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Paul McKeever

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  1. Those who cannot remember the past condemn us to the reliving of it. Eat of my need, drink of my want. - Man’s last supper It is illegal to obtain or destroy a free man’s values without his consent. Another rich man lost his shirt. A holy roller’s name’s now dirt. Cold and rain clouds on the run: Ten percent chance of heat and sun. The fix was in for the gold medal winner. The diet you failed don’t make one thinner. That poor woman’s child can’t walk, Can’t swallow, can’t hear, can’t even talk. The sold out show was a giant flop. The fat plain singer came out on top. A bowl of sweet lemons and sour grapes: The yummy daily diet of irrational apes.
  2. It's not fraud IF everyone is aware of it, clearly. However: (a) fraud is not the essential problem; and ( even if it were, it is patently false that everyone understands banks to be issuing more credit than they can simulaneously honour with currency. The essential problem is: increasing the number of dollars that comprise the money supply - whether increasing it by means of issuing more federal reserve notes, or by issuing more private bank credit, because both are "money" in the issue-relevant sense of the term (which is not the sense in which Ayn Rand meant "money") - devalues all pre-existing dollars and transfers that value to the newly-created dollars. Increasing the number of dollars - "inflation" as it is properly defined (as cause, rather than as effect) - results in a non-consensual redistribution of wealth from (a) those who earn it, to ( those who simply create additional dollars. That's why counterfeiting is a crime: by inflating the money supply, the counterfeiter devalues everyone else's dollars, enriching himself at their expense. In short: the essential issue is not fraud, but theft.
  3. Sorry for coming into this thread late, but it's one of my favourite topics, so I thought I'd chime in. Steve: your statement is incorrect. If you have a $20 note in your pocket, you can lend it to someone (if you are doing it in a way akin to banking, you will accept from him an IOU, which you will destroy or return to him when he returns $20 to you). He can then lend it to someone, who can lend it to someone else, Etc, Etc. The successive loans do not increase the money supply. You are lending without resorting to fractional reserves. A bank can do the exact same thing that you can do. Here's another example. If it is the case that your promises to pay federal reserve notes (i.e., your IOUs) are reliably accepted by everyone in exchange for goods and services, then your IOUs are "money", in the current definition of that term (but not "money" as defined by Ayn Rand: Rand defined money such that only "existing goods" - as opposed to promises/credit/fiduciary media - could qualify as "money"). If you a $20 federal reserve note in your pocket, you can lend someone a "Steve D'Ippolito IOU" in the amount of $20. If you thereafter ensure that you do not spend/use/transfer-to-others the $20, you are lending on a 100% reserve. Again: a bank can do the same thing that you can do. Here's a third example. I lend you $20 worth of federal reserve notes. You agree to pay 3% interest on it and don't have to have to repay the money for 6 months. I agree that, during that 6 months, I will have no right to withdraw from you my $20. You thereafter lend someone a "Steve D'Ippolito IOU" in the amount of $20: the loan must be repaid in full, along with 5% interest, by the end of the aforementioned 6 months. If you ensure that you keep in your vault the $20 I loaned to you, you are lending on a 100% reserve. In short: 100% reserve banking does not preclude lending. It merely requires that the bank have currency reserves equal to the IOUs it has issued. That ensures that a bank can, at all times, simultaneously honour all of the IOUs it has issued. Sure: the Bank of Mom and Dad.
  4. Well, technically, no. The objection to the concept "self-ownership" isn't about freedom or property. It's about the nature of ownership. Property is a relation. A thing does not have a relationship with itself: it simply is itself. To say: "I own my body" implies that there is an "I" which is not "my body"; ownership - a relation - implies that "I" is not "my body". "Self-ownership" implies a mind ("I") body ("my body") dichotomy. If you want to keep it clear: rather than speaking of what will be done with "your body" after "you" die, speak of what will happen to the "organs" that will continue to exist after "you" do not. That said, I do not object per say to a person speaking about "my hands", "my kidneys" etc., because those are references to parts of oneself. The problem arises when the concept of "ownership" is used as "ownership" per say; as property.
  5. That's right. Here's the government's answer to the impracticality of evil (i.e., altruism): http://www.recycleme.org/ "Hey kids, guts are cool, so sacrifice them".
  6. I'm not sure if I'm following you, but I think you are saying that if (a) there was no reason to believe that refusing to donate organs could cause the government to restore my freedom of choice with respect to the terms of organ transplants, then ( b ) donating my organs would not constitute the sacrifice of my freedom. I agree with that. However, (a) I do not share the view that such a refusal to donate would put no pressure on the government to allow me to set the terms of my organ distribution (i.e., I think a widespread refusal to donate would pressure the government to allow the sale of organs); and ( b ) quite apart from the wrongfulness of giving up the pursuit of the value freedom, where such trade is illegal, sacrificing the value of ones organs will enable the government to continue providing organs to those who need them. It's right, in other words, to go "on strike" (or, in the parlance of the day, to "Go Galt" with respect to ones own organs).
  7. Two things: 1. Sales of Atlas Shrugged have greatly increased - hence awareness of Objectivism as increased - because, in this crisis, many have done exactly what one person should do: take every opportunity to advocate the ethically correct response and to ethically condemn the cause of the mess. 2. Self-ownership is a false concept. Your body is not your property. Your body is you. A rock does not belong to itself: it is itself. The mind and the body are one: the mind does not own the body. These notions come out of - and are most at home in - religious thinking about disembodied souls. I've done a blog post and video on the subject, in case anyone is interested: http://blog.paulmckeever.ca/2008/09/16/rea...self-ownership/
  8. If I recall correctly, at the time of making the statement (on air), my thinking was that ( a ) freedom is a value to me, ( b ) the government is refusing to defend it and instead is undermining it, and ( c ) if it is the case that by refusing to donate my organs on their terms they will cease undermining my freedom to deal with my organs as I choose, it would be immoral for me to donate my organs. In other words: providing that it might be effective, not donating is the pursuit of a value that has been taken from me (even if that pursuit is not ultimately successful), and donating is the sacrifice of that value (freedom) which might have been restored to me by not donating (which donation would, itself, most usually be a sacrificial act). That said, I did not have time - on the show - to give the more full explanation I give earlier in this thread. With respect to your example: the driving on roads example does not work. Driving on roads may very well be a value to you (and, quite possibly, as much or more of a value than the taxes in question): it is virtuous to pursue such a value even if such pursuit means that, as a result, some bad buy won't stop doing vicious things to you. But that is different from ( a ) sacrificing value when not-sacrificing stands a chance of restoring your freedom, or ( b ) choosing a stranger's survival at the cost of the possibility of restoring your own freedom. Think of it this way: if you could either ( a ) try to run out of an evil POW camp just before the gate closes versus ( b ) intentionally take a bullet while the gate closes so as to save a fellow prisoner's life, what is the moral choice? I say: ( a ), even if I fail to make it through the gate on time. The presence or absence of coercion does not determine whether an act is immoral: morality is not dictated by the presence or absence of freedom. Such an assertion inverts the hierarchy of philosophical knowledge (see Peter Schwartz's excellent essay on "Libertarianism: the Perversion of Liberty").
  9. Consider this. Imagine that you are running a transcontinental railroad in the context of a Canadian Socialist/Collectivist State. How would you like it if some guy approached you and told you that, unless you stop running the railroad, you are promoting that evil "context" through your continuuing to try to keep the railroad running. After all, if you stopped running the railroad, they would have nothing to socialize anymore. You can't be serious. Is the money speech, then, not a part of Objectivism? Ms Rand defined money because it was necessary to do so in order to explain inflation. Federal Reserve notes were not, in her lexicon, "money": gold coin qualified as money because it was an existing good that reliably could be exchanged for other goods or for services. That which does not yet exist is not, in Rand's view, money. That which is not a good is not, in Rand's view, money. Federal reserve notes are not existing goods: they are promises to pay. They are a fiduciary (i.e., trust-based) medium of exchange. Fiduciary media of exchange are not existing goods: they are not money. Ms Rand's point was that only the government can create fiduciary media (i.e., federal reserve notes) and pass them off as money (note that they used to be claims on gold). Inflation, as she defined it, involved an increase in dollars that are not existing goods (e.g., gold coin) but are merely promises to pay goods that do not yet exist (i.e., fiduciary media). Since the world was taken off of the gold standard, the only thing used to mediate trades is: fiduciary media. There is no essential difference, any more, between the nature of currency and credit: both are fiduciary media; both are not existing goods; neither are money as Ms Rand defined it. The essence of Ms Rand's argument is that expanding the number of promises to pay is "inflation". Inflation is wrong because inflation effects a non-consensual transfer of wealth from those who earn it to those who create dollars in the form of fiduciary media: dollars that are not already-existing goods, but promises to produce goods some time in the future. The fact that the banks set up a central bank for themselves (now called the federal reserve) changes nothing in respect of the wrongfulness of using fiduciary media as money so as to facilitate inflation (hence wealth redistribution). Fractional reserve banking started when the ratio of "dollars" to gold was increased by increasing the supply of "dollars". Private banks do the exact same thing by creating additional "dollars" (i.e., promises to pay goods that do not yet exist) and lending them out to people.
  10. My understanding is that, this past December, the Ontario government passed legislation (or changed its internal policies) such that one can no longer register that one does NOT want their organs harvested. The only choices are: register a consent to organ harvesting, or do not register. The effect: there is no record of a refusal by you, and the decision goes to the deceased person's family...from whom, no doubt, the government thinks it has a better chance of getting consent. We recently had a case in Ontario where the parents took their child off of life support in the hope that she would stop breathing: her organs could then be transplanted so as to save another child (unrelated) and so that the parents of the first child could feel that their little girl did not die in vain.
  11. It's difficult to predict what they would do other than to say this: it will be whichever response will cause them the least grief at the polling booth. However, as an advocate for freedom, it is important to draw the ethical line where there is an opportunity to do so over an issue that everyone feels strongly about: doing so results in everyone following their passions to one side or the other of that line. Having assumed the altruist side, the ensuing debate will involve hours of explanation of all of the political horrors that necessarily result from holding self-sacrifice up as a virtue. Let those who initially think themselves to be altruists consider that the logical implication of their position is that the government should sacrifice the old, the mentally incompetent, the poor etc. to take their organs and save the younger, the mentally competent, the productive etc...all for the greater good of the collective. Hold up murder as the ultimate political implemention of altruistic organ distribution, and watch as people begin to question altruism and consider rational egoism.
  12. Oh, I strongly disagree with you about having taken Objectivist principles out of context with respect to fractional reserve banking. As I see it, it is the pro-fractional reserve folks who take Objectivism out of context. This isn't the thread in which to discuss it, of course, but their first mistake is to overlook what Ms Rand meant by the word "money" (see egalitarianism and inflation, which along with her other writing on inflation, makes it clear that she did not include fiduciary media as "money"). I should add that it would probably be possible to obtain payment for ones organs prior to ones death, such that one could use that payment during ones own life rather than leaving it to loved ones posthumously.
  13. Hi folks: Let me see if I can shed some more light on the nature of my argument. First, the context of the discussion: in Ontario, Canada, it is not illegal to decide to have your organs transplanted after your death. However, the law severely eliminates your freedom to dictate the terms pursuant to which the transplant will happen. You cannot require payment, you cannot specify who will be the recipient (or what sort of recipient he/she must be....for example, if the government wanted to do so, it could transplant your heart to a theocratic terrorist, your lungs to a smoker, etc.). The government's moral code in this is purely altruistic: it would rather let a potential recipient die than allow him to pay for an organ, or allow your family to sell it to him. Their implicit reason is: "We don't want a system in which a person can get an organ on the basis of ability to pay rather than on the basis of need: all health care should be on the basis of need, not on the basis of ability to pay". Need is held up as a value in the Ontario health care system (a system in which it is illegal to buy or sell private health insurance for services covered by the government monopoly health insurance system). Pursuant to that moral code - and to promote its acceptance - the government has launched a web site to encourage people aged 14 to 24 to "donate" (i.e., to sacrifice rather than to trade) their organs. Organs, on the site, are depicted as garbage: recyclables of no use to the dead person, and of no value to anyone except the recipient. By depicting organs as garbage instead of gold, the government attempts to have people overlook the fact that their organs are valuable to their HEIRS. One kidney would probably pay the tuition at Harvard for one year. All organs would probably pay for the better part of an entire education; or for the nursing needs of ones widow/widower in their declining years; or for the amount owing on ones widow's/widower's mortgage, etc.. Next: my argument. Part ( a ) : Were the law not to prohibit a person from setting the terms for the posthumous transplantation of their organs, an Objectivist would do the moral thing: arrange, in advance, for the trade of the organs for something of higher value to himself. Examples include: having the organ transplanted into a surviving loved one for no charge (because the loved one is a value to the person giving up the organs); having the organs sold to the highest-bidding stranger, with the proceeds of the sale going to ones surviving spouse and/or children; etc.. However, it would be inconsistent with Objectivist ethics to arrange to have your organs posthumously transplanted into a person who is not a value to you, without receiving something of greater value in return (e.g., money). Part ( b ) : The government is currently encouraging the sacrifice of the value of ones organs. It is prohibiting the receipt of a value in exchange for the value of ones organs. It is prohibiting virtuous organ transplantation. If you transplant your organs, you MUST do so unjustly: you must deprive those people who are values to you of the value of your organs. You must sacrifice that value to a stranger who is not a value to you. In fact, even that is imprecise: you actually must sacrifice your organs FIRST to the STATE. The state then sets the terms for their use. The one exception I can think of is this: if you have no loved ones; if a stranger in need is as much or more of a value to you than anyone else; if there is no value of greater value to you than the stranger; then there is nothing sacrificial about allowing your organs to be transplanted into the stranger. Objectivists do extend good will to strangers in crisis where doing so does not amount to self-sacrifice and an Objectivist would not withhold organs out of malevolence. But I think that is an exceptional case. In most circumstances, I think it would be malevolent to give ones organs to a stranger for free and to leave ones spouse or child without the food, shelter, health care, education, or other Objective value for which the proceeds from the sale of ones own organs would otherwise have paid. Part ( c ) : To promote organ "donation" - not "trade", but sacrifice - is to sanction vice: the sacrifice of the value of ones organs, hence to sacrifice (in most cases) ones loved ones' (e.g., ones child's) happiness to some extent. Mr. Nameless gets your organs, but your son or daughter will now be asking "would you like fries with that?" instead of "pass the scalpel". But it gets worse when the government has a law that prohibits you from trading your organs. In *that* context, to promote organ donation is also implicitly to sanction the prohibition; to sanction collectivism; to sanction the lack of freedom. Depending upon the government's policies regarding who gets the organs, it might also amount to the sanction of other things contrary to Objectivist philosophy. Part ( d ) : On the show, I gave subset of the argument above. I argued that if, by refusing to donate ones organs, the government will be persuaded to end the prohibition, then it would be immoral to donate ones organs (i.e., to sacrifice those values). I gave that particular answer because it is the one that is in direct opposition to the intended purpose of the government's current campaign: to encourage support for self-sacrifice and for the laws that require organ transfers to be self-sacrificial. As a matter of ethics, I advocated rational-egoism; as a matter of politics, I advocated consent (i.e., "choice"). Hope that helps. Paul
  14. "...rode upon it...", of course. So much for proof-reading before the morning coffee.
  15. Source: http://blog.paulmckeever.ca/2009/03/31/pau...lume-1-issue-5/ Paul McKeever’s Minimal Maxims and Bon Arrows, volume 1, issue 5 March 31, 2009 by Paul McKeever Peikoff, Ridpath, and - forgive me - even Brandon: Eh is Eh, eh? “God only knows…” I know it ain’t so. Nobody knows nothing, and nothing don’t know. Live for a what, not for a when. The day wore on, and one after another, freed of the need to pull the wagon, they happily road upon it, until, at sunset, it ground to a halt. It would be a long, cold, night. - A Brief History of America
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