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Everything posted by FeatherFall

  1. Sorry. I originally wrote, "passed the test of dictatorship" but I thought that gave the opposite meaning. I should have realized that changing "passed" to "failed" didn't clear up any ambiguity.
  2. SoftwareNerd accurately described it "in a nutshell." If you want me to elaborate I will.
  3. From the same article, this is how Mandela describes his actions: Mandela's government, as he described it, fails the test of dictatorship invoked by Rand's "censorship" razor. The civilian casualties all came while he was imprisoned. As I understand it, Mandela never called for an end to such acts of terrorism while he was in prison. That looks very bad, but I can think of a few legitimate reasons to stay quiet in such circumstances. If you think he maintained operational control over the MK while in prison, I'm willing to hear the evidence of or argument for that.
  4. I'd have replied sooner but I was having fun at Disney World. I'm not advocating martyrdom, nor am I advocating shrugging. I'm saying, as a personal choice, I can't bring myself to throw an innocent human into a cage even if I am presented with the same incentives as the contemporary police officer. I can't take pride in enforcing justice when I'm so blatantly contradicting that virtue on a daily basis. The idea makes me feel physically ill. Other people might be able to do that without feeling like an evil P.O.S. I'm not necessarily condemning them, though I don't rule out a proper condemnation. I will say that I am impressed by people who successfully remove more coercion from their lives than I can. I took Pell grants, and I share Rand's evaluation of them. But I'm impressed by people who have found a way to fund their education without them. Does that make sense?
  5. My offspring have hybrid vigor, my relatively pure Germanic ancestry be damned.
  6. From the wiki: In other words, please reference a part of his life that you think matches your claims. His wiki entry is larger than most others' and mostly filled with info that is irrelevant to your claims. I'm inclined to believe Mandela is not a good guy, and I'd like info that confirms my bias. Please help me.
  7. You wouldn't necessarily blame them less. I know I couldn't throw someone in a cage simply because it was part of the job. I'd probably be willing to accept lower levels of government involvement if I worked in a different government-controlled field (like if I was a nuclear technician). Perhaps on some level it is a matter of personal tolerance, but if you were going to shrug I think it's important to let others know why.
  8. This really isn't the alternative. If people refuse to enter the force there will be strains on the system, sure. But people can make it known why they aren't entering the police force, which would leave LEO administrations with a decision to make regarding how to use limited resources: Do we continue to enforce the laws that are causing a shortage of talent, or we I enforce other laws? Given enough time and pressure LEOs might flip their position on drug laws in general.
  9. Thanks for clearing that up. Another case where more precise definitions (federal prisoners versus all prisoners) make a big difference.
  10. It isn't really our responsibility to settle these types of disputes. My opinion as an average Joe is that you're both wrong, but that Nicky's 6% is closer to the 5% real answer (assuming the numbers cited are correct and come from the same time-frame). Regardless of who's right, you could both show more tact.
  11. I can't comment on the culture at large. But the great-grandmother of my children is one of the most racist people I know personally. She doesn't like black people (except for Snoop Dog, for whatever reason). She likes white people enough to have had children with one of them.
  12. Some of this could be the result of pleading down, too. It's still monstrous.
  13. Political cartoons can't be expected to convey a perfect argument. Because of the subjective nature of symbolism, people are bound to interpret a cartoon differently. Consider how it would be interpreted if the artist put Obama in a grey hoodie. Most would see the connection to Trayvon Martin. But people could draw will draw different conclusions. Some will think any connection to Martin that portrays him negatively is racist, others may think it is merely a topical connection to current events. Still others will see broader commentary on Obama as a bull-in-the-China-shop, thoughtlessly injecting himself into both healthcare and murder trials where he doesn't belong. I remember a cartoon that depicted Obama as a witch doctor that sparked some debate on this forum. The guy is polarizing. Expect wildly varying attitudes to commentary about him, even among tight circles.
  14. The implicit assumption is that sex with the woman he's falling in love with is cheapened after sex with the bookstore freak. While it could be, especially in the case of an ongoing romance, I don't think this is necessarily true. There is no betrayal to cheapen the experience if he hasn't met his sweetheart yet.
  15. I like the idea of holding people responsible for contributing to the protection of their own rights. The conventional concept of government seems completely divorced from personal responsibility. Even Objectivist polemics in some ways lack attention to personal responsibility. At the same time I'm unready to say we should withhold all services from those who've refused or are unable to pay in. Your payment schedule is exactly the kind of thing I would support, but I tend to think such a schedule may actually work for criminal law. Government is a geographic monopoly, after all. If you license your land, it stands to reason that criminal acts on your land will receive the attention of government. Renters or patrons would receive protection; while they wouldn't necessarily pay in directly, they do bear the costs of higher prices. Are they moochers? I don't think so. I also think that people with assets to protect but no consumers at which to direct costs could fund government indirectly through insurance companies. The insurance companies would carry a huge portion of the tax burden. So while the direct burden does shift to a few large contributors, that doesn't represent the true distribution of costs.
  16. Crow, I think you're calling the kettle black when you grumble about people not responding to your position; I've invited you twice to address the distinction between rights and the other moral principle to which you allude. This is a foundational issue that I think is important, but before I ask again for you to address it I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and double check that I've responded to your concerns. I cannot address scalability; I simply don't have enough info. You could be right, but this issue might be moot in light of some things I've written further down this post. As far as rights existing without government, you know I've addressed that directly. To reiterate, other people don't take away rights, they violate them. To contend that other people are capable of taking away your rights is to imply a definition of rights that goes something like, "the state of freedom from the use of force." This definition creates the need for a new moral concept that can be used to identify differing degrees of normativity. I agree with you when you write that people should pay for the things they use; but the concept that justifies the use of force must be hashed out before we can go from should to should be forced. This concept draws that normative line. I call this concept a right. You haven't named it but to say that it isn't called a right. I've reviewed what you said about government charging for services (in this thread and others). Your position appears to be that fees for services are a more effective way to get people to contribute than donations, i.e. "voluntary taxation". The other thread is more clear on this. That's great; I have absolutely no argument against the government charging fees for some services like copyright protection, property registration, etc. Unfortunately, statements you made in post 58 confused the issue for me. This, specifically: It appears that the "semantic" issue you mentioned earlier is the result of everyone on the thread, myself included, using sloppy definitions. As far as I can tell, both a fee for service structure and a donation structure are forms of voluntary taxation. Levying a tax on property would not be voluntary. We could approximate a tax on property by having people register land for protection and charging a fee. That fee could be decided either democratically or through an elected executive, but its payment and the protection that comes with it could be optional. If this is what you meant in post 58, or at least a compromise you could make, then I think we can agree. To recap, there are three separate tax schemes we are talking about. 1) Donations. This is voluntary. You think they're unscalabe (they could be). 2) Fee for service; Don't pay a fee, don't get protection. This is voluntary. 3) Taxation with levies affixed to value of services rendered. This is involuntary and not so different than what we have now. Is the scheme you are advocating closer to position 2 or position 3?
  17. Crow, I never once told you I was going to engage in moderator action to censor your argument. You've been censoring yourself, much to my chagrin. I was actually curious to see how you responded to some of the concerns I raised. We were having a conversation in which I said your position implies a new moral concept which is itself distinct from rights. Never mind that I was the only person who raised this concern or that my position was unique. Never mind that you may have actually come up with a new concept and that I was inviting you to share. Instead of addressing my concern in your very next post you decided to assert that a bunch of "Objectivists" (my self included, presumably) were supporting anarchy. You talked completely past me with an assertion about anarchy, casually and simultaneously dismissing everything I said and everything everyone else said. You could have dispensed with assertions and shown why my critique is similar to others and why that position implies anarchy. But you didn't. To assert an unsupported conclusion is to offer a non sequitur. Employing a non-sequitur to avoid talking about the implications in your own argument is an evasive tactic that shows more than a mere a lack of confidence in your own position. It's rude. So yes, speaking of cowardice evidenced by choices does speak to personal character. But it wasn't my intent to attack you. If you were hurt by what I said, then I'd like to offer a sincere apology. In turn, I'd like you to at least acknowledge that what I said was distinct from what others have said.
  18. Thanks for that. You're presenting this differently than Crow. That difference is substantive. Crow says it is a rights violation to freeload. You're saying it represents an area of risk. While I agree with the second position, the first implies that rights must be violated to be protected. That's the kind of contradiction that invites us to check our premises.
  19. As far as this topic is concerned, I'll reiterate that to conflate voluntary tax with anarchy is at best a non sequitur. At worst it is a cowardly strawman used to evade confronting the glaringly sun-bright contradiction involved in trying to free people from force by using force against them.
  20. Statement: Rights are moral principles that have a valid usage outside of the context of government. What does not follow: Advocacy of the above position amounts to support for anarchy. I'll give you another chance if you want to put forth a serious argument. Like I said, maybe you could include some page references. You may have stumbled on to a new concept. To prove it, you'll have to differentiate it from a right. Edit: I regard your last post as a cowardly way out of this argument, BTW.
  21. If you think there is a relevant section of ITOE, you can go right ahead and provide a reference. Otherwise, realize that you look bad when you employ those kinds of lazy insults. Two of your statements require the creation of a concept. 1) "It's not okay to rape your... anything because of morality, not legality" 2) "Rights are an invalid concept outside the context of the existence of a government," I've provided several contexts where government is effectively absent. Because your second statement treats rights as invalid concepts under such contexts, It follows that under such contexts rights don't provide a moral barrier to activity such as rape. The task, now, is for you to explain what moral principles bar things like rape in such contexts. For you to effectively explain this new type of moral principle, you will have to differentiate it from the concept, "rights."
  22. Crow, the prospect of never reaching landfall is something everyone on a lifeboat faces. In the bedrooms of Saudi Arabia and, unfortunately, in the parent-child relationship the prospect of the government enforcing rights is often nonexistent or remote enough to not matter. The fact that legality has no bearing on the moral status of rape was exactly my point. Don't you see how this contradicts your assertion that rights don't exist without a government? If laws are to be justified, we need moral principles that establish a threshold beyond which defensive, emergency, non-emergency and retaliatory force is warranted. That's what a right is.
  23. The problem I see with your position is that there are limited contexts where rights exist without government. Asea, for instance, in a real-life lifeboat. And I'm not talking about torturously construed what-if scenarios, but rather plane-Jane moral questions about whether it's ok to rape your lifeboat partner. The kinds of contexts where the government is irrelevant in personal relationships exist simultaneously all over the world thousands of times over. A moral framework for action involving rights exists in the bedrooms of Saudi Arabia, within the parent-child relationship, etc.
  24. I must have missed something, because I don't know what it means to be voted off the island. Not in this context, at least. Anyway, my advice is this: People will often restate what they think your position to be, and many times they will include the implications they see following from your argument. A disagreement on the implications does not imply a strawman argument. It could be their statement of the implications does not follow, or maybe your statement of implications doesn't follow. Either way, probing questions are a good way to find out where the communication broke down (or where the flaw might be in your own argument). For the record, I drew the same conclusion as many others when you wrote, "no government, no rights." Perhaps you meant to write, "no government, no society-wide protection of rights." If so, you never made that clear.
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