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Everything posted by JeffS

  1. JeffS

    Food Stamps?

    Thanks for the quote. I've read it before, and it still ignores the fact that, currently, in order to provide the benefits of today the government must take property from someone else today. Do you disagree with this part of my argument? Do you believe the government could provide benefits today to all those who have paid taxes in the past up to the amount that has been taken from them? If the situation were different, if the government were not operating at a deficit and did not have debt, then I would agree whole-heartedly. If I paid taxes in 2005, then in 2010 required social benefits, I would have no moral qualm against taking those benefits AS LONG AS the government did not have to take someone else's property in order to provide me with those benefits. Just because a crime was committed in 2005, there's no justification for being party to a crime in 2010. It's not like the government took my money in 2005, set it aside and said, "Hey, if you ever need this, you can have it." No. The government took my money in 2005 and spent it. Now, in 2010, in order for me to get any assistance at all the government will have to go to someone else and take their property. Is that moral? Can I morally hold myself above the crime by saying, "Well, I got robbed in 2005 so it's only proper that someone else get robbed today." Now, if I paid taxes in 2010, but still needed assistance, then several different issues would need to be put into the context. Am I living within my means, can I find ways to economize so that I don't need assistance? How much have I paid in taxes this year? How does that amount compare to how much I would have paid had I voluntarily paid for the proper functions of government? More than likely, this would stop the analysis since it's highly unlikely that I would have had nearly as much money taken in taxes as I would have voluntarily paid given the fact that I make so little income that I need assistance. But if the analysis does continue, I would have to compare the amount I have paid in taxes to how much I need in assistance. Amaroq, I believe this also addresses your post. Let me know if it doesn't.
  2. JeffS

    Food Stamps?

    An important qualification. Thank you, Dante. Then how is your excuse/justification/rationalization (is there some other word I should use?) different from theirs? Did you choose the level of education which would make you qualified for your current occupation? Did you choose your current occupation? Did you pursue whatever qualifications would take you to your current level of employment? Did you choose to trade with your current employer? In other words, are you the sole individual who has made all the decisions leading up to being an employee who gets his hours reduced to the point where he can no longer afford to buy food? What would make you believe that? Because they logically follow from the type of organism I am, I like being the organism I am, and wish to continue being the organism I am. I see. So, if I'm homeless and starving, then it's okay for me to steal? It's okay for me to get the government to steal for me? If that is the case, then how is Objectivist ethics any different from the most repellent ethical system imaginable? It would be nice, but when one side has all the guns it doesn't always work out that way. If we don't get what we pay for, does that give us ethical freedom to take it from someone else? In other words, if I stole Marc's property, and he couldn't get it (or something else of comparable value) back from me, would it be moral for him to steal it from you? Please, please, please - someone explain to me how this is not blatant rationalization. At least three I can think of off the top of my head: 1. "Whatever may be open to disagreement, there is one act of evil that may not, the act that no man may commit against others and no man may sanction or forgive. So long as men desire to live together, no man may initiate—do you hear me? no man may start—the use of physical force against others." - Ayn Rand 2. "Just as man can’t exist without his body, so no rights can exist without the right to translate one’s rights into reality—to think, to work and to keep the results—which means: the right of property." (Ayn Rand) Therefore, all men should be allowed to do what they wish with their own property as long as he does not abridge the rights of others. 3. "Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life." - Ayn Rand What about my posts either explicitly, or implicitly led you to believe I needed the list you provided here?
  3. JeffS

    Food Stamps?

    No, I just want you to talk a good game and live your principles when it's practical and convenient. How one can consider living their principles to be sacrificial is beyond me.
  4. JeffS

    Food Stamps?

    That paragraph is one long rationalization. "It's okay for me to condone theft because I don't really know the money for my food stamps is stolen. After all, people aren't really being robbed since they willingly hand over their taxes. They are complicit in the theft, so they deserve to be robbed from." It's in your rational self-interests to recognize that a robber with a gun is going to kill you if you don't hand over your money. Therefore, there is no such thing as "mugging" since you willingly hand over your money. And the solution is to condone theft from others to repay what has been stolen from you? Ahhh, I see. So, if we just repent we can commit any sin that's convenient? I'm not asking anyone to sacrifice anything. I'm trying to determine what principle underlies the belief that it's okay to accept government assistance. Take the government to court, just as RB suggested he would do with any robber. Now, I'm sure you would argue that's a very difficult proposition; and I would agree. But the answer is not, "Well, since it's really hard to live by my principles, I'll just violate them while I chant, 'Stealing is bad. Stealing is bad.'"
  5. JeffS

    Food Stamps?

    I'm not disagreeing that the government has an obligation to return property it stole, nor am I arguing it needs to be the exact same property. I'm arguing that the only way for the government to fulfill its liability is to take property from someone else. In essence, by taking welfare one is sanctioning the government's theft, then justifying that by claiming they were wronged to begin with. If a robber stole your money, would you demand he repay you even if you knew without a doubt he would have to steal money from someone else in order to repay you? Is it in your rational self-interest to live in a society where theft is condoned in any way? Not to pick on you, Amaroq, but this is exactly what I'm talking about. It's not your fault, right? It's your job's fault. You didn't pick a career where there might not be consistent hours. You didn't seek employment from a business owner who might have to cut back on hours. It seems to me this kind of rationalization works for just about anything. "I deserve welfare because I have children, and I wouldn't have children if sex didn't feel so good. It's not my fault." "I deserve unemployment insurance because I lost my job, and I wouldn't have lost my job if people didn't want iPods instead of vinyl records. It's not my fault." "I deserve health insurance because I'm sick, and I wouldn't be sick if the government would outlaw saturated fats. It's not my fault."
  6. JeffS

    Food Stamps?

    Well, yes, that's nearly the way it happens in reality. Suppose the OP, at one time, had productive employment and made enough money to pay taxes. The government spent that money when it took his money; some of it on legitimate government functions. Now, some years later, the OP wants to get his property back (or, at least comparable value). What does the government do? It no longer has his money, it has no way of making money, so what does it do? It takes someone else's property and gives it to the OP. The analysis doesn't change even if the OP is capable of paying taxes now. The government is deep in debt and running a deficit. Any money he pays in taxes now was spent decades ago. Again, the only way for the government to return his property is to take someone else's property. To argue it's moral to get back whatever he has paid into the system because he can track how much he's paid; to argue his property still exists and can be returned to him; to argue there is comparable property in the government's possession that can be given to him is either rationalization, an ignorance of reality, or both. Certainly, but shouldn't he also keep track of how much he would voluntarily pay for the legitimate functions of government? Would the arithmetic be something like, "Well, the government took $100,000 from me over the last 10 years, but I would've paid $50,000 for the proper functions of government. So, the government owes me $50,000. I'll take $50,000 in food stamps." What if he needs more than $50k in food stamps, can he revisit his arithmetic? Can he, after doing some research on government spending, decide that he actually wouldn't have paid $50k for the proper functions of government; that he disagrees with the way the government spent his money and therefore he only values those services at $30k, thus he can take an extra $20k in food stamps? Or does he not need to concern himself with the proper functions of government and can therefore take the full $100k? Sounds an awful lot like rationalization to me.
  7. JeffS

    Food Stamps?

    What principle is this based upon? It seems to me the principle is: It's moral to take others' property if your property is taken and you can't get it back. There's no way to validate that the money he has paid in taxes is the money he's getting back in the form of food. Should he keep track of how much money he's received in assistance and compare that to how much he has paid in taxes? What if the amount he receives in assistance exceeds the amount he has paid in taxes? Should he stop taking food stamps, or is it okay to continue taking the property of others? Because, to be sure, it is not the return of his money. His money is already gone - it paid for someone else's food stamps. What about the proper functions of government which he should be paying for? Does the money he has spent in taxes not constitute at least some proper spending? Not that the method by which the money was obtained from him is moral, only that he must at least agree with the principle that a government has proper functions that should be paid for. As such, at least a portion of what he has paid in taxes has gone to a principle with which he agrees. What portion? Does he factor this amount into his calculations for how much money he can receive in assistance before actually taking the property of others on net?
  8. JeffS

    Food Stamps?

    How is this not rationalization?
  9. That's really funny. I've always done math the way you describe, but no one I know does it that way (except my kids, whom I taught to do it). I never really knew why I did math that way, or who would've taught it to me until I bought the School House Rock DVDs and watched the math DVD with my kids. The one that struck me was the multiplying by 2s episode (Noah's Ark). One problem presented was 198 x 2. The problem is made easier by multiplying 200 by 2, then subtracting 2 x 2. A light went on for me, "That's how I do math!" As my kids progressed through school (I'm their teacher), I realized this type of math is just an application of the distribution property of multiplication [e.g. 9 x 9 is really 9(10-1), etc.], and that's the way I teach it to them. As far as solving problems from left to right - well, that's the way we read, why wouldn't we solve the problem from left to right? Generations of children have been taught the slow way to solve math problems. About 6 months ago I was introduced to Vedic Math, which is very, very close to the way we (you, others, and I) do math. You might want to look it up because it takes the same concepts and extends them to more complicated math (squares of large numbers, multiplying large numbers, dividing large numbers, polynomials, etc.)
  10. Absolutely, if those professors believe there is no objective truth. To do otherwise would not only waste her money, but also her time. Why pursue a good grade in the course (an objective truth) when a poor grade is just as likely? The OP stated the professor grants merit based on gender. Based on the evidence the OP has provided, I can see no other way of looking at this than whatever grade one receives in this class is a complete crap shoot. In such case, any rational person would question the value of gaining the arbitrary (a grade in the class, which may require re-taking the class) in exchange for the objectively verifiable value of time and treasure. The OP knows what her time is worth, she knows how much money she's spending on the class. What she doesn't know, and can have no way of knowing, is what grade she will get in the class. Excelling in the class is no guarantee of a passing grade because there is no objective truth. She can't guarantee her own success, because there is no objective way of determining success in that class.
  11. I'm going to go against the common advice here and recommend you abandon the class. If your professor doesn't believe there is an objective truth, then how can she possibly grade you? Your grade is completely arbitrary, and therefore a complete waste of your time. If you can't change to a different class, just don't go, don't take any exams, don't take any quizzes - in short, put no effort at all into the class. If she gives you a failing grade, confront her with the fact that there is no objective truth. She might claim you never showed up, never took any exams, never did anything, but that claim has no validity since there is no objective truth. You can claim with as much authority that you deserve an A+ since you did everything you were supposed to do, scored 100% on every test, and even did extra credit.
  12. I'll second that. It also should resolve the discussion. Well done, Dante.
  13. Well, after such a warm welcome, perhaps gripple spent the intervening time trying to determine whether Objectivism required one to be uncompromisingly rude.
  14. I'm not sure whether I'm happy these politicians are now so honestly expressing their philosophies, or frightened that they feel emboldened to do so. At any rate, I hope there are more people like that questioner. Intelligent, well prepared, and dogmatic.
  15. Welcome to the forum, Zuke. Private hospital, private ambulance (either of whom may have their own helicopters). It would be up to them how to best serve the interests of their owners. No national parks in an objective government and economy. All parks would be privately owned. You might make your decision about which parks to visit based upon their emergency response abilities and record. You must first realize that in an objective society, there is no such thing as "public property." If you had a heart attack at a mall, for example, the owners of the mall might have an emergency medical team on staff (in fact, this could be a benefit the mall uses in its marketing). If you have a heart attack on your own property, hope that someone sees you, or you have a medical alert system - pretty much the way things work now. Yes.
  16. You need this. Objectivism is a logical philosophy whose principles are arrived at by reasoning from three axioms. Rand did not need to provide citations for much of what she wrote because what she wrote is a logical progression from those three axioms, or is otherwise self-evident.
  17. Thank God. I read it because Grames posted it, thinking the entire time, "What the f*** am I reading? This is why I get so confused talking to philosophers and intellectuals. I simply have no clue how to even begin understanding this. If everyone else gets it, then I am well and truly screwed." From Howard Roark's link: "If you enjoy this, you might also enjoy reading about the Social Text Affair, where NYU Physics Professor Alan Sokal’s brilliant(ly meaningless) hoax article was accepted by a cultural criticism publication." Unbelievable.
  18. JeffS

    My Way

    The Gipsy Kings do a fantastic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avGAe9EVkjc.
  19. This gets to the heart of why I posed the question. I've read from some Objectivists on other posts that the US should intervene with foreign violations of American citizens' rights only if it is in the interests of the US government. For example, the government may decide to attack Venezuela over this issue, but if China did it "strong diplomatic words" would be used to express our "displeasure." The gist being that Venezuela presents little military threat, while China needs to be handled differently. I don't understand that. If the government should only perform one of its proper functions (protecting the rights of its citizens) when it suits those in positions of power, then what good is such a government? It becomes a government of men, rather than a government of laws. I'll make your questions more general, Zip: If a foreign government violates the rights of an American citizen, should everything within the government's power be brought to bear in order to protect the rights of that citizen?
  20. Should the US government do something to protect H&P's property? If so, what?
  21. JeffS


    Fantastic, QuoVadis. As a former restaurant owner, I can empathize. As a human being, I can appreciate your lust for life and share in your joy! Thanks for posting at a time when I'm beginning to think we're all so royally screwed and nearly deluged by the vast hordes of moochers and looters.
  22. Can you give an example of how any of these concretes would morally justify anyone preventing another individual from putting any piece of land to use that isn't currently owned or being put to use by anyone else? I simply don't see how any of the concretes you listed should disallow one from settling around some particular feature, limit the shape, allow different sizes for different intended uses, or require certain easements. If I find a piece of property that isn't already used, or otherwise has some indication of ownership, what concrete would prevent me from, for example, owning the entire thing from core to exosphere? Well, what would be "unfair?" What would be "fair?" I understand some people will believe they've been treated unfairly, but is there any objective evidence to prove they've been treated unfairly? I understand irrational people will make irrational choices, but I'm interested in what objective evidence rational people would use to make a law which regulates who can own land, what land they can own, and what uses they can put the land to. Signs aren't enough? What would be enough? Is it possible to demonstrate that land is in use when its use is the enjoyment of seeing it undeveloped?
  23. Why would it not be? It's of value to me. It is important to my psychological welfare, and therefore important to my life. Your position seems to be that I need to DO something with the land other than enjoy it. To bring this back down to Earth, your position would seem to deny property rights to anyone who wanted to have some undeveloped land simply for the sake of enjoying the view. Do I have that correct? If so, is that the Objectivist position on land ownership; that it needs to be developed in order to be morally and legally protected? I understand your point that "claim" is only valid within a legal framework. I'm interested in knowing what a rational, objective "Homestead Act of 2137" would look like. Well, certainly some principle(s) must guide the development of those rules, yes? The concretes are:1) the moon exists, 2) the soil is made up of certain chemicals, 3) it has craters, etc. I mean, there are certainly more concretes, but I don't know of any which would disallow one from settling around some particular feature, limit the shape, allow different sizes for different intended uses, or require certain easements. All of these sound like things a government which believed it owned the land under some eminent domain standard, and could decide where the state wants people to develop, what the state wants people to use the land for, or where the state wants people to be able to travel. What am I missing? Yet, as David rightly pointed out, I have no claim in the absence of an established government and body of laws. What you suggest here is that I get to play government and establish a body of laws which can relinquish claim on land. How would I have arrived at that position?
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