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Everything posted by Jake_Ellison

  1. Easily. Physical force is not that difficult to understand. It involves the use of physical objects like guns or fists. Why would it be difficult to delimit acts of physical force from abstract ideas?
  2. No. Planning to make a crime legal is not a good excuse for doing anything.
  3. Ok, list the specific fees that are inevitable when someone is sued. Don't go into a speech about the cost of lawyers.
  4. No (well, you can campaign and plan I guess, if it doesn't involve any actual action in that direction; but my understanding of what it means to campaign and plan for something does involve action in the direction of your goal). No. (this time it's clear cut, since you left out the plan part, and went straight to the making of the law) It's fine to be a socialist or opposed to abortion, it's not fine to use force (or be the accomplice in the use of force) to implement either. Making a law to implement socialism is force (since actual policemen will come to my house and take my property, by force). There's no need for bullet points, that sums it up. Objectivism allows free expression, and draws the limit between expression and criminal acts at the initiation of physical force. In your defense (as I'm sure people will be mean to you over this), there has been a lot of confusion in the anti Muslim threads about the Objectivist position on free speech. Hope my answer above cleared it up.
  5. Knowledge is the mental grasp of facts of reality (as per Ayn Rand). That defines it perfectly clearly, I don't see anything to discuss about it. As for information, it has many conflicting definitions, and there's no point in talking about those definitions without first establishing what actual existents the concept is supposed to include. Obviously, it is supposed to include written content, like books, internet forums etc., but what about a picture taken by a camera, that only exists on the undeveloped film? Are all the contents of that picture information or not? What about the feed of a webcam no one is watching or storing? So you don't consider the contents of a book information?
  6. That's a gem. I still have a smirk on my face.
  7. Isn't English the official language of Pakistan? And doesn't anyone teach Physics there?
  8. The part you added to make it strange makes it strange. Actually supporting a team, and caring if they win or lose (without having one's self-esteem be affected by it - as I'm sure no one's is, that's the part you added yourself) is not strange. Or a team you might actually like will move in to take their place.
  9. To what? Stephen Colbert is not a stand up comic. Carlin is probably the greatest comic ever. Declaring that everyone who falls short in a comparison with him is "average" is ridiculous. What would make Bill Maher's skit average is a few hundred skits on feminism which are better than his, not just the one written by the greatest comic ever.
  10. Nonsense. In a truly selfish world exile wouldn't replace a more severe punishment for innocent people being oppressed by their governments. In a truly selfish world Iranian adulterers and American pot growers would be left alone, not exiled. Besides, Iranian savages are stoning women because their religion demands it. If they could be convinced to let them go instead, it would've been done already. None of what you wrote is an argument for exile, or consistent with Objectivism.
  11. Why is it relevant whether they could afford the legal fees? I doubt there even are any fees for defending one's case when sued. Also, can you link to a Court decision forcing farmers to buy Monsanto seeds because their crops were contaminated? That's hard to believe.
  12. I don't support them, I'm just against them being locked up for belonging to a "crooked" class, or being "banksters" (I'm also against stupid puns, so that's two strikes). That's not nit-picky, it's a fundamental difference between rational arguments and demagogy, and a statement about what is and isn't acceptable language in political discourse.
  13. It is still demagogic to condemn a class of people as robbers, who need to be locked up. Even if they did profit from a flawed government program. A rational argument for justice would be to name names and specific crimes committed by individuals. A rational argument for political change would be to identify flaws in government policies. Vague threats against segments of society are scary and reminiscent of tyrants through history, not political activism.
  14. The anti Wall Street demagogy in this guy's rhetoric seems far more dangerous to me than Gingrich's religion.
  15. It is possible to own the organism, if you created it. That means people can't make the same organism without your permission. That includes the DNA. One thing you cannot do is stop people from knowing what you're doing (unless you can keep it a secret). So someone might know the information contained in the DNA of the organism you own, he just can't use it to make the same organism. As for how much he can rely on his knowledge of your organism, that depends (on specifics, and knowledge beyond mine, in the field -- I'm sure there is an objective way of preserving everyone's rights to their own creation, without limiting others' right to create as well).
  16. The concept "government" as you're trying to define it (composed of two entirely separate entities, one a government in the Objectivist sense, another a "charity" as defined in any dictionary), is not a proper concept. It is in fact two concepts: a government and a charity. The only reason why we would join those two concepts together (into something called the greebornment - real clever, huh?) is if there was some sort of logical connection between the government and a charity. For instance, if they have the same elected President. So who pays that President's salary? What about the money needed to organize the presidential elections? If they are taken from the charity wing of the greebornment, that's fraud, if they're taken from the government wing of the greebornment, that's even worse.
  17. Because the protection of individual rights is in everyone's best interest. (Miss Rand's argument for LFC is that it is in everyone's best interest to have it, therefor it will eliminate conflicts among rational men) Charities are not always in everyone's best interest, so rational citizens would be forced into moral compromise: whether by refusing to support the government (sacrificing the protection of rights) or by supporting it and thereby supporting some other activity that is not necessarily in their best interest. The obvious solution is to separate such activities from a representative government rational citizens can support without reservations.
  18. Rejecting full support of "the process" in favor of a desired outcome isn't pragmatism. Pragmatism is the rejection of principled thought in favor of a concrete result. The reason why "we scared you out of your argument" the first time is because there was no principled thought backing up the notion that the majority can define its way around the equal protection clause in the Constitution. Excellent example of Pragmatism. You are sacrificing moral principles (dismissing moral "flaws"), for the sake of a concrete desired outcome (maintaining the process). You're just pretending that the process is somehow the abstraction, and our petty principles are just concretes, to make putting them ahead of the process Pragmatism. That's an up side down argument. I realize that the US government is big, but it still hasn't reached mythical abstract-hood, that is still the prerogative of out puny moral principles.
  19. According to BoJ Statistics and the FBI (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States), violent crime rates in the US peaked at 758 (/ 100.000 residents), in 1991, and have been steadily declining every year, to 454 in 2008. Property crimes peaked in 1981, at 5.264/100.000 residents, and have since declined to 3,213 (in 2008). Maybe you ignored population growth to get a different result, from the same source? Or you began looking at the statistics too early, before some of the policies that led to both the increase in prison population and the decrease in crime have begun to be implemented (policies like harsher sentences, "three strike" laws).
  20. It doesn't matter if you see why it should be immoral or not. The point is that Objectivism is opposed to it(in an Objectivist political system, the government is limited to the protection of rights, it does not offer other services, no matter who agrees with what), and since you don't know that, you shouldn't be claiming that you do and posting nonsense all over the forum. And if you had at least read the thread (forget reading about Objectivist Ethics), you could probably figure out why it is immoral, too.
  21. What's wrong with the icon we got? It look pretty good, don't it?
  22. It's working well. Crime in the US has been steadily declining for decades.
  23. The government could only prevent people from committing crimes by presuming everyone's guilty, and supervising their every move. In such a world, no one would have any privacy, and to make it possible, the government would have to trample our right to liberty. Luckily, most people aren't criminals. But some are, and in their case what I described above must in fact be put in practice (in prisons, the government literally has to keep criminals in captivity and under constant supervision). And, even though prisoners are locked in cells most of the time, and supervised by expensive equipment and security personnel, they still manage to commit crimes. In civilized societies, retaliation for crimes is applied objectively (in the form of justice and prisons, or even the death penalty), and as such it deters crime and does in fact defend us from proven criminals (by keeping them in captivity and under supervision). It is not true that the kind of retaliatory force which puts criminal in jail (or ends his life) is revenge. Far from it. To understand its validity, you must think in principles: there is no explanation using only concretes (like Person A does X, and the government responds with Y) for why justice is in fact a method for defending individual rights, and not a form of revenge. There is only an abstract one, which relies on the abstract concepts of justice, individual rights, and objectivity.
  24. Oooh, good question. I've got lots of preferences, so buckle up. For instance welfare is immoral, unless justified by the unusual circumstances -i.e. someone who worked as a postman all his life got laid off when the Post Office was privatized, and needs time to adapt). In general, the guiding principle should be that productive people who lose their livelihood due to the sudden changes should be protected for a while (by delaying the closing of their workplace, subsidizing or at least not taxing their jobs for a year or two once in private hands, etc.; or in the case of children with poor parents, by subsidizing their education for a couple of years, to give the parents time to adapt or charities to form and take over from the government), while unproductive mooches (current welfare recipients) not so much (their protections should end much quicker). As for the methods used to accomplish that, there are a number of real world examples of economies which went through an even more dramatic transformation than what we're talking about: some formerly communist countries in Eastern Europe and Asia, after the fall of the Soviet Union, transformed from 100% socialist economies into countries with smaller governments than most Western nations (some of them did it in just a few years). The history of that transformation should be studied, and the lessons applied. The most often used method for that transformation was not liquidation, but in fact privatization: public auctions in which government owned entities were sold off to investors, sometimes for money received by the government up front, other times for money received on conditions of future profitability, still other times investors took over a particularly inefficient government enterprises for free, or even in exchange for future tax cuts, depending on the number of employees they committed to keeping on the payroll for a set period of time. Only as a last resort, when no investors were willing to take over a company, was one closed down (often after years of it being kept on life support through subsidies, and with generous severance packages for the laid off employees). Obviously, in your fire department in a rich neighborhood example, a local government could announce the privatization of the department tomorrow, and have it sold (for a handsome sum) by the end of the week. It wouldn't really affect anyone, the firemen would stay employed, and might even be looking at raises. In poor neighborhoods, things wouldn't be quite as peachy, but I bet those departments would sell too (and most of them would manage to stay in business). Everybody needs fire protection, and if you have a house, you can probably afford at lest a basic fire policy on it. A lot of other, more complex ventures (schools, roads) would have to be privatized in increments, to allow solid business practices to be formed, give employees a chance to know what the changes are likely to be and time to adapt (for instance a lot of postal workers would get laid off, teachers would become subject to more frequent evaluations and serious competition for the more prestigious positions), and consumers to get used to the newfound control over their money and the added responsibility that carries with it (instead of paying gas taxes at the pump, for instance, motorists would be paying subscriptions to the roads they use every day; instead of being taxed for the education budget all their lives, parents would have to save their money for years before their children reach school age, to make sure they can afford their eduction even in tough times). [Reason for edits and all the colors: trying to make a post that goes on way too long as readable as possible - the sentences I highlighted sum it up well]
  25. I don't know what exile consists of exactly, so no I can't see the difference between it and killing someone. But, if we take your word for it that it means death unless someone else takes the exiled person in, there is no difference.
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