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Thomas M. Miovas Jr.

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Everything posted by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.

  1. DonAthos, you are directly contradicting yourself when you claim the creator has the rights to that one thing he created but not other rights, such as the distribution rights and the reproduction rights. You cannot claim that the possessor of a material thing has the rights to that material thing, and yet the creator has no rights other than to that particular one thing that he made. You have no conception of rights, and you directly contradict a major and fundamental principle of Atlas Shrugged and therefore of Objectivism. That you are permitted to be a moderator on a forum dedicated to Objectivism and say such things without being flacked by the owner, David Veksler, or the other moderators, proves that oo.net has become completely corrupted. I was waiting to see what David Veksler has to say on the topic after calling him out on a few threads on his FaceBook pages on the same topic, but clearly, by association and by him permitting you to take such a position and his associates taking their similar position, he is not in strong disagreement with the position that the creator of a new product does not retain all the rights to that product understood as intellectual property rights. It is unfortunate that I have to now disassociate myself from oo.net. I refuse to participate in a forum which does not respect my rights as the creator of my essays. They are copyrighted per the agreement when I signed up, but I cannot trust the owner nor the moderators not to take my products and do what they wish with them against my will and in violation of my rights when they take such a position. I am removing myself from oo.net, and I'm going to state that if my copyrights are not respected, you will definitely hear from me legally. My essays posted here are not to be posted anywhere else without my expressed permission in any form whatsoever. David and I used to be good friends when we both lived in Dallas, but I cannot stand by the wholesale destruction of rights as proposed by many of his associates both here and on his FaceBook pages. Goodbye.
  2. I have a little bit of time on my hand, so I will answer some of the rejections to my position a bit, but I refuse to argue for the sake of arguing. No, my position is not a religious or an intrinsicist position. I had previously blocked a few people in this thread and on oo.net because they have no objective outlook on a free society. If the person creating the product for the very first time does not thereby acquire all imaginable rights to that product by the fact of creating it for the very first time, then there are no rights associated with the creation of a product whatsoever -- which is basically the position some of you are taking, which is total BS. In a wilderness scenario, you gain the rights to the land by utilizing it for your own survival, and because you gain the rights by using it in such a way, you can exclude others from coming onto your land. The issue of intellectual property rights is no different. In the case whereby you create something new for the purpose of enhancing your survival -- you make a movie or an essay or a new pencil sharpener or whatever, by the mere fact of creating it makes it similar to the wilderness scenario stated above. You are in new territory and thereby gain all the rights to that product. And, yes, that means you can exclude others from making that product or make them pay you for that product before they can use it. That some of you do not understand this, and that some of you are actually moderators of oo.net and do not understand that issue is one reason oo.net lacks any serious interest from those who take Objectivism seriously. There is no rationalistic argument from some prior premise that makes it "logically clear" that the one who creates it for the first time has all the rights to that product. Those facts is what gives him those rights.
  3. I'm through here, and will not respond further to this thread. Have a nice argument in your own irrational way.
  4. Your agreement is not necessary for me to be right. If I point out to you that 2+2=4 and even go as far as pointing out that iiii is four and that ii + ii is iiii is 4, the fact that you disagree or don't get it doesn't mean that I have not pointed out a fact of reality and it is not begging the question for me to re-assert the facts. Second of all, your position is so full of contradictions, that it is one reason I choose not to argue much on oo.net any long -- it's a waste of breath in many cases. If you are going to concede, as you have, that the second guy is not being punished to not have the right to the first guys patentable product, then why the hell do you keep bringing it up as if the second guy is being drawn and quartered because he is not permitted to make his second pencil sharpener? Your stance makes no sense at all. And no, the guy who patents a particular pencil sharpener does not then gain the rights to all pencil sharpeners. I've pointed out at least twice and now is the third time that there are at least three different patents for sharpening pencils mechanically. Regarding growing corn, yes, that can be patentable if you come up with a unique way of doing it, say in a hydroponic plant of some sort. Planting it in the ground would come under prior art and would not be patentable. However, your whole position amounts to the following: Guy A settles onto a plot of wilderness and begins to grow corn on it, and just because he grows corn on it, thus gaining the rights to the land, he has no right to exclude anyone else, Guy B, from coming on there and planting anything else or from eating Guy A's corn. That's the nature of rights -- they are exclusive. Your right to life, liberty, property, and happiness is exclusive to you. No one else can have those in the same regard because they are your individual rights. Likewise, because you are the first person to come up with a unique product, you have exclusive rights that product. The second guy does not gain rights to it by virtue of being the second guy any more than the second guy coming onto the first guy's property has any rights associated with that land. But that's all you are going to get from me. I am determined not to get into a long argument for the sake of argument with any of you any longer.
  5. By the way, let me ask you intellectual property rights skeptics a rhetorical question: If you are correct, and the inventor does not lose anything if someone else violates his patent and makes that product without permission, then why do you claim the second guy is losing anything when he does not get the patent because he was second? You see, it's the same issue -- either you have those rights or you don't; and the creator of a unique product has **all of the rights** to that product. Rights is the central issue here, not the material product per se that you can hold in your hands. On this forum, you have permission to post, but you do not have the right to post; the arbiter of those rights is DV who has the license for the software that makes oo.net possible. You do not have those rights unless he grants them to you. you do not lose anything by not having those rights, because it was not yours in the first place and you didn't pay for those rights.
  6. You obviously have not read my replies, since I have already answered this issue. Preventing someone else from infringing on your patent, even though he came up with it independently, is not a punishment. It's not a punishment for the same reason that the girl you dated for three years who then falls in love with someone else is not punishing you if she marries him instead of you. And obviously, the second guy in your example seeks to prevent others from transgressing *his* intellectual property rights, since he wouldn't hesitate to file for a patent of his own. The stealing comes into effect once the first guy has the sole legal and moral authority to make the product that way, and you ignore that right and proceed to make it or distribute it without his permission. The creator has absolute right to his property. Period. End of story. And his property is the material form of his idea that he made a product around. This does not prevent anyone else for understanding the idea and making his own product that is sufficiently different that he can file for his own patent. Like the examples I gave above, there are at least four ways of sharpening a pencil, and three of them I mentioned are patented products -- the little hand-held bladed thing, the turn the crank thing, and the electric thing. Each one finds a way to sharpen a pencil and each is patentable because they are sufficiently different from each other. It's stealing in the same way that if you buy land and yet do not own the mineral rights to the land, and yet you dig for gold anyhow, you are violating the rights holder's rights and stealing his gold.
  7. Some other observation on the Pacific Legal Foundation article: I think it is being completely evasive in several of its examples against intellectual property rights. In the pencil example, yes, you can place restrictions on someone using your idea in material form re pencil sharpeners. I'm not sure you could do that for the old fashioned way of whittling it with a knife, since that might come under "prior art," but certainly if you make a machine that sharpens pencils, you can place restrictions on the use of that machine insofar as you choose to be paid for the use of that pencil sharpener. That is, there are several ways of making machines that sharpen pencils, there's the small hand-held device, the turning of the crank device, and the electric pencil sharpener. Obviously, those mechanical devices would not exist without the individual it took to come up with the idea and make it work in material form -- he created the pencil sharpener. And because he created that specific pencil sharpener, he has every right to say you can buy this from me under the condition that you do not make copies of my product without my permission. Likewise with his bridge example. For the most part, since bridges have been around for a very long time, building a bridge across a river would fall under prior art. However, if the bridge maker can up with a unique way of supporting the bridge (say a suspension bridge versus a pillar bridge) or making a modification to the bridge (like a draw bridge), he could certainly set restrictions on the use of his product. He could not prevent others from crossing the river -- the article is quite evasive of this distinction -- but he could prevent others from using his mechanical design for that particular type of bridge. So, his market is not "people getting across the river to get to the other side" but rather "no one can use my design without my permission". And if you don't understand that distinction, then why do you admire The Fountainhead where Roark made a specific claim that the builders of Cortdland violated his terms when they modified his design without his approval? or why do you admire Atlas Shrugged and Hank Rearden being upheld as the only producer who could produce Rearden Metal? I mean, just what are you getting out of these novels if not the recognition that the creator of a product has certain rights to that product?
  8. That's an extremely rationalistic essay trying to make arguments from definitions instead of from the facts of reality. He claims that in law there is a difference between property rights normally recognized as having possession of a material thing versus intellectual property rights which does not necessarily mean you have possession of a material thing (i.e someone else has it and you are placing restrictions on it). But the concept of rights is an abstract concept. As Adam Mossoff points out on his side of the argument above, the fact that there is property rights **at all** stems from man's rational mind, so the property rights argument, properly understood, falls under the intellectual property rights rather than the other way around. It is only the recognition that someone has to do something to earn that physical property that anyone can have any inkling that there are property rights involved in the possession of that material thing. So, property rights to land also falls under the category of having been made or created by the active human mind creating something in reality -- i.e. you have to work somehow, using your own mind, to get money to buy that land in the first place. All moral and legal possessions of property of any type derives from the fact that it took mental effort and physical follow-through to be able to have that property; thus making all types of property and intellectual property distinction. The article is also rationalistic to say nothing is taken away from the creator if someone else uses the idea and doesn't compensate the creator for that idea. Every time that happens, the creator loses a sale; a sale that is his by right of having created that item in the first place. And intellectual property rights are not just based on having a good idea, like his pencil sharpening method. Having an idea per se does not grant you any sort of right as such to prevent others from using it. What it does do is identify the fact that the creator came up with an idea, and put it into practice in a material way -- like a process patent -- and because he did that, yes he does have the right to say it is his in material form and that he deserves to be paid for it. What is taken away from the creator is his exclusive right to decide who does and who does not get to use his idea in that material form exclusively because he came up with it first. There is no moral argument against property rights, intellectual or material. It doesn't matter what the law says or what the legal foundations have been in the past. What matters, as I have pointed out repeatedly here is the moral right of the creator to set the terms and conditions of using his material thing. He says you cannot copy it without his permission, and that the way it is. Period. All legal matters stem from this moral argument and not vice versa. It doesn't matter what legal authority says about what previous legal precedings.The moral right of being the creator trumps the legal argument. The legal foundation presenting this paper above has no moral grounding in his arguments; and it is therefore a void argument.
  9. Here is a debate on copyrights and patents. I have to agree with Adam Mossoff and Ayn Rand that a patent is a protection of property owned by the inventor / writer and is not something special granted by government favors. As I have argued elsewhere, the designation of a patent or a copyright is a statement before the purchase that you agree to the terms of not reproducing the inventor / writers property. It is not something super-added to the process of creating something new by special government grants. The opposition says it is not something spurred on by the free market, but I see no flaw in the idea that one could set up a terms of use for a product stating that one can buy it but cannot reproduce it nor redistribute it without the creator's permission, which is basically what a patent or a copyright states.
  10. First of all, Objectivism is NOT libertarianism, and the fact that libertarianism has no principles and no philosophy has been pointed out so many times that if someone states that they are a libertarian then they are automatically not an Objectivist. They have nothing rational to say about rights whatsoever. Second, I did give the objective, fact based, reason to have patents and copyrights in my opening statement on the topic -- the fact is that it takes and individual human mind thinking about reality to come up with a patentable product or an treatise or article of some type that can be copyrighted; and because he created it, he has the right to decide how it is going to be used and how it is going to be distributed. Third, there is no in-perpetuity for anything invented by an individual mind because the individual does not live for an eternity. The typical expiration for copyrights is the life of the creator plus a few years to make inheritance possible. The reason patents are not handled the same way is that a patented material thing or gadget cannot be used to prevent others from improving on his work -- the original inventor has no right to stand in someone else's way for his own invention. I gave the example of one man creating a smaller part of a more complex piece of machinery, say a small gear that goes inside a automobile transmission. For a limited time, he can outright prevent the use of the gear in that manner-- he can prevent the car manufacturer from distributing his invent in the car's manufacturing, if he chooses not to let the car manufacturer reproduce his invention. But he has no right in-perpetuity to do this to anyone. He can protect his own patent, but that's it; he cannot stand in the way of someone else for an unlimited amount of time. And it is your libertarian background and your refusal to think in terms of principles that makes it impossible for you to realize that neither patents nor copyrights are rights granted by the State. NO rights are granted by the State. They all stem from the nature of reality and man's nature as a rational being able to create things using his rational method and dealing with reality as a rational being.The State only protects rights, it does not grant them.
  11. The idea that the person trying to get a patent but missing the opportunity by 10 minutes is a case of borderline applications. Yes, the second guy likewise was an innovator (assuming he knew nothing about the first person's ideas and practices); but the second guy filed for a patent in order to block all others from using his product without his permission -- so why should he complain that he didn't get there first? would he have the same opinion if he got their first by 10 minutes; would he permit the second guy filing to have his market as well? I think not. I actually know a guy at work who filed for a patent on a heated toilet seat after coming up with the idea while working on a plastic that had metal filings in it and could conduct electricity. He missed it by a week or so. But he was looking forward to having a patent and making millions of dollars, so why begrudge someone else having the same idea and getting there first? But I think it has to be kept in mind that not getting there first is not a punishment in any way. Just as one is not punished if one's best girl marries someone else, so one is not punished if someone beats you to the patent application. Try something else to make millions. Regarding the time limitations on patents. I think part of this would depend on the broadness of the patent itself. I have heard respected Objectivist intellectuals claim that a patent should be as broad as the concept of the invention, in effect. In other words, when the inventor of the radio filed for a patent, not only should he have a patent on that particular machine, but he should own all frequencies that could possibly be used for communications via EM waves, and every conceivable adaptation of any machine that could use EM waves. This is far too broad, especially considering the technical limitations of the first radio. Over the years, patents have become more and more narrowly defined. So much so that a little change can be filed for a new patent, like bending a wrench a few angles to better get at an automobile part. Why wouldn't the inventor of the wrench have a patent that would also cover minor variations of his original application? If a patent is severely limited, then I don't see the need to have an expiration date on a patent; but certainly if the case were different and the first radio maker owned all the frequencies and every possible configuration of a machine that used EM waves, then a time limit would be set up so as to not stifle innovations further down the line. This is very different than copyrights which are no hindrance to innovation because there is not necessity of having a part of one person's novel incorporated into one's own, for example. For machinery, often times a part patented by one person is crucial to the patent of another innovator's machinery -- like a transmission on a car, which they used to not have. So, a time limit is placed on them so innovation will not be stopped for the life-time of the innovator. By the way, one reason I am taking up this issue is to press the issue that parts of machines are patentable, and that software -- yes software -- is a part of a machine. The specific configurations of electrical-magnetic "bumps" are like, say, gears on a transmission, which can be patented. Too often some programmers confuse a program with an English story or article, because they can read it, forgetting that as a part of a machine, they are like miniature gears of a complex machine; and are therefore patentable. But many programmers complain that they cannot write their specific program for profit if they have to pay for other people's software inventions. This helps stress the point of the time expirations of patents. I've done some programming, and yes, it is very difficult to come up with unique ways of getting a computer to do something as a whole. If software patents lasted until the death of the software programmer and some years after his death, then no one would be able to write better programs based upon ideas made possible by the first innovator.
  12. Added an update to my website entry on this topic: Update 04/02/2013: Turns out that JSTOR, the digital archive of academic works, is not run or operated by academia (colleges and universities), but rather a corporation who had negotiated with the originators of certain articles and publications to be the distributor of those in digital format. In other words, they have paid for the right to distribute those articles and papers in digital form. I think this makes the case against Swartz even stronger, though JSTOR dropped the charges after he returned the illegal copies and made amends, because it decreases the ides that he was returning something stolen from the people (via taxes to support academia in part). This makes it no different from someone stealing movies and programs from companies who produce those items. And if one looks at the filing for JSTOR, one will find that their total assets are over $100 million and that Swartz attempted to steal every bit of it for himself; which definitely puts him in the category of a major grand theft individual. http://www.lincc.us/PubApps/showVals.php?ein=133857105 Rights are an abstract concept. The fact that you own a particular physical item does not necessarily mean that you own all the rights to it. Just as one can own land and not own the mineral rights to that land, so one can own a physical copy of some item (a movie or a book) but not own the rights of distribution of that product. A stated copyright or a filed patent means that you do not own the distribution rights of that product; and therefore do not have the right to take it upon yourself to distribute it without the rights owner's permission.
  13. Thanks for the references re JSTOR and who owns / operates the database. Looks like you are right that academia per se does not run it but rather academia contributes to it, and JSTOR is owned as part of a corporation. While JSTOR did receive some government funds, it doesn't look like it is primarily supported by government funds or tax dollars, which makes the case against Swartz all the stronger, since he can even less be seen as someone returning stolen goods to the people. Of course, there is still the issue of the articles generated by academia who are themselves, in part, funded by tax dollars. But that wasn't really the root of my argument anyhow. I mean, unless one could show all that data / articles was in fact stolen and had to be returned, then the case is stronger that Swartz was stealing private property -- the digitized form of those articles run by JSTOR as owned / operated by a corporation. The idea that taking a digital copy of something without permission is a type of theft was the main argument. It's theft because it violates the owner / operators rights of distribution. Most of the counter-arguments I have heard is that nothing is taken from the owner if one freely distributes digital copies of the original because one can make such a copy without decreasing the original. But this evades the right of the creator / owner to set terms and conditions of the use of his product. And, at least in part, distributing his product without his permission is taking away his market, which he owns simply by offering a unique product that he created. As to my stance regarding "creative commons" and the movement to turn the whole internet into a creative commons, I am completely against the idea, as the main power of the internet is a recognition of private property and intellectual property rights and would not exist without those protections of those rights. See my essay "How the Internet Works."
  14. It is very important to realize that the action of filing for or declaring a copyright or a patent is NOT a declaration that one cannot think about the ideas behind the products nor can prevent you from you yourself making an improvement on the application of the ideas behind the product. There are absolutely no restrictions of thinking or what you do with ideas in your own mind. The restriction is strictly on the fact that the innovator was the one who brought the idea to physical fruition, made a product based upon an idea, which would not exist without him doing so, and he retains the rights to the **product** not the idea behind it. Henry Food cannot prevent you from thinking about the Model T; he cannot prevent you from coming up with a different type of automobile; he cannot prevent you from using mass production techniques. What he can prevent you from doing is making unauthorized copies of his product because by declaring and receiving a patent for the Model T, he is placing a restriction on what you can do with his product -- namely that you cannot reproduce it without his permission, and by buying a Model T you, at least implicitly, agree to those terms and conditions. Likewise with buying a movie or going to a movie theater to watch a movie. The creator of that movie has placed a restriction on you watching that movie, and the restriction is that you cannot copy it or distribute it without his permission. This is the root of having a copyright. By declaring that all of my work is copyrighted, I am placing a restriction on what you can do with my essays. You are quite free to read them insofar as I have made them available to you at no charge now (though maybe charging for longer essays in the future), and the only restriction I make by declaring a copyright is that you do not have my permission to distribute them without my permission. I cannot prevent you from thinking through the issues. I cannot prevent you from understanding the ideas behind intellectual property rights. I cannot prevent you from writing your own essay on the topic, pro or con. I cannot prevent you from having an idea in any way whatsoever. What I can prevent you from doing is taking my essay without my permission and putting it somewhere I would rather it not be. That is my right by creating those essays that go from my mind to a blank sheet of paper (digital or otherwise).
  15. Besides, JSTOR is being completely evasive of the issue of individual rights and intellectual property rights. They make no statement about those issues whatsoever. I would actually expect this from the Leftists in Academia who want to get rid of individual rights and the whole notion of private property and the rights of the producers of human goods and services. I suppose they are in an awkward position, because to stand by individual rights would require them to state that they have no right to the taxes forcefully taken from others to fund their research (at least in part). Like all straddlers of an intellectual fence, they are completely helpless in the face of moral issues. Note that I am not saying that Swartz should have been given a fifty year sentence nor that he should have committed suicide. But I think part of the reason the prosecutor went after him like he did is that JSTOR is not considered to be private property and thus could not literally drop the charges against Swartz since they could not claim absolute private property rights to JSTOR. In some cases under the law, no particular person needs to file a complaint against a violator of rights; the law must take care to settle the issue even though no one files a given complaint. If it could be established that JSTOR was private property, then, yes, they could have dropped the charges and that would have been that. But Swartz and JSTOR are just the most recent example that made the headlines about grand theft of intellectual property.There have been others that are well noted, and yes, those perpetrators are spending a lot of time in jail or will have all or most of their wages taken from them to pay for their crimes. The point is that Swartz had no right whatsoever to continually access JSTOR and take that property against the wishes of the owners or stewards of that property. The fact that they made Swartz give it back and do other things to clear his crime is proof that he didn't have that authority.
  16. I guess you don't have anything to say on the topic yourself, as you want me to read a 66 page study of academic research in the digital age and want me to read JSTOR's commentary about Swartz and their dealing with him. If you find opening, take them. But JSTOR's apologetic response to the issue is not-withstanding the issues I raised. It doesn't justify wholesale theft of intellectual property.
  17. I'm hesitant to start this thread on oo.net due to several issues I have had with people taking the opposite stance and due to my suspicion that even some Objectivists do not understand the nature of copyrights and patents, and hence oppose them. In a moral society -- one in which it takes man's life as the standard and recognizes individual rights as stemming from the nature of man qua man -- issues such as copyrights and patents are an extension of the fact that the creator of a product has the absolute right to set terms and conditions of using his product. To post this message here, I have to agree to oo.net's Terms and Conditions, and everything I post here is covered by copyright law. Now, I could post some sort of Terms and Conditions of presenting an essay here of my own and say that if you read my posts, you have to agree to my terms and conditions (within the bounds of the T&C of oo.net). But that would be extremely cumbersome if we all had to sign a T&C agreement for everything we partook in or bought in our capitalist society. So, by law, it is recognized that the creator of a product has certain rights that are protected, without him having to get each end user to sign a T&C for every product he makes. Under copyrights and patents, and by buying or using the product, you basically agree not to duplicate the creator's work -- you agree to participate in that transaction without stealing from that producer. And, yes, copying and pasting or downloading without permission and then re-distributing a production digital format is a type of stealing. You are basically taking his product and claiming it as your own without proper compensation agreed to between you and the producer of that product. It's not that copyrights and patents are granted by the government, but rather a proper government recognizes the rights of the producer and defends them. I'm mentioning this because there are some Objectivists who believe that getting huge fines or long jail sentences for copyright and patent infringements should not happen. But if you steal a copyrighted or patented product, the producer has the right to get just compensation or to punish you for stealing his product. So, for a case like Aaron Swartz, who tried to download and then re-distribute the the entire JSTOR data base and then post it to the internet without the owner's permission, deserved to be punished for that infringement. I'm not sure I agree with a fifty year sentence, which the prosecution was aiming for, but when one keeps in mind that JSTOR charges $25 or so for each article, and that he downloaded many hundreds and thousands of such articles without permission, then it can be said that he stole hundreds of millions of dollars worth of intellectual property. And he had to be punished for this action. Now, it turns out that JSTOR is run by academia, which is, in part, paid for and supported by tax dollars taken by force; but not everything is paid for by the taxes, those universities do charge tuition and other fees, and they do their own research and compile them into JSTOR. The muddies the issue to some degree, but does not change the principle that the creator has a right to set terms and conditions of using his product. Universities and academia should not be supported by taxes, but this does not mean that each and every tax payer or former student or MIT Fellow has unlimited access to those files and articles. This is a clear case of the "Tragedy of the Commons" whereby ownership is difficult to establish, but it does not mean that Aaron Swartz himself owned those articles and property. For more information, and to get this thread off to the right start, I highly recommend reading Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal and especially Miss Rand's article on Patents and Copyrights: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/patents_and_copyrights.html
  18. I am extremely hesitant to get back involved in this thread, for various reasons, but it has taken off and i wanted to point out that I regret starting this thread because I had a false premise in my opening statement / essay. That false premise was that FRB involved the printing out of bank notes to act as money and that I thought it was immoral to print out more bank notes than one has assets for. So, I wanted to delete this thread but don't have that power. FRBanking is no more than the depositor agreeing that his deposited assets can be loaned out by the bank under certain terms and conditions. One of those would be that since your deposits are being loaned out, you may or may not have full access to your deposits at any given time. If your assets are being loaned out, then you no longer have a right to them depending on the agreement you have with the bank. If you are loaning your car to your neighbor, you no longer can drive it until he returns it. In the case of money or other assets deposited in a bank, you agree that it can be loaned out and that you may not be able to use it, and that the bank will pay you a percentage of what they make by loaning out your money. So long as the agreement is understood and agreed to, and you realize you may not have full access to your deposits, then there is no issue with the bank loaning out your money on those terms. Understood this way, Fractional Reserve Banking is both moral and should be legal. It's a private agreement between you and your bank and is really nothing more than loaning your car to your neighbor, for a price, and realizing you cannot drive your car if your neighbor has it.
  19. http://www.appliedphilosophyonline.com/black_friday_special.htm Black Friday Special: The Morality of Profit by Thomas M. Miovas, Jr. 11/23/2012 On this “Black Friday” where retailers are expected to make a profit and being attacked for doing so, I thought it would be important to explain why making a profit is moral and necessary – and the root of living life the human way. “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt gives a good example of this process: If one plants ten potatoes in the ground and only gets ten potatoes out of the ground at harvest time, no profit is made. However, one has exerted energy and thought to plant those potatoes, basically wasting one’s time treading water – and one has not accomplished anything. More broadly speaking, the term “profit” is a teleological concept, as Ayn Rand explains in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, “In regard to the concepts pertaining to evaluation ("value," "emotion," "feeling," "desire," etc.), the hierarchy involved is of a different kind and requires an entirely different type of measurement. It is a type applicable only to the psychological process of evaluation, and may be designated as ‘teleological measurement.’” All things that live require taking action and gaining values to sustain their lives, and if this action takes up more time or energy to accomplish something than what is returned out of the action, then the living being dies due to not making a profit. In other words, if a bird chased down and ate bugs, but didn’t get more out of digesting the bugs than it took for it to chase them down and eat them, then the bird would die. In this regard, the life of the living being is the proper standard of evaluation, and the teleological measurement would be to relate the total action taken to acquire a good versus the extended life made possible by utilizing that good to further one’s own life. Profit is life – to not make a profit is to spend one’s time and energy not sustaining oneself, and in the long-run cannot support one’s life -- and one will suffer or die. By life as the standard of evaluation (a type of teleological measurement), doing this consistently would be anti-life and not of value to those treading water instead of making a profit. The ability to get more out of an action than the effort one put into the action is the very root of the ability to live, and is moral according to the Objectivist Ethics. Hence, earning a profit in the market place is an act of living, and by the proper terms of evaluation, is extremely moral and just. To say that retailers earning a profit are wrong or immoral is to be anti-life, and is based on the premise that death is more important than life. Objectivism rejects this premise and celebrates the fact that a living being, and man in particular, can take the actions necessary to live its life by earning a profit. Some might protest at this point and say, “Yes, that is all good and well for the retailer, but how am I making a profit by purchasing items? If Wal-Mart makes millions of dollars on Black Friday, but I only get that HD TV, how am I profiting? And how is this fair?” To take this attitude is to drop the context as to why one bought the item in the first place. When one works for a living, the profit the worker makes is the savings he can put aside that is above and beyond the immediate needs of the moment, so he can buy things of greater value further down the line. If one is rational, one spends one’s money on those things which further one’s own life; and this can be measured in terms of more time given to live (like eating food) or more enjoyment out of life (which is important since we have free will and must desire to live). So buying that HD TV or that Ipad or that Smart Phone is all good and well for the consumer, given the value of that product to him for the purpose of sustaining or enjoying his life. In other words, both sides benefit if one is a smart retailer or a smart shopper. Such a trade is mutually beneficial and for the life of either side of the trade. This is what makes capitalism good. So, enjoy your Black Friday shopping spree, enjoy your values, and don’t spend all your profits on things that are not of value to you in the heat of the moment. Celebrate that fact that you live in a human society and can purchase things to sustain and to enjoy your life with just the effort of handing over some dollars that you earned by similarly trading value for value at the workplace (your time, effort, and expertise for his dollars).
  20. Posted a new essay to my club website forum; Black Friday Special -- The Morality of Profit.
  21. Added some clarifying statements and paragraphs to my essay, "The Argument for Freedom -- Why I am not a Libertarian" on my forum for the Pittsburgh Objectivism Society.
  22. Published a news story about the Catholic Church's recent position against Ayn Rand and Objectivism, given that Paul Ryan supported Atlas Shrugged and its individualism, which the Church is morally against. http://www.meetup.com/Pittsburgh-Objectivism-Society/messages/boards/thread/25925312#85811832
  23. Added The Argument for Freedom -- Why I am Not a Libertarian to my message board.
  24. I think some of you are missing my point, which is that one cannot derive the idea of freedom in any other way than to base it on man's factual nature and that he has a mind that is his means of survival and he has a right to use it and to act on it. It's not about this or that government program that needs to be cut or whether someone is for or against fractional reserve banking, it's a broader principle that can only be argued for based upon reason and the facts. I haven't seen Ron Paul or Gary Johnson do this, so I don't think they are rational supporters of individual rights. They do speak of freedom and cutting out some government programs and regulations, but they have no solid grounding for these proposals. And for the longest time, I, too, was against fractional reserve banking. I thought it was fraud to loan out money at the same time it was backing deposits. But, thanks to Yaron, I now understand it better and am no longer against it. Effectively, not everyone signs check for the entirety of their deposits. So the question is what to do with that money still in the bank? The bank can either keep it safe for future withdraw, or loan it out to others. Now, this means that the depositor will not have full access to his deposited funds at any given moment, but so long as the bank has a contract stating this up front, then no fraud is involved. For example, it used to be that when one closed a checking account (due to moving, let's say), there was a waiting time of up to a week or so before the bank would turn over your money. For one, they had to make sure you would not write any more checks against it; and for two, they had to make sure their books would balance and maybe had to wait until money was available before giving you your money in its entirety. As long as all of this is clear to the bank depositor, no fraud is involved. But, it took me a long time to see this. And since no rights are violated, it's buyer beware. If you don't want that type of set-up, choose a different bank.
  25. Added the essay "Articulating Freedom -- Individual Rights" to my message board.
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