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Objectivism Online Forum


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Everything posted by Maarten

  1. That presentation was awesome
  2. Yes, agreed. It really is the only objective line that you can drawn. The only other clear line would be conception, but I think it is quite clear that a fertilized egg is NOT equivalent to a human being in any essential way, and that's why it wouldn't be the right point to confer rights upon the egg.
  3. For one thing it is better to use verbs such as traded, exchanged for describing these actions. People frequently say that someone "gave" their life, which implies it was just discarded and nothing received in return. If you say that Private Charlie exchanged his life today, even without specifying what he got back, it implies that there was something there and I think it would reduce the confusion.
  4. That's the thing. Just because there is a fine line separating a fetus right before birth and a baby after birth, doesn't mean the line doesn't exist. No matter where you put the point you could argue that 1 millisecond before that there's no essential difference, and regress that all the way back to conception. There is likely no single point where a fetus first becomes aware of its surroundings, either, so you wouldn't be able to use that as a clear guiding principle. It just seems that once you surrender the hard line that is birth there is really no principle stopping you from claiming that a clump of cells is also human and should have rights, and that therefore abortion at any point is murder. And that's exactly what many pro-lifers claim. Once you surrender a woman's right to abortion with these disclaimers there really is no good point to stop it from there. You may say that it gains rights at viability (or whatever criterion you use), but viability is not a clear-cut concept either, and would not be as objective as birth. And another person could easily come along then and move the point around a little, and there's nothing you could do to prevent that because you've surrendered the absolute nature of the right. Especially viability is problematic because it is a post-facto determination that is made. You cannot know in advance if the fetus is going to survive out of the womb, and in many cases all they have are percentages. So what about the cases where you think it is viable and it wasn't? You'd prevent the mother from exercising her right to determine what happens to her body for no good reason. The only way to find out whether it is viable or not is to actually deliver it and see, and what do you do when it wasn't viable and you basically just violated the woman's rights? I would hope that people are consistent enough then to say that that as well should be an offense. And even more problematic than that is how much effort can reasonably be expected to keep a delivered fetus alive? Is viability determined by average care given to such a child, or is it dependent upon what is theoretically possible but may be hideously expensive? Just because it is possible to keep a child alive, doesn't mean that it's a good course of action to take. It may not be worth the very real costs, both monetarily to the parents and physically to the child if it develops all sorts of serious problems because of the delivery.
  5. There are plenty of places with privately owned firestations and they tend to work better. So it's definitely not necessary that the government fulfill this function.
  6. Is the idea here that wealthy people are more rational, so by tying voting to donations (or taxation) the more productive members of society would have more say? I think that's a reasonable way of implementing voting, but it wouldn't work in a mixed economy like ours where many rich people only got there by government lobbying and so forth. I really think the issue of who votes is a very minor problem; far more important is what the function of government is and what legislators can do once they're elected.
  7. Probably so, but even if you knew you'd get X number of extra cases by settling, it still might be cheaper to do so. Some of these class actions have obscene damage awards; even more damaging might be that there's very little recourse to recover expenses when you win a trial in these cases. It's not like target can force the claimant to pay 10 million in legal fees, because most normal people just don't have that and I doubt the law allows it. But I do think doing something like that (having the loser pay the costs) would raise the bar for lawsuits; however, that would also inadvertently prevent some legitimate lawsuits from getting to court because of the ever present chance of losing.
  8. Yeah, maple syrup is ridiculously expensive in most places. Even in north carolina it used to be almost 10 dollars for maybe half a pint... up here in new hampshire it is much cheaper, about a third of the price as far as I can tell because it is made close by. You only need a tiny bit, though, so I still recommend it if you can find it for a good price somewhere =) But that may not be a possibility in certain locations.
  9. For those of you who have access to real maple syrup, I think this is a very yummy addition. I started putting about half a teaspoon of maple syrup in my coffee along with my regular milk and sugar for sweetening, and it is delicious. You only need a tiny amount to taste it (and don't add too much cause it'll be gross). I think there's probably certain kinds of maple flavors for coffee, but I don't think they taste as good as the actual pure maple syrup itself. Most of the time it's just maple flavoring added to regular syrup, which sucks compared to the real stuff. Try it some time if you can get it!
  10. I have about ten gold or something between my character and business... It just sucks that it's so damn hard to make a profit. It is probably better in a large country but for us there is not much of a market for what I make, and every country has such enormous tariffs if you export to them that you can't make money that way....
  11. Also, the thing is, that it's very possible that our current organization of the universe is just the latest and most successful version in an endless stream of different compositions that weren't stable. Maybe it did take a billion billion tries before it was possible to get molecules and all that; but that issue doesn't present problems in an eternal universe that very well may have gone through every possible combination that didn't work out before equilibrating to the one that did.
  12. Yeah, one thing that is really interesting to note is how few people vote.... That means that a group like ours with very high turnout can definitely achieve things... Next time if more of you can be candidates we could probably spread votes around enough so that we get several people into congress! Also, I think it might be better to have our own party in the longer run. I have about 14-15 gold sitting around, and we need 40 to do that. I guess the main question is whether enough people want to stay there to make it worth doing that, because you can't move parties around. What do you guys think?
  13. Yeah, after you fight you choose to go to battlefield, and then there's a little blue link right above the fight button.
  14. I think it's mostly that their region is owned by someone else so the taxes and trade barriers change. They might now have an embargo with another country, and the economy changes because of the markets working on a national level.
  15. Yeah, I am running. I don't have a good presentation yet because you need an external link... And the party leader selects the ultimate candidates, but it's limited per region and it doesn't seem like anyone else is running for our region. So I might be able to actually run!
  16. Yeah, I agree that the gameplay in this game is very simplistic, and it is also heavily weighted towards warfare and quantity of players. There is basically no way a country could defend itself against a huge nation; which is also true in our world, but in our world there's not this constant war going on I played another game where you play a party in a country and you get to propose laws and debate things, and depending on how active you are and how much the voters like you, you get more seats. It is pretty fun, but the laws don't actually do anything as far as I can tell; I managed to get my country to deregulate almost everything but because there was no way to participate in the economy there was not much point to play after that =P It would have been a lot nicer if you would actually see the result of these policies; i.e. if your taxes are lower there is more economic activity and all that. I am not sure if there is an online game that has that. The economy in EVE online is fairly free-market, but that is a completely different type of game. It is fun, though! But it requires such an investment of time (not necessarily in-game time, mostly just waiting time for training) that I don't know how many would be interested in doing that. It took me months to a year before I could do a lot of things fairly well.
  17. Well, weapons make you deal more damage, but you use them. So it gets pretty expensive fast. If anything, I'd maybe buy a Q1 weapon just so you get that initial boost and you deal more damage, because that does allow you to rise in rank faster. Weapons are important later on when you're fighting for real, though, but not really at first when you're just doing it for practice
  18. That's what I've been doing. I fight in the ubiquitous US- Russia wars every day and it really does help. Nothing wrong with helping to defend a freer country vs a vile dictatorship, is there?
  19. Well, it's mostly just very expensive. And I think parties are based on whatever country they were started in. I believe it costs 40 gold to start a party =( On the contrast, it is free to join one and I think you can run in the congressional elections if you choose to, as long as you get votes... I don't know if we want to move at some point; it'll probably be quite a long time from now either way, because we're not nearly strong enough to do a resistance war anywhere, if we want to do that. I think it would at least be worth a try to reform this country?
  20. One thing I have noticed over the last few years is that many businesses these days suffer from an extreme focus on shorter term profits over long-term profits. I would imagine part of that is the uncertainty that's everywhere nowadays about changing regulatory environments, but to some extent I think it is also related to the decline of long-term thinking in today's business culture. When you look back fifty or a hundred years, it seems many more companies focused their strategic goals on the very long term, and weren't afraid of making investments that'd pay off in twenty, thirty years. Nowadays in a lot of cases it seems as if a new investment has to pay for itself within a year or two for anyone to even look at it. Obviously there are exceptions to this, but I have noticed that general trend by looking at current events and topics that came up during various business classes I have taken. One thing that struck me, however, is that this development seems far more apparent with Publicly Traded companies; investors these days are focused on the last few quarterly results to the exclusion of virtually all else. You frequently see the same when others comment on stock market developments, company results, etc. Because ultimately the stockholders of a publicly traded company are its owners, it seems that this short-term focus of many participants in the marketplace encourages companies to act in such a way as to maximize shorter-term returns and keep their owners happy. But very often this doesn't coincide with the best course for the company's (and the stock's) long-term returns. If anything at all happens stocks can devalue overnight because people lose confidence, even when it doesn't have any real impact for the company's real value or growth potential. In contrast, while I know there must be countless exceptions, it seems that privately held companies have much more freedom to pursue their longer-term goals, because they are less bound by the interests of many actors in the general marketplace. Because their stock is not traded it is far easier to take a short-term loss or forgo a profit that might not work out in the long term for the sake of longer-term growth, as long as the owners of the company understand this. Granted, this might not be the case if a company was owned by a VC firm that only wants to make a quick profit, but in most cases these companies are owned by long-term investors that don't mind waiting longer as long as it pays off. In my eyes it seems that this mode of operating has huge advantages in today's climate; not to mention that they're not as subject to the scores of regulations publicly traded companies are. Granted, it does give a company a huge boost in capital if they go public and sell their stock for a good amount of money; but at the same time I have to wonder if it really is worth that when you consider the autonomy they lose? Unless I am missing something it seems as if a private company would far outperform a publicly traded company in the longer-term because they don't have to sacrifice long-term gains for short term gains. That might be an oversimplification in many cases, but has anyone else noticed this particular trend?
  21. I think it would mostly be a military alliance, actually. Ideally there wouldn't be any trade barriers anyway because there is no rational reason for there to be ones. The only sense it would be an economic alliance then would be that all states agreed not to regulate trade at all.
  22. Yeah, you can fire people, but you can't prevent them from working and getting paid that first time. So sometimes you still lose money. I don't really care about the people with 40 wellbeing, but once they get down to 15 or so wellbeing they barely produce anything for their skill level and wages, and you make a pretty big loss. Yeah, I am currently selling in Moldavia because gifts are worth about 25% more there. In terms of gold they sell for about 0.06 gold each, and in Norway it's only 0.044. Seeing how my costs are about 0.05 gold per gift right now, I need to sell in Moldavia because otherwise I'd just lose money. But let me know if you want to buy gifts from the company directly, I can always put up a few for sale so you guys can buy them. I don't believe a company can donate merchandise directly, sadly enough. As for trading with someone else, the problem is that a company cannot make donations itself, you first have to withdraw the money and that is what triggers the income tax. The only way around the income tax is to buy stuff directly with the company; because then you use pre-tax money; but that only works if the item is for sale in your country. the import taxes on diamonds in Norway are very low, actually, so maybe someone will start selling diamonds there But up to that time I think the best bet would be to try and reduce income taxes on gifts so it is cheaper to withdraw money from the company and purchase things with it. ALso, people would get more money that way. I think I will look into running for congress next cycle if I can do so, I think if everyone who can vote voted for me I would probably get in, and I might be able to propose some better tax policies?
  23. That 18% income tax in Norway is quite a pain. Because Norway doesn't produce any diamonds itself i need to buy them somewhere else, and that pretty much means that I lose 18% of whatever money I withdraw from the company's accounts... And because profit margins are so tiny right now with all those random 15 wellness people mooching off the company (you guys are much better, though! ), it means that I have to take a small loss just to keep the business running. I think one of the first campaigns that would be amazing for us is to see if we can reduce some of the taxes in that country. I might try and contact some of the congressmen in our country and see if they'd support a modest reduction in income taxes for gifts =) If it drops to even 10% that would be awesome. Also, it wouldn't be nearly as hard if you could buy diamonds in Norway directly, but no one sells them there =( Sad.
  24. Guys, if you have above 40 wellness, try fighting somewhere and use the hospitals to boost your wellness. It really is the only way to get your wellness up to good levels in the game. I don't like having to do it either, but it makes you so much more productive that it's really hard not to do that. I think we simply wouldn't be competitive in the game without doing that. Let me know if you need a moving ticket to fight; I don't think you always do, though Fighting costs you 10 wellness, but when you use the hospital (I think limited to once a day) you get 10 x quality of hospital wellness back. So even with a 3 quality hospital you gain 20 net wellness for doing that; which means in a few days you'll be maxed out. It also gives you good experience and stuff
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