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Everything posted by Antonio

  1. In California, we are doomed. The worst parts of this plan include new taxes to pay for this plan. So folks like me in the upper middle, who for years have been buying health insurance through my employers, will now have to pay more so other people — including people who make more money than I do — can get health insurance. In the context of a business that is needing to cut costs to prop up the profit margin amid declining revenue, this is another hit that we need about as much as a hole in the head. It will kill some businesses, and certainly reduce pay or halt raises for many. This is a news release I received in my e-mail earlier today from the California Assembly. _____ PR 07 280 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 17, 2007 California Assembly Passes Most Significant State Expansion of Health Care Coverage in Nation’s History Most Californians, Including All Children, Covered Under the Plan SACRAMENTO – Historic health care legislation extending coverage to millions of California’s uninsured, including all children, was approved by the state Assembly today by a 45-31 vote. “We’ve crafted an amazing and historic bill that expands health coverage for those without it and improves health insurance for those already covered,” Speaker Núñez said. “This brings us one step closer to making health care a right afforded to everybody in this state, and not just a privilege afforded to those with deep pockets.” Assembly Bill 1X1 is the culmination of nearly a year of negotiations between legislative leaders, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the state’s leading labor, business, health care, and consumer groups. Dozens of organizations have embraced the bill, including the Service Employees International Union, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AARP, California Hospital Association, Safeway, March of Dimes, Children Now, Mental Health Association of California, American Nurses Association of California, California Association of Nurse Practitioners, Kaiser Permanente, CIGNA, Blue Shield, and Small Business California. “No child in this state should be left without adequate health care coverage, and under this proposal, all 800,000 children will be covered,” Speaker Núñez added. AB 1X1 was amended today on the Assembly floor, incorporating ideas from a number of stakeholders. It relies on a system of shared responsibility between employers, health care providers, consumers, and government agencies. It requires an individual mandate for most Californians, but provides subsidies, rebates, and exemptions for Californians earning up to 450% of the federal poverty line, or for those whose out-of-pocket health expenses would exceed 6.5% of family income. The bill includes significant cost-containment and transparency language, including a requirement that insurance companies spend no more than 15 cents of every dollar on administrative costs. Those with pre-existing conditions are guaranteed coverage under the plan, and all children will be covered. It is financed through system wide health care cost savings, and through a combination of fees and taxes to be approved by the voters in a November 2008 ballot initiative that will include a tobacco tax, employer fee assessed along a sliding scale based on annual payroll, and a hospital fee. It now heads to the California State Senate for consideration. ###
  2. See my post above, but I would add that I certainly am not "struggling in the same pool of mediocrity typical of the very average person in any country." I am quote proud of and love my work as a journalist (I am a newspaper editor) and the influence I have in my community, of my children, my wife and my family, of their values and of what I believe in, and that I live an honest and sincere life that I thoroughly enjoy. I am certain that I am not the only Objectivist who is NOT lost for purpose. I demonstrate this on my job all the time, as well as in what I expect for and of my children, as well as my approach to raising a daughter who uses a wheelchair - all of which are far from the mainstream of mediocrity, mysticism and politically correct collectivism. Finally, I am also quite certain that I am living a life of a far higher standard than the average person, and likely even the above-average person of most of the rest of the world's less-developed nations. I don't need to go into detail to describe the benefits I and my family have living in the richest state of the richest nation on Earth. That I am fortunate to live here, and do so as an Objectivist is a large part of what helps make my life happy.
  3. I do not know this to be true among any Objectivists I know, including myself. I am proud of all of the things I am and all of the things that I have achieved, which includes happiness. I am proud of my career as a journalist and the influence I have and the difference that I make in my community as a newspaper editor. I am also proud that my daughter, despite her physical disabilities, is able to be happy and demonstrate heroism by proving disabilities are not an impediment to happiness. This has been largely because of how we have educated her and in our insistence that she have the most innovative and best technology at her disposal, and our insistence that nothing should unreasonably stand in her way. I'm also proud of my children and of the fact that I actively stand for what I believe both as a journalist and outside of work, and that I am able to provide my family with a good life and with happiness without having to be evasive or dishonorable. The fact that I am an Objectivist is just a part of all those things that make up the sum of what I am. I could have some other system of belief and still be a good person. But Objectivism is my chosen philosophy, and as such I am naturally as proud of that as I would expect a Christian or a Jew to be proud of his beliefs. If one is not proud of one's beliefs, perhaps he should seek out another.
  4. I found this odd too. I was matched 75 percent with Kansas Sen. Tom Brownback, who is just about a caveman. Ron Paul was lower on the list, though after going to his Web site and reading his positions, and from what I have known from him, I would favor him among the major-party candidates. While I don't agree 100 percent with him, or anyone else for that matter, I would agree with him on most issues. Without running this by someone with an expertise in statistical scoring, on the surface the rationale for the point system seems to make sense. But it must be flawed in overly weighing certain issues. I wonder if some of the mediums should have been answered as low. And, the definitions of issues were grossly oversimplified. For instance, I suspect free trade in this sense meant support of NAFTA, WTO and other trade pacts. While I support free trade, I do not support turning over sovereignty to super-national organizations, nor government propping up this practice (which is not true free trade). So I answered yes, and therefore would be swayed away from the Ron Paul camp. This reminds me a little bit about the World's Smallest Political Quiz, touted often by the Libertarian Party. I remember in college when a party rep was in the quad having people take the quiz (which at the time was called the "Freedom Survey"). Not surprisingly, there were more libertarians than anything else there, as has been the case on the Web version of the quiz. In that quiz as well, the questions are extremely simplified and I suspect worded so that many respondents end up in the libertarian quadrant.
  5. Antonio

    Traffic Laws

    Those are all valid points, but they are each separate issues because they have separate causes and have remedies that are not mutually exclusive. Recently a discussion on a question of conduct in a zoning-related matter involving someone's property drew a response from someone along the lines of "there shouldn't be zoning, the property owner has inherent rights, government shouldn't butt in, it's the city officials that should be prosecuted for violating rights," etc. But that kind of response is not only impractical, it is evasive, and nearly escapism, because it fails to address the matter at hand. Though people of many stripes are guilty of this, I see my fellow Objectivists do this quite a bit. To be sure, if I wanted to fight a ticket, I can't just argue there should be no traffic laws on a philosophical basis and suggest that the cop should be put on trial. In a court I would have to argue based on the system of law, or be held in contempt and jailed. If the issue is whether there should be traffic laws, address the traffic laws. If the issue is road privatization, then the thread should be titled as road privatization. Bad lawmaking is bad lawmaking, and could exist even if the roads were privately owned. We could have good lawmaking and public roads, if only the legislature could pass objective laws. Road privatization is a different issue. As to whether there should be even objective traffic laws, they could exist whether or not the road system is public because laws can reach into private property, and do. In fact, some motor vehicle laws also apply on private property. Recently in my area, we reported on a father who was accused of driving drunk in the rain, offroading up a muddy hill on private property. Their truck rolled, the boy apparently was not restrained and he died. The father was charged with manslaughter, DUI and related offenses. A privately held road system could be covered by a purely private contract among drivers and road owners, or the government could regulate conduct with laws. Whether those laws are good or bad is another matter. Whether the government should do it, or whether it should be private contract, is another matter. To purely address traffic laws, and whether in concept they are good or bad, these laws could be justified because certain activities by drivers — such as speeding, driving drunk, driving erratically or driving in the wrong direction — could endanger the lives and property of other motorists, and it is the proper role of government to protect life and property. This is true in a private or public road. Battery, homicide and theft are all illegal even on private property, for instance, for that reason.
  6. He he. No. Sophia from this forum is someone else. I like her too. Appropriately enough, it means wisdom, from Greek, which is why we chose that. It's funny how duty came up. My wife is being told she has to do my daughter's school book fair in a place where she doesn't want it because of a petty request by a handful of teachers. That smaller space would be a disaster, so she told them she would not do it unless it's on her terms. One response is "But you have to. We have to have a book fair." She told them if they want her labor for free and want to benefit from her creativity and marketing skills they have to let her be creative. So unless the principal changes his mind, she's pulling another Roark! The audacity to think she has a duty to help, a claim on her free labor. She made it clear she will do this only if she can have a good time and do it in the way she knows to make it successful (the three years my wife has run it, they more than doubled the funds raised), not because she owes it to the school. Why her and not another parent? Well, because my wife knows how to get it done, and they know it.. A part of me wants her to blow it up to teach them a lesson.
  7. Antonio

    Traffic Laws

    Perhaps conquered would be a better description. Most American Indians did not have private property, and some had lands held by their tribal governments. Political systems varied from small nomadic groups to the more sophisticated Iriquois Confederation. I leave the characterization as to whether the land was stolen or not to some other debate. But it was a case of conquest and they lost. And it was a long time ago, and the people involved are dead. It is true though that, with exception to James J. Hill's Great Northern Railroad, government often gave lands to railroads or other companies that gained their favor. It is part of the "political class" that folks like Hill warned about. That as soon as it takes over, we're doomed.
  8. I wouldn't have a problem with that. I would hope that anyone who wanted to help me, be it a friend, co-worker, etc. would help me because I am worthy enough that they would be happy to help, or agree with our values or an ideal we are trying to achieve (such as breaking access and perceptual barriers faced by our daughter). As an example, my daughter's pediatrician wrote a letter of medical necessity and prescription for some innovative disabled mobility devices we're obtaining, Wijits and an iBot. He did this without charging us for his time, and told us he agrees with our ideal that as an individual my daughter should be able to go wherever technology makes it possible - in this case hiking, to the beach, up stairs, curbs, to field trips or other areas that are not wheelchair-friendly. Here we are fighting the leftist-collectivist mentality where everyone who is disabled (mind you, my daughter's only problem is she can't walk) should have only the bare minimum to avoid being in an institution. We're asked sometimes why would Sophia "need" to be able to attend a concert on a green or go to to the beach? As if they can tell me what's good for my daughter. I didn't have a problem with her doctor helping us free of charge with the needed paperwork because he supports our indivudualist ideal as well. And thanks for the good words on my posts.
  9. This is very well put. The "for the children" canard is used all the time by people wanting to advance their political or social agenda. I regularly provoke questions in the minds of other parents at my daughters' schools when I make it clear that I volunteer for selfish reasons, not "for the children." Most parents that I share my views with have found my ideas provocative and persuasive - that they're here volunteering at school or on a field trip because they are expressing their values. They're there to help their own child have a better experience or to enjoy the personal emotional satisfaction of seeing children happy and enjoying life. I make no bones that's why I am there, for those reasons and because of the political capital I gain with my daughters' schools, and how we get preferential treatment, including the teachers of our choice, because we regularly help. It's actually an extension of the two points above. We chose to have our children. They are our responsibility and I do not expect others to bear the burden unnecessarily or involuntarily.
  10. You're missing the point of that quote. I am not going to rehash the abortion debate that has taken place here many times before, but an unborn child at the early stages of fetal development is what Piekoff is referring to, not a child that is born and created by the actions of a man and woman. I will refer you to this thread: http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.p...10406&st=14, where I chimed in on the topic of the rights of disabled people to be cared for with my twist on it as a parent. My take is that my wife and I chose to bear our daughter, and therefore are responsible for her care and upbringing. Subsequent posts by myself and others touched on the issue of personal responsibility and accountability. Children are the result of having sex. One comparison made there was to driving a car. Two people who have sex do so assuming the full range of consequences involved such as disease or pregnancy, just as a driver assumed liability for his actions when he gets behind the wheel of a car. Other posts addressed adoption or institutionalization, where they were argued as moral because they are a form of fulfilling the parental obligation to ensure care when a mother and/or father cannot or doesn't want to care for a child. Abortion is a side issue to this because that involves a question of whether a woman has the right to decide what she will do with her body. When an abortion happens, a child does not result. Therefore the "What about the children?" question is irrelevant.
  11. Your editing of my quote to read "The Republicans ... [are generally] supportive of business, job creation and economic growth." is misleading because it conveys a different perspective than what I wrote originally. What I actually wrote was that "...when you take the region where I live, for instance, the Democrat or left faction, while not religious, pitches stifling environmental, anti-growth and anti-business policies that limit freedom from the eco"nomic standpoint. The Republicans, or the right-leaning element, tends to favor property rights and is supportive of business, job creation and economic growth. But then they're religious extremists who are often homophobic or in the most extreme cases, racist." All politics being local, as the old saying goes, that is the stance of most Republican officeholders and candidates in the area of California in which I live. No evaluation of that perspective is necessary because their voting records and campaign statements indicate what I said. I suspect that my local Republicans favor small government because Democrats in this area are overwhelmingly environmentalist (the lines divide here between pro-growth/anti-growth) and most come from the Bay Area. Because most local Democrat efforts tilt toward intervention with property rights and development, the natural opposition would look to Republicans. Naturally, this is not the case everywhere. In California's Central Valley, for instance, Republicans favor big-government farm subsidies and other interventions such as milk price supports (some would say welfare) for the massive (many of them corporate, in contrast to the family-run or mid-sized operations where I live) farms and dairies in the region. There I suspect the lines would break on the pro-business/anti-business line. Central Valley Democrats tend to favor government intervention to protect farm workers while Republicans tend to favor government protecting agribusiness. The common thread, however, is whether they favor big government like the ones in the Valley or the small-government variety in my area, is that many of them are Christian extremists. So while Republicans might be pro-capitalist as you describe, yes, many are also pro big-government because they are pro-business. In choosing the lesser of evils, I generally favored pro-business because it's supposed to create jobs (though that often doesn't happen). But I agree that the parties are quite similar in terms of advocating government intervention in the economy. And both parties have grown increasingly authoritarian in that regard. The stronger religious overtones and Christian authoritarianism of the right have bugged me for a long time. I've politely put up with it among my Republican brethren, even when I do state my own contrary views, but I'm not sure if I can for much longer, or if I should.
  12. I think that is a major basis for the argument some Objectivists make about U.S. politics that Democrats, while they are of the left wing, do not generally base their policies on religion. And it's the religion that is the greatest threat to our freedoms, while bad economic and fiscal policies can be dealt with while still maintaining political freedom. Of course I am speaking only anecdotally, but most of the atheists I know are either Democrats or not Republicans, and I have never met a Democrat who wanted to use religion as a basis for public policy. It's a tough one because when you take the region where I live, for instance, the Democrat or left faction, while not religious, pitches stifling environmental, anti-growth and anti-business policies that limit freedom from the economic standpoint. The Republicans, or the right-leaning element, tends to favor property rights and is supportive of business, job creation and economic growth. But then they're religious extremists who are often homophobic or in the most extreme cases, racist. Granted that Peikoff's arguments about religious right-leaning politicians being the greatest threats to our freedom are quite sound. But the policies advocated by the left are just so patently offensive that I would have a hard time voting for one of them. Indeed, this is a schism in America that is getting worse all the time. They get the kids started early. When they are very young their afterschool religious activities are all centered around fun, so it looks innocent. But then they are roped in and when they get older they are driven by fear into obedience. My daughter gets invitations to go to Awana and other little "fun" church-based activities, and it's really hard explaining to an 10-year-old why that's bad.
  13. I know what you mean about the religious Left. I ran into them in the last church that we attended before I broke off of religion completely - the Congregational Church. Even when I was pretty decidedly a nonbeliever, I indulged my wife in attending with her because the people were very nice and they were certainly enlightened and open minded. For instance, they allow gays to be members and clergy, and they teach the truth about how faith and religion has its basis in myths, like how solstice celebrations started out of primitive fears of the days getting shorter and darker in winter and cheers for days getting longer and with more light in summer. The problem was that they would allow statism to creep in to the lessons, especially after the 2000 elections. Most of them being pacifists, they talked all the time about gun control and they preached a lot of save-the-Earth kind of stuff. My inclination when everyone on a ballot is insidious is to not vote for any of them. I guess it comes down to what is the goal of the vote. Some people vote to send a message. Some vote because they think they have to. Others vote because they specifically want certain people in office, while others vote to prevent some candidates from winning. It all comes down to personal choice of course. One could argue that we should vote according to whatever might serve a selfish need. For example, having a disable daughter who is eligible for some government services, some would say I should vote Democrat because Republicans promote religious statism that reduce our freedoms, and Democrats at least would maintain social programs that return me some of my tax dollars. Doing so could be a vote for achieving two goals: stalling the growth of the influence of the evangelical religious Right, and ensuring that some of my immorally taken tax dollars are returned to me. After all, if the programs are cut, taxes won't be reduced. And even if taxes are reduced, some of that money will be returned to me. Right? I still have a hard time with this because on the other hand, I feel it amounts to advocacy of statism.
  14. Parties that are involved in car accidents are entitled to damages from whoever caused the wreck. If a driver's error caused it, then he is at fault. If a mechanical fault that was known by a manufacturer, and should have been corrected, caused it, then the manufacturer can be found at fault and held liable by the courts. If it was a mechanical fault caused by vehicle wear or by a vehicle owner's failure to properly maintain his vehicle, then it is his fault. Generally, the owners and operators of vehicles assume responsibility for the consequences of operating the vehicles because their choosing to make them available or to operate them increases the risk that an adverse consequence can occur. Risks are assumed by everyone at every level and in accordance to their roles in every activity. If a couple takes a preventive measure they are still responsible because preventive measures have a known risk of failure. The risk is still the same - pregnancy or disease can result. The risk changes when preventive measures are taken, but nonetheless some risks remain. Therefore, the responsibilities remain. Absolutely! Anyone who doesn't want to have children shouldn't have them because that can affect the quality of the child's life, and it is not necessary to keep the child in order to fulfill the responsibility of its care because it can be put up for adoption. And there are many willing takers. I misunderstood the situation a bit here. If he is in an institution that cares well for him, and cares for him better than if she would, that's OK. But she still needs to see to it that the care is up to par. It's sad that she cannot find a way to work things out so she isn't bothered by her child so much that she seldom sees him. But that's a different issue from obligations to care and the rights of children or disabled people. As I stated above, yes. Contraceptives have a statistical margin of failure and it is well known that they are not foolproof. Negligence on the part of a contraceptive manufacturer or dispensing pharmacist, or defects caused by a manufacturer create another level of liability where the users of contraceptives have certain entitlements to damages, which could include the substantial cost of caring for a resulting child or an abortion, depending on the mother's choice. You are within your rights to absolve him of his responsibilities, and frankly will more likely find peace with yourself by doing so. Indeed, trying to buy one's way out of guilt does not change the fact that he was not there when he was supposed to be. It's your choice whether you feel that his more recent actions make up for the past, and it's understandable that they don't.
  15. It is even more incredible now because they are on their second consumer model and fourth model after the prototype. It's not as bulky anymore, it responds faster and in the four-wheel-drive mode it can turn on a time. You can literally spin around in place without occupying anymore footprint or having to move because it is also more precise. The bugs or quirks in the older models are being worked out. It's so curious how some people with disabilities react when they find out they can raise themselves up so they can sit at a bar (and you can't tip it over when it's standing). Their response is that the bar should be lowered so you can access it sitting down. Ok, but why not let my daughter stand? I think they're just pissed that iBots cost $23,000 to $26,000. They don't get that freedom isn't free.
  16. It's not slavery because slavery is involuntary servitude. It is voluntary because having a child is a choice. You don't have to have a child. You don't have to have sex, which, when doing so, you know there is always the risk of pregnancy - or worse. An unplanned pregnancy is really an unwanted pregnancy. Except in cases of insurance fraud or suicide, car accidents aren't planned either. But they are unwanted. Nonetheless, the owner of the vehicle at fault or the driver is responsible. Why? Because it is the consequence of an action, regardless of whether it is planned or not. Those consequences could include losing a lawsuit and having to pay a judgment or settlement, even if it means attaching wages - or in the case of a woman that hit my wife, restitution that the probation department required she pay us for costs not covered by insurance. She was held accountable for an action no doubt she did not plan, but was nonetheless responsible for. But when she got behind the wheel, she assumed the risk. The same goes with having sex. Adoption is fine. Actually, it's great. If you can't take good care of a child or can't provide what you feel a child deserves, it is very noble to allow one of the many willing couples who either can't have children and want one, or who want to find happiness in taking care of a disabled child, to adopt. I know there are some people who think that's ducking the responsibility, but it's not. Giving your child to a good home fulfills the parents' responsibility to ensure it is cared for. It is about owning up to the consequences of one's actions and being accountable for personal responsibility. It is irresponsible to choose to create another human being and then throw it out with the trash to fend for itself. Parents are obligated to be accountable for their actions, and take responsibility by caring for their children or seeing to it that someone else does voluntarily.
  17. This is not necessarily true. Many disabilities are caused because of genetics, environmental factors or just plain accidents. Government has no role, for instance, when someone accidentally backs up their car and runs a pedestrian over, causing spinal injuries that can be everything from painful to immobilizing. Strong tort liability for accidents (including jail) such as balcony collapses or running a red light can be strong deterrents to neglect. You want people to walk on it? Then you better not hurt them! Get behind the wheel? Don't drive like a jackass! Screw up and you pay the price. It's personal responsibility and accountability. This is possible if government gets out of the way and stops protecting corporations by absolving them of responsibilities.
  18. So if parents do not look after their disabled kids, then who will? The government? You? Me? The notion of adulthood and the point at which parents stop looking after their kids is a subjective benchmark set at 18. Granted, collectivism aside there has to be some point at which a person has the legal right to be free of their parents if necessary (though that option exists earlier via emancipation or court intervention when parents are abusive). We all know there are some 16 year olds who are more capable of taking care of themselves than some 20 year olds. Thankfully, in custody disputes, for instance, judges recognize this to some extent by basing decisions on minors' input, depending on their individual level of maturity and understanding of the case. That said, at age 37 I turn to my parents for advice all the time (and they turn to me too). They still look after me in that they are very much a part of my life and do not wish to see the person they chose to bring into the world fall flat on his face. This is back to personal responsibility and the nature of origin - even in adulthood, I am a person they chose to impose upon the world. I am certain that we will still be caring for my daughter in some form even into her adulthood, depending on a lot of things such as how much independence she can achieve, technology in the next decade or two and whatever personal relationships she develops that would relieve us of some of that responsibility. What it comes down to is origin, as well as cause and effect. We chose to bring our daughter into the world, and created a human being with her own mind and all the things that come with it, like emotions, pain, etc. And this decision involves significant risks that are ours to bear. Therefore we are responsible for ensuring, as much as is reasonably within our power, that she be well cared for even into adulthood. She did not choose to be disabled, where we, on the other hand, chose to create her. It's sad that your mother feels the way she does. But without sounding cold hopefully, I can conclude only that it's her responsibility, whether she likes it or not, until such time she finds someone else who chooses to assume it.
  19. I recently saw this film as well, and found it disturbing even if I was not surprised. It has, however, made me wonder though about Leonard Peikoff's statement before last fall's elections advising that Objectivists should vote for Democrats as the lesser of two evils, and that voting Republican, or not voting at all, are worse. It's a provocative thought. Even voting for "good" Republicans would be bad. Sure, there are good Republicans like Ron Paul who advocate free markets and small government. But they would help add to the numerical majority and give the party, which is not controlled by good Republicans, control of Congress. As much as I hate Democrats' socialist tendencies, I can be persuaded not to vote Republican because in all likelihood the U.S. economy is so strong that it could not be destroyed by the left. Altered perhaps, but not destroyed. Is the limitation of freedom advocated by religious extremist Republicans worse? After all, by and large Republicans aren't really small government. Is the religious right more dangerous than the nonreligious left?
  20. It's funny you would say that. My wife said that the aide in my daughter's class told her that in all her years she has never seen a family so willing to help out and support the class and the aides. The context of this is that my daughter is having problems with her kneecap popping to the side when she transfers from wheelchair to a toilet. She uses a wall bar to pull herself onto a transitional bench she scoots on to get to the toilet because she' can't bear weight. We've been going to her school daily about the time she goes to the bathroom to experiment with knee braces, altering bench heights and other techniques so she can do this herself with only an aide to watch for safety. And we'll be going there to help until a trunk swing comes in that will allow her to do the transfer more quickly (and without the knee pain). I know that other parents won't do that. The default in a case like this is for the school psychologist to call her physical therapist with California Children's Services and ask her to help. Well, professional consultation is OK, but we're the ones who are supposed to help our kid, being that she's ours and all.
  21. I would imagine that Objectivists would find value in helping disabled people because of the selfish satisfaction involved. I recall my wife's uncle building some kind of playset (he owns a fabricating shop) for some kids with Down syndrome because one of his friends' children was one of them. He told of how great it was to see these kids having fun and just enjoying how great it is to be alive, celebrating the highest value - life. Some would say that's altruism, but I submit it's selfish. It's great to see other people happy and to know it's possible because of one's actions. I help out all the time at my daughters' schools. I make no bones about the fact I do it because it selfishly makes me happy, and that I do so to gain political favor with school officials (we always get the teachers we want and get other preferential treatment). It's quid-pro-quo, a trade of sorts. I have no problem with it, though some other parents do because they say I should do it "for the children" or because I want to "give back." Give back what? My taxes?
  22. As the father of an 8-year-old girl who uses a wheelchair, I agree, particularly because an Objectivist who is aware of his responsibilities would be accountable to them. Having a child was our choice, and it comes with all sorts of risks that are ours to assume and ours to deal with the consequences. It is our responsibility to take care of her. My extended family, especially my parents, help out as well because they want to as part of their independent relationship with her as grandparents. Objectivists are compassionate too, not cold-hearted robots. We were chided recently by another parent of a disabled kid and a school official after we declined having our daughter bused to school because the early pickup time would have her on a bus for 90 minutes to go to a school 15 minutes away. It's our "right," they said. But it's our responsibility to see that she is educated, meaning we need to get her to school, and it's our responsibility to take good care of her, and therefore not have her sit on a crummy school bus for that long. Disability is just another facet of individualism. There is a wide range of abilities, mental and physical, that people have. My daughter is hampered by physical limitations, but not mental. My wife and I also view her disability as a means to prove the value of individualism over collectivism. Folks make all sorts of assumptions because my daughter uses a wheelchair. Some people think she's not smart, others say things like "poor baby" or others just see someone in a wheelchair and expect a hassle in dealing with them. Really it's annoying. So we take our daughter roller skating (she can wear skates and stroll herself or be pushed) and we take her to play laser tag, take her swimming, to concerts, etc. Our daughter has fun, and folks notice. For the same reason, we always seek out innovative programs and adaptive devices that many people with disabilities don't because they can't afford them or don't see them as necessary. For example, my daughter is the youngest person, and the first child, to pass the drive test and clinical evaluation for the iBot wheelchair. Invented by Segway creator and engineer Dean Kamen, it is powered by three computers and six gyroscopes. It can climb stairs, go up and down curbs and traverse uneven surfaces such as dirt, grass, sand and gravel. It can also go into a vertical position so that it user can be at eye level with people who stand or can reach items on higher store shelves. We're awaiting to find out how much our private insurance will pay and then we'll borrow or raise the rest. Basically, the iBot wheelchair is the ultimate disabled adaptation, in the spirit of Darwin's statement that it is not the strongest, or the smartest, who survive, but those who can adapt and handle change. It enables the disabled person to adapt to the environment, rather than forcing the environment to adapt to the disabled person. Some disabled people oppose this for a irrational reasons, such as potential dangers or because they feel that it could discourage the end of architectural features such as stairs or steps. To us, however, an iBot represents man's ability to adapt to an environment, like the way we can walk in space thanks to spacesuits or climb mountains thanks to safety equipment. It would enable my daughter to anywhere, and not depend on using ADA as a crutch. We do this because it's our responsibility, both to take care of her, provide her the best that's available within our power and to educate her that she does not need to be dependent. Family and friends are fine, but that's fine because it's voluntary. In an Objectivist world based on personal responsibility and accountability, people who bring a disabled person into the world would act accordingly.
  23. I know it has been a long time since there has been a post on this thread, but I'm posting this here because an interesting letter to the editor in my local newspaper seems to be best discussed under this context rather than its own thread. Interestingly, the post I quote touches on the issue that nobody ever really owns land. This is the letter: Defining property rights Recent letters have discussed property rights, whether dealing with creek setbacks or viewsheds. There is even a Protect Our Property Rights organization. There really is no debate on the matter. The definitions of “state societies” and U.S. land-use law provide the answer: In all state societies (such as ours), the state owns all land within its borders (there is no such thing as “private property”). The state determines how its citizens can use its property. When a citizen is finished using the state’s property, that property is turned over for use by another citizen. In the United States, you don’t own property; you own a government lease (called a deed). As long as you pay “rent” (property tax), you can use the property. If you stop paying tax, the state auctions the deed to another citizen. Real estate agents don’t sell property; they sell government leases (deeds to use some of the state’s property). The Supreme Court only recognizes one “right” property owners have: the right to use the property in the same way it was used at the time it was purchased. Any use beyond that is subject to the wishes of the state (in the United States, this is determined by the people through their elected officials). I have heard statements of this kind both by collectivist and statist types who oppose private ownership, as well as by proponents of private ownership who assert that the growth of the state has led to what amounts to what is described in this letter, caused by increasing influence by environmentalists and the left and quasi-socialist policies adopted by government. I have a tough time with what to make of this. Not so much whether this letter is facetious or sarcastic or whether its author believes what he wrote, but whether this is what the status of property has become. If so, is it de facto or de jure? Given which of the two it is, would it be moral for an Objectivist who owns property that is subject to similar restrictions (which were in place before ownership and the subject of a full disclosure during escrow) to seek or support the enforcement of such restrictions in place in a neighboring parcel in order to defend the value of one's property? That is, two property owners buy into a situation where we're both restricted by zoning. One of them seeks to subdivide his property, requiring changes that will alter the look and feel of the surrounding area and cause an increase in the use of a privately owned street (with a public easement) that the subdividing owner doesn't own a share of. Is it right to oppose the subdivision or seek conditions that would be enforced by government in order to protect the other property owner's interests. Again, it's a situation where both property owners knowingly bought into a situation where parcels (as is the case in most of the United States) are restricted by zoning.
  24. "Annoying" is a legal term used in California, and possibly other states, that refers to untoward comments or other activity against minors. For instance, a local teacher was found guilty by a jury of "annoying or molesting a minor under the age of 14" recently for French-kissing a 9-year-old girl last year. If he had done more, it would have gone up to "lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor." All of these kinds of actions fall under the general definition of child molestation, except non-physical actions that the state nonetheless considers crimes. Those include making dirty remarks, giving kids looks, following them around, taking pictures of them (in some contexts, like only their legs or something sexually suggestive) and the proverbial "Want some candy little girl?" solicitation for a ride home. Typically we see men prosecuted under the "annoying" statute. Believe me, as a newspaper editor whose audience is the world of average folks, as opposed to lawyers and cops, I find it annoying that they would use such a term (every pun intended). I agree what you mean about mentally disabled people or kids. It's arguable that statutes to protect them are justified, which presumably something like California's "annoying or molesting" statute - a misdemeanor by the way (the others are felonies usually) - would fit that bill. While it would be merely offensive to the average adult, lots of other things are that don't warrant prosecution or the kinds of protections that vulnerable populations such as children could deserve.
  25. While it's true, children shouldn't be faced with sexual situations they are unprepared for, they could be solicited anywhere. The kind of solicitation said to occur during "cruising" or "cottaging" is done by communicating in code with foot and hand maneuvers. In the Craig case, supposedly moving his foot toward the cop's stall and moving his hand under the stall wall. A kid probably won't know or even notice that a foot moves slightly toward his stall. We're not talking about someone just walking up to a kid and asking them for sex. That would fall under "annoying or molesting" in California statutes. What I'm talking about is the cops using our tax dollars to set up stings in public bathrooms. That is a lot of work for very little return in terms of public safety and security. The other issue is discrimination. Straight people solicit one another all the time in public, such as in bars or other venues. These stings, such as the Craig situation and a recent sting near a nude beach in our area were targeted at gays.
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