Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by Hermes

  1. It is difficult to discuss without being specific: different states have different laws. Also, you say "crime" but even among felonies, there are "Category I" and "Category II" crimes, with Arson being less severe than theft of an automobile. (It's OK for a businessman to torch his establishment, but stealing a car is like stealing a cowboy's horse.) So, as you note, there are specific problems. The general problem is that such laws remove discretion from the bench. No law can give all the whereas and wherefor contingenices, but the judge has all the case files and can see circumstance that might warrant the harshest penalties on the first or second offense for one person and not for the fourth of fifth of another. Three strike laws replace the bench with legislation, crossing the lines of separation of powers. But, I grant that so far, we are philosophizing, not discussing facts. I read the Wikipedia article and I note that generally all of of egregious cases involved habitual offenders. Minor though their crimes were, they were the repeat customers of the criminal justice business. (more later)
  2. Greebo, clearly, several companies make pencils and a few others also make jet fighter craft. While a contract for a million pencils or a hundred jets is clearly a win, that does not in itself create a monopoly. Others are not prevented from entering the market for other buyers. A franchise is just a kind of monopoly - street car franchise; ferry boat franchise. We understand that. Assuming some common understanding about the way businesses and individuals organize their affairs, nothing prevents you from stopping at McDonald's on the way home from the supermarket and once home, picking your own tomatoes off your vines. You - and even a large corporation - always multisource. In fact, the very existence of AMD versus Intel is based on the broad need for second sources of the same devices -- and Intel is more or less happy to sell a fraction of their licensing to a competitor because doing do strengthens their market position. Government does not work that way. Whether it is by open bid - usually the case here and now - or by the "arsenal" model - one governmental entity creates something for use by other agencies and departments - the modality is exclusionary. The basic assumption of government is a zero-sum game. The basic assumption of business is win-win: competitors cooperate for mutual profit. As long as there is a government, there will be special favors, insider deals, a military industrial complex, a revolving door between industries and agencies. I am not arguing against government. I am just saying that this is the wsy things always will be of necessity. And it is not entirely bad. I just added a post to my blog, "Unlimited Constitutional Government."
  3. I am saying that as long as there is a government, there will be businesses that supply to the government and lobbying will be part of that process. It is not a bad thing. It is not immoral or evil. It is human action. Over the years, I have interviewed many business people for magazine articles that I write. A sales manager for IBM once told me that if the first he heard of a government agency placing an open bid for a printer was reading about it in a bid list, he would fire the salesman assigned to the account. The salesman's job is to help the client understand what they need. That goes for government as well. New jet fighter craft, or new roller pens, the principle is the same: innovation comes from the private sector. It can happen that a government agency will ask for something on their own - sometimes they are imaginative and insightful - but then why not ask for time travel? And they have been asking for a cure for cancer for 50 years. Businesses tell the government what is possible, and what it will cost. Then the bids go out and are awarded. Some are single-sourced; others are not. Some are inventions; others are off-the-shelf. But you will never get rid of the so-called "special interests" and neither do you want to, really. Despite distancing Objectivist political theory from religionist conservatism, we get a lot of folksy down home talk against everything to do with government. We join in the complaints against lobbyists, and the close ties between business and government, and now against wages paid to government employees. Believe me, I understand. But the fact remains that as long as you have government - even one constitutionally limited to police forces, army, and courts of laws - you are going to have these institutional mechanisms. And you want them. Either the govenment buys from businesses, or the government operates businesses. Which do you prefer?
  4. Based on Systems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics by Jane Jacobs, New York: Random House, 1992. (It is possible to array these as contraries, but these two lists are here organized by hierarchy. For the Guardian loyality is prinary. The Guardian Moral Syndrome Be loyal Be obedient and disciplined Treasure honor Adhere to tradition Respect hierarchy Show fortitude Exert prowess Be exclusive Take vengeance Make rich use of leisure Be ostentatious Dispense largess Deceive for the sake of the task Shun trading Be fatalistic The Commercial Moral Syndrome Collaborate easily with strangers and aliens Be honest Shun force Come to voluntary agreements Respect contracts Use initiative and enterprise Be open to inventiveness and novelty Be efficient Invest for productive purposes Be industrious Be thrifty Promote comfort and convenience Dissent for the sake of the task Compete Be optimistic An objective code of values is based on self-interest. Much (if not all) of the Guardian system disregards self-interest. The Guardian code is the political mode of operations. Consider how governments distribute largess and lavish perquisites on themselves. When guardians behave like traders it is corruption, the selling of favors, accepting bribes, etc. When traders behave like guardians the errors show up as legal monopolies, mafia tactics of coercion against competitors, and even the mindset of backstabbing - versus cooperation - at the office to get ahead.
  5. Your categorical statement confuses too many contexts and ignores several salient points of law. The morality of soldiering is itself a complex question, not easily encapsulated. Note that enlisted soldiers promise to obey the President and the officers placed over them. Officers pledge to defend the Constitution. Theoretically, at least, the officer's oath compels them to defend the Constitution even against the President. The soldier's oath is contradictory on that point. It is important to note that officers carry sidearms not to protect themselves against the enemy, but to shoot soldiers who refuse to obey orders. Every soldier who enlists does so expecting to obey orders they do not like -- that's why they are called "orders": you do them regardless of your likes. That fact is recognized in moral law. The classic case is the Nuremberg Trials which held accountable the leaders, not only the top government officials, but also the jurists and judges who enforced the laws - though not the soldiers and clerks, to whom, presumably, choice was denied. In the USA, according to military protocol, no flag ever flies higher than the US Flag -- except the chaplain's flag when services are being held. That symbolizes the fact that govenment is under (not above) moral law. It is the only way that a government born of revolution can admit to the facts. That said, the US Constitution is not the only document that defines the powers of the federal government. During Vietnam, Congress passed a War Powers Act enabling the President, as commander-in-chief, to send troops anywhere on his discretion, subject to review, within 60 to 90 days. (You can find a good dissection from the Federation of American Scientists here.) Interestingly, even though enacted for President Nixon, he vetoed it. Congress then rallied the two-thirds override and passed it without his approval. The War Powers Act is law. Congress does not need to declare war in order for the President to dispatch military forces. The Uniform Code of Military Justice is written by Congress. 892. ART. 92. FAILURE TO OBEY ORDER OR REGULATION Any person subject to this chapter who-- (1) violates or fails to obey any lawful general order or regulation; (2) having knowledge of any other lawful order issued by any member of the armed forces, which it is his duty to obey, fails to obey the order; or (3) is derelict in the performance of his duties; shall be punished as a court-martial may direct. The Air University has a ton of resources on military law here. This does not address the wider and deeper philosophical discussion about soldiering in general: swearing to obey "lawful" orders; deciding when moral law countermands civil law; knowing what you will do about it. Those all assume the actual case in point of being a soldier. There is a clear dichotomy bewtween the paradigms of the Guardian and the Trader. For the Trader, objective self-interest is easier to determine.
  6. I apologize for not being perfectly clear in my intentions on this point. I refer only the issue of discrimination. It is certainly true that Ayn Rand's essay on "Racism" was a definitive explanation of the roots of and remedies for that evil. But nothing came of it. Objectivists did not seize the front lines in the discussion to frame (so-called) "gay rights" or "feminism" or racial discrimination (which needs no quotes). Instead we were content to let it lie where it fell. We defend the right to discriminate against individuals on the basis of irrelevant characteristics, rather than condemning the discriminators as the ignorant collectivist mystics that they are.
  7. "Libertarians" of all stripes in the previous generation - Ayn Rand, Clarence Carson, William F. Buckley; the "right wing" generally; those who argued for individual rights and natural law - gave up the moral high ground to the collectivists. It is wrong for a government to discriminate against citizens on the basis of race, religion, gender, etc. Back when Blacks wanted to vote, we abandoned their cause to the collectivist left. And from there, it got worse. We argued as here and now that a business has right to discriminate on the basis of race. Instead we should have been and should be out front saying, "Are you nuts? You want to lose money?? You do not need to care what color your clients are. All you need to worry about is what color their money is." Money is the great equalizer. (Again, we let the gun lobby take that away, too, with "Sam Colt made men equal." surrendering the dialog on individual rights to the muscle-mystics.) Martin Luther King's dream was a society where his children were judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. That - the content of a person's character - was a perfect space for arguing the virtues of selfishness. Instead, we still let the post-modernists claim that you have no right to judge character, lest you judge race, gender, etc. We abandoned the field. We gave up the space. Or some of us did. I did not. A thousand years ago, in the summer of 1969, I had a political philosophy professor who was a socialist. When I mindlessly repeated the mantra that a business has a right to discriminate. He asked, "Because a man's home is his castle?" I said yes. He pointed out that castles are medieval structures and that a businesse's Welcome mat is an open contract with the public. Sold. You have a right to discriminate on the basis of race or gender or whatever. Fine. You have a right to smoke crack, too. Does Objectivism advocate that? So, why, then, the defend other?
  8. When you buy an electrical machine, look for the UL tag. Look also for the CSA (Canadian Safety Association) logo. You will probably find others, as well, from Japan, Europe and China, regardless of where the appliance was made. It is where the appliance is to be sold that counts. Underwriters Laboratories and the CSA are privately owned and operated. They are not government agencies. I am not sure how much weight the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval carries, but Consumer Reports is highly respected. On the other hand, Bernard Madoff and Kenneth Lay were both government regulators, enforcers of trust. Also, though I learned to fly and have some solo hours, I have not followed this in some years. The fact is (I believe) that in Canada, pilots pay for government services of air traffic control. This comes here in the USA in Congress and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) fights it tooth and nail declaring that we pilots have a public interest right to free services from the government. (Other arguments are trotted out as well, but that one is the basic complaint.) So, just to say, in Canada, at least one government service comes with fees. Also, it depends on where you live, but things like building inspections can be govenment mandated and require payment of a fee to the government for the service. Your driver's license is an example of that. Taxes on fuels are the sine qua non citation for how to privately finance roads. And commercial truckers pay extra taxes and fees as well, at the state level, again, mandarory licensing for which the user pays the cost of regulation. We have a city monopoly on garbage collection here, with a strong recycling program. We pay for the containers, in addition to the general city taxes. Come to think of it... it seems that users do already pay directly for government services...
  9. The semantics of parenthetical objects aside, when I read The Logical Leap and checked ITOE, I found assumptions and assertions not validated by empirical research. I refer specifically to the investigations of Denise Schmandt-Besserat into the origins of counting and the origins of writing. They are the same. Writing began as inventory lists. As noted, these items were conceptual units: a sheep, a bottle of beer. But also, "a metal." That is an abstraction, not a concrete. In most languages, counting is 1-2-3-many. "Higher" numbers 5, 6, 7, ..., were invented only about 8,000 years ago. The earliest accounting (tax) records use 2-2-1 for 5, and so on. Realize that this meant the existence of cities, political structure, temples (gods), taxes, and all that, and still no large numbers. And likely there was still no written poetry. The Gilgamesh appears about 1000 years after the first inventories in cuneiform. So, numbering is, indeed, critical to abstraction. Realize though, that "metal" is a second-level generalization. Before the invention of cuneiform, there was a token symbol for that. Ayn Rand (and Leonard Peikoff) worked as have many other frontline researchers - von Mises was another - by imagining hypothetical constructs to explain the development of our present state. The historical record is somewhat different. The distinctions are not fatal. I look at geometry as perhaps the perfect example of a study with deep historical roots, which nonetheless comes to us as an integrated body of knowledge, whose presentation now is decidedly not historical, but which remains valid and true. (You can google Denise Schmandt-Besserat easily enough. On my website, two articles on the origins and history of money cite her work.)
  10. The topic thread cited above provided a link that is now broken. It is no longer on The Atlas Society website. Adam Reed's essay "Object-Oriented Programming and Objectivist Epistemology: Parallels and Implications" from The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies Volume 4, No. 2 - Spring 2003 Issue #8 can now be found here: http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/areed2/other/4-ar.pdf Adam Reed teaches computer science at Cal State Los Angeles. The intersecting sets of computerists and Objectivists is not accidental. There are cultural reasons for this. No govenment licenses, regulations, permissions, or taxes apply to computering. You can be a programmer just by claiming to be one. (Proof is a different matter.) Regardless of construction materials or manufacturing methods, you can claim that your device is a computer. (Again, proof may await.) So, computering attracted people who with those political preferences. Also, of course, computering is mental work in the extreme. So, it appeals to people who value their minds. Logic is the foundaiton and the applications tend to the sciences - though art and music are known, as well. For all of that, though, the correlation is not accidental or cultural, but metaphysical: A is A; Either-or; Non-contradiction. The bit is on or it is off. 0 or 1. Low or High. False or True. Even so-called fuzzy logic and parallel processes depend at root on non-contradictory binary identifications. With the highest level of abstractions - Object Oriented Programming - you can only make a mess of things by attempting to ignore the axioms of identity. That means, exactly, if you have a bug, it is because you have a contradiction.
  11. The assumption is that the operation of streetcars should be an open market. Fair enough. However, the government hires and buys literally thousands of goods and services, granting contracts, franchises, and monopolies to single-source providers. Federal courts are protected by over 8,000 plain-clothes armed officers hired from a Akal Security. Other contracts such as telephone, broadcast, and internet go to multiple vendors, depending on the actual agency putting out the bids. (To speak of "government" is to commit the fallacy of the unnamed collective.) Four firms guard US Army bases in the USA: Wackenhut (a branch of G4S of the UK), Vance, Akal, and Coastal International. Should the agencies and departments produce their own uniforms, or buy them? http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/usa-contracts-for-new-army-combat-uniforms-in-acupat-camo-03024/
  12. Actually, if you read the Wikipedia on the Ten Commandments here, you see that some disagreement exists among the religions on how they are to be numbered. That bears on a finer, deeper point. According to Catholic dogma, no so-called "translation" of the Bible (not even St. Jerome's Vulgate) is the Revealed Word of God. Translations such as King James and New International in English as well as the hundreds (perhaps a thousand) others, are all no more than GUIDES to the Revealed Word of God which can only be known by reading the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. You might not want to get bogged down in Catholic theology, but this link from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia will get you started. Just search on "literal truth of the Bible" until you have read more than enough. The short story is that the Catholic Church always warned against uneducated people reading for themselves. ... which, actually, says a bit about Objectivism...
  13. You have a blog? I clicked on James Bond and read your profile. Mostly, there is nothing there. If you have a blog, you are doing a good job of keeping it a double-oh secret.
  14. We lived there 2002-2003, and I will be out there in March to see about our noving back in May. I never looked for Objectivists, but I would be shocked to discover that there are none. I know of one: Paul Hibberd writes on Rebirth of Reason under the name "Sam Erica" (God Bles s Am erica) and he lived in Santa Fe. Must be others. We found New Mexico and Albquerque interesting, fun, and somewhat challenging on many levels. Keep us all posted.
  15. We showed you ours. Now it's time for Little Jimmy to come out and play.
  16. .... because when I went and read the New Blog, I knew from the git-go that I was going to agree with it! Yours is "Practice Good Theory." Mine is "Necessary Facts." Objectivists, so rationally empirical, so logically experiential, so analytically synthetic. Hard to imagine that we could ever disagree! (The new blog has better graphics. Nice layout.)
  17. Happy Newtonmas to you, too, RA. Interesting blog. I will make the time to go back and read it all... in time... See, that's the thing, making time to read. Can't do everything and when reading yours, I am not writing mine. Sort of a quandry, that...
  18. I do! "Necessary Facts" But I put it on Blogspot, not Wordpress. Though I looked at Wordpress first, I chose the Google provider on the reocmmendation of the finest computer security professional I ever slept with. I was not quite ready to announce, but as the subject came up, the blog does have some material, with more to come. I am writing a review of Gregory M. Browne's Necessary Factual Truths to explain the name of the blog. And, as for "promoting Objectivism" while I am an Objectivist, I am not "in church." I promote myself. That this includes Objectivism (as well as numismatics, aviation, and whatever else I want to write about) is an aspect of who I am and what interests me. That is what a blog is for, or at least what mine is for.
  19. I believe that it is established that we react positively to symmetry. Also, the Golden Ratio is apparently considered most pleasing. Those have been tested across peoples and places, times and "races." Ayn Rand's delineation of beauty by geography is not general enough. From Wikipedia [Petter] Hegre studied at the Brooks Institute of Photography in California and worked in New York with Richard Avedon before returning to his native Norway. He received the "Photographer of the Year 2001" award at the 8th annual 'Erotic prizes' in London. He went on to publish six books and have his work exhibited internationally. Hegre-Art, his official website, was launched in 2002 as Hegre-Archives. It underwent a substantial redesign in December 2005, coinciding with the name change.[2] Hegre is married to model Luba Shumeyko and they divide their time between Barcelona and an atelier in Paris. http://www.hegre-art.com/ Let me add this WARNING Note: There are rip-off sites, such as PeterHegre (one t), which have admittedly pretty and very naked women on them, but it does not take much to see the edge of missing difference betweent those and the genuine article. As wasteful as warfare is, there are a lot of beautiful warbirds among the aircraft of the world. Having worked in and around machineries of all kinds in large factories and small, it is true that some designs are beautiful and others are not. These things are "human" in that we make them to fit our needs -- you can't have barbed wire on the handle of a refrigerator and kitchens avoid garish colors like stripes in lime green and racing orange. As for animals (and plants), natural selection demands that every feature of every living thing make it survivable and reproducible. However, we do not always know how those operate. The leopard and panther are the same animal, with different color fur. Why is the zebra's tail different from the horse's? Coloring that attracts mates attracts predators, but if the species collectively survives even as the individual perishes, then the coloring works well enough. Our appreciation of beauty in living things derives not so much from their needs as ours. Otherwise a shark would be just as beautiful as a finch -- and orchids would not be weeds in Hawaii. Also, of course, these comments are skewed toward my male view of women as objects of beauty. Just let me close by saying that on one guard force, I worked with another patrol officer whose African face I would love to have had carved in ebony. It was perfect.
  20. The easy answer is: "Well, pretty much..." If you read biographies of the industrialists, it is easy to find analogs to Hank Rearden, Andrew Stockton, Midas Mulligan, and the others. It has been suggested that Hank Rearden was modeled on Henry Ford both in looks and personality. However, Nat Taggart did not look like James J. Hill and Hill did not go knocking on farmers' doors to raise capital. Such speculations run contrary to Ayn Rand's theory of aesthetics. If she wanted to write a biography, she would have done that. The craft of writing fiction requires paying attention to people. After all, this is not computer documentation. The choice of the name Nathaniel Taggart might be easy to derive from her life. Was Eddie Willers Frank O'Connor? Was Cheryl Taggart an acutal shop girl? But, again, Ayn Rand's conscious aesthetic was to create people, not to copy them. From her Romantic Manifesto (which I read) and her journals (which I have not), she did not build her characters as pastiches or collages, but from the ground up. As far as I know, every good writer does this, creating full biographies of the characters, even if most of those details never appear in the manuscript.
  21. Right. All those and more. I had some errands to run first thing this morning and thought more about this. Also, I wanted to expand on a sentence that I deleted before posting: One of the neighbors who gathers rainwater here is actually a shopping mall. They have a lot of roofage to drain from. My point about Fowlerville's five wells was that the widespread presence of water was physically established. The original post assumed (as we all might, too easily) that city water is fairly and equitably dispensed. History suggests otherwise: city services often went to and go to the privileged. But no matter their status, they have only one vote. So, eventually other forces come into play. (And shutting off water, electricity, etc., to dissidents is a historically known problem with government services.) The motivation to form a political group, petition, and run for office, can also be (better) expressed via the market. For the same energy, you get better results. It is a fact that city water has been condemned by other higher authorities for contamination. Back in 1994 or so, I wrote an article for Midnight Engineering about a local "conceptor" start-up. One man had the management skills and bankroll to look for engineers with good ideas and give them a place to work. He marketed their inventions, or helped them market it if that was their interest. One of the guys lived in Flint, Michigan, and the water had been condemned. Hauling water was a hassle and engineers are often lazy, so he found it easier to design and fabricate an in-home purification system. His product was about the size and configuration of a water softener. So, you could truck water in and sell it by the tank; and even if you trucked in impure water, it could be purified from a home tank by an in-home system. All of these solutions bring us back to my original point about Stuart Hayashi's caveat not to argue metaphysical impossibilities -- claiming that one entity can control all the water and everyone would be helpless is difficult enough to demonstrate in reality when talking about governments with force of arms. To imagine that a market entity could do this is to imagine a chimera. (The Argument from Arbitrary Metaphysics by Stuart Hayashi originally was posted to Rebirth of Reason here and ObjectivistLiving here.)
  22. Stuart Hayashi wrote an essay on arguing metaphysical impossibilities. "A meteor is about to hit the Earth..." Show a real case and discuss that. Here, the fact is that the cases I know of do not apply. We lived in a village of 3000 people with a central water supply -- from five wells. Later we lived in a township where each home had their own well. Some cities passed laws against collecting rainwater (open barrels let mosquitos breed), but now, collecting rainwater is a "green" alternative. In short, it seems to be a challenge to come up with an example of one entity actually controlling water except as we simply allow it by default. I And, come to think of it, is it not true that so many people buy water that disposal of the containers has become a nagging point from ecological activists?
  23. I apologize for stating the obvious, but the accepted assumptions were only to point to the unconfortable fact that you are an idiot. You are not alone in that. We are all in the same boat. Some of us advance in some or more areas on our own, but are still left intellectually de-capacitated. In the discussion on Harriman's Logical Leap, it came out that some posters knew the easy error that Harriman made regarding projectile motion because as children we had the same book on physics. A kid's book from 1966 explained to us what others did not learn in a college physics class. You do not think it is a big deal that the word "coin" has been hijacked by the government. You find no contradiction in people who buy and sell gold and silver advocating that the government adopt a gold standard so that "we" could have a stable currency. Yet, you probably claim to have read Francisco's "Money Speech." You do not connect these. Your formative years left you mentally atrophied. You think that everyone else suffered from collectivist education, but you escaped. And so you suggest that we discuss which of two unreal alternatives is the best way to fix the system, rather than asking what (if anything) any of us did to fix ourselves so that you could overcome your handicap. That is a another consequence of public education: you pursue political solutions to personal problems.
  24. Well, the time off (paid is best; but it might be unpaid time off, a bummer) is a hidden salary benefit. All I mean by "rational folk" was other Objectivists or similar people. In any community, a few involved people can make a difference. Ann Arbor is a politically-charged town, as you can imagine, and very Democrat Party. Even so, I held elected office (precinct delegate) as a Republican.
  • Create New...