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    John Stevens
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    Graduated Ole Miss
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    Teacher (NEA too :P )

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  1. It doesn't work. Shall I expound further? Well the fact that you could have a businessman fire a black person, because he's black, and ruin that man's life (at least in the short term) and call it freedom....that doesn't work for me. I think that a laissez-faire world would be much like natural evolution; which is to say nature red in tooth and claw. If at the end of the day non-prohibitive tax on the rich is used to make the lives of people far better off and you call this theft by coercive force...well for some reason or another I feel no moral pangs. None. When someone says its wrong to tax them to pay for someone who is disabled and that they are being robbed (while wearing a suit and tie) I arch an eyebrow and say "cry me a f______ river". In any case, I feel like Paul was trying to "hide" the parts of objectivism that aren't fun to talk about; its easy to be talkative when the host agrees with you and he bobbed his head on everything she said...until that where he quickly clammed up. Maybe he found it pragmatic to not take a principled stand.
  2. I did notice the silence from Paul when the host mentioned the need for programs for the handicapped. Fair warning my objectivist amigos: if you ever do get noticed enough to get into a debate you are going to get hammered on "No welfare for the handicapped; charity solves everything," line. EDIT: I just realized this was my first post since I left; since then I read atlas shrugged...still waiting on Kendall to email me back about some things I raised with him. I bought AS so I'll be reading that soon too. I find this philosophy fascinating and quite seductive....then again I felt the same way about communism.
  3. First the Clinton thing: I made a mistake. It was the largest PEACETIME expansion. http://clinton4.nara.gov/textonly/WH/Work/040299.html Copyright: that article that you linked is for work that you are quoting. For example, I can legally quote a paragraph from a book to prove a point. I cannot "copy" the whole damn book (obvious closing of a possible loophole). These rules apply to ALL work from all perspectives. They do not apply to work that is purchased and used privately. Let me just save you some time: I used to be an amateur software pirate, I know basic copyright law. It has come to my attention that the responses here have become quite strained with emotion. It's time for me to go. I thank you for your time and I lament that this slid into the icy situation it is. I was afraid this would happen but I also suspected I would learn a lot. I was right both ways. One thing before I go, I don't "want" to enslave mankind. I just didn't want to get bogged down in my own liberal arguments. When I argue with a hardcore Christian, I like to argue with them from INSIDE the bible. The idea that it is all false, right off the bat, is simply a non-starter. Likewise if I'd come in here and said everything you think is wrong, then everything would've gone to pot. I limited all of my arguments (ok most of them; I tried) to fit within your own framework. I also hope everyone realizes I came and stayed here in good faith. Part of that process requires me to leave in good faith and not touch this increasingly charged situation. I'm going to save every page of this conversation to my hard drive as I felt it was so chock full-O'-goodness. I'll read replies, but I will not post anymore. EDIT: If anyone knows a really efficient way to copy entire webpages, I'd really appreciate getting that in PM. (I feel like I tripped over the curtain as I exited stage right..*sigh*) Peace, JohnS
  4. Let me repeat this: It is NOT ILLEGAL to own a copy of something previously purchased. This is why it is legal to digitally copy CD's that you have purchased. You can't give them away and you can't sell them. You can have one for your car and one for your garage or something. I purchased Atlas Shrugged and am legally entitled to have a digital copy. If I redistribute or sell it, I can be sued. If I use it solely for personal use, I cannot. This isn't an opinion or how I feel. It's United States (and I THINK international) law. If you disagree, you've got my IP and my real name. On the fact that the employer has the right to quit: yes they do, my position is that this isn't sufficient. We disagree. That's ok Also you group needs and whims together. It seems as if you are using language to paint this picture of the mean industry-killing employee consumed with greed. There is a slight difference between money and kidneys. Its a bit more invasive to break in my house and conduct unauthorized major surgery on me than to simply send me a tax bill. It's a bad analogy because it is hard to contemplate without getting all kinds of other emotions involved (I don't want to be knocked out, I don't want to be surprised and attacked, I don't want to lose 1/2 of my body's ability to do..w/e kidneys do - actually take the things, all they've done is get punched in fights and sent me to the ground like a brick. Thanks, kidney )
  5. You may choose to work for a boss but you cannot quit so easily and you don't always know what you're getting in to. I want someone with power in the relationship after it is formed who has my interests at heart. The employer / employee relationship is quite heavily stacked towards the employer. I don't want to equalize it completely as bosses need authority. I do want it tempered by outside influences in which the employee has an input. The free copy of atlas shrugged was easily found with a google search. I bought the book years ago but it became damaged from neglect as Objectivism was about a 6 month fad for me and I never got around to the massive tome that is Atlas Shrugged. This means that technically I didn't break the law, only the person who had it for free download did. I'm going to assume the Objectivists rarely crack a smile towards piracy Lastly I set up a hypothetical situation to display how I would be willing, in certain circumstances, to treat morality as expendable. This is relevant to the discussion. I do not like theft, but if I must sanction theft to avoid a massive income polarization, I will. I only have so much sympathy and I don't see myself envisioning with sympathy for a billionaire crying "I'm in bondage" because tax money was allocated to rescue someone from a house fire. Edit for aequalsa: You chose 1973...what about since early industrial revolution. You provide anecdotal evidence and statistics you...well...pulled out of nowhere. You provided no real data or useable evidence. Link me a study, a governmental report, hell a CATO institute evaluation. Secondly the largest economic expansion in US history was during Bill Clinton's presidency. To me it sounds like you're saying "In theory X can't happen despite the fact that X has and is going on". You are arguing with reality. A is A, right? Innovators still innovate, and they do so happilly. I hear NO large outcry from those that produce and innovate that they have no incentive worthy of their genius. Atlas is happier than he's ever been! Go tell Warren Buffet, an Obama and bailout supporter, that he just doesn't get free markets. Secondly you say think of all the bad things...think of all the people who got education on the government's dime and used that to become Atlases themselves, etc etc for social programs. How many people have been helped along the way to greatness by initial government help. I'm all for people pulling themselves up by the bootstraps, but some people don't have boots (yes yes, old line I know). If you want to blame me for the Holocaust, well tell me how the US and Russia stop Germany if they are Objectivist? It took serious collectivization to win that war from every major member of the allies. Isn't it something of a cliche to say "you're just like Hitler" on the internet. I wish people would learn more history if only to have a wider selection of historical analogies to reach to.
  6. Zip: I think it is a false dillema. Governments have been around as long as there has been recorded history. The entire time has not been a Soviet experiment. There are more than two choices of Soviet dystopia or pure freedom. Also I trust groups of people that are elected by those they represent as they tend to check each other. I don't like huge amounts of power in the hands of single individuals and those goes for both government and private life. You can say this is impossible but...we did it. Worker safety laws, for example, did NOTHING to harm production. The problem with evolution as a rule of economics is it can only adapt short term. If there was short term money to be made by having maimed workers, so be it. If the government, however, moves everybody at the same time with a universal law of no unsafe practices, then everyone balances back out and production is maintained. There is a middle ground here on Earth; maybe not in principle land but it EXISTS on earth. Kanjmai: An employee needs his employer more than the employer needs him in the vast majority of cases. This power imbalance has been abused before and requires government to step in. At least with the government I have a voice. I do not have such a voice at my company. I didn't elect the boss nor do I have to personally support him. I want someone with at least a speck of my interests involved in this relationship with some real power. EC: If someone broke into my house you're bringing much extra into the equation. First is this person going to kill me? rape my girlfriend? These things matter. If someone robbed me, at gunpoint even, and I found out later they did so because if they didn't they would die from not being able to afford some medicine, I would feel better about it. If I was in a situation where I needed $30,000 or someone would kill my child...I will do whatever it takes...period. Whatever...it takes. Just how I am. How did you feel on my point about jefferson?
  7. Well obviously Objectivism values every individual in regards to what they can produce. I'm simply saying that that isn't enough. In the face of huge excess I think we can provide things like basic human services. This is (I think) very utilitarian in nature. I want maximum happiness, or at least to move in that direction. The ideas of Utilitarianism (suggested by someone on here) seem neat to me. I can take a small, barely missed amount from someone on high, and greatly improve happiness below. This appeals to me...I suggest reading my post above to get a bit more. NOTE: I have found a free ebook of atlas shrugged. Score.
  8. Kendall: I'm not sure how "Compromise? yes. on anything? no." makes sense. Do you have some examples to flesh that out? I'm imagining you compromising on, say, the color of the national flag. You like blue, someone else like red, and you compromise with purple. I think its also safe to assume that I don't have the rosiest view of the industrial age. True, I don't think of it only as the Gilded Age, but there is that aspect to it. You'll be hard pressed to tell me that things like worker safety laws really hamper human progress. You're strong on principle but once you actually delve into the consequential I think you're more hard pressed. EC: I dunno. Good question. Maybe I'm a sociopath with a narrow focus. Maybe I have a Robin Hood complex. Maybe I'm consumed by jealousy. Maybe the acceptance of an idea such as "by any means necessary" not only involves my willingness to sacrifice Atlas but also the sacrifice of my morality. Interesting stuff, eh? Maybe I'm some philosophically wayward Sherman marching on Atlanta, torch in hand. Maybe I'm defending the corrupted slave city, whose town square has Atlas in chains, from the purifying cleanse of an Objectivist Sherman, torch in hand. Maybe I don't claim I'm right. Maybe at worst I'm claiming that I can chain Atlas and betting none will stop me. If I and people like me (which would be, what, 98% of the population) are tyranny, then throw us off. Many libertarians / Objectivists reference Jefferson. His actual politics would be debateable but the man owned slaves. He knew it was wrong but he didn't give them up because it was too hard. Most slaves didn't revolt because it would have been too hard. Might this be the same? Might Atlas be the slave who won't revolt because it would be too hard. Might 98% of people be slave owners who might readily recognize what they do is wrong but cannot give it up because it would be too hard? If you judge me, judge Jefferson too. The closest justification I can think of beyond this is that biologically I think humans are interconnected. We are social animals beyond the economic idea of "traders". Call it a weird outgrowth of evolution via the selfish gene but I think we are interconnected to some extent. I do not think we are as integrated as an ant colony but neither do I think we are lone wolves. Even if human production could reach a glorious zenith under Objectivism (and I would debate that) I don't think it is a path to happiness which is stubbornly based on our evolutionarily designed neuronal system.
  9. Well to be honest I think we've come to a point that is a bit out of my league. I haven't read Atlas Shrugged (yet; I said I would, and it will happen) and on sheer knowledge of philosophy you have shown you know more than me. I need time to do some sorting. Last night and this morning I've just been thinking over all that's been discussed. I need a little digestion time for all this new information to get properly sorted and judged; I'm backlogged on knowledge. This means I can't respond like I want to: intelligently. I will only be able to answer on what I feel somewhat confident about in regards to what was said by all of you since my previous post. I'm not ignoring other points. One thing I do know is that Objectivism isn't gravity or like gravity. A isn't B. You may assert that Objectivism is the only correct philosophy in regards to reason or rationality. You cannot argue that it is inescapable in the way I meant. If the human mind simply couldn't be communist, or whatever philosophy system, then that would be the case. You may argue that my Machiavellian thought process is wrong. You may not argue it is impossible; it is currently happening. As I speak, the Atlases of the world produce AND are taxed. I'm trying to walk a tight line here to communicate in a frame you will accept, so please don't take the next few sentences smugly. Atlas is "chained" and not "choked" in the same way a horse pulling a cart is chained and not choked. I can't provide the scientifically exact point at which the horse revolts or dies, but I do know intuitively that if I tie the horse to the cart, the horse will pull it. I've seen it happen. For all of human history it seems the Atlas has been able to be chained and not choked. The Soviet Union and other communist states DID in fact choke Atlas to death. They are on the ash heaps of history. The entire modern world and all of it's successes and vibrant middle class rest on the bedrock that you can chain Atlas to a certain extent without him breaking the chains. If you wish to prove me wrong on this, you but need to pull a Galt. I think you read Galt and say "if only". I'm...for lack of a better term calling your bluff. I don't think anyone, Atlas or not, has the sheer inner strength to actually do what Galt does. That's what my philosophy and the entire modern economy world are based on. Granted it is a precarious balance, but as long as we truly respect the grand contributions of Atlas and listen to the Atlases of the world to measure how content they are, we can walk the tightrope. Whether this should be attempted (or continued) is of course extremely open. You've all impacted me there. I cannot stand and say "I'm right because". You've shaken some core beliefs. You've forced me to accept "by any means necessary" or abandon my particular philosophical strain all together. Not fun. I can't help but notice in my own mind, however, that the first thing I think of is consequences. "If this is accepted, what are the consequences?" If I find said consequences unacceptable, then the idea is a non-starter. I definitely thank you all for this discussion because I wasn't even aware that other people didn't think that way. I'm curious, would you agree with me that for all of human history (well the recorded bits anyway) that Atlas has been chained? Haven't we gotten pretty far and done some amazing things because of it? Could an Objectivist person in, say, a legislature compromise, or would they filibuster the smallest deviations? It is important to note that...your likelihood of converting me is quite small at this point and I'm asking these questions and coming to conclusions you most likely do not like. I don't want any false pretenses or "string-along" type stuff. I'm just trying to learn as much as possible and you are all quite intelligent. I reiterate, if at anytime you feel I'm a waste of your time that you do not wish to partake of, I can be asked to leave. It's just very hard to leave of my own volition when this has been such an enriching venture. Thanks EDIT FOR ZIP: I've just seen your post. One thing I thought extremely interesting is that you wrote some things based on consequences. You stated that you were choosing the odd random asshole over the big government asshole.(EDIT: That previous sentence lends itself to many a gutterminded joke, eh?) When faced with two options you didn't like, you chose the least undesirable. If, however, this were correct, why have people routinely voted for more and more of the government and less and less of the private? Either people found it more likely to have undesirable results under the more free system or they were tricked into thinking that things are better now than they were in the past when the reverse would be true. Governments don't tend to act in those "asshole businessman" ways because of all the different inputs and the size of its scope. Essentially, the government can screw you harder than anything else. The asshole individual, I would argue, is more likely to screw you, however. This was a quick response, I shall re-read your post.
  10. I'll answer the second part first as it is shorter. Are you saying all the non Atlases of the world have to do is let you keep some arbitrary amount of the results of your own labor for you to not pull a John Galt? Checkmate. I, the liberal, get to tax the Atlases of the world. I get my cake and I get to eat it too. The Atlases go right on producing innovations that benefit all of mankind and I get to tax them for the profit they make on it. And what do they do in response? They take the money You can call me immoral and evil, but you have to admire the ironies involved once you recognize this paradoxical paradigm. Now, I agree some things simply ARE. Gravity IS. Objectivism isn't this. It is a philosophy. It seeks to tell people what they should do; not what fundamental laws they cannot escape. No nation has existed without gravity, they have no choice in the matter. Objectivism, right or wrong as a philosophy, is a choice. You asked me by what standard do I choose? Well, if I'm a utilitarian (something that seems interesting) it is based on the happiness present in the world. If I take 1,000 dollars from a billionaire and buy food for a man who is hungry, then happiness has increased. The billionaire's life hasn't changed much and the hungry man has had a large improvement of happiness. I would follow this principle as far as possible until it out-leveraged the productive engine of capitalism. I have no desire to push the Atlases of the world into a corner where they feel they have no recourse except to "Pull a John Galt". As long as I don't cross that critical line, I'm ok having the government deal in the redistribution of wealth. You asked me what I meant by people in regards to people over principal? Well I was reading some objectivist postings and one person had a signature like this: Fiat justitia ruat caelum ("Let justice be done, though the heavens fall"). This to me exemplifies the principle over person attitude. I want to deal with things as they come up and offer solutions that have the best consequences (both short and long term). A perfect example is the bailout. I don't want to bail these people out. Yet if I don't, the financial markets will seize and I will be adversely affected. Principal says let justice be done though the market falls. Well...no. Justice is nice; but the financial engine of the US grinding to a halt sucks. To wrap up, my overarching goal is maximizing happiness while not breaking the creative engine of capitalism and freedom that power everything. Pure freedom and individuality are penultimate goals. Also, throughout history, it has been the supremely principled who made life so damned hard. How can you govern with an Objectivist politician? Compromise is a necessary part of government and an Objectivist balks at compromise; their way or the high way. I Lastly, situations I highlighted earlier are pragmatically why I cannot accept your POV as ideal. A boss with the power to fire me essentially for thought crime by making lie detector tests part of the condition of employment scares the hell out of me. I'm at a loss in regards to a group of people who get angry if the government takes 5$ from them via coercion but would have no problem being thought-probed by some busy-body interloper. Maybe the boss would be an Objectivist who would fire anyone with any left-wing ideas, eh? Leftwingers need not apply; brain scan condition of employment. The last thing you need is some smartass college kid trying to unionize your workers. See you guys tomorrow. I'm off to dream of workers casting off chains and taking over the means of production
  11. Well I think it comes down to empathy and the fact that most people would rather not fail than succeed. Succeeding is nice. Failure...well failure can mean death. If I was given the opportunity to bet on a coin toss my life for 10 million...I would refuse the offer. I would rather not have a chance to win, than suffer the loss. This means people say "What if that was me?" and proceed to base public policy on this. You talk a good game until you get into specifics. Let's say that the streetsweeper cannot afford healthcare. I wouldn't want to be without healthcare. Here you have a good guy, working hard...and if he gets sick, his life is financially ruined. Galt tells me that to take away his incentive to work by taking the results of that away from him. Imagine how the street sweeper feels. He worked hard...and is now financially ruined despite his hard work. He will also feel hopeless and bitter. Also, please tell me why you haven't yourself boycotted a la John Galt? Does the Machiavellian web have you caught? Are you unwilling to give up your quality of life in order to satisfy the principle?
  12. I'm trying to get what you just typed. Would it be ok to actively lie and deceive the kidnapper? Also I'm finishing listening to a recorded speech of John Galt. Its paraphrased (I've printed the full one out). So far it bears out what I've felt all along. We, the Atlases, do not need you, and you, the average, need us. Objectivism is really great for architects, engineers, inventors, etc. What does it offer an average person who will always be average? A true morality? It seems to me...that at the very least the proletariat (or w/e) "steal" from the Atlases, while allowing the Atlases to keep enough of the results of their own production to be satisfied enough. This is Machiavellian as hell. Essentially this point of view is "I don't think the Atlases should have 2 g5 airplanes when they could have 1 g5 airplane and thousands could receive healthcare." The John Galt solution is full scale boycott. Why hasn't this happened? Why haven't you all simply refused to be a part of the system; boycott. Don't produce the innovations and don't pay the taxes. Aren't you keeping us, the parasites, strong enough to get the next generation? I don't mean to sound sarcastic, but for a group of people who lionize principle, where is the adherence to principle when it (for once) can negatively affect the Atlas-class?
  13. Fair enough. This has been fairly productive and fun. Have a good night everyone. -- JohnS
  14. Well I could give some beautiful sentences on the greatness of moderate collectivization. I have a hunch that the soaring words would in fact fall flat in this arena. I also didn't come here to do that. You are all largely aware of arguments that run counter to your own. You do not need me to come in here to "educate" you on how wrong you are about leftist ideas. Also, I feel there is a legitimate reason to fear your policies. The average would be at the mercy of the Atlases of the world. Each Atlas would be a king, and each average person a thrall. I'm truly surprised you haven't outright attacked me as "evil" for my somewhat Machiavellian outlook on how the average use the government to essentially treat the Atlases like innovation-producing cattle. This is a very negative framing of the issue but I was trying to communicate in a framework you wouldn't reject out of hand. Lastly, on fear, the dystopian worlds of 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 both shared situations of principle over people. If people have to die or get ground up by the machine in order for the Grand Principle to survive, so be it; people were expendable. So, how do you feel about my previous post?
  15. Well I would say the employer is depriving said person of the quality of life dependent on the employment. People, by necessity, make plans that depend on their income. The idea that an employer could say "have sex with me or watch me severely impact your life" offends my every sensibility. I am not content to let the free market punish the business as it lost an employee (if it did in fact lose one). More important, however, is my previous post. I don't see how it is answerable. I think that...it is the conclusion. I don't know for sure, but my hunch is that it is. I've learned a lot but there are some unbridgeable chasms here. To you, principle is supreme over everything. In fact, everything else added together cannot trump your principle. I'm pragmatic. What else is there to say? I want to say that if someone says "You're right, maybe you should go now," I wouldn't be offended. I'm here, and I'm listening. Yet I don't want to overstay the welcome. It is ok for the conversation to end if you believe that it is indeed time for it to.
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