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Fred Weiss

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Everything posted by Fred Weiss

  1. I'm not an expert on Mises, although I've read a number of his books. But based on what I know and as a broad generalization I think you could safely say they mostly agree about economics - but, unfortunately (for Mises), mostly disagree about philosophy. I believe that philosophical difference is what led to them eventually parting ways, although AR continued to regard him highly enough to recommend many of his books (as she did Henry Hazlitt with whom I believe she may have had an even more violent personal split). Fred Weiss
  2. But you are not bringing up examples that pertain to liberty. You are talking about "efficiency" or disparities in the dispersal of gov't funds, etc. Assuming a gov't premised on individual rights and "equality before the law", etc. that presumably would be a matter addressed in its Constitution and which therefore could be addressed by civil, legal means without the necessity of a step as drastic as secession. Furthermore, the specific example you keep raising - crime - is predominantly a local matter anyway and wouldn't normally pertain to the national gov't anyway (the primary focus of which is foreign threats). Furthermore, there is an inherent contradiction in your position. If a gov't were sufficiently aware of the kind of potential problem you bring up and therefore would acknowledge such a "right of secession" for that purpose, it presumably would also be sufficiently aware and committed to the steps necessary to avoid it. In addition, you have still not addressed my "infinite regress" argument. If, say, a state can secede on the assumptions you are bringing up, why can't a county for the same reason within that state? And then, a city within that county. And then a neighborhood within that city, etc. etc. down to someone's teenager and his room for the purpose of protecting his allowance against the "inefficiency" of the neighborhood in protecting him? (The LP Platform in fact endorses secession down to the level of the individual). Fred Weiss
  3. Because Objectivists don't advocate the initiation of force. Fred Weiss
  4. Why shouldn't the police use persuasion instead of force against the Mafia? Why shouldn't the North have used persuasion instead of force against the South to get it to abandon slavery? Fred Weiss
  5. The proof is that secession, per se, as a mere blank-check option leads to anarchism. I thought I showed that in my previous post. Where do you draw the line? Why do you assume that it would be exercised solely on the basis of some group - perhaps even legitimately - seeking a better form of gov't? What if it were exercised to install a worse form of gov't? Look, we have to start with some assumption here and that assumption is the existence of a rational, laissez-faire gov't. If such a gov't exists - and that is already the best form of gov't - then there is and can't be any basis for secession from it except to install something worse. You are right to this extent, one should not assume that we will ever achieve some kind of fairytale utopia where everyone is perfectly happy. Even in an ideal system there will be problems to solve and some people will not be happy with aspects of it. The question becomes then how to resolve those problems. In a potentially infinite regress of secession - or by a rational political mechanism of persuasion through election, court cases, legislation? Fred Weiss
  6. How could increased longevity possibly decrease economic activity and thus reduce employment opportunities? Longevity has doubled in the last 100 or so years. Has that increased or decreased economic activity (and employment opportunities) - and I might add for the pharmaceutical industry as much as if not moreso than others? I would suggest that as you think about economics that you work on not approaching it in such a "concrete bound" manner and try not to focus so much on just looking at the very specific and short-term effects of some particular economic factoid - and instead look at the broader implications. Fred Weiss
  7. I think you are on some implicit assumption that somehow all work will become automatized and it will be something like computers and/or robots will do all the work. Conceivably, computers and robots will even build the computers and robots which will do all work. This of course was the fantasy nightmare envisioned in the early years of the computer revolution. You don't hear much about it anymore because it has proven to be completely false. Even though computers have become widespread both in business and the home, enfusing our entire culture, not only hasn't it reduced employment, it has vastly increased it - mainly by opening up entirely new industries and employment opportunities which were probably impossible to envision as little as 20-30 years ago. Just consider, as one example, the number of people who are involved today in the Internet which barely existed 20-30 years ago. Look at companies like Amazon.com (plus 1,000's of others) which have grown up entirely connected with the Internet and wouldn't exist without it. Even if you had very advanced robots which could perform many of the mundane tasks of our existence, such as house cleaning or mowing the lawn, someone will have to program them, teach people how to use them, repair them, sell them, etc. And once you have one model of robot, people will want other models. They will want them in every conceivable shape, size, color and capability, just as they do now in other similar categories. And just as it has in the past, as our standard of living increases as a result of this increased automation, people will have more money and leisure time and will look for ways to enjoy their lives with it. That, too, will create new industries - perhaps in the future interplanetary space travel. But the one thing you can be sure of is that it will create new industries that you cannot even envision right now. It will be a complete surprise. People's wants are virtually unlimited. No matter how many of them you satisfy, they can always want more. The average middle class person today lives in a state of unimagined luxury in comparison to the average worker 100 years ago. And yet how many of those middle class people can't give you a list a mile long of things they'd like to have or do with their lives if they had the means to do so? That will be as true 100 years or a 1,000 years from now as it is today. Fred Weiss
  8. You are not raising issues which are fundamental enough to justify secession. Such matters are very easy to handle with the election process and which will result in getting better people in. Some of it might also represent legitimate legal issues which can be resolved in the courts. So long as such mechanisms exist and the process over time proves to be effective, there is no justification (or need) for secession. There are significant advantages to nation-states, if they can maintain and enforce peace and stability within its different regions or among its different states or provinces. So, in the United States, citizens can live anywhere and visit and trade freely in any state. There are no border guards or tariffs between the states. None of the states need maintain an army to defend itself against the incursions of hostile neighboring states. It has created something quite unique in history in that regard - with the exception of course of the Civil War which was an inevitable consequence of not dealing with the contradiction in the Constitution on the subject of slavery. However once that was resolved, peace and stability has reigned throughout the country despite wide and significant regional, ethnic, and religious differences within the population. We also have thus been able to build a very prosperous and strong country more than able - when it has the will to do so - to defend itself against foreign aggressors. Fred Weiss
  9. I wasn't aware that there were so many regions/people wanting to secede - or, more fundamentally, that they want to secede in the name of protecting individual rights. The South wanted to secede but it could hardly be considered as in the name of individual rights. The problem isn't secession and secession solves nothing fundamentally without the proper philosophical premises to justify it. If the proper philosophical premises exist in a culture, then a gov't will impliment them and there would be no rationale for secession. If the proper philosophical premises do not exist, then secession solves nothing. Or, to put it in its most basic form: you can't escape from the philosophy guiding a culture. So, if we achieve a rational culture and the rational gov't to accompany it, then what reason would there be to secede from it - unless it were to impliment irrationality? If a gov't isn't acting "efficiently" in protecting rights, whatever that might mean in a particular instance, then that particular issue can easily be addressed - again, assuming a rational culture. Why would a rational culture not want their rights protected efficiently? (If there is any sure bet way to get elected in the United States, it's on a platform of being "tough on crime"). Fred Weiss
  10. This is an interesting subject and I wonder what the research shows, but my (unproven) hypothesis is that increased technology not only frees men from drudgery in many/most areas but also, ironically, increases the demand for such work!! As you mention, there are many kinds of work that don't lend themselves easily to automation, but as wealth increases the demand for such work will also increase. In addition to the ones you mention, there is also house cleaning, hotel and restaurant services, car detailing, nannies, pizza delivery etc. Incidentally, because of the high demand some of this work can pay quite well. I've heard stories of nannies in some wealthy suburbs being paid upwards of $50,000/year. The difference today is that, with the higher standard of living technology has provided us, people have a much wider range of work choices available to them and of course it tends to pay much better than in years past. Fred Weiss
  11. I believe Childs eventually came to see the fallacies in his own argument, although he died before he was able to publish them in any detail. Fred Weiss
  12. There's nothing wrong with your question, per se, except that it is not really a suitable topic for this forum. You are asking a question for science, not philosophy. If you are implying that it is somehow not possible or contradictory for a physical entity like the brain to interface (in ways we don't yet fully understand) with consciousness and free will, the answer to that is simpler. It is obviously possible and not contradictory, since we possess consciousness and free will. More than that, it is axiomatic that we do! If you question whether it is axiomatic, I would suggest you read the relevant sections in OPAR where it is discussed. Fred Weiss
  13. There are 10's of millions more jobs available in the USA today than a 100 years ago. Yet over that period there has been an enormous increase in automation. So obviously automation does not decrease the demand for labor (as its detractors have always alleged, going back to the Luddites of the 19th Cent.). The reason for it is that automation make labor more efficient and productive, thus enabling the same amount of "labor input" to produce far more. The result is increased wealth, both to the laborer who can be paid more and to the businessman who earns more profit. That increased wealth leads to an increased demand for goods and services which obviously creates new work opportunities. Furthermore, automation as an integral part of new technology, creates entirely new industries which did not exist before. Thus, while the advent of the mass produced automobile diminished jobs in the horse and buggy and related industries, it created far more in producing automobiles and the vast industries which grew up around it to service it, such as the oil industry, motels, rubber, etc. etc. Fred Weiss
  14. I'm afraid that this does not clear up the issue, either. What if a certain county in the province complains....And then what if a city in the county complains.... And then what if a neighborhood in the city complains...And then what if the people on my block complain...And then what if I complain? (I suppose someone's teenage son could also complain and decide to secede his room). So if we all secede, what's left? Ooops. At which point everyone looks around and announces in unison, "Uh, oh, we'd better get a gov't back real quick." Secession is justified on one and only one ground: that a gov't has become an intolerable violator of rights and *there is no rational mechanism for changing it*. That was the basis for the American Revolution - that combined with the fact that they intended to establish a gov't based on individual rights. (Mere secession in and of itself, say, to uphold slavery - as in the South - is not justified. And it is notable that the LP Platform doesn't mention that small detail as it also doesn't qualify "the right to self-determination", thereby making as much allowance for Castro's Cuba as the American Revolution). Fred Weiss
  15. That's like saying, "I would not be considered a Nazi by any Nazi I know, I am more...like Mussolini or Tojo than ....Hitler." Gee, we're impressed. (These days since Marxism/communism has been so thoroughly discredited and its apologists can no longer defend it, all of sudden they are no longer "really" Marxists or "really" communists. Now they support something else - usually some cockamamie notion of "worker democracy" - which has never existed and can never exist and which is merely one more of a long line of leftist subterfuges to mask their true intentions - which is to get us to bloody dictatorship.) Fred Weiss
  16. But man is biologically a rational being. Therefore for him to survive biologically *requires* rationality. In other words, if he chooses not to think, including to think long term, he ain't going to survive for long. How else can he survive except as the kind of being he is (by the standards proper to and required by the kind of being he is)? There is a reason why Michael Prescott rejects this idea. He's an avowed, raging mystic and apparently has written a number of books on the subject. A few of us debated with him on another forum and if anyone is a dilettante in philosophy it is him. He was literally incapable of sustaining an argument. It all amounted to "argument from authority" - his continually citing other people who had allegedly refuted Ayn Rand. But he couldn't defend a single one of the arguments. Fred Weiss
  17. In all such instances, if you simply keep the full context, the apparent conflict vanishes. If chess matches weren't highly competitive and therefore exciting for chess enthusiasts to watch, who would be willing to give million dollar prizes to the winners? What makes it exciting and competitive? That there is a winner and loser. Yes, you want to win and so does you opponent and only one of you can, but that, too, is part of the challenge and what makes the whole thing possible in the first place. Also, in sports with rich prize money, there are usually significant rewards even for lesser players - so long as you are in at least the top tier. It is not strictly either/or - either you are the top player and get all the rewards or you are the loser and get absolutely nothing. There are other matches. The job situation is a little different because it's not an either/or situation in the sense that there are other jobs. And getting or not getting some one particular job doesn't close off all your career opportunities. Fred Weiss
  18. This is one of those many issue which capitalism can never win for losing in the eyes of those who loathe it. Either we have too much choice, creating a wasteful, frivolous, throw-away society or capitalist monopolists force us to choose what they want - usually over-priced, inferior products. In the eyes of its opponents, it doesn't really matter what capitalism does. It will be wrong. This is why attempting to defend capitalism on purely economic grounds is largely futile. It's economic success is indisputable. But it is that very success for which it is damned. This pseudo-issue of "too much choice" just being one of many examples. You can just imagine what it's opponents would say if choice was in fact actually limited. Just look at the shrieking against Microsoft. Fred Weiss
  19. Actually, the opposite is the case. If the gov't doesn't have a monopoly on the use of force, then anyone who wishes to, on whatever grounds they arbitrarily decide, can initiate force against others. A proper gov't is based on protecting rights. If it is doing that then there are no grounds whatever for someone to object to it - unless they want to violate rights and they know that the gov't will stop them That is the fundamental contradiction in anarchism. (There are other fallacies in it, but that is the most basic.) Fred Weiss
  20. It is, for the obvious reason that proof itself presupposes and requires the Law of Identity and Non-Contradiction. If they weren't (self-evidently) true, you couldn't prove anything! So, to say that QM (or anything) disproves the Laws of Logic is a flat-out contradiction in terms. It is, as you say, utterly ridiculous. Fred Weiss
  21. You might want to consider the following in relation to the industrialization in Taiwan vs. the supposed "environmental" problems. Based on just a quick look at some figures posted at various sites on the Internet, average life expectancy in Taiwan appears to be at or above 70 years (which puts it in the same category as the other leading industrial countries in the world). Here by comparison is the life expectancy published by WHO of some unindustrialized African countries: "Sierra Leona, 25.9 years of healthy life for babies born in 1999; Niger, 29.1; Malawi, 29.4; Zambia, 30.3; Botswana, 32.3; Uganda, 32.7; Rwanda, 32.8; Zimbabwe, 32.9; Mali, 33.1; and Ethiopia, 33.5." I only mention this in response to the implication of environmentalists that industrialization is bad for our health. Life expectancy in fact about doubled in the 20th Cent. in the industrial West. For those who think that life expectancy is merely a result of medical advances and improvements in "public health" works (such as modern sewage removal, etc.), that ignores the fact that such developments would have been impossible without industrialization - and of course the primary beneficiaries of such developments live in industrialized countries. Separately, pollution abatement, even by law, is not necessarily inconsistent with laissez-faire. However that is a separate and complicated subject. Fred Weiss
  22. At one time or another the "native Americans" forcefully took their land from one another, so you don't get anywhere with that line of argument. More fundamentally, the native Americans didn't have a proper concept of land, in the sense of property rights. What they had was a primitive notion of "territory" over which their tribe claimed rights by dint of tradition and their mere ability to hold it against neighboring tribes. It is not much different than the territorial notions of a pack of wild animals. So, in that sense, we didn't take "their land". They didn't have any land to take. In fact they didn't have much of anything worth taking (at least in North America where the Indians were pretty much at a Stone Age level). Fred Weiss
  23. But general relativity isn't either (a causal explanation), is it? Fred Weiss
  24. You might find this essay interesting, which confirms a good deal of your own experience: http://www.freecolorado.com/2004/07/principlesmatter.html Fred Weiss
  25. Sounds like you've solved the medical problem of the ages. I'm curious why you and all those "prayers" aren't out there now en masse curing disease? For one thing, if you were inclined to, you could make a fortune. In any event, someone by now would have pursued this for its money-making potential (other than just huckster evangelists who specialize in separating the gullible from their money). This of course is all nonsense. You never hear about all the times when they prayed for people and they weren't cured. A fairly high percentage of diseases get cured on their own. And the "placebo" effect is also well known - the phenomenon whereby if you think that you are being cured, that in itself can contribute to your cure - or at least make you feel better. There are also no doubt positive medical effects from just knowing that there are people who care for you and who want to see you better. It has nothing whatever to do with the intervention of "god(s). Fred Weiss
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