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Everything posted by jedymastyr

  1. So he is advocating the abolition of the IRS, personal and corporate income tax, etc--but then he advocates adding a national sales tax? It sounds like a very uncompromising view, and if this is just an intermediate step it sounds like it's making a really big compromise right when you get really close to achieving your goal. Also note in the original talk description, which I didn't put in bold: To me, that reads that he finds it consistent with capitalist (Objectivist, I'm thinking) fiscal policy to use this national sales tax. Do you have some extra information I don't about Mr. Salsman's position that leads you to believe it is only an intermediate step? If you do that's great, but if it's just based on what you read that I posted, I would have to disagree.
  2. In a sense this is close to the truth. If the embryo were to develop into an actual human, she would be required to provide the child with support (physical needs, mental needs, etc.) because she brought it into the world and it (being a human and having rights) cannot provide for its own sustenance without its parents. The problem is, the person you are arguing equates the embryo with a living entity--he believes the embryo, as such, is deserving of rights. The fact is, though, that an embryo does not become a human being (and thus deserving of rights) until it is born. He is equating a potentiality with an actuality--like saying every time you eat an apple, you are eating an apple for each apple seed you consume (since, given time and the right circumstances, they will develop into apples). Such a position is absurd. Until the baby is physically independent from the mother (instead of a biological parasite), the embryo is lacking a very important trait necessary to achieving personhood, and does not deserve any right.
  3. I was recently perusing ARI's "Live Speaker Events:" (http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=education_campus_speakers) In doing so, I came across the talk by Richard Salsman, "A New Tax Policy That Advances Capitalism," listed under the "Capitalism: Practice" category. The description of the talk follows: I should preface everything else I say by noting that I have not heard Mr. Salsman's talk, nor am I familiar with his argument for this national sales tax. I assume, since it is an ARI talk, that ARI sanctions this idea. I would like to know more about it. I was under the impression that taxes are entirely wrong. In order to be consistent with Objectivism, a "tax" must be voluntary. It is true that purchasing items in society is voluntary--you can farm and produce your own food (and not participate interact with society at all) if you so choose. The best argument I can come up with to support the general idea of a sales tax, then, would be something like this: --- Since a government only arises in a social context, and contracts must be protected by that government, the government has the power to charge a fee for providing that service (similar to the quote from VOS). [Note the difference here, though, that it is not optional (as far as I am aware) in the instance of a national sales tax.] Nevertheless, you are still free to not participate in society if you choose not to (i.e. farm, etc.). If you do choose to deal with society, though, that means that you enter the context in which a government is necessary and should have to bear your share of the costs of the government functioning. --- I am not satisfied with this argument--when Ms. Rand wrote about voluntary "taxation," there was always the option to trade without dealing with the government (and just not having your contracts enforced). Doesn't this also imply some sort of national currency or government-inforced standard to keep track of the value owed to the government for private transactions? Doesn't Mr. Salsman advocate banks producing their own currency, rather than a governmentally printed one? What about the trade of physical objects, as opposed to dealing with people financially, even if there is a well-established conversion rate and standard (e.g. gold)? Don't those trades also enter the social context? What is a better argument to support Mr. Salsman's claim? I realize that my argument is not Mr. Salsman's, but I am trying to understand where he is coming from. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any places I can go to find this information. Are there any books or lectures on this subject that I could look to for more information and the original argument? Perhaps he is only advocating it as a step towards a free society, and not as a final end? I don't think this is the case, but I don't want to overlook that possibility. I also see one reason why this national sales tax would be better than the income taxes: --- Since production is required to survive, and this can be done outside a social context, it is on principle wrong for the government to tax production. It is directly inhibiting your ability to provide for your own life. Since gaining a benefit from other people's work by trading with them only arises in a social context, since it can be a great benefit, and since governments are necessary in a social context, it is more reasonable to tax this than the original productivity across the board. Also, it would be easier to implement (taxing transactions) as opposed to taxing production (defining what production is, how to charge people that just farm their own food, or defining a boundary where taxation starts). --- Still, of course, 'better' does not mean 'right.' I obviously do not have much knowledge on this subject--I would like to hear what others think, get sources to read for more information, or even just get a clarification or explanation of what Mr. Salsman's claim is. Any help would be appreciated (thanks in advance).
  4. I should add that "your rights" is really a confusing phrase. As I mentioned, you don't own rights--they are basic principles that define legal and illegal actions. By saying "your rights," what one means is man's rights applied to you. In other words, "your rights" would be referring to the principles that define what other men may not do to you. It would not be referring to "rights" as some sort of property you own. (You don't even have the right to own property--this supposed right to own a right--until rights are established. This is the fallacy of the stolen concept)
  5. This is definitely not a contradiction. If you read what I wrote carefully, you'll see that he has no right to "sell" his rights. There is no right to violate rights--you cannot give someone the right to violate your rights. You can only sell that which you own. You do not own your rights--they are a set of principles that define what each man can and cannot do (or, more specifically, just what others cannot do to you). For example--the right to property. You can own your property and you can sell your property--but you can't sell your right to property. That is to say that your rights are inalienable. Apparently a lot of people haven't taken the time to discover what the word "inalienable" means--they just associate it with rights and not being able to be taken away by force. Well, it is more encompassing than that--they cannot be transferred by force or consent. In the case of life, it is a bit more complex than property, given that we are dealing with a more abstract right (it gives rise to the right of property, pursuit of happiness, etc.). You can sell the product of your decisions over a period of time--but you cannot sell the right to make those decisions. You can make a contract that everything you produce at work (a result of your decisions) belongs to your company--but you can't make a contract that gives the company the ability to physically force you to do certain things throughout your shift without the ability to stop it whenever you so choose (i.e. the ability to make you act against your decisions). You can sell the result--but not the cause. You cannot sell your rights, though you can sell the things you produce as a result of exercising your rights. This is the meaning of the term rights--they cannot be legally violated by anyone, ever.
  6. So you disapprove of other people telling you your opinions, but you don't mind implying that others are evading?
  7. You are allowed to make whatever contracts you wish, but the government can only enforce those that do not violate anyone's rights. If you would make some sort of contract with someone to be their slave for a period of time in return for some financial or other gain, the government has no power to enforce that contract. The government will protect the "slave" 's rights.
  8. I would recommend reading a couple more things. First, Peikoff's response to David Kelley--"Fact and Value": http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pag...=objectivism_fv The major distinction in practice, at least that I'm aware of, is that TOC supports libertarians and allows all varieties of people into its organization (anarchists, etc.), in order to compromise and be "practical." For ARI's position on Libertarianism, there is a great FAQ here (by Ayn Rand): http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pag...us_libertarians and Peter Schwartz's "On Moral Sanctions" http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pag...ivism_sanctions TOC stands for compromise, and ARI stands for principles. If you compromise and go with the libertarians, and they get power--and then the ideas fail (as they must), your view will be misrepresented and you will be set back very far. It isn't even practical. ARI supports the philosophical revolution that will eventually lead to getting real change made.
  9. No rights exist in reality apart from a means of implementing them. A prerequisite to any rights being implemented is the government's ability to protect those rights. The ability to gain the necessary information (subpoena power) is required to protect rights. Rights cannot exist (in reality--as opposed to a rationalistic universe in the sky) unless the government has subpoena power. The fact that this subpoena power violates a right is a direct result of the criminal's initiation of force--and is the proper and necessary retaliatory use of force (as Stephen has mentioned already) required to protect individual rights. Subpoena power is required for rights to exist--the violation of rights (use of force) is justified by the fact that it is a requirements of any rights existing (retaliatory force against a criminal). The blame still lies on the criminal, because it is his action that required this force. This doesn't make subpoenaing a person a good thing--it is bad that a criminal has initiated force and this violation of rights is required. But it is necessary, and is the proper retaliatory use of force by the government. That witnesses are recompensated for their time is all the government can do to make up for the necessary damage testifying may cause. If essential subpoenaed witnesses have very important plans for certain days for the case being tried, it would be proper for the government to work with the witness in choosing an appropriate court date (within a specific timeline) and minimize damages to the witness. The token payment for his time may not make up fully for damages--just as financial compensation awarded to victims of crimes may not be able to make up for the loss of irreplaceable values. When force is initiated [by the criminal], nobody wins. [edit="by the criminal"--so as not to imply that it is the government initiating force here (it is retaliatory)]
  10. Your life belongs to you by right. A government is required to protect that right (and any other rights you have). Upholding justice in defense of individual rights is a requirement of your rights ever being upheld. If someone rationally claims to have a right--and wants that right upheld in reality--he must act in accordance with the principles that will make the protection of his rights upheld. The government must be able to gain the information necessary to protect individual rights--which includes the subpoena.
  11. What is the relationship between logic and reason? (I think this would help in the understanding of logic) I have heard the terms used interchangeably among many non-Objectivists--and I assume this is not appropriate. The definition of reason: From Galt's speech: The closest definition I can find, for the word faculty, to how I think it is used here: So is my understanding correct when I say that logic is the exercise of reason? If reason is an ability, and logic is a process--are they that closely related? Or, is logic purely identification and reason has an extra aspect, integration, meaning it is a wider and more abstract concept? I think of integration as the identification of a relationship between two ideas, and that would fit inside the definition of logic. I was under the impression that reason was a much more fundamental concept than logic--is there something I'm missing here? Also, I must say I do not fully understand what is meant by perceiving the material provided by mans senses (part of reason). So--senses give rise to sensations, and reason automatically integrates them to the perceptual level? Is this right? But if reason is a faculty, and logic is a process, how come that isn't reversed?
  12. The government is not requiring you to give up your property or your life--or any of your rights--in order for it to function. It is telling you that to support a criminal by hiding information essential to upholding justice (and individual rights) is a crime. When the government has established that you have relevant information essential to upholding individual rights, and refuse to testify, it has a right to subpoena your testimony. Again, it is not the government initiating force against you--it is the criminal. When a person commits a crime, it has both direct and indirect effects. The direct effects are obvious--death, stolen property, etc. The indirect effects are the government having to spend its money on a trial, individuals with necessary evidence having to testify, the punishment of a criminal, and the compensation (to the extent it is possible) of the victim. All of these appear, out of context, to be the initiation of force--the government had money and now it's being forced away. The witnesses had free time, and now they are forced to testify. Money is being taken from the criminal and given to the victim. These all are necessary and proper for the protection of individual rights--subpoenas are necessary. Whoah...this is utterly appalling. I have read many of your posts in the past and, for the most part, even agreed with what you've said. But telling someone his own convictions is absolutely ridiculous. If I have not specifically stated my opinion on any issue, you are not authorized to speak for me. Please do not do so in the future. If there is a conviction of mine you wish to use, but I have not stated it, then ask me before doing so. Now that that is out of the way--I do not support either of your assertions of my opinion. They are both invalid. My argument is not an "anything for the sake of keeping the government going argument." I have argued specifically that the blame for any force initiated with a subpoena lies entirely on the criminal. To act as if I support the government initiating force is absurd. Debate whether or not a subpoena is a government using force or the initiation of force by the criminal--but don't turn it into me supporting the government initiating force. I do not support that claim. If I agree with you, eventually, that a subpoena is the government initiating force, and not a defense of individual rights necessitated by the criminal, then I will change my stance on subpoenas. But in no instance have I ever claimed that the government has the right to initiate force against the citizens that it is supposed to protect the individual rights of--which I have stated repeatedly. In my version of the subpoena power, the government has the right to subpoena anyone into court, based on evidence and objective standards, who refuses to testify and whose testimony is essential to protecting individual rights. To say that this is a blanket power, which violates individual rights, is to misrepresent my views. Only when the subpoena exists is the protection of individual rights guaranteed (to the extent that it is possible). Did I ever claim that the subpoena--forcing one person to testify against his will--is okay? Absolutely not. I said it is required--but not that it is "okay." It is the initiation of force (by the criminal) and is entirely repugnant. I even stated that the criminal should be held responsible for any damages this causes to the witnesses. I never claimed that the violation of anyone's rights is just "okay." Agreed Agreed--but not the way you intended it (I do not think that the state is compelling someone to act irrationally by subpoenaing someone--the criminal is).
  13. When your testomony is required to uphold justice in defense of individual rights--which is the government's sole purpose--the refusal to comply is to support the criminal and uphold the principle that violating individual rights is perfectly proper and that the government has no right to protect victims against their violation. So yes, it is the threat of force. Absolutely not. The government's proper purpose is not to give people money (even in emergency situations). Since the government has no requirement to help the poor, this argument does not apply in any such case. It only applies when noncompliance would make meaningless the laws created by governments to protect individual rights. Since these rights are required for men to peacefully coexist, if one person stands between their being upheld or violated, it is the government's obligation to subpoena that person to court in defense of rights. That is a precondition required for the subpoenaed person to live in a free society. The government has a right and obligation to uphold justice and individual rights. It is the government's obligation to protect individual rights. If the government can only do so through a subpoena, then that is what the government must do. You take what I say out of context--you're right, there is no basic principle in Objectivism that makes people protect the rights of victims. It is not an essential--it is the result of other principles, in a very limited context--when knowledge only you have is essential to the protection of rights. Then, based on the principle of a government with a purpose of protecting individual rights, and the criminal putting you in the position of being the only one who has knowledge essential to the government's protection of rights, you are required to testify in court. (I find your implications about altruism and appeal to emotions to be offensive and highly misrepresentational.) In a court case, the defendant has pleaded "not guilty," and I think that is as much information as the government has a right to extract from him. If a government subpoenas someone, and that person claims not to have any knowledge of the case, that is the extent of the government's right. By "testifying against himself," I assume you mean admitting to doing something wrong. And yes--if a person has committed a crime, the proper plea is "guilty." Lying to the court is a different matter entirely. I'm not sure if I fully answered your question--are you saying something more than that? I hold no such view about absolute rights of victims over others. I do have a view about the requirement of a government to protect the individual rights of its citizens, however. This is the only way a free society can exist. Yes, the accused does bear the responsibility. If you do not testify when your testimony is required in protecting someone's rights, you become implicit in the crime. If you are the only witness of some crime taking place, for example, and you just decide not to testify--you are in effect acting in support of the murder. You become part of the crime. So yes, by withholding such relevant information, you can very well make the difference between upholding and not upholding a victim's rights. Implicit in your argument is that the person who is subpoenaed has no interest in justice or the protection of rights in his own society. The only way the very society he lives in can exist, that he himself can be living freely, able to pursue his own values, is when there is a government that protects his rights. Having such a government is very much in his self-interest, because it is the pre-requisite to any other (rational) value he may wish to pursue.
  14. welcome! You're a college student--so what are you studying?
  15. Yes--I don't dispute that their being required to testify inhibits their freedom, as any initiation of force does. Since I say the force has been initiated by the criminal, though, I don't consider this to be a problem (in the sense that the government is doing anything wrong). I agree that most people would go and testify--morally, it is obligatory. I am solely focused on those who do not wish to testify (as they would have to be subpoenaed). I don't think this is a question of efficiency. It's a question of rights. If it is usually efficient without subpoenas, then usually subpoenas won't be necessary. Again, I'm focused only on when they are necessary to prove a case. The government's job is to protect everyone's rights. This isn't a question of whose rights are going to be protected--subpoenas should only be issued when someone's testimony is required for a case and that person will not come voluntarily. In such a case, the government is obliged to subpoena the potential witness in order to protect the rights of the victim at hand. When a criminal commits a crime, he initiates force against his victim and those people whose time and property is required to go into protecting the rights of the victim. It is not the court's (or prosecutor's) decision of whose rights to favor in this instance. Courts deal in cases, and when there is a case in which someone's rights have been violated, they must do everything necessary to protect the victim's rights. If that means subpoenaing someone who won't comply, then so be it. But the court is required, in any given case, to protect the victim's rights. If a subpoena is necessary, causes demonstrable harm to a subpoenaed person, and that person wants to claim damages, he should have every right to seek damages from the criminal. The court, though, shouldn't have any choice as to whether or not it should subpoena someone when it is necessary to prove a case--they always should.
  16. We are not in disagreement here. A suspect can be detained until his trial is over--his future rights are in jeopardy and his rights are revoked while he is held in jail until and through his trial. Witnesses are free and are not detained. Subpoenaed witnesses are only required to spend the time it takes them to testify in court--they are free until the trial, and during other parts of the trial. The future protection of their rights are not in jeopardy. So, yes, they are very different. Also, as I've mentioned before, the subpoena is an initiation of force by the criminal, not the government. This analogy is not valid. Just as soldiers should not be drafted, judges and court clerks should not be drafted. This is the proper analogy. In the case of a subpoenaed witness, it is this one person that is standing in between justice and injustice. His failure to testify may very well result in an injustice, and by refusing he is acting against the principle of the protection of individual rights. When a criminal initiates force, it has both direct and indirect effects. In a society that protects individual rights, gathering the necessary evidence to hold the criminal responsible is one of these indirect effects. If one man's desire can allow the violation of another's rights, then rights are not respected in that society. -- As a side note--I like your signature.
  17. Sorry, you're right in the sense that I said it was physical force--but it would be entirely proper to classify it as a "threat of force." It is true that you are not initiating physical force against the victim by refusing a subpoena--you don't physically do anything. However, by your very inaction when someone's rights are threatened and you are the sole entity capable of protecting their rights, you are acting against the principle of protecting individual rights and the victim _will_ suffer. That is very clearly threatening the victim with force. The results of your actions (with respect to the subpoena) determine whether or not justice and the victim's rights are upheld. Note that it is the criminal that put you in this position--not the court. First, it's not the government initiating the force against you and making you testify--it's the criminal, indirectly, by initiating force and starting a chain of events that require your presence in court, that is violating your rights. This is absolutely not a "greater common good" principle. It is not requiring you to give up your property to help the poor or any other value that only enters the picture in the context of a society with laws. It is required for the protection of the very rights a proper government is established to defend. It is not "greater common good"--it is directly supporting (and required by) your "good" of being able to live in a society of men. Your whim (not to go to court) cannot and should not come above the objective requirements of enforcing the law. If we have objective laws, we must have objective enforcement of the laws or the former are meaningless. The two are corollaries--to have one without the other is an enormous fraud. Without the subpoena, there is no point in having objective laws in the first place--any unwilling person could _legally_ act in defense of a criminal by withholding information that would put the criminal in jail. By remaining silent when you should uphold justice, you are personally standing between objective enforcement of the laws and allowing a criminal to go free. Of course, this does not mean that the use of this force on the part of the government is arbitrary. It must be tightly controlled, and subpoenas should only be issued when there is a valid reason to think one has information important to upholding the law.
  18. The ultimate example of this would be the subpoena, where the court orders you to be physically present and divulge the relevant contents in your mind. There isn't anything more straightforwardly your property than your own body and the contents of your mind. When a crime takes place, force has been initiated. If you are a witness to the crime, or have any essential evidence that would help in the solving of the crime, you are required to provide this information. When there is reason to believe you have evidence pertaining to the crime, a subpoena is issued that requires you to come into court and testify. Since force has been initiated against the victim of the crime, and your personal testimony may be the difference between a criminal being punished or set free, your failure to do may very well result in the crime going unpunished and the victim not recompensed for any damage to his property. The difference between your testifying and not testifying is the difference between force being overlooked or punished. If you fail to testify, you are initiating force against the victim. To move back to your perspective, of a person entirely innocent having to suddenly invest his time or his property into evidence for a trial, it still makes sense. The force is being initiated against you by the perpetrator of the crime. Since protection of individual rights is required for men to live free, someone with information essential to protecting an individual's rights must provide it. When a criminal perpetrates a crime, he initiates force directly, against the victim, and indirectly, against anyone that has to invest their time or property into holding the criminal responsible (including the court's money, which now has been forced to be spent on this trial). This includes your physical presence and testimony (a subpoena) or any other physical evidence that may be important in the case (for example, a security camera on your property that may have seen the crime take place).
  19. That's a really big field. General principles about objective law? There's a tape at aynrandbookstore.com called "Objective Law," but it's not that long and doesn't really contain anything I can remember that was revolutionary or that you can't get elsewhere in the literature. Or, are you looking for historical analysis of laws? There are lots of books on specific fields, detailing a free market system or showing problems with non-objective laws. Last summer, for instance, I picked up a book from the library called "Free Banking: Theory, History, and a Laissez-Faire Model," by Larry J. Sechrest. When I got home I saw the dedication was to Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, and F.A. Hayek ("For the inspiration"). I haven't much past the first couple chapters (it wasn't really what I was looking for), but I know from perusing my school's library that there's lots of economic/political-oriented books that deal with historical laws and freedom, and their practical results. You can get a lot of factual information and see the results of different types of laws from there, I'm sure. Or, perhaps, something more philosophical? I have no advice there, as I haven't really pursued it.
  20. Welcome... That's awesome! You read the most difficult nonfiction book (in my opinion, anyway) before the more common ones... I don't know what online resources you've used, but there's several sites that have some awesome material. Besides the plethora of op-eds at aynrand.org, I especially like hearing audio interviews. There are quite a few at http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pag...edia_interviews and www.prodos.com has a ton as well. I don't think anything can compare to the primary sources, but I particularly like hearing people with Objectivism well-integrated, as their responses tend to be prompt, eloquent, passionate and right. If you have money to spend www.aynrandbookstore.com has Online Courses (second link on the left). You can listen to those online without having to physically import the tapes. Understanding Objectivism, Objectivism Through Induction, and Philosophy of Objectivism are all long general lectures about learning Objectivism. You might know about all this stuff, so I don't know if you want me to continue or not ... but there's plenty out there!
  21. First, being productive just means doing something that is of value to human life. This can be as simple as working on an assembly line building some technological product--it doesn't necessarily require much mental ability. You might already know that, as you specifically mention bedridden people, but the people that make this type of argument tend to mention all poor people and those who perform manual labor for a living. The group of "problematic" people is a lot smaller than it is often represented as being. Governments are instituted among men to allow each man the right to live a life proper to man (from ethics). This requires that we adhere to the principle that the initiation of force is evil and should be banned--since the mind is man's means of survival and force stifles the mind. To require some men to provide the living of another is to violate the principle that makes a proper human civilization possible. The man who is incapable of providing for his own life would not be able to live on a desert island. It is only this civilization that allows him a chance to live his life in the first place. That is already an extraordinary benefit--proper governments do not harm anyone--even the worst dependant. To say that these helpless few are deserving of more is to fly in the face of reality. The concept "deserve" only arises in the context of a human being acting in accordance with human nature, human values and reality. By his inability to act, a helpless dependant deserves nothing. The only possible result of any policy requiring the able to provide for the incompetent is the destruction (or impeding) of civilization. This means not only preventing functional, rational men from living moral lives, but also striking against the source of the very existence of these dependents. That these dependents exist--and would not have been able to without civilization--is only a tribute to the benefit civilization provides.
  22. http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=1142 This topic has a lot of recommendations in it (from last summer).
  23. Was Heart of a Pagan bad? I haven't yet read it, but I must say I've been deterred for quite a while by the excessive price tag.
  24. When I visited New York last summer with a friend, we spent one day visiting the (very haughty) town of Montauk. We ate at the least snooty restaraunt we could find (within walking distance of the beach), and apparently the presence of our backpacks indicated to the staff that we would be leaving a small tip. Well, with that attitude they were right. After paying about twice the price of normal food, receiving food that tasted worse than any other on my trip, and getting horrible service, I (and my reluctantly convinced friend) left him no tip. The highlight of the evening was the waiter "refilling" my half-filled sprite glass with water (on accident)--then claiming that there are no refills on soda. My friend even left him a poem: You ignored us you acted like an ass you poured water down a sprite glass. so here's what you get more than just a dollar bill, but our warmest affections, and as for tip? nill But usually, I leave slightly above 20% tips for about average service. Since I mainly only eat at two specific restaraunts, I've found I often get better service the next time around. If the cook happens to do something wrong (and the waittress thinks she's getting a small tip), leaving a good tip is especially helpful for future service.
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