that?") because crimes, by their very nature, are a net destruction of value - frequently the value destroyed is far beyond the means of either criminal or victim to compensate (i.e. after an arsonist burns down my house and car, I won't exactly have excess money to "buy" an investigation nor is he likely to have money to compensate me if he is caught). So government does have to defend everyone's rights regardless of payment - or the very idea that rights are natural and not granted or bought goes out the window. That does not mean, however, that we have to be dumb about it. My own preferred system, which I have mentioned in a similar thread, is to use the format of the sales tax but make it voluntary. The country would have a federal rate, each state its own state rate, each local government its local rate. When you buy something the clerk may ask you "and would you like to add the government funding to that?" and you can answer "yes", "no" or "only federal please", "only local please" or whatever combination you prefer (as you agree/disagree with what each sphere of government is doing, for instance). Establishments are not forced to offer funds collection. You can refuse to deal with them if they don't (or if they do - if you are an anarchist). Establishments can refuse to deal with you if you don't want to fund the government, if their owners choose so. No one is forced to pay anything. The effect of this arrangement is that if you choose not to support the government people will know. You see, you have a fundamental right to keep every cent you make but you do not have a right to keep your free riding secret. No rights are violated, funds are voluntarily collected at a somewhat controlled and somewhat adjustable rate, free riding is checked by peer pressure and the most powerful natural check on government that can be imagined is put in place: people only pay for what they think is worth it.
  9. Taxation is removing an innocent's property against his will. It is immoral. End of discussion, really - how can anyone with a working understanding of individual rights debate the point? One might (out of distrust in the prevasiveness of reason among the populace) argue that it is a "necessary evil". One might ask how to fund a legitimate government. But seriously, argue the morality of theft? Violating someone's property rights is a crime, why you do it or what you do with the goods is immaterial. Legitimate governments are funded voluntarily - by donations made by people who understand the alternative and wish to avoid it. They are not funded by taxation (give me money or I take it by force) and they are not funded by a protection racket (give me money or I will not protect you from criminals/fraudsters).
  10. Nothing wrong, it is implicit (because it is logically necessary). If you have a problem with forfeiture of rights, lets hear it.
  11. What you think is irrelevant. The fact that someone who violates property is not an innocent person is relevant. An innocent victim of AIDS is not a criminal. How do you justify retaliation against such a person if he/she steals a dose of AZT? Or do you consider such theft not to be a crime? Actions are what they are. Place yourself on another person's property against their will and you are a trespasser. Not necessarily instantly and not necessarily irrevocably. That is why I qualified the example to state that the person refuses to comply when ordered off the property - reason is exhausted. Wandering inadvertently into private property is trespass, but does not mean that the owner can simply shoot you in the head. On the other hand putting a fence around the property with adequate signage might be considered to be sufficient to assure that anyone trespassing is doing so with intent, and thus might be considered to justify immediate force without prior warning. The discussion of to what extent rights are forfeit when a crime is committed is an interesting topic worthy of discussion (this has not been clearly settled in Objectivist literature, to my knowledge). Forfeiture of rights is a necessary corolary to the notion of retaliatory force. If forfeiture of rights were not a valid premise any defensive force would itself be a violation of rights as well. Definitely.
  12. Let us entertain this line of thinking. Are we going to discuss whether it is OK to Taser him or if that is too painful for mere trespass? Is chloroform OK to subdue him or are the health risks to him unacceptable? Does the victim have an obligation to expose himself to physical harm by trying to manhandle the rights violator? Ultimately the question is: is the victims obligation to accomodate someone who is in the process of violating his rights? The answer is no, and the reason is that in violating rights one steps outside the realm of reason and leaves to others no means but force. If someone is on your property and cannot be reasoned with, you have a right to remove him by force. Your right is not limited in type or intensity of force. Reason would indicate the use of the minimum force necessary to remove the violator without risk to yourself or risk of further damage to your property, but this is not a limitation on the amount of force you have a right to use. We apply this limitation to government, to whom we delegate the use of force in these situations under normal circumstances. That does not mean our original right is so limited. It means we are constraining the government to reason - though our original right is not so constrained. Oh, if you listed them then that settles it. Thanks Jake. Clearly you don't consider the right to property to be a right. Of course the islander is over reacting and being irrational, that does not mean that his act is outside his rights. Criminals forfeit their rights in committing their crimes. That is not just fancy wording - it actually means criminals forfeit their rights in committing their crimes. Are you arguing that swimming onto a privately owned island is not trespass if you are shipwrecked? That would be the same "logic" behind the idea that taking stuff you don't own against the owner's consent is not stealing if you really need it (food, medicine, whatever). If you wish to advance that argument, let's see it spelled out.
  13. Out of three paragraphs, two of which are arguments or statements of principle, you singled out exactly the one that is not to engage as if it were intended as one. This shows that you have a ways to go still in learning to argue in principle. Hint: the quote you selected is an example, not an argument.
  14. Quite the contrary, it is the right of a property owner to remove a violator from his property by force. If your stroller is warned that he is on private property, ordered to leave and refuses to do so, it is within the owner's right to shoot him (reason has been exhausted as a means to deal with the rights offender). In a governed society this right is delegated to the government, except in circumstances where immediate threat to life of limb is present. But the fact that you can call the police to remove a stroller who refuses to get off your lawn is evidence that you have the right to remove him by force. The government has no rights other than those delegated by the governed. On a desert island this point is moot.
  15. This is a lifeboat scenario like any other. The typical lifeboat pitches one man's life against another's directly, this one only takes the detour of pitching one man's life against another's property. The more usual expression of this lifeboat scenario is "would you steal medicine to save your life?". The answer is: to the person in the emergency (drowning man, sick man) it is moral (arguably morally required) to take the actions required to end the emergency. Get on the island. Take the medicine. To the person who has his property rights violated, it is moral to seek restitution when the crisis is ended. It is within the islander's right to shoot the drowning man. It is within the medicine owner's right to withhold the medicine from the sick man. It may or may not be reasonable to do so. In every case where it seems reasonable to not help the other person, you will find that you have created a traditional lifeboat scenario. Example 1: The island only has fresh water and food to support one person, therefore it is reasonable to not allow the drowning man access. Lifeboat. Example 2: The owner of the medicine (or a loved one) has a present or anticipated need for it, therefore it is reasonable not to allow the sick man to take it. Lifeboat. In the real world, it is reasonable (and therefore moral) to help the person in the emergency and seek restitution after the fact. In any case there is no question about the fact that trespass and stealing are crimes - even if you do it to save your own life. And that you are the one initiating the use of force when you do so. It is also a fact that the victims of these crimes have every right to defend themselves - even if it means killing you.
  16. We are about to elect a "former" Communist guerrilla president. I'd rethink that option.
  17. Its simple really. Libertarians think that property rights are a "social arrangement" to deal with scarcity (limited resources). Since copying someone's idea does not remove that person's ability to use their own idea (i.e. the idea "is not scarce") a libertarian does not believe an idea is property - therefore forbidding people from using other's ideas without the creator's consent is wrong. Objectivists, on the other hand, understand that property rights are a recognition of causality in human action. If something exists as a result of a specific person's action (i.e. he built it, wrote it, invented it) that something rightfully belongs to its creator (since it only exists because of him, no one but him has a claim on it). So it really is beside the point whether recognizing IP is "economically efficient" or whether ideas are "scarce", a right to property is recongnition that something exists as a result of someone's action. A recognition of reality. Ironically, ideas are scarce - even in economic terms. Though any existing idea is infinitely reproducible, they take effort to create in the first place. They are not "unlimited" and "free" like sunlight (in most places) or air (on this planet). But don't look for principled thinking from libertarians, they (and Kinsella in particular) are incapable of it. All you will get is argument from consequences and vitriol.
  18. I'm afraid you won't find many takers, the culture here is so profoundly statist... (I'm in SP by the way).
  19. This and all of your subsequent argument basically can be reduced to "if the government could act as if it were not the government it would be OK for it to own a business". What would be the conditions where the government could in fact act as if it were not the government? * Funds for the business side of "government" cannot come from donations made towards rights protection - they have to be specifically for the purpose of "government" investment in business (notice I've changed where the scare quotes go... you'll see why) * The individuals running the "government" business cannot be in any way connected to rights protection activities (executive, legislative or judicial) * The "government" business has to be held to the same standards as every business * The people working for the "government" business cannot have any special job conditions or guarantees (i.e. the government is not on the hook for them if the business fails) * On failing, the "government" business can generate no claim on the assets of the rights protecting agencies of the government (only on the business itself) All of this is necessary to ensure that no one is defrauded (has the money he donated towards protection of his rights used for something he does not support) and no rights are violated (such as would be if there were the actual or perceived possibility of the government using its power to favor the businesses it operates). If you achieve all that what it boils down to is this: the "government" business is just a business like any other. If government power is completely isolated from the operation of business (as it has to be, as you are proposing) there is nothing government about the business (except who receives the dividends). It would be much simpler for the government to simply purchase stocks based on some predetermined index instead of attempting to be an entrepeneur and going through all the careful precautions to keep its business dealings isolated from its political action (precautions, incidently, which are doomed to fail at some level time and again - due to specific cases of human error or malice). I would not oppose a system where the government purchases stock according to a predetermined index (say, the DOW) with excess revenues (and a legitimate government has to run a positive bottom line - government debt is such a moral hazard). Why go through the trouble (and run the risks) of trying to make it OK for "government" to actually run a business?
  20. The government produces nothing, there are no other rational means to seek funding. While obtaining restitution (to the degree possible) from people who make specific government actions necessary (offenders paying for their aprehension and incarceration, losers in civil suits paying for the proceedings) makes sense, there will always be a leftover that will have to be paid for voluntarily by the beneficiaries of individual rights protection. With regard to the idea of governments running "businesses" for "profit", how do you keep the fact that the government owns a "business" from affecting it? Will people willingly donate to a government that may decide to "compete" with their employer on some bureaucrat's whim and push them out of a job? How does a "company" being owned by an entity which compared to private investors has unlimited money not create a distortiion in credit and risk markets? Is it realistic to think that a government will let its failing "business" fail (businesses fail, its a fact of life). As for the more general point of masking donations to the government in lotteries or raffles or government run soap factories, the truth is that you cannot get something for nothing. If you are willing to pay more for a government cassino, raffle or bar of soap (to fund the government), you are willing to buy the private item and donate the difference. To argue otherwise is to argue that people are just too stupid to know what is good for them and have to be tricked into funding the government. "The population" can't grant that permission. For instance, the owners of other business already in that particular market will object. Are they not of "the population"? The essential point in this discussion is this: the argument for monopolistic government (i.e. the monopoly on the use of force) is that one cannot legitimately object to the protection of individual rights thus any oposition to a government that exclusively protects those rights is by definition ilegitimate. If the government strays from that limited scope, its legitimacy is fataly undermined. While explicit donation is the only means of government funding that makes sense to me, I have a particular means of implementing it that I favor. Namely, a % donation option for federal, state and municipal government on every sale to a private individual for consumption. It is not a sales tax, because it is optional. When paying you are asked whether you want to include the donation, you can choose to pay all, none or any combination of the donations. A business can choose whether to offer the system or not. A business can choose not to serve people who don't donate. A person can choose to not patronize businesses who do not offer the option to donate. The objective of this system is that while funding of the government is voluntary, your choice to do so or not is public. If the government is legitimate and effective, this will create a strong incentive against free riding. And it violates no one's rights.
  21. Rational people will willingly fund a legitimate government. Donation. It is really that simple.
  22. To use the tired flat earth example, the Earth is essentially flat within the context of your immediate surroundings and what you can perceive unaided by technology. In the context of a civilization with no satellite photos, no airplanes or baloons, no looking glass or telescope - and no one who paid attention to the very slight curve of the horizon at the shoreline of a large body of water... within that context the flatness of the Earth is true. And in fact, limited to the range of action that this context permits, operating on the assumption that the Earth is flat will have no negative effects. Expanding one context of knowledge does not invalidate previous knowledge - it only puts it in its place. For instance: relativity does not invalidate the application of Newton's laws in our daily existence. Of course you can actually be wrong too - if you made a mistake in your previous context.
  23. So did America, not so long ago - namely, when faced with a war that threatened her very existence. Which happens to be exactly Israel's situation from the start. While few if any here will argue in favor of mandatory service of any sort, mandatory military duty can hardly be considered the hallmark of un-americanism you make it out to be. Why care? A country that recongnizes individual rights and freedoms (imperfectly, granted) is besieged by totalitarian theocracies - who happen to be a threat to America as well (and would clearly like to be more of a threat). To the extent that defeating this common enemy increases the safety of America and americans, you should care.
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