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Capitalism Forever

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Everything posted by Capitalism Forever

  1. The leaders of the environmentalist movement care about as much about the environment as Democrats care about the poor. They use it only as a means to get people to follow them. The followers, well...some of them are just mistaken because they believe the hoaxes, but the overwhelming majority is attracted to the movement because they share the movement's hatred for success, capitalism, and America. In other words, the environment is not the primary issue for them, either. If the problem were real, the solution would be the same as with the coconuts.
  2. The air--like sunshine or wind--is not a scarce resource. It is there for everyone in unlimited quantities. The concept of ownership does not apply to it. If I aimed a gun at you and pulled the trigger, the charge against me would not be air pollution (even though I "pollute" the air with a bullet that kills you). The charge against me would be murder. Similarly, when you open the 3501st coconut, the charge against you would be causing the victims, if there are any, to become blind. The scarce resource is not the air, but the possibility to open a coconut without facing criminal charges.
  3. If you want to protect your own environment, that doesn't necessarily make you a collectivist. If you want to "protect" other people's environment against their will, that does. Either you misunderstood my post completely, or... I'll give you a concrete example. Assume that we live on a tropical island. There is a certain kind of exotic coconut growing on this island that is very delicious, but it releases fumes when you crack it open. The fumes of a single coconut are harmless, but if people open more than 3500 coconuts a week, the combined fumes of the coconuts can cause people to go blind. For the sake of argument, also assume that the person opening the coconut is not necessarily the one likeliest to go blind from its fumes. (I hope this helps you appreciate how improbable a scenario of this kind is in the first place.) So what does a capitalist government do to keep people from making each other blind? Ban the eating of coconuts in all quantities? No. Put a tax on coconuts so people eat fewer of them? No. What it does is prosecute the guy who opens the 3501st coconut (and 3502nd, and so on) for causing the victims to go blind. This is why the option to open a coconut will become a scarce resource. If there are 1000 people living on the island, each of them would get to open 3.5 coconuts a week. Those who want to open fewer of them could sell their options to those who want to open more.
  4. LOL I didn't think you were one. I used the words "you" and "I" in a general sense in my post above--you might substitute "Person A" and "Person B" for them.
  5. If you pollute your section of the river but the pollution doesn't reach my section, you haven't violated my rights. If it does, you have. It is no accident that these two are the environmentalists' pet problems: No one individual's actions will ever really damage the ozone layer or cause global warming, but--the environmentalists claim--if billions of people do it simultaneously, doom and gloom will ensue. A scenario that truly makes a collectivist jump with joy, as it provides an excellent pretext for government intrusion into the lives of individuals. Finally, they gleefully believe, they have found a problem that capitalism doesn't have a solution to, but collectivism does. But their jubilation is premature. Capitalism does have solutions to problems like this. If an activity is harmless on a small scale, but harmful on a large scale, there is a threshold at which it becomes harmful. Performing a unit of the activity will be legal until the threshold is reached, but illegal after the threshold has been reached. If too many people want to perform the activity, the opportunity to perform it will become a scarce resource and people will be able to buy and sell it among each other. The job of the government is to pass a law--based on objective reality--defining the threshold above which the activity is harmful and therefore illegal, as well as how exactly an individual can claim a right to perform a unit of the activity. (In most cases, the right to perform the activity should be apportioned among people based on how much harm they are to incur if the threshold is exceeded.) The rest is best left to the market.
  6. Actually, the phenomenon isn't limited to Canada. It's pretty much the same story in many parts of Europe. My favorite response to them is, "You guys ain't seen nuthin' yet. Wait until Americans elect a real cowboy as President!"
  7. DAC, There is a fundamental difference between protecting the property rights of individuals and protecting the "environment" from individuals. If you want the government to keep me from poisoning your section of the river, that's fine. If you want the government to keep me from poisoning my lake, even if I don't damage anyone else's property in the process, that makes you an environazi. If environmentalists really care about the fate of the spotted owl, they should start a collection to buy some land where they can provide a safe place for spotted owls to live. They can save their spotted owls all they want. They can't save my spotted owls unless I give my consent.
  8. I think Objectivism offers them a whole lot more hope than other philosophies. Objectivism says, "It is the fittest who survive, and it is up to you how fit you are. You can use your mind, be productive, trade, create a lot of wealth, and enjoy the fruits of your efforts, here and now, in this life of yours on Earth." Calvinism, in contrast, says this: "God has decided whether you will go to Hell or Heaven before you were even born. If you go to Hell, you will suffer for eternity; if you go to Heaven, it will be great for you. The choice is up to God; he has made his choice, and there is nothing you can do about it." What a bleak outlook on life! The best you can hope for is that you will be lucky enough to happen to be one of God's favorites. There is no way you can honestly earn any reward! Other denominations of Christianity promise you Heaven if you are meek enough. That gives you more hope--"If I am patient enough and pay for my heavenly bliss with tears and toil in my earthly life, I can count on God's favor after I die." Too bad this is a false hope, and a destructive one to boot. You spend your life paying dearly for something you are never allowed to look at before you finish paying, sold to you by a person you have never seen. You give up all your opportunities on Earth, which you know are real, in exchange for something you are told is very desirable, but can never be previewed--and you are told so by people who have never seen it themselves. This is what Islam promises you: "If you kill enough infidels, you will be rewarded with 72 virgins in paradise." Now that's quite a lot of hope--provided that you are a bloodthirsty pervert. I think I needn't elaborate further on this one. There is no use in hoping for something that will not happen; you do not help yourself by acting on ideas that do not correspond to reality, or by believing yourself week and dreaming of a prince to come and save you. The true gospel--the real good news--is that you have the power to control your actions; that you can employ your mind to fathom reality and choose the actions that are best for you; that you can exert your will to overcome obstacles; and that you can cooperate with your fellow men by means of trade to achieve the greatest prosperity for yourself and everyone else, rather than having to take away their livelihood to secure yours. Hope is much sweeter when it is grounded in reality--when you don't only dream, but make your dreams come true--and Objectivism offers you just that kind of hope.
  9. The Communist propaganda machine was already in the process of breaking down when I went to school. It was quite an interesting--and gratifying--experience to hear my history teacher say, "OK, the next chapter's on Marx and Engels--I think we'll just skip that!"
  10. My response would be: That's clearly an exaggeration. Conflicts between humans can be resolved by respecting property rights.
  11. Howdy! My name is Roland. I was born in Hungary and still live there. I grew up during the final decade of Communism. My first memory involving the United States is hearing the radio news reader's anxious voice reporting on how "Washington continues with its star warfare plans." I had no idea at that time what "Washington" was, let alone a "star warfare plan," but I thought whatever it was, it must be something great and powerful--something done by men who can. I felt I could identify with these strong and able men somewhere far away much more than with the men around me who were "concerned" about "these dangerous plans"--the men who, as I saw it, couldn't because they wouldn't. As a kid, I was taught that socialism was superior to capitalism; however, in the late 1980s, when I was around ten, people began talking about how a free market is much better than a government-controlled one. In '88, when I first traveled to Western Europe, I was amazed by how much better everything was there. I needed no more proof about the utter superiority of capitalism over socialism. I began dreaming about Hungary converting to capitalism one day. Then one day, much to my surprise, my history teacher came to class with a radio in her hand; she turned it on, and I could hear a leading politician declare that the People's Republic of Hungary was replaced by the Republic of Hungary, and that we would pursue friendly relations with the United States as well as with the Soviet Union! The crowd cheered jubilantly when he spoke of the United States, and booed when he mentioned the Soviet Union. In the evening, I saw celebrations on TV; one thing I particularly remember is a man holding a banner with the communist blazon torn out of the middle, and the words "NEVER AGAIN COMMUNISM!" written around the hole. With the fall of the party-state arrived the spirit of private enterprise. Since I was interested in computers, I decided I would become an entrepreneur in the software business. I began reading books about business administration and economics, and the more I read, the more convinced I became that full capitalism was the best political system. Hungary's new governments did not intend to remove all socialistic elements from the nation's life, though; they decided to try and copy Western Europe's "social market economy" model. Having spent some time in Vienna as a student, I had an opportunity to witness the "social" side of Western Europe, and frankly, I found it dreary. I was surrounded by people who spent up to 10 years as university students--not because they wanted to learn something, but because the government subsidized university students. These were the dullest folks I have ever met. They seemed to have absolutely no motivation to make anything of their lives; they seemed bored and unhappy all the time; their primary interest seemed to be in complaining about what other people did. I left in disgust after a semester. I began to look upon America as the only place of hope for true capitalism; I have since then been following American politics with growing interest. The Internet has allowed me to learn quite a lot about the ideas America was founded on, and also about the ideas that now threaten her freedom. It was also on the Web that I first read a couple of quotations from Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. I was awe-struck by their eloquence and their invincible persuasive power, and I cherished them for debunking such fashionable fallacies as money being evil, self-interest being a vice, or the idea of original sin. As I endeavored to learn more about the lady behind these wonderful quotes, I found out that there is an entire philosophy that comes with them--a philosophy that, unlike any other one, aims at being consistent, meaningful, and useful for men; a philosophy that explains not only why capitalism is the most efficient system, but also why it is the only moral one. It's nice to have found a place where I can mingle with people who appreciate this philosophy!
  12. MichaelM, in your view, who would be the author of the constitution, and how would he get everyone else to recognize it? If an alternative constitution were proposed by someone else, how would the choice between the two competing constitutions be made? Throughout this thread, I have had the latter context (identifying what is right) in mind.
  13. This is a technical point, but events do not cause things; entities cause things. What events do is affect entities (which entities may then in turn react to the events). I believe Matt and Ash have pretty much addressed your questions. I would like you to try and address my little intimation, though: "You can believe that all your actions are determined if you choose to." Wouldn't it be rather inconsistent to choose to believe that you are unable to make choices?
  14. Nobody's grabbing any land, we're just asserting our sovereignty over land we own. Just to set the record straight! My point was that if there had been another Prime Minister, they would likely have become part of Argentina, because 1) it isn't considered politically correct for an English-speaking nation to forcibly defend its "colonial" territory from invasion by a "developing" nation; 2) they're a small, faraway group of islands that most British voters had hardly heard about before the invasion. An unprincipled, poll-oriented PM would not have bothered defending them. I mentioned them as an example for a territory under a government that doesn't care much about them. Exactly. But, as I've been arguing all the time, those very small communities could form defensive alliances, confederations, or unions, agreeing only on those things they can agree on--which will obviously be fewer in number than the stipulations in the constitution of each sub-community. This is what I mean by delegating power from the bottom up in ever-diminishing doses. I don't think that's a bad thing; certainly, it beats the alternative of forcing anyone to live under a government they don't consent to.
  15. Yes, that's right--so you probably couldn't do it in the United States, but it might be possible in some third-world country whose government is desperate for a little money. Or perhaps when the English-speaking parts of Canada secede from Quebec and there is a temporary vacuum in authority. The Falkland Islands could be another opportunity--if the UK had had a Prime Minister who cared less about principles and more about "world opinion" at the time of Galtieri's invasion, the Falklands might very well have become "independent" from Britain. The idea is to find an area that will be easily given up by its current government. Israel, Texas, and the thirteen colonies that founded the United States are examples of territories that have become independent in spite of a tyrannical organization's claim on them. Here, independence involved (or still involves) a good deal of forceful self-defense. This is a less pleasant way of attaining freedom than just buying some land no government cares too much about--but it's still very much worth it! The constitution would not allow voting to reduce freedom. Laws could only be passed on subjects enumerated in the constitution, and the number and length of laws would be limited by the constitution. ("The total number of laws in force at any time shall not exceed 40. Each law shall be written in full English sentences, without using abbreviations, and shall fit on at most three pages, where a page is defined as...") The consent of a high proportion of the citizens (3/4 or more) would be required to pass each law. The constitution could only be amended by unanimous consent of all citizens.
  16. I think that's pretty much the case. The skeptics jump on it as an opportunity to prove their point, when in fact it has a rather limited application. Essentially, it says "you can't prove everything that's true using this specific method," but the skeptics act as if it said, "you can't prove anything."
  17. It doesn't have to be previously unclaimed; it can be bought from the previous owners. This is actually pretty much what I described myself, except that I referred to the "rulers" as "citizens." Note that if the rulers are to make any decisions, there has to be a way of making decisions in spite of disagreements between the rulers--i.e., voting.
  18. All the founders would have to accept the constitution, and the constitution could only be amended with the unanimous consent of all citizens. Essentially, the government would be established as a contract signed by many parties. Of course, such an arrangement will only work in the long term if the citizens agree to disagree on some issues; that is, if the consitution allows for laws to be passed with less than unanimous consent of the citizens. However, the constitution should clearly limit the kinds of laws that can be passed, and it should be made clear that no law that violates any individual's rights to life, property, liberty, and pursuit of happiness may be passed. Another way to allow citizens to disagree on some issues is, as I mentioned yesterday, to have many small communities with different constitutions. A group of people wants to put a ban on drugs into the constitution, but other people don't? Fine, they can set up their own community where drugs are banned, while other people who don't want drugs banned would join another community where they are legal. However, the several communities so formed would recognize that they will be better able to defend themselves from the attacks of terrorists, communists, and similar miscreants if they unite their military efforts; thus, the soldiers of DrugFreeLand and Opium County would march together in defense of the Commonwealth of Capitalism when it's attacked by the Empire of Duty.
  19. I'm not very worried about that being the case. I'm sure the bleeding-hearts in the European Union or somewhere like that will be eager to grant asylum to these "refugees from capitalist exploitation." But of course, they could be allowed to stay in the country as non-citizens if they pass some more basic test of eligibility. They would not be allowed to vote or serve on juries etc., but they could still live there as long as they respect people's rights.
  20. Your consciousness has something quite distinct about it: It's yours. You can perceive it in a way you cannot perceive anybody else's consciousness. You actually see what you see; you actually hear what you hear; you actually feel what you feel; you can even "hear" your thoughts. This is something very special and unique. There are billions of other brains in the world like yours, but you do not see what those other brains see, you do not hear what they hear, etc. However, there is one brain whose perceptions and thoughts are actually yours. You own this brain unlike any other brain in the world. But how can you own that brain if there isn't a "you" ? Clearly, if the brain is "owned" by some entity, there must exist an entity that owns the brain. Now, whether you consider that entity physical is up to your definition of "physical." Clearly, the entity cannot exist without the brain, so it makes sense to think of it and the brain--or the body as a whole--as one integral unit. Only this "unit" is special in that it is not just an ordinary, plain-vanilla, everyday collection of particles whose actions are completely determined by the rules of physics, but is a conscious being. You can believe that all your actions are completely determined if you choose to.
  21. To perceive something is to be conscious of it. You accept the material world as a given because you are conscious of it, but you don't accept your consciousness as a given because ... ? RationalEgoist, would you be so kind as to raise your right arm? When you saw my above request, what happened? Did you actually raise your right arm to comply with my request and demonstrate to yourself that you can actually cause your right arm (a physical entity) to rise if you want to? Or did you leave your arm down to try and prove wrong whatever I was going to say next? Or perhaps you pretended to want to raise your arm and focused on it, thinking, "OK, so I want to raise it, will it now go up?" but your arm remained motionless. Maybe after a while you stopped focusing and continued reading without ever raising your arm. Or perhaps, when you got bored of contemplating, you concluded, "OK, now I'll really raise it," and then your arm got lifted in the air. Whatever happened, what you wanted happened. What you didn't want, didn't happen; what you only pretended to want, didn't happen either; but what you wanted for a reason, did happen. When you managed to convince your brain that it was really in your interest to raise your arm, your arm got raised. This is how it works all the time: There is a certain existent (your mind) that can somehow "talk" to your body and tell it what it should do. When it "talks" convincingly enough--when there is a serious amount of volition--the body will comply. There you have it, a mental entity causing physical events to happen.
  22. The Founding of America was pretty close to what I think is the proper way to establish a government: A sufficiently large group of rational people should get together within some territory, assert their sovereignty over the territory, and agree on how to protect each other's rights--in other words, accept a constitution. The government will be really legitimate if its constitution is accepted by each and every one of the citizens. Obviously, the larger the number citizens-to-be, the more difficult it will be to reach unanimous agreement; but it is possible for many smaller communities with different constitutions to be formed in adjacent territories, which communities can then in turn agree with each other to mutually defend each other. This is in fact how the United States has been formed: Power is delegated from the bottom up, in diminishing doses, as opposed to the European model of all power being assumed by some central authority and delegated from the top down--also in diminishing doses. However, any community's government will only be as rational as the people comprising the community are. This factor comes into play as the citizenry is replaced by newer generations and through immigration and emigration. In order to stay rational, the community will have to make sure to admit only rational immigrants; further, it must not automatically grant citizenship to all children of the people who are already citizens, but only those of them who explicitly agree to be bound by the terms of the community's constitution. Basically, the children should be given a choice upon growing up: "You can live here in freedom and prosperity, but you have to accept that we're a capitalist nation, with no 'social justice' or 'collective rights' etc. If you don't like it here, you should go and live elsewhere." This, I believe, is one of the most important lessons to be learned from the history of the United States.
  23. Why would the material world have to be axiomatic? I think we have a discrimination issue here: You accept the possibility of material objects and their interactions, but don't accept the possibility of spiritual "objects," or conscious powers, which perform actions on material objects under their control. BOTH of these are self-evident givens. Those who accept the possibility of the spiritual, but discount the material as something merely "conjured up" by the spiritual, fall into the primacy of consciousness trap. Those who accept the possibility of matter but "can't imagine" the spiritual end up becoming materialists. But the fact that you can't imagine something doesn't mean that it's impossible; it only means that your imagination rejects it because it's unlike anything you have seen before. Now, you don't see your consciousness, but you're very well aware it, so you might as well imagine it as possible! Yes. From what science has shown us so far, I would induce that a sufficiently complex structure of neurons results in the creation of a conscious power which has the actions of the neurons under its control to some extent. Again, this is something that is difficult to "imagine," given that the physical structures we assemble in our everyday lives continue to act as determined by the rules of physics, with no sign of being controlled by some conscious power. But remember that reality is not limited by what you can imagine.
  24. The Incompleteness Theorem says that, given a sufficiently sophisticated, consistent set of axioms and a valid set of deduction rules, there will be at least one proposition which cannot be deduced from the axioms, but is still an inevitable consequence of the axioms; namely, a proposition which effectively says, "This proposition cannot be deduced from the axioms." It cannot be false (you cannot deduce any false propositions from consistent axioms using valid deduction rules), therefore it is true. Self-referentiality is a key here, as well as being able to refer to the set of propositions that can be deduced from the axioms. Both are made possible by the "sophistication" of the axioms. As far as I know, no system of axioms can be sophisticated enough to enable referring the set of all propositions which are inevitable consequences of the axioms, therefore it isn't possible to have a proposition that says "This proposition is false."
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