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Fred Weiss

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Everything posted by Fred Weiss

  1. Yes, and I don't think the question can be answered without knowing the full context. I can see it going different ways depending on the circumstances. But I would reiterate that one should avoid dwelling on these "nightmare fantasy" scenarios because they are really irrelevant to the overall working of a free market and they are designed to distract from the central issues. In this respect one must look at the facts, i.e. the actual history, where one cannot avoid noticing a steady succession of technological breakthroughs, enormous increases in productivity, and a generally rising standard of living from the 19th Cent. onwards. There were certainly instances of ruthlessness and what leftists have called "cuthroat competition", sometimes when it was in fact innocent and other times...well...it may have been a bit overboard even if not illegal, but that also produced enormous wealth in a relatively short period of time, by historical standards. Keep in mind that the USA transformed from an essentially log cabin wilderness into an industrial powerhouse, attracting 10's of millions of people from all over the world coming here to better their lives.
  2. How much of this kind of thing - and worse - that Rockefeller is reputed to have done has been questioned by recent historians. It is part of the "robber baron" myth which was perpetrated by early socialist writers, some of them, like Ida Tarbell and Upton Sinclair, who were know as the "muckrackers". Many of the same kinds of charges are levelled against Bill Gates who in a lot of ways did for the computer industry what Rockefeller did for the oil industry. Rockefeller didn't need to use nefarious means to put his competitors out of business. He did it by building the most efficient oil refining and distribution company in the world which enabled him to continually lower the price while still being highly profitable (Carnegie did essentially the same thing in steel and Ford in automobiles). As I recall it, he lowered the price of oil by 90% in about a 20 year period.
  3. Again he's taking a book of relatively little value - in this case maybe at most $75 - and trying to boast its value by adding a purported AR signature - which in this case is also a forgery. In general avoid "cut" or "laid in" signatures. It's a phoney attempt to "marry" two unrelated items.
  4. It's definitely a forgery. Even though it looks like her signature, she would never sign a book in that way. Most of the forgeries are in books with otherwise little value, as in this case.
  5. How do you propose getting around Article 1, Section 8 which states "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States." Then there is the 16th Amendment which authorizes an income tax.
  6. Oh, he's definitely a troll - and his other posts are just as carefully crafted to caricature what he perceives as hyperbolic Objectivist language and outre Objectivist positions. For example, that we should drop an A-bomb on Caracas. In this instance he's caricaturing the purported Objectivist position that one doesn't have to examine opposing ideas or criticisms first hand - taking out of context a couple of instances where AR and Peikoff took that position. The pseudonym is the other give-away. For HPO regulars, if he's not in fact "Cat-Toy" or "MB", he's an imitation of the type. Fred Weiss
  7. I'd be interested in that if you - or someone- could find the link. Or if Phil could comment.
  8. I believe if you read our Constitution you will discover that the means of enforcement are clearly spelled out. So, I don't know what you are referring to. One of course can argue about specific points in the Constitution but the means exist to change it and in fact a number of amendments have been added over the years. The important point is that it institutionalizes the fundamental principle of a civilized society, namely, that disputes are settled peacefully rather than through armed conflict. In the one major instance in our history where that was not the case, the results were catastrophic - but that was the result of a major philosophical contradiction in the Constitution regarding slavery and it had to be resolved. So the "protection agencies" would work for the courts - or what? What would be the basis of the laws? To what would they appeal in their rulings? Where does the power reside? The "protection agencies" I assume have the guns, so why wouldn't they exercise the power which resides in them? Who and what would stop them? Ya think? But then don't feel bad, since this is typical anarchist argument style. Since anarchism is pure fantasy, you don't need evidence or proof for anything. Arbitrary pronouncements are clearly sufficient. Well, ultimately any political system will generally reflect a broad consensus of a population's convictions regarding their rights and of the rights of minorities who may differ with them - and that ultimately will rest on their view of reason and its proper role in guiding one's life. But for a population generally committed to reason and rational values, the last thing in the world they would want is anarchism. Of that you don't have to speculate. Fred Weiss
  9. That is precisely what is absent under anarchy, virtually by definition. One of the defining characteristics of "The Rule of Law" is that there is a final arbiter, a political power which can make a definitive ruling on some disputed matter and enforce it. Long's answer to this - as others have indicated - is no answer. More fundamentally, the basic fallacy of anarchy is that it does not grasp the distinction between economic and political power. Economic power is the power to produce and trade by voluntary means. Political power is the power to coerce. It is the power of the gun. You cannot convert the one into the other without disastrous results. What you get are coercive monopolies. In the political realm, absent the constitutional protection of rights, what you get is dictatorship. And that is precisely where anarchy ends up. Furthermore, our rights are not something to "compete over", as if it were optional which ones some "protection agency" wishes to protect to the exclusion of others, or as if you could arbitrarily decide which rights you wanted to protect in contrast to your neighbor. Consider this example. Suppose you believed you had the right to abortion but your neighbor opposed it. You decide to have an abortion. Does your neighbor have the right to stop you? Does his "protection agency" come to arrest you, while your "protection agency" comes to defend you? What do they do, shoot it out? Fred Weiss
  10. Actually, objective epistemology doesn't approach principles as contextless absolutes. So, for example, even the principle of non-initiation of force has contexts where it can be appropriate, even necessary, to violate it. One needs to grasp the fundamental contexts from which these principles are derived, rather than regarding them as disembodied axioms the way you (rationalistically) do. So, in this instance, in order for there to be property in the first place, one presupposes one is in a social setting, which at a certain point will require some mechanism for protecting ones' rights, adjudicating disputes, and objectively enforcing them, i.e. a gov't. Such an entity will require some physical means for performing its functions. At some advanced point buildings will be required - for example to house, say, courts. Why shouldn't the gov't own those buildings? In fact it is arguable that it should own them (vs., say, renting them) so that it is not beholden to any private individual and can maintain one of its essential characteristics, namely, impartiality and also that it's functions aren't interrupted. The gov't is a unique *and necessary* entity in any civilized society and therefore a prerequisite for private property to even be recognized and protected. Since AR considered the notion of anarchism patently absurd - which it is (as we have previously discussed) - and since she therefore considered gov't an essential aspect of a civilized rights protecting society, it would be clear - if one keeps that full context - that she intended to exclude gov't from that general dictum regarding "all property" (so long of course as it is confined to its necessary functions, and no other). As a broader point, one doesn't understand Objectivism by a process of lifting sentences out of context - and ignoring everything else AR had to say on any given subject. AR generally had a degree of respect for her readers and their ability to keep the full context - and didn't assume that she would have to detail every exception and special circumstance via an endless cataloguing or through pages of footnotes and parenthetical comments. Or in other words, she assumed that her readers had commonsense. I'll also note that it appears you are quite willing to grab Objectivist principles and declare them absolutes when it suits you - and then turn around and reject others when it doesn't. And the issue in any case in any particular instance doesnt' rest on "AR says", as if it were an edict of god. The question is whether it is right. Fred Weiss
  11. Unfortunately, we are all sold out of our Nick Gaetano Ayn Rand bookcover prints. They are only available right now as frontispieces in our leatherbound set of Ayn Rand novels: http://www.papertig.com/AR_Leatherbounds.htm We still do have some of his Ayn Rand stamp posters, but even our supply of those are getting low. http://www.papertig.com/AR_Stamp_Poster.htm Fred Weiss
  12. Or: if you oppose crime, you are therefore obliged to become a policeman? If we adequately compensated our men in arms and fully supported our military, we would not have any trouble attracting enough volunteers. Fred Weiss
  13. Military targets weren't the issue in the A-bombing of Japan. The issue was to send a warning to Japan that we had the capability of annihilating them totally and the will to do so. The objective was to bring them to surrender quickly, and thus to avoid the necessity of an invasion where the casualities to American soldiers would have been enormous. We had by that point effectively destroyed their military capability. All that was left was their fanatical willingness to fight to the death. We had to do something to shake that conviction and to completely break their will. As for the bombing of German cities, we didn't have the capabilities of precision bombing which we do today. Also, the Allied casualities were enormous in these bombing runs. Given that mix, that we might have decided simply to inflict as much as damage as we possibly could was a perfectly legitimate military strategy. We weren't targeting civilians for the sheer sake of targeting civilians - in contrast to the Germans who were rounding up and slaughtering entire populations. In both instances, we were sending the message that we prepared to use overwhelming force, to wreck their countries, and kill millions of them if necessary to end their aggression. In the end we demolished and completely subdued them. Having demanded unconditional surrender, the occupation of both countries proceeded with relatively little incident. We were then able to impose our will upon them and insist that they embrace free institutions and abandon their military ambitions. One can't fail to note that both countries subsequently experienced economic explosions and have been extremely well-behaved ever since. Would that we were taking the same approach in the MidEast instead of the chronic appeasement which has infected and undercut virtually every step we've taken to date. Fred Weiss
  14. That was a great heads-up by Taranto - and in fact I think very revealing about Kerry. Thanks for posting it. You'll note that the "liberal" media immediately latched onto a few of Bush's smirks (I guess hoping to get even for Gore 2000), but you can be sure they never would have noticed - or if they had - reported on this. Fred Weiss
  15. You mean deftly managing to retain the enthusiasm of his anti-war liberal/left base by referring to the war as a "colossal mistake" while at the same time seeming to be forceful and pro-defense by proclaiming that he will "kill terrorists wherever they are" and fight the war better than Bush? Keep in mind that he now has some skilled Clinton people advising him. And they are absolute pros at this sort of thing. You know, it all depends on what is "is". While prior administrations aren't innocent either, including and maybe especially Bush '41 and Reagan, it was Clinton's policies which most dramatically emboldened the terrorists. It was under his administration that the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. Incidentally, the basic problem I see with the Swifty ads is that it's all 30 years ago. It was effective back in August when Kerry was making a big deal about his Vietnam War service. But they haven't yet made the case that nothing has changed, i.e that he is the same "anti-war" and "America is always wrong" guy he was back then. If they were to produce a really good ad or two showing that, it could have significant impact, especially after the debate when Kerry appears to have scored some points that he is "Presidential", etc. Fred Weiss
  16. I agree. But we weren't targeting innocents - and they were. That is also the difference between the Palestinian terrorists and the typical Israeli response (which sometimes involves the killing of innocents but is primarily directed at the terrorist leadership). Fred Weiss
  17. This is my last word on the subject. The original comment that prompted this now ridiculous discussion was: "Though written several decades ago, this is one of the best essays I've read from Rothbard. Sounds just like something Galt or Francisco might say..." The essence of my response has been that there is a reason why it sounds like something they might have said...because they said it. The essence of Charlotte's rejoinder has been, "Oh, but so-and-so said this bit and this other guy said that bit and that view on this bit has been around since the 17th Cent. and thus why isn't it possible that Rothbard took all those bits and managed to string them together almost precisely and uncannily just the way they are put together in Galt's Speech all by his little self." Charlotte, if that's what you want to believe there is obviously nothing I or anyone else can say that can change your mind. Your desperate use of a remotely similar sounding quote from David Hume is evidence of that. As I said before, I don't think Rothbard is important enough to waste this much time on. You wonder then why we have. Except the only reason we have is because YOU have made an issue of it. I was reluctant to even add this comment except that I just wanted to put some finality to my participation in this discussion. You're a very bright lady but you don't know how to stop beating a dead horse. Fred Weiss
  18. I don't consider Rothbard important enough to waste the time on - and the proof is readily available to anyone familiar with Galt's Speech, which apparently you are not. Your Hume quote is sufficient evidence that you are grasping at straws to evade the point. It is so remote in its similarity that one can only assume that you spent days in a desperate quest to find something marginally acceptable. My reaction to it was: if that's the best you can do, you've made my point. The additional irony in quoting Hume is that philosophically he is the prime exponent of the primitivist view of causality, that it is not something we can grasp as a fact of reality (most especially as a product of science), but merely a "habit of mind" with no necessity attached to it. Fred Weiss
  19. I'm not going to be a quote-providing machine for you. If you are not familiar enough with the content of Galt's Speech - or even apparently with the basics of Objectivism -to realize this for yourself, I'm not going to teach it to you. There can be grounds when he uses those particular words and form which come straight from Galt's Speech. Fred Weiss
  20. And I was trying to address the possibility that the only alternatives aren't to steal the cure or do without it - as someone else had sensibly suggested. But you are apparently intent on creating a "dogs fighting over the last bone in existence" scenario, whether that has anything to do with reality or not. Fred Weiss
  21. There was a movie made based on an essentially similar premise: Lorenzo's Oil, with Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte. I believe it was based on a true story. Incidentally, when people attack the profits of drug companies, they should keep in mind that with lower profitability they will have even less incentive then they already do to find the cures for rare or exotic diseases. Fred Weiss
  22. When you say they "were placed outside the law", who enforced it and how was it enforced? What you are in effect saying is that someone who was in violation of the law lost the right of retaliation, i.e. no longer had recourse to the law. What happened to your vaunted "right to secede"? And the purported right to not have to abide by the decisions of those who had a monopoly on the use of force? (So, in this case in Iceland, it was apparently the equivalent of some kind of oligarchy of "chieftains" who wielded the power, but power they wielded such that they could in effect ostracize those who refused to abide by their decisions. If I recall correctly, Leif Erickson's father was forced into exile, which led propitiously to the colonization of Greenland). And further, you are acknowledging that there was a body of law. It wasn't deuces wild with each "chieftain" making it up as he went along, one "competing" with another to see which one could appeal to the largest number of "customers". Fred Weiss
  23. I'll just quote two passages from Rothbard. Here's the first: "Second, it is implicitly and even explicitly assumed that the way primitive tribes act is more "natural," is somehow more appropriate to man than the "artifices" of civilization...This basic idea is fundamentally and radically anti-human, because it denies the basic facts about human nature and the way human beings must necessarily operate. Animals are born with "instincts"; these instincts are, in essence, sense-determined responses. Animals do not possess a free will, rational consciousness; hence, they can only adapt, in sensory fashion, to their environment. Man, on the other hand, can alter his given environment by use of his reason and his free will. Man is born a tabula rasa; he must learn and learn how to choose the ends that are proper for him, and the means which he must adopt to attain them. All this must be done by his reason." This is virtually verbatim from Galt's Speech. I assume you don't need the citations. Here's the second: "Secondly, the primitive’s life is a life of almost constant terror. Terror of the world about him, which he does not and cannot understand, since he has not engaged in any sort of scientific, rational inquiry into its workings. We know what a thunderstorm is, and therefore do not fear it, and can take rational measures against lightning; the savage does not know, and therefore surmises that The God of the Thunder is displeased with him, and that therefore that god must be propitiated with votive offerings and sacrifices (sometimes human sacrifices). Since the savage has no concept of a world knit together by natural law (a concept which employs reason and science) he believes that the world is governed by a whole host of capricious spirits and demons, each of which can only be propitiated—with only partial "success"—by ritual, by magic, and by a priestcraft of witch doctors who specialize in this propitiation. So fearful is the savage that he can do nothing on his own, that his individuality is virtually completely un­developed—because the individual savage makes almost no use of his reason and of his mind. Therefore, virtually everything the savage does is governed by immutable, utterly irrational, taboos or command: by custom. And this is the fear-ridden, barely-human, creature whom we, people who have used our intellect to "conquer" nature, are being asked to emulate, whom Polanyi extols as being truly "social," and as being happily tree of the "inhuman" despotism of the free market." Now from Galt's Speech: "To a savage, the world is a place of unintelligible miracles where anything is possible to inanimate matter and nothing is possible to him. His world is not the unknown, but that irrational horror: the unknowable. He believes that physical objects are endowed with a mysterious volition, moved by causeless, unpredictable whims, while he is a helpless pawn at the mercy of forces beyond his control. He believes that nature is ruled by demons who possess an omnipotent power and that reality is their fluid plaything, where they can turn his bowl of meal into a snake and his wife into a beetle at any moment, where the A he has never discovered can be any non-A they choose, where the only knowledge he possesses is that he must not attempt to know. He can count on nothing, he can only wish, and he spends his life on wishing, on begging his demons to grant him his wishes by the arbitrary power of their will..." Fred Weiss
  24. How were differences between the chieftains resolved? Fred Weiss
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