Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by agrippa1

  1. That's not quite right. The two party system emerges from the plurality-takes-all elections. Even though the actual election has a majority requirement (by electors, or failing that by House members), the parties themselves have rigged the elector selection by adopting a plurality-takes-all system in their respective states. They have also rigged the issues to evenly divide the populace near 50-50, leaving no room for a third party to take advantage of a weakened party. So are we to accept the two-party hegemony because the two-parties have rigged it in their favor? And are we really to accept that these are two parties, and not two wings of a single party, each with the same goals? Those goals: to win and to rule. To win sometimes, but always to rule. For those of you willing to vote for one or the other as a lesser of two evils, consider the words of John Adams: "There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution." Voting for the lesser of two evils results in a greater evil than either individual candidate presents: a continuation of the two-party hegemony. Vote your conscience. Let Obama (or Romney) win with a plurality. Let the "uncounted" third-party vote grow with each election until someone comes forward to claim them. Or -- let the nation continue its downward spiral, dragged down by the greater or lesser of two evils.
  2. Assuming an equilibrium in a stock price, all buy orders are at lower levels than all sell orders, and the current price reflects the last buy order that was fulfilled by the lowest sell order. When you place a new buy order, without a target price, you are sold the stock at the lowest sell order price, plus a brokerage spread. The result is the price rises from the previous exchange price to the new exchange price. Likewise, if you place a sell order without a target price, you will sell to the highest buy order on the books, minus the spread, and the price will drop to that new price. You won't affect the next exchange, except possibly to signal another person to sell or buy based on the price change, but you do immediately "set" the price of the stock for your transaction. When hundreds and thousands of people are making sell and buy orders, your transaction gets lost in the noise, but the price is driven up or down by the ratio of individual buy orders to individual sell orders.
  3. And you're justified in thinking so. But if someone were to perform the acts of a Galt or a D'Anconia, he would be viewed exactly as Greenspan and Roberts are, the only clue being the contradiction between their espoused beliefs and their actions. You can't deny that there is a profound contradiction between their ostensibly deeply held beliefs and their actions. Since there are no contradictions, they either do not hold those beliefs, or they are taking actions congruent with their enemies precepts in order to hasten the inevitable failure of those precepts. I don't think it's possible to crawl into their heads and know whether they are traitors to their cause or principled saboteurs. I suppose in either case the rational attitude is to take them at their actions, either to guard against their treachery or to protect from exposure their true motives. But this is all in fun - you have to have some escape from news of the continuing death spiral...
  4. There was at least the principle that gov't was constrained by the Constitution. This evades that constraint, by making the expropriation of property, in the form of taxes, exempt from any other Constitutional tests. The gov't could pass a law laying a tax on Walmart equal to the total value of all capital assets of that company, forcing them to convert their capital into cash and pay it as tax to the gov't. At least with a penalty, there is some law that needs to be broken (like not purchasing insurance) in order to trigger the penalty; taxes can be laid with absolutely no justification whatever and requiring no triggering actions (or inactions). Before this, there was an assumption that taxes had to be otherwise Constitutional. That principle has been explicitly obsoleted as long as this ruling stands. This ruling runs so counter to Constitutional principles that I ponder if Roberts was coopted and intentionally undermined the basis for his own ruling as a moral escape hatch, or if he planted a bomb in the Constitutional framework to hasten the collapse of a corrupt system. There is far more justification today for any tax they can dream up, than there was justification for the individual Mandate just one week ago. One could take your point well and say the Roberts has simply taken the implicit and made it explicit... Is Roberts Francisco???
  5. The hope that Justice [sic] Roberts ruling of the Mandate as a tax will allow a simple majority repeal, is a false one. He states explicitly that the "tax" definition is for purposes of Constitutionality only, and that for legal purposes, including application of the Anti-Injunction Act, and presumably for application of Congressional procedures, the Mandate is what Congress defined it to be in the legislation, i.e., a penalty. Roberts has ruled that A both is and is not A. There's no silver lining here. SCOTUS has affirmed the authority of the federal gov't to lay and collect taxes, regardless of the application towards the enumerated powers. Having specifically rejected the only justification, in terms of those powers, Roberts allows a violation of the 10th Amendment and leaves no interpretation open that limits the authority of the gov't to wield taxes as a weapon against Liberty. Congress could pass a tax on Buddhists, that SCOTUS might find unconstitutional on 1st amendment grounds, but upon wider consideration uphold it as within Congress' unlimited power to lay and collect taxes. There is no limit. This is total tyranny, proposed, decided and sanctioned by one man.
  6. Fooling people is good for the rational skills, the fooler must have an understanding of how the mind can be tricked into believing something that is not true, and the foolee finds himself defending against the naivete that allowed him to be fooled. People who get mad at April fools jokes are usually the least rational, and least able to play the game. All around a good win-win, and a celebration of reason!
  7. Here is the crux of the issue. A person tries to avoid using gov't currency by bartering, and is still held taxable by the gov't. Bartering, except under certain rare circumstances, is an extremely inefficient means of exchanging value. A minimum standard of taxed currency should be that the tax is less than the efficiency lost in not using gov't backed money for transactions. A currency incurring taxes on transactions could be moral, if the after-tax value of the currency exchange is greater than the value of a barter exchange or the risk-adjusted value of an exchange made with non-gov't-backed currency. The only reasonable way to enact a moral currency and a moral taxation system is for the gov't to allow transactions in other than gov't currency to go untaxed. This would provide an economic pressure for the gov't to behave itself, keep taxes low, balance its ledgers and provide adequate protection of gov't currency transactions and contracts. All the rest would then fall into place, and a well-regulated gov't currency would maintain its status as the standard money in an economy.
  8. He is saying that things with value are valid stores of value. Your question implies the question: "Valuable, to whom?" The gold standard has an inherent problem.
  9. Why the U.S. Treasury Began Auctioning Treasury Bills in 1929 Fascinating little piece of trivia from the Fed. In this article is documented the seeds of our current financial destruction. In 1917 the U.S. Gov't began issuing Liberty Bonds to fund our involvement in WWI. By the end of the war, we had issued an amount, $24 billion, of more than half our pre-war GDP. (our debt prior to these issues was less than $1B) After the war, the gov't did not pay off that debt, but rolled it all into Treasury Bills. Every term, they had to guarantee to sell enough T-bills to roll all the expiring debt, so they set a fixed interest rate higher than the market rate. To create a buffer of funds that could be drawn by the gov't the Fed allowed banks to borrow an amount equal to the purchase price of their T-Bills at a low interest rate. The banks would have to pay that loan back as the gov't required the cash, usually over the course of weeks or months. This set up an opportunity for banks to purchase huge sums of T-Bills with borrowed Fed funds, sell them to the public at a discount, and lend the proceeds at a rate higher than the loan rate from the Fed. Private citizens did not bid on the T-Bills, because they could buy them cheaper from the banks, the banks profited from a huge interest rate arbitrage, and the T-Bills entered the economy as tradeable commodities, in effect, money. The devaluation of the dollar as a direct consequence is well documented as a price shock in 1920 and continuing through the 20's as huge amounts of "money" (T-Bills) entered wide circulation. Inflation during this time totalled apx 75% of the pre-war dollar value. Assuming a reserve rate of 10% and given a monetary base of $5B at the time, M1 was no more than $50B, and the introduction of $25B in tradeable debt securities accounts for much of the inflationary bubble of the 1920's. In the late 1920's the gov't finally realized they were providing huge profits to the banks through the issuance of fixed rate T-Bills, and in early 1929, they passed an act shifting to an auction system. This shift eliminated the arbitrage opportunity to banks, and promised to staunch the flow of gov't funds into the banking system. The first auction was held in December 1929, not coincidently, the financial system had collapsed in October. The monetary crisis continued until 1934, when FDR ended gold convertibility and devalued the dollar by an amount virtually identical to the de facto devaluation created by the Liberty Bond issue. (a 75% inflation correlates to a 43% devaluation. FDR devalued the dollar from a gold exchange rate of $20.67 to $35 - a 41% devaluation)
  10. Good point, but it's true for a commodity standard as well, as we saw in the period from 1917 to 1929. The real answer is to let the Fed do whatever it wants, but allow us to use other, private, competing forms of currency. Coercive monopoly is the problem with our money.
  11. To get true equality, you would need to take children from their homes and put them into communal living spaces where all would be treated equally. Since some of society's roles are more favored by all, it would be unfair to allow those more talented to compete for - and inevitably win - the coveted jobs. Therefore the enlightened rulers would wisely choose roles for each young adult, based on the premise of equality of outcome - an intelligent, ambitious man might be given a job sweeping streets so that his outcome would be comparable to a dullard given a job as an engineer. To prevent the most ambitious from unfairly finding their own way to success, deviations from directed activity would have to be curtailed, with some sort of egalitarian punishment for those who strayed. In order to maintain control over the equality of life experiences, the enlightened ones would have to severely limit the range of technologies; even a small advantage of one man could be greatly, and unfairly amplified if he had access to technology that others didn't. In social situations, it would be unfair and socially dangerous for men and women to choose their mates - intelligence would seek intelligence, physically advanced would seek its own, etc., and unfair genetic advantages would propagate. The leaders would have to work diligently to regulate the genetic makeup of offspring to avoid inadvertent creation of unfairly advantaged children. Men and women would have mates chosen for them, and would likely have to be forced, in some cases, to mate, to make sure that all pairings were taken to fruition. Is that kind of what you had in mind?
  12. It's the act of getting rich, not feeling rich, that diverted assets from savings to investment. If you look at returns, you see the stock market underperforming savings rates up until about 1983. Before that point, investing was a crap shoot, and the average person made more on savings than in the stock market. After 1983, the market entered a twenty-year boom during which DJIA returns far outstripped savings rates. The crash in 2001 led to a modest uptick in savings rates, and the crash in 2008 got people to reevaluate the risk of stock market investing, dramatically reducing its risk-adjusted expected return, and shifting assets back to risk-free savings. Two other factors in recent upturn in savings rate is the increase in FDIC insurance from $100k to $250k (the first increase in almost 30 years), and the rapid increase in risk-averse, retiring baby-boomers. Retirees are more likely to shift assets into savings from investment as they liquidate and seek to reduce risks.
  13. Those bastardizations included churches, priests and the pope. How does someone call himself a Catholic if he don't believe in these?
  14. No, I meant "underived," that is, a concept that emerges spontaneously without a premise. A concept can't derive from faith that it is true. It must derive from a premise first, before it is believed (or rejected). I'm not saying that God "should" be understood that way, I'm pointing out that the Ten Commandments are consistent with objective morality. The person who wrote down the Ten Commandments did not get them from a burning bush, but he told the people that he did in the hopes that their fear and superstition would lead them to accept the morality by faith. That was a corruption of something purer, however far that corruption propagated through history. Before there were books or formal philosophies, there were smart people with good ideas who tried to guide others in what they believed was the right way to live. Without the wherewithal to communicate the logical basis of their ideas, with, for instance, a collection of essays or a fictional novel illustrating their ideas in context, they were left to "argue" their ideas far and wide and to future generations with very limited tools - simple carved tablets, fear, superstition, sometimes burning stakes. That the means of propagating these ideas is now recognized as irrational, does not necessarily mean that the ideas themselves were irrational, especially given the lack of means to communicate their logical basis.
  15. No, I mean that if "God" is taken to be synonymous with "objective reality," then the ten commandments are not inconsistent with objective morality. The physical world exists in objective reality. I'm not suggesting that because God is objective reality that objective reality is mystical, but exactly the opposite. I believe there is a rational origin of the belief in "God." In fact, to believe otherwise is to believe that the concept "God" derived somehow outside of perception and reason; that it is an innate concept, or materialized spontaneously as an underived abstract. That, I believe, is a contradiction of Objectivism.
  16. I disagree with Peikoff on this. Objectivism, as I understand it, is larger than Ayn Rand's ideas. It is the philosophy based on the axiom of non-contradiction. It was developed not as a whole, but as a progression, from axioms to their logical consequences. The development required the discovery of contradictions, which necessitated the reevaluation of their (more basic) premises, until a faulty premise was discovered and corrected. The contradiction does not necessarily lead all the way down to a faulty principle, but if it did, it would not negate Objectivism, it would correct and strengthen it. Objectivism, in my view is best summarized as the belief that there are no contradictions. In a sense, it is faith-based, as we assume that a contradiction reveals a flaw (to be corrected) in the philosophy, not a true contradiction in objective reality. The only thing that could disprove Objectivism is a contradiction that stands without the possibility of reconciliation. This view of Objectiivism and philosophy leads to a question: is Objectivism the only philosophy that is entirely consistent with non-contradiction, or could two different philosophies exist that are entire and right?
  17. Assuming the commandment derived from objective reality, that is, that "God" is objective reality: 1 - Thou shalt have no other Gods before me (i.e., A=A, there is no "other" objective reality) 2 - Though shalt not bow down or serve anything that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water (rejection of anything beyond objective reality) 3 - Though shalt take not the name of the lord thy God in vain (i.e., you will not make reference to objective reality while ignoring it) 4 - Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy (i.e., rest, and take advantage of the fruits of your work, and synchronize your activities to those of others) 5 - Honor thy Father and thy Mother (a rational tradition based on human habit and intended to propagate social support between generations - strengthened the family unit, increased life span, increased propagation of crucial knowledge from generation to generation) 6 - Thou shalt not kill (explicit recognition of the primary right of man - that is, his life) 7 - Thou shalt not commit adultery (the monogamous tradition was a safeguard against the spread of blood-borne communicable diseases, whose value would not be apparent through direct perception of causality. It also strengthened the family unit, and was explicitly supportive of the binding power of the contract) 8 - Thou shalt not steal (explicit recognition of the property rights of man) 9 - Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor (explicit recognition of objective justice) 10 - Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbors (rejection of greed for the unearned) These are all moral precepts that can be objectively derived from the facts of reality, and are thus not incompatible with Objectivism, although belief that they came from a speaking, burning bush, and not the mind of an intelligent man, is. It bears repeating that the Jewish term for God, Yahweh, literally translates "I am what I am." Implicit in this phrase are the three axioms of Objectivism: Existence ("am"); Consciousness ("I"), and non-contradiction. It's unfortunate that the concept of "God" evolved into a fanciful, anthropomorphicism that suited organized religious tyrants, rather than reverting (eventually) back to its roots in objective reality. Objective reality, as we all know, is all-powerful, and must be obeyed, lest we be punished mercilessly. I'm curious, though, how the Catholics on the forum reconcile the fact that nearly all the rites and traditions of the Catholic faith trace back to the Roman pagan religion, and that the hierarchical Catholic church bears very little resemblance to the individualist concept of religion developed by Jesus Christ, who rejected organized religion, in favor of a personal, private interaction between a man and his "Father."
  18. There is only ever one true minimum wage, and that is zero. The truth about the artificial minimum wage level is that virtually all people working at this pay level are gaining skills and experience towards higher paying jobs. The vast majority are teenaged first-time job-holders getting their first taste of responsibility. The effect of a government imposing a minimum is to deny to those whose skills do not yet command more than "the minimum wage" the opportunity to gain those skills and experience. Look at the unemployment rate among young black men for evidence of the effect of minimum wage laws. Once again, the government rushes in to "solve" a problem that either does not exist or is grossly exaggerated, and in turn creates an unintended consequence far worse than the original problem.
  19. I agree. The point is that non-contradiction is given to us implicitly by our rational faculty, then recognized and validated by perception and logical integration. That is, by non-contradiction with the perceived facts of reality. A blank slate is a blank slate, but it is still a slate. Jacob86 is arguing that we should also validate non-contradiction by the non-perceived facts of reality. But that follows only if the concept is gained entirely from perception, as the premise he is trying to contradict stipulates. I believe he makes a valid case, and it supports the notion that non-contradiction, along with existence and self-awareness (consciousness) are given to us implicitly in our rational faculty. It and they evolved over millions of years through the process of natural selection based on the physical non-contradiction of the behavior of organisms with the facts of reality.
  20. It's possible for a concept to evolve through the same mechanism that evolves instincts. Non-contradiction could be such a concept. The human mind has the capability, unlearned and innate, to differentiate objects, identify similarities and differences and logically assign existents to higher abstract concepts.
  21. Here is where you invoke context: My context is: man's existence on earth. Rain in a universe in which man does not exist is neither good nor bad, because the context required, that which involves the existence of a rational being capable of judging, is missing. Context exists, not independent of you, but in conjunction with you and your ability to recognize it. There is no context without consciousness.
  22. There is an evasion that occurs when "context" is invoked to argue that a thing isn't good (or bad). Rain is good, in the context of man living on Earth. Did I imply a larger context than that? Do you really need to parse the context down to a particular rain shower on a particular day on a particular plot of land with a crop that is required for the nearby village to survive, to say that "rain is good?" What if that village is a bunch of Nazis intent on wiping out your village - does that make rain bad ----- "in that context?" ???? How do you identify principles, or avoid bogging down in rank subjectivist evasions when you insist on counting rare events (floods, hurricanes) as valid counter-contexts to the relevant context of man's existence? Do you insist on parsing contexts that closely when you hear someone say "freedom is good?" "Reason is good?" "Capitalism is good?" "Objectivism is a good philosophy?" etc?
  23. By that argument there is no such concept as "good" because any attempt to pin that concept on a given referent is a subjective assertion, and unprovable. I can't even get a nod that rain is "good," apparently because in certain extreme cases it can threaten property and life. In a very limited context of, say, "rain is good today because it is just what I need to water my corn field," the consequences of that particular rain, or even of the corn field growing are unknown, so even that assertion is questionable. Once you go down that road you lose the ability to claim rationally that there is an objective standard of morality. After all, any moral act might have unintended consequences that cause more harm than good. "Capitalism is not moral because in extreme cases a man acting without government regulation might create a product that harms people." etc. Therefore the claim that capitalism, or individual freedom, is good is just an assertion. Providing a "rationale" for that assertion does not prove that it is true, it simply explains why you believe it to be true. I believe that rain is good because, in the context of my life, it purifies water and delivers it to my home, far from any other water source. I believe evolution is good because it caused me to come into existence, and in the context of my life, to be able to live consciously and rationally. I believe abiogenesis is good because it caused the spark that led, eventually, to the current context of my life. Etc., etc., etc. Those are my "rationales" that these things are all "good," in the context of my life. And yet none of these were created by a conscious mind, so in your mind they're not "good" or "bad." Did I misstate that? But I guess we should stipulate that "good" does not mean the same as "moral." Good is entirely context-driven, while morality is based on general principles followed in action by a conscious mind. There can be conflicts between the good and the moral. So I retract my assertions that non-conscious actions and causes are "moral," but not that they're "good."
  24. Don't try to hang some second hand bumper sticker on me, dude. I never made that proposition, and you know it.
  • Create New...