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Everything posted by Castle

  1. Describe how you intend pay for military protection and other legitimate functions of government and I'll happily concede the point. These are provided whether you pay for them or not, and they are necessary. This is not to say that compulsion, waste, and abuse of authority under our current system is justified, just that you use some legitimate services that should be paid for. If I am reading your point correctly, I agree. We live in a mixed system, where some functions of the system are legitimate and some aren't. This must change. However, at the current point while the system is still salvageable the only moral choices are comply under compulsion while operating to change the system, or decided that the damage is too great and escape/destroy the system. Illegally boycotting funding of legitimate services personally used as part of a general boycott does not seem moral to me. Demanding free defense from people providing legitimate services to you on the basis that other components of the protective organization are flawed and unjust is unethical. Ethically, a total boycott of payment should be accompanied by a total boycott of services. The compulsion must be removed from government funding. The rampant corruption and waste must be removed from government funding. However, legitimate services are still provided and anyone enjoying those services has an ethical responsibility to pay. To me, only if they manage full escape. Not if they do so while appealing to government protection from force and fraud. A hero to me fights or escapes. Not hides while expecting the other subjects to pay for his defense. The context given was not a large tax boycott movement. Such a thing would be a deliberate action of change or destruction of the entire system. Such a thing would be welcome (by me at least). No other information was given outside of a citizen in the current system not paying taxes, and presumably continuing to appeal to the system for defense. If the intended context was otherwise I've already made my point that general boycott combined with general refusal of use is moral. There certainly is. Every scrap of land in the world is not legitimately owned, not do we live in a world without revolution. What there isn't is a way to exit the system or jump the fence while maintaining the comfort you are accustomed to. Having hard choices doesn't mean having no choices. I agree that limiting what you're forced to contribute is absolutely moral, if done through ethical means. Appealing to the rule of law while simultaneously personally defying the law is an unethical contradiction. If you have determined that defiance of the law is your only recourse then do so. Declare yourself an outlaw reject the system of law that you defy in total, including the parts that you like. "What you can get away with" is not a barometer of morality. The current system is a bullshit package deal for sure, but rejection in total or change from within are the only moral responses. I agree. Name any tax that specifically funds areas of the system that the taxpayer will never rely on and I'll show you a tax that it is ethical to boycott. Show me a tax that specifically funds an area of the system the taxpayer personally relies on and I'll show you a thief. In your example of road use you pay for their use. No one is at fault for being caught in the system (until they advocate for it), but a person can be at fault for unethical use of a system. Name one illegal tax evader that has ever made a private contribution to pay for the defense and adjudication services that they needed to make their money. I would say he has acted morally then. Whenever you have an ethical choice. Avoiding helping the people who create the system where private roads, hospitals, rails, energy etc. cannot exist while avoiding paying people providing services you personally agree are needed and the government's purview is not a moral imperative, particularly when you are not in a totalitarian state and have options. And there are MANY other ways to work to end the system, not just the singular way you mention, provided you are not in a totalitarian slave state. I agree. However, the debate isn't regarding blanket support of the government because its super. The debate is whether you have the right to rely on the legitimate defensive services of the government without paying. Ethically, when you receive a desired service you do have to pay for it. "You provide me with a service that I want and agree with, but I refuse to pay for it" is not an ethical statement.
  2. Do you want to say that individual taxes are a mistaken premise or provide an example of an individual paying taxes? Also, a dealership paying taxes is not a tax on you as you implied. One of the mistaken premises you apply is that paying taxes one has no legal way of avoiding changes the nature of what one is doing when taxes are illegally avoided while drawing benefit from the tax system. Paying a sales tax on a pack of gum doesn't punch a "payed taxes" ticket that gives the payer an ethical pass to work the system for maximum benefit while illegally avoiding funding for those benefits. The only ethical choices are to play by the rules while working to change them or exit the system if one can.
  3. This debate is pretty much being beaten to death, so I'll just add the 2 cents that adds a different context to the OP. I would feel morally and ethically justified in striking someone who was intentionally verbally harassing or attacking my child (she is 6). The response would be solely on the basis of the child's inability to cope and the verbal assailant's clear intent to damage it's developing mind. In other words, the prick would be attempting to permanently affect her development to her detriment.
  4. Is your definition intended to be one for correct ethics or a non-specific concept of ethics? If your intent is correct ethics then a lot of elaboration is required. For ethics as a concept and not a specific system I would say only slight modification is needed. This is all just opinion on my part, of course. "Ethics are the standards/rules that must govern behavior for the achievement and protection of values to be possible." seems a little closer to the mark to me. "Morality is a system of principles for determining the propriety of proposed values." might help keep out of that circular reasoning you're talking about. I'm sure there is significant room for improvement in the above definitions, but they seem a good place to start.
  5. Is this a question or an advertisement? I found it well written and pretty spot on except for one statement you made. Society is aggregate. In my opinion it is incorrect to say that ethics is primarily a guide for an individual and not a society. A society has no rights or ethical guide that are not derived from its constituent individuals. The above statement is similar to saying that gravity is primarily a force on atoms, not on larger structures. Ethics are primarily a guide for individuals and by extension society.
  6. I would say that it is absolutely moral to avoid or reduce taxes through legal means, just as it moral to participate in public programs funded by taxes, provided you have no hand in establishing or supporting that system. The system is compulsory, so it is not immoral to survive as best you can under the compulsion. Illegally evading all taxes has a feel of immorality to it for me. I suppose I could think of many situations that I wouldn't feel that it is immoral, but for the most part it seems so. The basis for that opinion is that an illegal tax evader is attempting to cherry pick the system, going on the assumption that tax evaders don't forsake all government agencies and programs legitimate and illegitimate. If a person had a chance to evade the entire system altogether thats one thing, but to seek benefit from injustice inflicted on others reeks of immorality. This is a you can't have your cake and eat it too situation. If you desire to evade the system, evade the system. People have the right to jump the fence and make a run for it, they don't have a right to sit down and demand their ration of confiscated goods that weren't confiscated from them.
  7. SD26, No my premise is that if you find yourself in a situation where your body is shedding dangerous biomatter it is immoral to intentionally expose others to it. Whether you could have prevented your own situation is irrelevant. Whether they could have taken precautions to prevent the danger your body exposes them to is irrelevant. An intentional act that exposes others involuntarily to risk of injury or death is immoral. Refusal of a vaccine is not immoral because the risk is to you. The morality of a refusal of a child's vaccination is debatable.
  8. I agree with most of the argument here, particularly Jake's. A person has no moral obligation to get vaccinated. I do have to strongly disagree with the following statement. In such a case, you potentially are at fault. The fault would not be related to your choice to vaccinate, it would be related to whether you knowingly exposed another person to a pathogen or not. You have a right to refuse precautions and get sick. You do not have the right to intentionally expose others to infection risk.
  9. My info is about 1-2 years out if date, but going off of the situation when I saw it firsthand our priorities are fatally out of whack in Afghanistan. I would have never thought that I would ever hear a general issue a directive that convoys should drive slowly through known dangerous routes because the locals don't like the dust, but I did hear exactly that. That's just the tip of the iceberg. Winning hasn't been in the plan for a long time, Obama has just stated what was the implied policy before. Our government is asleep at the wheel.
  10. He is being investigated if I recall correctly. I think it was a mental breakdown. It didn't even look like he attempted to get away with it. This was right after he went public on refusal to take federal bailout style funds. He pretty much got politely informed that the governor doesn't count for jack shit anymore and he needed to shut up and color. He's been acting like a Hunter S. Thompson character since then.
  11. I was impressed by this guy for about 3 minutes because of his opposition to the bailout funds. Then the bizarre behavior, negligence, and probable outright fraud stuff came to light. He discredits everything he says he likes. I swear he's a freakin manchurian candidate.
  12. I didn't catch it, but I can imagine other reasons for the decision outside of altruism. Desire for control over one's fate, suicidal motive, preserving value he sees in the other crew, etc. Not knowing the full plot I can't say if any of the above fit, but such a decision is possible without altruistic motive.
  13. Just a quick note on a post that crossed mine. Simple identification doesn't create value. By that I mean very simple identification such as "That land over there looks useful". But any further identification of specific utility does. Spending part of your life to walk to the land you see and think is fertile, looking at and determining the usefulness of flora, fauna, and minerals you discover, planning a use for them, and denoting what you have claimed for use DOES add value to the land as Randroid asserts. The process would be simpler in a more civilized society, one would just need to register one's claim on the property with the government charged with defending your claim from criminals.
  14. Saurabh, now I'll try to address some of the issues at hand in India that I found online as that context seems to be the one you are working within and using as a basis for your initial determination that land property rights are unjust. Feel free to correct inaccurate data I found on the Indian situation. The biggest issue I can find that has to do with the deplorable state of India is a conglomerate problem. Namely, the Indian hereditary caste system combined with the Indian government. Everything I could find indicated that the upper castes (comprising around 10%) of the population overwhelmingly dominate any government, political, or economic institution of any sort of relevance. My understanding is that those castes inherited those positions from the British, a prior conquering invader. So the significant mechanisms of economic activity AND utilization of force are under control of a small hereditary social/religious/ethnic minority. The resources and positions were no earned or inherited in the manner described earlier as the proper foundation of property rights, they inherited them by unjust means and reserve them amongst themselves for the "deserving".......by birthright. The Indian government is a nuclear power and is believed to maintain an arsenal of between 40-95 weapons. Submarines and other military projects are proceeding successfully, so I can only assume that defense spending is a huge component of the government's expenditures. Honestly, I looked for data but really couldn't find anything specific before I got tired of wading through the published Indian budget. It certainly isn't clearly stated. The CIA says 2.5% of GDP in 2006. Thats 2.816 trillion in period US dollars. Thats a lot of green. Using confiscated resources the Indian government has managed to become a nuclear power while at the same time power outages and brownouts are a systemic problem. This is how the government allocates "the people's" resources, and you propose giving them control of MORE? There's also a lot of coal, natural gas, and petroleum there. The political, military, and economic is so toxic noone seems to be interested in exploiting those resources to fix the problem. The upper castes seem to virtually control the economy. 1/4 of the GDP is accounted for by about 36 elite upper caste families, presumably they control the economic apparatus involved as well. As previously discussed, possession of property and power was not allocated by objective ethical action, but unjust force. Something like 80% of jobs in emerging industries like biotechnology, services, software, etc are held by the 3 upper castes. Wealth begets wealth, even illegitimate wealth, and the upper castes are probably applying it judiciously to maintain dominance of the economy. Single source data indicates that India is woefully under-banked. Probably due again to the toxic economic and political environment. Under-banked means the majority of people have no method of saving even a meager sum. Under-banked means investment capital is difficult to accumulate for improvements and innovations. Under-banked means less protection from theft. The castes on top don't have that problem, they probably bank internationally with institutions in locations where you can't be summarily killed and oppressed by the government for being born wrong. Countries that afford a stability and respect for human rights the upper castes are apparently unwilling to cultivate at home. In other words, less risky circumstances. A lot of those problems likely have to do with systemic corruption and violation of human rights of all types, not legitimate control and usage of private land. Some studies indicate that 25 % of Indians paid bribe to obtain a service. 68 % believe that governmental efforts to stop the corruption as ineffective. More than 90 % consider police and political parties as the worst corrupt institutions. 90 % of Indians believe that corruption will increase within the next 3 years. “ Who invests or even attempts economic activity in such an environment? The only people that could possibly would be the connected elite. One report indicated that only 5% of development funds ended up with the intended recipients. Your government is consuming the seed stock of your economy and forcefully maintaining stagnation and unearned property allocated by status. Dalits are murdered at a furious pace, and sources indicate much of it goes unreported out of fear of force from their own government. Privacy international states that the Indian government has an abysmally low opinion of privacy rights. Fake encounter killings are a widespread problem. Meaning the government finds and executes perceived criminals and undesireables without judicial process with virtual impunity. One source indicated that this practice is partly inspired by certain Hindu texts. It is reported that 66.2% of prison inmates are pretrial. Considering the upper caste dominated judiciary is backlogged by more than a century thats a pretty bleak sentence. The media's key positions are about 70% upper caste. Free speech and exchange of ideas? Not so much. Despite the vicious abuses of the police and judiciary, the crime rate in India is very apparently very high. Most economic crimes and many violent crimes go unpunished, again due to systemic one sided control of the organizations responsible for policing and committing the crime. According to the world bank, India is very antagonistic to business, even without the corruption. It takes much longer to get approval, and costs for transport are much higher. Even power costs are significantly higher, despite available resources and apparent nuclear proficiency. Tourism, which could be a major economic boon, is extremely small despite beautiful countryside and history. The government is reported to make it difficult to visit. All of these points are not to bash India, my own country is headed right down a lot of these paths as well. Not to mention being complicit in all of the above abuses because our government props them up. My point is that private ownership of property is not India's problem. Hereditary de facto unethical control of virtually all major methods of production and force by prior violence and birthright is. If one group has unjustly attained land and position, and claims it is right because of an arbitrary birthright, justice is NOT to discard the underlying right or rewrite the arbitrary birthright to include others. The unjust birthright has to go and the individual right all people possess must be reaffirmed and protected. India's problem is not, and has not ever been, a moral deficiency inherent to property rights, but an ethical and moral deficiency in the caste system, religions supporting such a system, the character of the system's supporters, the government that uses unjust force to maintain such a situation, and foreign governments complicit in such things by support and recognition of the Indian state as legitimate. Discard those principles as immoral and affirm the right of a person to fully own what he earns and many of the above issues will go away.
  15. Saurabh, I'm going to briefly address the points you raised to me and then attempt to show you how the unjust debasement of property and human rights has contributed to the situation that you describe in India, based on cursory online research. Feel free to correct any point I make about the situation in India. I'm doing this because I think you may be coming at this problem backwards. Your original post presented a discussion of property rights as such, but from your last post to me it seems to me that you are specifically exploring property rights in relation to a specific context. The injustice and death in India. That is a backward approach because you're starting at a fundamentally unjust system that gives lip service to some of the rights you're exploring but in practice ignores them and labels injustice as a "right". Hopefully I'll be able to give you an inkling that the bleak hell I previously described as a world without property rights is exactly the bleak hell that modern India is for most citizens. You are trying to identify "healthy" by starting at "diseased and dying". Hopefully I'll explain what I mean well enough that you'll see what I mean. Fallacious because the communal mass has done nothing to "earn" the land either. A birthright, which you assert, is not earned. It is gifted by someone who did earn it. Your hierarchy is reversed. Man can't apply rent without ownership, he can't have ownership without constructive action (earning), constructive action is the province of individuals. I am not assuming it, it is what is inevitable under a communal principle. A government's only mechanism of action is force. Anytime an argument is made for a government regulation or response, an appeal to force is made. One cannot say that in the organization you are proposing free market principles determine anything, because a free market requires rigorous protection of all rights and strict nonintervention in everything else. The proposed system requires government force effecting everything from contract law to personal property. Contracts for service or goods would be regulated by the government land license period. Government overriding of other property rights are assured as current licensees will have to be moved off the land with all property whether they want to or not. Nonportable improvements must either be summarily destroyed or confiscated upon expiration of the current use license and reassignment. Government control of all means of production (all means of production start at the land) is not a minimalist government, its a totalitarian one. First, to correct an error either in my presentation or your comprehension. State-property does not imply communism. Total state ownership of all property from a communal principle implies communism. I used that term due to the communal basis of your argument. It does have an implication in the moral question you raised, because if the principles you're asserting are true, communism in some form is the inevitable end result. I addressed the issue with society/government owning all land above. I noticed you dropped the totally of the ownership you're proposing above, probably inadvertently. The issue you presented is total government ownership of all land, not simple ownership of land. The fallacy of asserting renting rights for an entity that did not earn the land has been discussed above. The principle of applying rent on a valueless resource is completely incorrect as well. Rent is compensation to the owner of something for the use of his property for a period of time. A renter is compensating the owner for the loss of immediate value he can gain from his property, because it is under the delegated control of the renter. If the property is essentially valueless, what possible rent can be charged justly? If the government is the owner, not a simple defensive entity, what keeps it from setting unjust terms and forcing compliance with them? If the communal mass decides to not charge rent until improvements are made on the land based on value, but then charges rent on the value given to its property by an individual that is the same as asking a person to be a slave or serf and then charging them rent on their own work.
  16. I think you are confusing objectivity with relationship. That you and another see something, say a room, somewhat differently does not refute that there is an objective existent there that is distinct from yourselves and other existents. That you see things a little differently is proof of that each of you has a different relationship to the room. Different position in space and time, different sensory apparatus, different interpretive faculties. Because humans have similar systems the sensory data delivered to your interpretive organ will be similar, but the presence of different views and sensory data doesn't make the observed existent a subjective phenomenon. Looking at the room through infrared doesn't change the room, it gives you a view of what is there. Seeing pink elephants there doesn't make reality subjective, it makes your neurology disordered. You can trust your senses to provide generally accurate data on reality because evolution has for the most part weeded out grossly insufficient sensory and interpretive faculties from your species and your entire existence has steadily built empirical data that confirms the validity of your senses.
  17. Saurabh, The other responses are very instructive, in my opinion. Particularly SoftwareNerd's pointing out unsupported assertions. The following is in response to the specific points you mentioned regarding my post to you. "I agree with you that everthing around us in nature. And I do not want to imply common property on everything. My point is to abolish private property on things that exist without human action (e.g. uncultivated land). These things are what I mean by 'nature'." You have not drawn an important distinction. Uncultivated land can be either be unclaimed or owned but left uncultivated. If the land is unclaimed then Objectivism presents a rational approach to establishing ownership, utilize the resource. If the land is uncultivated, but is owned, there is no rational basis to deny property rights. The owner of the property either established ownership by some sort of utilization, or established ownership via utilization of other property. The owner either bartered something he owned or used money he earned to purchase the land. "Also, I fully recognize pvt. property right on the wheat that was grown on land (if rent for the land was given to the society). I belive this is fair, because we rewarded individual effort as well the society for the use of its common property." You have reversed yourself. Above you stated that you were referring to things like uncultivated land. Now you are using the example of someone growing wheat on cultivated land. I'm not sure if you fully understand the implications of what you are asserting, but what you are describing is very close to serfdom. A return to the middle ages. In your desired scenario who is responsible for collecting the "rent" on everyone's property? The unstated answer is, of course, the government. As the governor of force within the region it is the only entity capable of enforcing anything. So what you actually have is state owned property. As you have stated this ownership is to extend to all land, uncultivated and cultivated, the government in question would be communism. "Hence, if I deny individuals private property to land, that action IS NOT a denial of all property rights." Yes, it is. I have demonstrated above that public ownership of all land is really just a synonym for government ownership of all land. The immediate fallacy is to assert that a society or government has rights that individuals do not possess. A government only has rights thats that are delegated from the individuals of the governed society. People do not suddenly manifest new rights once a critical mass is reached. Another fallacy is that the above statements treat land only as an abstract. The reality is that land is a specific concrete. That means that for one person to make use of it others may not. If one person is to "rent" the people's property from the government then all of the other people must be restricted from using it. Now we're back to scarcity. Some people use the people's land and some are prevented from doing so by force. Who decides? The government. How does it decide? Whim. Arbitrary whim and the peddling of influence determine who uses the people's land under governments operating with unlimited power under communal principles. You also state that denial of private land is not a denial of property rights. Unfortunately, you have done nothing to support that assertion. "Hence" is intended to indicate that what you are about to say logically follows from the previous point you made. You stated that you do support property rights for things made on land and from land as long as the producer pays a nebulous "us". Unfortunately, your view of property rights in that case is a floating abstraction. If the government has blanket authority regarding the use and distribution of land then it has blanket authority period. The government determines the appropriate rent for the people's property and the activities that are authorized there. You may not produce without government consent. You can not be there without the government's consent, but you have nowhere else to go. The government can inform you that the "rent" for the use of the people's land is whatever the government determines, , and communal governments traditionally have eventually. Property rights cannot be upheld in any capacity if I can determine what you make, how you can make it, how much you are allowed to keep (I set the rent), how much you are allowed to trade (if any), and what activities you can perform. The government can do all of those things if it is the owner of all land. You have to exist on the people's land, therefore you will obey the people's demands because you have nowhere to go. There will be no property rights. "Also, many thanks for the reference of the quote! But I disagree with it: Those who apply knowledge and effort to a resource can only have a moral right to the value added by them. But, is there any moral justification for their owning the full resource?" More floating. No material is a resource without human action. "Resources" do not just sit in the environment with a little "I am useful" flag on top. A person discovered the knowledge by which any potential value they might possess could be actualized. A person put in the effort to apply that knowledge. No value was added to an already valuable item. Value was generated using materials at hand. Without man's knowledge and ingenuity oil is not valuable in and of itself, its useless nasty sludge no one cares is buried because its worthless. All value now attributed to oil is value generated by specific humans. The same holds true for all "natural resources". A person does own only the value they're responsible for "adding" to the material because the material had no value prior to the person's actions.
  18. Just a few points I think might be relevant to the discussion that aren't in the vein of "insurance companies are thieving scum" argument commonly seen in the media. 1. The price of cosmetic surgery has consistently decreased year after year. These procedures are generally not covered by insurance or government mandatory health care directives. A cosmetic surgeon generally works for profit and is not required to provide any service unless payment is rendered. It would appear that operating in more of a free market, outside the realm of third-party payers, is acting to drive down the cost of these procedures at the same time that most other procedures are consistently rising in cost. The circumstances surrounding the general reduction in prices of one aspect of medicine seem relevant to reducing prices in the others. 2. Cosmetic surgeons have similar or greater malpractice claims filed as normal doctors, but have significantly lower penalties applied even when they lose. That is according to a cursory internet search, not in depth research, but it sounds plausible. Tort reform is way down on the "to-do" list of politicians. Decreasing costs through tort reform would likely decrease insurance need and cost, and unjust tort law is one of the main reasons often given by professionals abandoning healthcare. Skilled surgeons and high malpractice risk specialties are in the midst of a shortage, cosmetic surgery is doing just fine. 3. The government heavily influences prices ,through medicare and medicaid, to rise. 4. Inflationary policy by the government raises prices systemically, while lowering the value provided to the insurance company via premiums. The shrinking margin will come out somewhere. 5. Government regulations and tax law create an artificially low supply of insurance providers, while rising prices inspire a high demand. 6. A brief search of state insurance regulations yielded a mass of regulation too complex to assimilate in a reasonable timeframe, most of which are apparently designed to prevent any sort of cost saving measure from insurance providers. 7. Every wage earner pays 1.45% of their pay to finance their own insurance company's competition, which can also restrict competition and run at a consistent loss. 8. Our mixed economy offers far too much influence for sale to a corrupt government. Remove the government's corrupting influence and increase penalties for legitimate fraud and breach of contract cases. 9. The corrupt businessman is the one who flourishes under the current system. Many honest businessmen and professionals refuse to participate in an ridiculously unjust system. Just some things to spark conversation.
  19. I agree with David. If you deny individuals private property to land that action is a denial of all property rights. I would challenge you to name any thing or property that isn't a part of "nature". Good luck identifying "supernatural resources". All of the natural elements harnessed and molded by man are a part of nature, as are the products made as man is in nature as well. The assertion that all men have a right to all resources by virtue of birth in nature is a profoundly anti-life floating abstraction.The further statement that a man is not at all entitled to any product of human effort, unless he earns it by his own effort is completely nonsensical when presented in concert with the above view of property rights. How can any man claim with any sort of validity to own a product of his efforts when he utilized resources in the production that belong equally to anyone who happens to walk up? Such a contradiction in relations would lead to complete paralysis of action. Even one's own body wouldn't be owned as it is composed and sustained by "everyone's" resources. When dealing with scarce resources, which all resources are, following this principle can only lead to death on a wide scale. Man is a rational animal, and such a contradictory principle in action would paralyze the "rational" attribute of man, leaving only animal methods of survival. It would be ridiculous to improve or utilize "everyone's" scarce resources when that energy and life expended could be seized at any time by multiple and conflicting birthrights. The result would be a primitive existence of predator/prey relationships. Sustenance would be gleaned from the environment through violence or furtive agriculture performed with half of the farmer's attention focused outward to identify potential "heirs" to the resources he is cultivating. Force would be his only option as he would have to uproot his own efforts and move, kill his competitor, be killed by his competitor, submit to the newcomer's superior force (slavery), or enslave the newcomer himself. Social organization would be limited to packs of primitives (tribes) temporarily suspending violence amongst themselves but constantly fearful of betrayal when a packmate decided to assert his birthright over any natural resources in his field of vision. If the resources were his from birth then their current configuration as something another made would be irrelevant. Such a state would continue until a group of humans abandoned the principle of collective ownership of resources and agreed amongst themselves to adopt a social ethic harmonious to their nature as rational animals and implemented guarantees amongst themselves that any unclaimed resources discovered could be appropriated as personal property by way of use and improvement, freeing men to produce, improve, and innovate with their resources without constant fear of force from others. Consistent respect and enforcement of property rights would allow the people in such a society to interact as producers and traders. Here is a relevant quote you requested. "Any material element or resource which, in order to become of use or value to men, requires the application of human knowledge and effort, should be private property—by the right of those who apply the knowledge and effort." -“The Property Status of Airwaves,” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 122. Found here. http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/property_rights.html
  20. Your premise seems to be that a market free from coerced regulation would not self regulate. Continuing with the example of securities, organizations would form to inspect and validate offers and firms. A level playing field is in everyone's interest. Consumers would point to a securities inspection firm with a reputation for success and meticulous investigation and say "I want the firm I deal with to have their stamp of approval." Securities firms would pay to get inspected and claim the reputation of having voluntarily met the gold standard of veracity and ethics. The inspection firm would have every interest in being as through as humanly possible because one scandal and they're done for. Your premise seems to rely on the assumption that private sector inspectors and traders are highly susceptible to corruption, while government regulators are immune to it. Read up on the Madoff incident, which is a real life example of a fraud that DID "balloon into something huge with a disastrous aftermath." He was investigated for years by the SEC and they never did anything, despite investigators telling their direct superiors that something was obviously wrong with the operation. The whistle was blown on Madoff by Harry Markopoulos, an independent financial fraud investigator. discovered Madoff, not the "vigilant" regulatory agency. The SEC shrugged at obvious evidence for years, and had to be told repeatedly by Markopoulos that Madoff's reported figures were not possible in the universe we occupy. The reason is that SEC regulators don't make their living off of the SEC's reputation. Just some rough numbers from a google search. Averaging a few different sources a rough estimate of the money stolen by madoff is around 10-20 billion, after seizing his assets. Reuters reports the budget for the SEC in 2009 to be 914 million and 907 million in 2008. There were 6 botched investigations of Madoff by the SEC since 1992. So doing a little math with the near billion dollars a year the SEC gets and the 17 or so years they had to discover the fraud, not accounting for other factors like inflation and subtracting a few 100 million for the smaller budget the SEC had in preceding years we can make a very rough guesstimate that the SEC took funds comparable or GREATER to what Madoff stole from the American people and still missed the largest investment fraud in wall street history, despite numerous warnings from industry experts. Oh, and Madoff's wife and kids got away with it still in the millionaires club, despite every human being on the planet knowing they were involved. Even using just the budget for 08-09 thats 1.8 billion confiscated from the innocent to invest in utter failure. Bang up job on that proactive regulation and law enforcement. One guess on what the SECOND largest investment fraud in wall street history is. Support of proactive regulation based on the assumption of "secret force and fraud" is no different than supporting proactive curfews and random vehicle and home searches to stop potential "secret" crimes.
  21. David makes a good point. Regulations often protect the criminal. Everyone suffers under an assumption of evil intent, everyone pays for the regulatory agencies, and many offenses result in politically motivated token fines when they should be tried as crimes. Not to mention that huge regulatory bureaucracies are so faceless that they're breeding grounds for corrupt officials. Asking how a freer system would prevent a Bernie Madoff is a distraction tactic, since the current regulated system sure as hell didn't. The quest for the perfect level of regulation where nothing else will ever go wrong is a fallacy. Biology has an appropriate term for such a state. Death. I just did a quick search on Madoff. Lots of SEC ties there to go right along with those investigators that were positive something wasn't right. One even married into the family after his tenure as the guy who was responsible for finding Bernie Madoff type crooks. I'm sure those large political contributions didn't hurt Madoff's scheme either.
  22. "I agree and I wish that Objectivists would more often point out that while Objectivism objects to force, it does not prohibit compassion." You are correct, but compassionate actions are a choice. You cannot force compassion. It isn't evidence of compassion to have one's money taken and redistributed, even if its given to a cause the victim would have identified with and supported otherwise. Objectivism doesn't prohibit compassion, it presents a system where it can be fully developed as a voluntary choice, not used as a buzz word.
  23. Wow, thats a pretty tough one. Straight off I will say that "The God of the Machine" by Isabel Paterson really helped me with some of the theoretical issues you've raised. It covers a lot more, but it did help me with similar questions about why we use gold and not some other substance. 1. Regarding how it all got started, that might be lost information. People have been using gold in trade for a long time. Its just a hypothesis, but I suspect gold simply represents a "perfect storm" of the qualities you mentioned. Meaning its scarce but not so rare that it can't be adequately distributed for the purpose (platinum), and not so abundant that that prohibitive amounts would be required (silver). In addition to hitting the scarcity "sweet spot" it holds up better over time than silver. Maybe that led to its use as a luxury metal when civilization evolved enough to support such things. Why wear a single platinum ring when the same value can be represented in a significantly more ostentatious display of gold, and platinum can sometimes be mistaken for silver to boot? Eventually it just becomes embedded deeply into man's culture, I suspect. Aside from the above reasons, there is the empirical data as well. Gold as a value standard and commodity has survived some extensive upheavals with civilizations over the course of human history, and its still used as a tool for those tasks. That implies, to me, that gold usage is not a transient fad. At least as long as there isn't a cataclysm that reduces civilization below the level that we know gold was previously used. 2. I have no idea other than the book suggestion above. Kitco.com has some good tracking tools for precious metals for data.
  24. Why would you assume that once a person decides to support irrational causes and groups, such as extreme leftist organizations, he would use rational thinking to see what's in his best interest. If he was thinking clearly enough to realize he's supporting groups that want to destroy him he's thinking clearly enough not to support them in the first place. Regarding insider trading it depends on the context. There is nothing inherently wrong with using one's superior knowledge of a situation to profit. An example would be buying stock in companys likely to be impacted by what your own company will do soon or betting on your own company. Breaking a confidentiality agreement to profit or adversely manipulating one's own company to profitably bet on your own rivals are both fraud. Pulling out of "We'rescrewed, inc" because you know your own company is about to drop them like a hot potato isn't immoral. You worked for the knowledge and aren't breaking any contract by utilizing it.
  25. I probably didn't provide enough detail in my statement about the moral compass. It seems that you took me to mean it is pointing in the opposite direction of proper. The mental image I had when I said it was a compass that is a bit off the mark, but close. Say 5-10 degrees. The effect would be that in the short range you'd get pretty close results to the guy with a compass thats dead on. Just like Objectivists and most Religionists follow the no theft principle. However, at distance you get significant divergence. Similar to how theft and killing suddenly become just fine in the situation that the right "prophet" declares that its ok to steal and kill a certain group. The off compass might get you close enough for a time, but over the long run or in certain situations it will lead you wrong. I totally agree with your statement about the religious moralist vs. the amoralist. I said the same thing in a different fashion. At least you partially know what you're dealing with with the religious guy.
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