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Everything posted by DataPacRat

  1. TT, If I don't otherwise reply, then I'd at least like you to know that I'm saving a copy of everything you've written here to refer to when I do the rewrite.
  2. The central region of the setting is divided among the "Sephirotic Empires", which are more like regions of a similar philosophy containing a number of individual polities, comparable to the idea of 'Christendom' or 'the Islamic House of Peace'. The Objectivist Commonwealth is, approximately, as powerful as the combined Sephirotics, and is also unusual compared to them in being a (nearly) unified polity. These last three items are meant to refer more to how the Commonwealth interacts with other polities, rather than how individuals interact. That is, how the country/nation/government/etc as a whole engages international relations, which, for many philosophies, is somewhat different than how individuals interact with each other. For example, 'helpful (but expect memetic conversion)' would mean that the Commonwealth offers aid to other polities, but tends to do so in ways that are explicitly designed to promote its particular philosophy and to attempt to convert the aided polities to Objectivism. (From the Commonwealth's point of view, Objectivism is /correct/, after all, so such conversion is simply another form of assistance...) I think the original authour was making a similar difference here between the ethics of interactions between individuals (which I understand the Objectivist position on fairly well, from http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Ethics_Main.html , among other sources) and the "meta"ethics of interactions between sovereign nations, for which I'm not entirely sure of the Objectivist position on. This one, I don't see any problems in fixing that way. In the proposal for the revised version, I'll swap out the word 'communion' for something involving such volitional exchange.
  3. I have a basic understanding of the principles of present-day Objectivism, such as are described at http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/ ; while a number of the fine details escape me, I at least know the basics well enough to argue for or against them. Given that the setting is around 10,000 years from now, all the terms in use in the website are translations into present-day English from whatever future language is being used. My current thought is that the 'common' in the name comes more from the common defense - that is, Objectivists believe that everyone has the right to use force in self-defense, and a rationally self-interested extension of that right allows for the similar use of force to defend others, promoting one's own benefit by promoting the common weal. After all, a group of transapients who explicitly announce "You mess with one of us, you mess with /all/ of us" has a pretty high deterrence value for those who would consider initiating force against them or otherwise infringing on their rights. That, I understand; http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Politics_Rights.html is the first reference I check when looking up the Objectivist conception of rights. This gets into a tricky area. From what I understand of Objectivism's views of vegetarianism, as mentioned in http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Evil...etarianism.html , those beings who are not 'rational' do not have rights, and thus an Objectivist does not have to worry about violating their non-existent rights. In OA, one of the interpretations consistent with the evidence is that a transapient is so much smarter than an average human that they effectively undergo a mental 'phase change', and such a being might consider a human to have precisely as many rights as a human considers a cow to have - that is, none. Going by this interpretation, Objectivist ethics would primarily deal with interactions between beings of the same 'toposophic' level, with no consideration given to 'lower' beings other than how they benefit the 'higher' beings, such as as property, or left in wild reserves, or even as parts of the higher beings' minds. The other interpretation I can work out is that Objectivist ethics apply relatively equally to /all/ beings of human-level intelligence or higher, and the complications come from the inequalities of power between human-level intelligences and beings of astronomically greater intellect and power. In the current writeup of the Commonwealth, there exists a single being of the highest mental level (the sixth 'toposophic'). Going by the first interpretation, the entire Commonwealth would be its property, with which it could do as it wished, which could be interpreted as a 'command economy'. Going by the second interpretation, then, as you say, the write-up would have to change it from command economy to laissez-faire capitalism. OA assumes AIs of just about any imaginable sort can be created - self-willed or not, conscious or not, sentient or not, consisting of a hive-mind or a single individual. (Will respond to your next post in a separate post.)
  4. That's the existing article, which was in place before I joined the OA project; it's what will form the basis of any revisions, so is certainly a good place to start. One note - the setting assumes the existence of 'transapients', sometimes called 'posthumans', which are capable of thinking useful thoughts that a human brain is literally incapable of thinking. (There are various levels of such transapients, the higher levels able to think in ways that the lower ones can't.) The page describing the setting's basic rules about any conflict between different levels is at http://www.orionsarm.com/xcms.php?r=oa-page&page_id=33 , but can generally be summed up as being about as lopsided as a group of well-prepared wolves (or amoebas, depending on the levels involved) trying to fight a group of well-prepared humans. Some general notes on 'canon' for the setting are at http://orionsarm.com/xcms.php?r=oa-page&page=gen_canon .
  5. I'm part of a collaborative writing project, "Orion's Arm", http://www.orionsarm.com/ , a science-fiction, transhumanist space opera universe set around 10,000 years from now. So far, one collection of short stories in the setting has been physically published, and more ideas are on the way. One of the polities in the setting is called the "Objectivist Commonwealth", which is supposed to be based on something approximating present-day Objectivist philosophy. While I disagree with certain of the conclusions of Objectivism, I seem to /know/ more about it than any other OA member, and so I've been asked to see if I can come up with improvements for the existing write-up. But, knowing the limits of my own knowledge, I thought it might be a good idea to ask for input from some actual Objectivists. So... is anyone here interested in helping me make sure I don't make unknowing errors about Objectivism in the new write-up?
  6. I'm glad to hear you say that - it seems to be quite close to my own recent insight about comparing different philosophical systems to Euclidean vs non-Euclidean geometries. That 'as long as' seems to have been the tricky point, at least in the last thread; according to some of the posters, believing that some sorts taxation may provide more good than harm (when used to fund certain specific life-saving systems) is, practically by definition, 'advocating the initiation of force in society', and thus people who "believe in taxation" do not fall under your "as long as" clause.
  7. I've read a few posts, here and elsewhere, in which the posters seem to imply that someone who has learned of Objectivist philosophy, but still disagrees with their interpretation of any given Objectivist principle, is necessarily therefore somewhere in the spectrum of irrational to immoral. I'm not talking about monsters who think the entire world should be enslaved for their benefit; but much smaller disagreements, such as between an Objectivist and a secular humanist who disagrees with the Objectivist about various political issues. If you present an argument based on Objectivism's axioms to someone, and they demonstrate that they follow and understand the argument, but they disagree with it (due to having a different set of axioms), does that mean they are being irrational? Does it mean they are immoral? Should they be shunned, or mocked, or accused of trollery? Does such disagreement mean it's not worth working with such people even for shared goals? Or, let's take a different sort of disagreement, between two people, each of whom claim to be Objectivists, but find themselves disagreeing about some aspect of philosophy, neither able to convince the other. Does this imply that at least one of them is not a 'real' Objectivist, and should thus be treated as irrational, etc? Or, phrased another way: do you believe that the only way a person can be moral is if they agree with your current beliefs about morality? (As in my previous thread, this post is based on my outsider's perception of Objectivism and how Objectivists behave, and I freely acknowledge that the evidence of my experiences may have led me to faulty conclusions, in which case I would appreciate any help you would care to offer in correcting my flawed understanding.)
  8. I apologize that in my desire to maintain my privacy, I have allowed myself to be so unclear that I have failed to communicate very well, allowing for this misinterpretation. I will now try to clarify. I have what I suppose we can call my Chronic Condition, which is what limits my earning potential to its present level. In addition to that, I have had several, and expect to have more, Acute Episodes, requiring modern hospital care for my life to continue. The former is what limits my income to its present level; the latter is what, if I had to directly pay my own medical bills, would have required treatment so expensive as to be unaffordable, leading to my demise outside of a society with government-funded health care. "Sure, you can learn the secrets of the universe. All you have to do is climb these hundred flights of stairs." "I'm in a wheelchair." "You just don't feel like it. If you really /wanted/ to learn, you could do it. And no cheating by using the elevator." Please do not mistake disagreement for lack of understanding. I believe that I have learned the basics of the argument you mention; I simply disagree with some of the premises of that argument, based on the slightly differing set of axioms used by myself and the Objectivists here. Remember the difference between the axioms of Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry? Each system of axioms creates propositions that are correct within its own framework - and while some of those propositions are the same or similar to propositions in the other framework, some are entirely incorrect according to the other system's axioms. Learning about both systems can provide useful insights, regardless of which system is assumed to be the correct one at any time. I am sorry that you feel this thread has been so useless. I have found it quite enlightening so far, both about myself, and, if not necessarily about Objectivism, then at least about Objectivists. Grames - thank you for that reference, I'll go give it a read now.
  9. It appears that we've reached the point where we're simply going to start repeating our assertions at each other, possibly interspersed with "Sez you" level sniping at the other's claims. As I said just above, either you accept my claim that I require medical care beyond that which I can afford to pay for in order to simply stay alive, or you don't. If you do accept that, then the rest of my argument follows. If you don't, if you believe that I'm lying about my medical needs, then ask yourself this: what possible benefit could I get from making such a lie? And, even moreso, could any possible such benefit outweigh the costs of abandoning my attempt at maintaining a reputation for honesty?
  10. I'm aware of that belief. And, as long as I maintain my privacy by not publicizing certain details about my situation, you will continue to lack the evidence that would change your mind, and so it will be quite reasonable for you to disbelieve me on that point. However, consider this: I am the one and only DataPacRat in the world, and so my posts here under that name are tied to my whole online identity. I consider the benefits of having a reputation for never trying to deceive another to be worth a great deal, and so I do my best to never lie, and, whenever I discover I am mistaken about something, to immediately and publicly own up to my error. I am, to the best extent that I am able to be so, an Honest Rat. If there were ever a single demonstrable example of my having deliberately deceived anyone, then that reputation for honesty would disappear in a heartbeat... and I would be considered no better than any other despicable liar you care to think of. Hopefully, as I spend some time here, I will continue to demonstrate my honesty sufficiently that you will be willing to accept my claims at face value... even in the case where I choose not to provide evidence for those claims for privacy purposes. Or, perhaps you will continue to believe me a liar, in which case nothing I can do would persuade you otherwise.
  11. That is why I added the caveat about wiggle room for that classic dilemma. When there /are/ third choices, in which it's possible to survive without violating anyone else's rights, then of course that would be the preferred option. I believe some previous posters in this thread disagreed with the point about whether the standard is all lives, or one's own life, so I trust that you won't mind that I won't take your word on that issue being settled. I'm used to being called weird by ordinary folk; I find it amusing that I'm so far off the charts that even Objectivists (who, regardless of the merits of the philosophy, aren't exactly mainstream in present society) consider my situation to be an edge case.
  12. Precisely. And, in my posts above, I have described the circumstances that are required for me to continue to live - and, outside of those particular circumstances, the way I choose to go about living, my morality, is very close to the Objectivist system. I'm all for reducing government, getting rid of what taxes are possible, and generally avoiding interfering in anyone else's life, and pretty much any other aspect of Objectivist philosophy you'd care to describe... /after/ my survival needs are met. The main argument going on here seems to be different assumptions on what is required to survive. Outside of that specific area, I don't really have any serious arguments with any of the points that have been mentioned.
  13. I find that statement interesting, given that I acquired the idea of survival being a pre-moral choice... from Rand's own philosophy. From http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Ethi...alStandard.html : "To every living thing, there is one primary choice, and that is to live or not -- to engage in the action required to further its own life or to engage in action that destroys its own life. The only other alternative is death. Choosing life as your standard of value is a pre-moral choice. It cannot be judged as right or wrong; but once chosen, it is the role of morality to help man to live the best life possible. " From http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/morality.html : "Life or death is man’s only fundamental alternative. To live is his basic act of choice. If he chooses to live, a rational ethics will tell him what principles of action are required to implement his choice. If he does not choose to live, nature will take its course." -- “Causality Versus Duty,” Philosophy: Who Needs It, 99 and: "It is for the purpose of self-preservation that man needs a code of morality. The only man who desires to be moral is the man who desires to live." -- Galt’s Speech, For the New Intellectual, 123
  14. Responding directly to your questions: Were I to be without modern Western medicine, I would die. With it, I would live. If I had to pay any significant amount of cash for insurance or individual treatments, I would not be able to afford it, and thus would not receive the health care, and thus I would die. Responding to your non-questions, I plan to live forever, or die trying. Reason is one of the greatest tools for helping me survive, and the better I can hone my reasoning abilities, the more likely I will be to survive. I am hear to learn what I can; and thus, even if I'm not persuaded to share your beliefs, and you're not persuaded to share mine, my learning what your beliefs are is far from a waste of my time. Should you gain any understanding of my beliefs, that's a happy bonus. You seem to be applying the fallacy of the excluded middle - that someone is either able to completely take care of themself, or they are completely incapable of doing so. Naturally, I do not fall into the category of people completely incapable of taking care of themselves - as I said before, I manage to keep a roof over my head, my larder stocked, and about a hundred dollars more each month. However, due to my particular circumstances, my survival needs require somewhat more than that, and thus I do not fall into the former category, either. Thus, your two categories are insufficient to describe the entire range of human experience, making your point moot. Actually, my comments about that were directed to the poster 2046 in particular, whose question was what I was responding to in my previous post. Given my experience in other topics, if someone claims that the only way to understand a topic is by reading one particular reference, and nothing can be learned on that topic without reading that particular work; that it is impossible for anyone else, such as forum posters, or other reference works, to provide a reasonable grounding in that topic; then they are mistaken. I have already learned a good deal about Objectivists from this forum, and even gained a few insights into my own beliefs, so I'm quite happy to remain here for a while, continuing to learn what I can, at least until I find somewhere else online where the cost/benefit ratio of time spent to insights gained is even better. As for $30, I would like you to consider these numbers: Take your own monthly income, and subtract your own rent/room and groceries/board. Whatever the remainder is, multiply it by 30%. Whatever this amount is, it is in some senses, for you, the same relative value as that $30 would be for me. Imagine that someone suggested that you should purchase a couple of books for that 30% of your monthly discretionary income; do you think that that is the best value you can receive for your money? Or, as I suspect, are there other things that you can spend that much money on which you would value more than those particular books?
  15. Given that you have previously demonstrated a lack of understanding of a point I raised, I do not expect that you will understand my reply to this question, let alone agree with it. However, I've found it quite useful to re-examine my beliefs every so often, and have gained the occasional new insight from doing so, so I'm writing this post more for myself than for you. And, who knows, maybe I'll manage to communicate something to you - it's said that you don't truly understand an idea unless you can describe it to your grandmother. I'm going to make a differentiation between "needs", that which is necessary to survive, and "wants", which may be useful but won't lead to death if not met. If your question is about the latter, then my answer would be completely different. Rephrasing your question slightly, it becomes the classic philosophical dilemma, if you had to choose between stealing a loaf of bread or starving (with no wiggling about for third choices), is theft moral? That Gordian knot of a puzzle was solved by somebody who said that survival is a /pre-/moral choice. That is, that issues of survival are not questions of morality or ethics, but of how to define what one's moral/ethical system is in the first place. ... and there's that insight I was hoping for. Most Objectivists I've talked to treat health care as an issue about government funding, and thus about taxation, and thus about rights, and thus about politics, and thus about a subset of ethics... while I treat it as a survival issue, of making the difference between life and death, and thus a pre-moral issue. I would be willing to steal a loaf of bread from you, violating your right to property, to survive; just as, if our positions were reversed, I would expect you to try to steal such a loaf from me in order to survive. Similarly, I am willing to live in a society where you are forced to pay taxes, again violating your right to property, for health care that make the difference between me living and dying. (Of course, once I /do/ survive, whether via bread or a hospital, it then becomes both of our rational self-interest to try to arrange for a society where such life-or-death choices never have to be made in the first place, but that heads off into a whole other topic...) So, responding directly to your question: yes, I believe that, to me, my life is more important than your rights. And that, to you, your life is more important than my rights. As long as the issue is of survival vs rights, survival trumps rights. (Things get a lot stickier when it's a question of one person's survival vs another's, or one's rights vs another's, but, again, that's a whole nother topic.)
  16. Which is why there is a difference between a mobocracy-style democracy, for which the term 'tyranny of the majority' was termed, and a constitutional republic that follows the principles of classical liberal democracy, in which various provisions are put into place to try to prevent a majority from violating the rights of a minority. Or, put another way, the difference between the Rule of Men and the Rule of Law. "Mister Smith, have you stopped beating your wife yet, yes or no?" 'Yes or no' answers are often impossible to supply to a question which is based on incorrect assumptions. Such questions are what the word mu was created as the answer for. As I said in my previous post to you, that is the answer I suspected you would give. I am afraid that I am simply far too ill-equipped to try to teach you enough about the rule of law, constitutions, separation of powers, checks and balances, and similar foundations of political science to give you enough understanding of the topic for us to have enough common ground to have a decent discussion on the topic. Without that common ground, we would, at best, be talking past each other, and, at worst, would be trying to use the conversation to try to indicate to third-parties our affiliations with particular social groups - conversation as membership-signalling rather than an attempt for enlightenment, as noise rather than signal. If you express an indication that you would /like/ to learn more on the topic, then I will be willing to do my best to help you find decent resources to educate yourself; or, if you are interested in learning what my actual opinions are, rather than demanding yes-or-no answers to questions for which no yes-or-no answer exists, then I will be happy to explain myself to the best of my ability. But if you are interested in neither of these, then I will simply learn all that I can from your post - both from what you say directly, as well as how you choose to say it - and then move on to learning as much as I can from other posters.
  17. I regret that, despite the accusations of eloquence that have been levelled at me, I was unable to present my point in a way that you would understand. Unfortunately, I cannot think of any way to express it better to you, so I am simply going to shrug my metaphorical shoulders and not give trying to explain that point much more thought or effort. I'm not here to try to convert you to my way of thinking, or to necessarily be converted to yours; what I'm here for is to try to /understand/ you better, and, perhaps, to try to answer your questions so that you understand me better, as well. The answer is simple. Yes. I can even offer an amount, though it's a back-of-the-envelope approximation: about $160 per year. That number is derived from the fact that I can only think of two direct sources of taxation - income taxes and sales taxes. For income tax, I pay the government around negative two hundred dollars per year. For sales taxes, after some fiddling with BOTE numbers, I figure I pay about 15% on about $200 of my monthly expenditures, or about $30/month, or about $360/year. $360 + -$200 = $160 annually. I am specifically ignoring money which I pay to someone else, and which they, then, in turn, pay to the government, not only because that number is effectively incalculable, but also because it is no longer money that /I/ am paying to the government. I am well aware of that economic parable. In fact, I once rather enjoyed explaining the flaws in the version of it that was presented by the villain in "The Fifth Element". I've been using the summaries from Importance of Philosophy to provide me with a basic understanding of the Objectivist position. <cracks knuckles> At present, and after spending a significant amount of thought on the matter, the philosophical system I work with is based on a single axiom. If you know of someone else who came up with it first and named it, I'd love to hear it, but for now, we can call it DataPacRat's Axiom. The English language is about as far from symbolic logic as it's possible to get, so I'm not especially worried about the precise phrasing, but it runs something like: "Applying reason to the evidence of my senses can lead to useful conclusions." From that axiom arise a number of propositions. Some of the most basic are that solipsism is useless, that logic is useful, and that other minds exist. You will note that these premises are similar, though not necessarily identical, to the three Objectivist axioms that Existence Exists, the Law of Identity, and Consciousness. Given the similarities, that has led to a structure of metaphysics and epistemology that is highly similar, though not necessarily identical, to Objectivism's metaphysics and epistemology. As ethics and politics are based on metaphysics and epistemology, once again, once again, I have arrived at a system that is similar, though not always identical, to Objectivism's structure. As a system under development, I am quite comfortable with trying out entirely arbitrary propositions, to see if they are compatible with my existing philosophy, and - and here's the important bit - with the actual evidence presented to me by my senses about the universe. The equation 1/((1 - (v^2 / c^2))^0.5) was, in the 1890's, quite arbitrary, its only virtue being that it didn't conflict with what was observed about the universe; and, in 1905, a theory was finally proposed in which that equation was no longer arbitrary, but arose as the result of certain other arbitrary principles... which had the two virtue of not conflicting with the evidence, and deriving greater explanatory power from simpler premises. Arbitrariness is no vice, as long as there is sufficient feedback that it can, at least potentially, be falsified; and, if falsified, discarded. You might find the essay, Twelve Virtues of Rationality to be worth perusing, as, at the moment, I agree with most of the points raised there, and some of them are non-obvious.
  18. And here I thought /I/ was the one being accused of using hyperbolism in this thread. Before I answer your question, I would like to ask you one of my own. Could you tell me what significant differences, if any, you see between a liberal democratic republic whose government votes to implement a tax; and a tyrannical kleptocracy run by a junta who rob their country's residents of whatever they please? I /suspect/ (but could be quite mistaken) that you do not see any real differences between the two - that since both involve the removal of the citizen's property by a government with the threat of force applied to would-be non-payers, then that's all that matters, and all supposed differences between the two are largely irrelevant. If that's the case, then it will be quite difficult for me to write an answer you would not completely disregard due to conflicts with your basic assumptions. However, if I'm wrong, I'll cheerfully admit so, and will do my best to answer your question (that is, if you don't feel that the question I asked contained my answer).
  19. That's a good question. I'm not sure of the answer; could you be a bit more specific about which 'needs' and which 'rights' you're referring to? As a first approximation to one possible version of that question, I currently believe that a 'need' for staying alive is more important than a hypothetical 'right' to avoid paying taxes created by a representative government. That is, that rights are tools that allow man to exercise his reason, and staying alive is another tool that allows man to continue to exercise his reason, and negating the latter tool has somewhat more permanent and irreversible effects than negating the former, thus it seems more important to pay more attention to the latter even at the expense of the former. But if that's not what you're asking, then I'll need a somewhat more extended question to reply to.
  20. I have read most of L. Neil Smith's novels, and he suggested a similar thought exercise in at least one (though I don't recall which just now). Depending on how you go about the exercise, it could be argued that half of whatever you pay goes to the government, so without taxes you'd be twice as rich; but half of whatever the person you pay also goes to the government, so without taxes you'd be four times as rich; and, repeating the exercise, you could come to the conclusion that without taxes, you would become infinitely wealthier. As a counterpoint, I propose another exercise: consider how much of your money ends up in the hands of Hollywood's various media and entertainment companies. It may be a smaller fraction than ends up in the hands of a government, but it is still, presumably, a significant fraction. And a fraction of the money of your grocery store's employees also ends up in the hands of Hollywood, and a fraction of the money of the people /they/ buy things from also ends up in the hands of Hollywood, and so forth, and so on; therefore, eliminating Hollywood would make everyone richer, right? The most severe flaw in both of these thought experiments is the implicit assumption that once money is in the hands of the disparaged group, it disappears from the face of the Earth. In reality, the money that is collected, goes right back into the economy again, one way or another. Taxation isn't guilty of /erasing/ wealth; it is only guilty of the lesser crime of distorting the invisible hand of the free market, and the question then becomes whether the benefits of a tax-free economy outweigh the benefits of various government interventions. Another flaw, and one perhaps worth discussing, is the apparent assumption that such economic transactions are a zero-sum game, without any parties increasing value or otherwise multiplying wealth, but it's been long enough since I read about such issues that I've forgotten all the appropriate jargon. From what I've been able to find out about American health insurance plans, even the most basic plans cost rather more than $100/month, the most I'd be able to spend on it (and even then, doing so would involve ceasing to pay for such things as clothes, bus fares, cleaning supplies, and other sundries). My tax burden is, roughly, limited to sales tax, which is around 15% - call it around $30/month. I think it's safe to say that, on a pure cash basis, the benefits I receive from the government are greater than the costs of what I pay. To quote a song, "Everybody needs somebody, sometime." Or maybe, "Every town / Has its ups and downs / Sometimes ups / Outnumber the downs / But not in Nottingham". The basic idea behind any sort of insurance is distribution of risk - nobody can know ahead of time when life will kick them in the (insert favourite body part here) hard enough to wipe them out... and yes, I've seen people, good people, who did everything 'right', get kicked, and kicked hard. It's to everybody's benefit to have a social safety net in place to prevent such people from falling so far that they are forced into, say, choosing between committing crimes or dying... both to avoid others who fall from potentially robbing them, and in case they get kicked and start falling themselves. Unless one wants to take the position of social Darwinianism, where letting such people get killed off improves the gene pool, the question would then become what /form/ the social safety net should take, and what the practical pros and cons of each approach are. It could then be argued that the debate on that question has been ongoing for quite some time now, and the consensus answer has been the society we find ourselves in today. I have yet to find a description of classes in modern society that makes any sense to me, so I try to avoid talking about classes except in the broadest, most metaphorical sense. My ethical/moral system has been under development for some time now. The standard I've been poking and prodding at for the last few years is "the promotion and preservation of sentient life (especially my own life)". But I'm willing to consider others... so let's try shortening that to "my life" - not lives in general, or "one's" life, but /my/ life, and see where that leads us. I want to be able to exercise certain political freedoms, such as the right to free speech, the right to defend myself from violent attackers, freedom from arbitrary imprisonment, and so on. It is rather infeasible to arrange for a society in which I have those rights but others don't; thus, it's in my own self-interest to promote a society in which everyone enjoys those rights. Similarly, it seems to be in my own rational self-interest, both short-term and long-, to have access to certain aspects of a modern health system. If I had to pay for those medical thingummies out of my own pocket, I would not be able to afford them. As it happens, I live in a society in which individuals are not expected to pay enormous sums for medical conditions that could not be anticipated, but such costs are absorbed by society-as-a-whole in the form of a governmental health care system. As living in such a society allows my continued survival, while living in a society in which I would have to pay such costs myself would lead to my demise due to my lack of ability to pay for such costs, it seems to behoove me to promote such a social safety net. I want my mental map to represent the actual facts of how the universe works as accurately as possible, so that I can consciously choose /effective/ ways to apply various forces to change the universe towards states I prefer it to be in; therefore, it is in my best rational self-interest to learn as much as I can about the universe, at a number of scales, including physics, biology, neurology, psychology, sociology, and politics. While I may disagree with what you say, I still want to hear you say it, so that I can understand /you/ better, and, by inference, other people who are similar to you (including, to a degree, myself). While trolling for lulz would certainly create a certain sort of post, such responses tend to lack the fine nuance that reveal detailed thought processes and foundational assumptions, thus, in order to learn as much as I can, I should be trying to avoid trolling and to write posts that elicit the most thoughtful and detailed responses possible.
  21. I've registered at ARI, and will see what I can find there. That's good to hear. Previous discussions I've had with (people claiming to be) Objectivists led me to the conclusion that that level of superlative was the ideal towards which they strove, and falling short of such an ideal was the result of a moral failing. There's an old saying about the difficulty of filling an already-full teacup; I've come here not only to try to add to my knowledge, but to learn where my existing beliefs are mistaken and correct them, to whatever extent is possible. This is, in effect, what I do. I do well enough to keep myself not only housed and well-fed, but with about a hundred dollars extra a month for whatever else comes along. Perhaps I've drifted somewhat from my original point. I survive in what I consider comfort, including having a pet cat; I have extensive political freedoms: I can say what I want, believe what I want, I'm not subject to random imprisonment or violence. I can buy a hamburger whenever I want. I have a /credit card/ (with no annual fee, and which I'm smart enough to avoid using where possible, and to pay off immediately when I do use it for online purchases). Due to the interesting quirks of Canadian copyright law, I am able to legally download a variety of content, which effectively multiplies my income. (Due to some other interesting software, such as TrueCrypt and Tor, it is even possible for me to untraceably and deniably download content not covered by those quirks, should I choose to do so, though obviously actually admitting that I /did/ use those programs for those purposes would kind of defeat the point...). There is only one solitary area where I depend upon tax-funded government largesse for my survival, and that is certain portions of the health care system. I think my main point, to the degree I've had one in this thread, went somewhat astray when Jake Ellison asked what I would do when all taxpayers left Canada, which I tried to respond to in post #34. It seems that I chose my thought-experiment poorly. I did not mean to imply that a mis-timed circadian rhythm was my own difficulty; I was trying to come up with one that seemed of similar scope, for the sake of discussion, while still maintaining a certain level of privacy about my own life. Feel free to ignore the specifics of the problem I described, and to invent some other situation leading to a similar level of near-unemployability by any conventional business.
  22. Jake, If you can suggest a "well-paying job" which can accommodate someone who seems normal when posting to an online forum but who has what is effectively a non-physical disability, which I haven't already thought of, then I'm all ears. I am sorry that you think I have been sarcastic - I have not intended to be, and I regret that my writing was poor enough that it could be interpreted as such. I would be happy to read Ayn Rand's non-fiction works directly. Would you happen to have a source for them where they cost approximately CAD$0, including shipping? I'm not convinced I'm right about anything - quite the contrary. I know that my views on a number of topics, including human nature and morality, are better now than they were in the past, and that they will near-certainly be better still in the future. Your questions seem to be phrased rhetorically, and based on several false assumptions about my own beliefs, and the false assumption that I've been sarcastic. The most accurate answer I can give for most of them is thus "mu", but that's a rather unsatisfying response for both of us; perhaps you might be able to rephrase what you're trying to ask, without that assumption, so that I might be able to come up with a better answer?
  23. Thank you for the compliment; I've been both reading and typing, at various levels of skill, since I was four, and I'd hope that I've gotten the hang of the written word by now. (Warning, possible goth/emo whining-sounding writing ahead, though I'm trying to avoid that and offer a serious thought experiment.) However. Imagine that, say, for your entire adult life (and then some), your body had a circadian rhythm of about 24 and a half hours, instead of 24, a rhythm which stubbornly refused all remedies to fix it. That one night, you'd fall asleep at midnight; a week later, around four am; another week later, around 8 am; and so on, while still requiring about 8-10 hours of sleep per day. That you had to make adjustments such as keeping track of every 24-hour store, simply because much of the time, they were the only ones open when you were awake that day. That nearly all forms of employment required a certain sort of scheduling from you, a requirement so basic that it's never even mentioned... and a requirement that you are literally physically unable to comply with. And, of course, that there is no obvious physical sign that you are different from anyone else, the entire thing being able to be dismissed by others as being "all in your head", which you can obviously overcome "if you really wanted to" with "enough effort". I probably fall outside the standard deviation of any norm you care to mention. I prefer comparing myself, not just to my contemporaries in the city where I live, but the whole world, and history. Compared to the vast majority of humans on the planet now, and even moreso compared to those who lived before the 20th century, I live in nearly unimaginable luxury - the very fact that I can connect to this forum and post to it is proof of that. While my future may be more uncertain than most of my contemporaries, taking the long view, I have every hope that it will change for the better rather than for the worse. If I can make it to, say, 2050 AD, then I may even get to see what's often currently called the "Singularity", after which all bets are off... (Mind you, from another point of view, we've already passed through the event horizon of a Singularity, given how rarely Golden Age science-fiction dealt with the impact of worldwide information networks, but I think I'm getting far enough off-topic as it is...) For anyone still reading this post... from what I can tell, it seems to be a general consensus among the posters that the current form of taxation in America, Europe, Canada, etc, is a bad idea, and that having little-to-no taxes is a better idea. My next question is... do you have any plans on how to get to B from A? That is, are there any intermediate steps between the current system and your ideal one which are easier to reach than your ideal, and for which you are working towards?
  24. (I hope you don't mind if I treat your question's "when" as if you wrote "if", as I'm not nearly so certain as you seem to be that the assumptions underlying your question are facts.) Your question may be phrased rhetorically, but I have, in fact, had to consider and plan for such a situation. I hope that you will be willing to take me at my word that I am, in fact, earning as much as I am physically and mentally capable of, and have done as much as possible to minimize my expenses - for example, I have made arrangements for an internet connection that doesn't cost me any cash. If events happen to turn unworkable the various workarounds, kludges, hacks, and so forth that I use to get by, and I am unable to arrange for replacements, to the degree that I am no longer able to afford even my current room and board, then, obviously, I will become homeless. I already own a copy of "Surviving on the Streets: How to go down without going out" by Ace Backwords, (available from various sources, listed at http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?author=b...st=sr&ac=qr , for about $30+) and I've volunteered to help with things such as a local "Out of the Cold" program; so I know that I can stay alive, to a certain degree, in such a situation, but they're not circumstances I would enjoy, and without even my present meagre reserves, my life would become unpleasantly perilous, with measurable odds of perishing in any given winter. I'm not an uber-rational, hyper-competent Objectivist super-man, striding boldly into the future, self-sufficient in every way; never harmed by third-party externalities; able to read contracts at a glance and having every piece of information necessary to find where I'd be screwed over; able to detect building design flaws, medical fraud, contaminated food, and so on, and able to take such companies to court to hold them liable and argue my own case. I'm just a guy trying to get by as best I can given the circumstances I'm in. I think that learning more about Objectivism will help me do that, even if I don't end up becoming a full-fledged Objectivist myself, so here I am. I think I've done my best to answer your question; if I've misinterpreted it, or failed to elaborate on a point you want me to, just let me know, and I'll do my best to correct my lapse.
  25. Not... exactly. Around a year ago, I read "An Intuitive Explanation of Bayes' Theorem" at http://yudkowsky.net/rational/bayes (and the related documents and community forums, such as "Twelve Virtues of Rationality" at http://yudkowsky.net/rational/virtues ), and began seriously thinking about what statistics (especially Bayesian ones) implied about truth; and the book "Mind Hacks" (companion site http://www.mindhacks.com/ ), which demonstrates, in extremely practical forms, some of the limits to human rationality and cognition. From what I've been able to learn of Objectivism (using http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/ as a main source for at least the overall structure, if not necessarily the details), it is effectively impossible for me to be as rational a person as I would need to be to properly follow Objectivism; thus, I have been thinking about ways to enhance my life (as my moral standard) in ways that compensate for my mental deficiencies, such as by figuring out various rules-of-thumb that are sufficiently useful, and can be applied in many situations without needing to spend too much time thinking about them. One such rule-of-thumb is "a rising tide lifts all boats"; that is, improving the general quality of life, especially for the poorest segment of a society (which I'm willing to file myself under), is likely to improve my own quality of life. It's not an absolute, there are many edge cases and exceptions and so forth - but it's worked well /enough/ for my purposes, so far. If that's what you're using as a reference, then you might wish to peruse http://lefarkins.blogspot.com/2010/01/unte...ble-moment.html , which rebuts that particular celebrity's statements. My understanding of US health care is that for the uninsured (which, for the sake of argument, we can assume I would be among), outside of emergency rooms, if someone cannot pay the medical bills for a particular treatment, they will not receive that treatment. As for American vs Canadian health care, it might be best, for this thread, to skim http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of...th_care_systems and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_Canada , and assume that I've trumpeted all the numbers which back my point of view, you've trumpeted the numbers backing yours, and if we want to discuss the matter further, to start a new thread on the topic. Now, back to taxation... http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Politics_Taxation.html certainly seems to indicate that that is the Objectivist position. I could also refer you to the forum in which the earlier conversation took place, and that position was stated as being the Objectivist one, if you wish. I fill out the income tax forms annually; however, due to my income bracket, none of my income is taxed. Due to certain minor tax credits, I usually end up receiving about a hundred or two dollars in rebate each year. I do pay sales taxes on bought items, which is the only tax I can think of that I pay directly (as opposed to paying someone who pays taxes for something, which kind of blurs the whole point, so I'll cheerfully ignore it for now). To every other post I'm not directly replying to: Thank you; I'm learning quite a lot from what you're writing.
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