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I know I am preaching to the choir on this one, but I want to get this out: Traffic laws are a travesty of the justice system, punishing people for violating nobody's rights. Everyone breaks traf

Common sense, as far as I'm concerned. Slow drivers are surprises, and surprises are my main concern on the road. Add to going against the natural flow of traffic speed: worrying about cops and speed

just acting on principle for the sake of acting on principle, not out of practical necessity.

If there ever was a practical necessity, acting on principle is it.

That is, if by "practical" you mean practical with respect to the purpose of living qua man--since living qua man means surviving by the use of reason, and reason means man's conceptual faculty, and conceptual means: using principles.

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I think I understand what you mean when asking, "whose property"? Not that you said anything, but are probably implying that the gov't doesn't have any property rights concerning the roads because of the way it obtained the money: they stole it from us.

Precisely.

"Public property" being an invalid concept, there does not currently exist any property rights as concerns the roads themselves.

I admit, however, that I constantly commit minor traffic infractions- a comfertable speed over the speed limit, rolling through a stop sign, etc, but it's still a violation of property rights.
(bold added)

See that isn't true, because currently there are no road owners and so there are no property rights for you to violate. Hypothetically speaking if they became privately owned, then your statement would be true but you weren't speaking in the hypothetical.

Currently the only rights you need concern yourself with, in terms of ethics, are the rights of the other drivers not to be harmed or have their property damaged - which is quite a separate issue from the arbitrary and often idiotically low speed limits set by the government.

On that last point I'd say it's not a moral matter specifically, but rather one of not wanting to be on the bad side of John Law.

I apologize, I typed that fast without realizing it would sound so derisive. In any event with better and better vehicles accidents are becoming more likely to result in greater damage to your property and insurance (which is outrageous) than to you.

As you can see, that isn't what he meant. Which is what I thought; which is why I asked.

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Precisely.

Currently the only rights you need concern yourself with, in terms of ethics, are the rights of the other drivers not to be harmed or have their property damaged - which is quite a separate issue from the arbitrary and often idiotically low speed limits set by the government.

I think you already have your answer, which is that these rights are the ones endangered when you break speed laws. Now they may be arbitrary in many cases but I ask, in a situation without private roads, shouldn't the people who live in the area, have greatest danger on those roads, and pay most local taxes have the greatest claim to 'ownership'. This, I assume, is why 10 soccer moms can get a speed limit reduced around their cul de sac while all of us together wouldn't stand a chance of changing national speed limits.

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Are you implying that you don't mind committing minor traffic offenses because the roads are publicly owned and thus wouldn't be violating property rights? I take it you mean this because you say you strictly obey mall roads because it's private property, but don't strictly obey...public roads, I assume?
I tried to make it more than an implication, but yeah. I can argue and negotiate with the proprietor of private property if I dislike his speed limits, but bureaucrats who hold land by force are immune to reason.
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Currently the only rights you need concern yourself with, in terms of ethics, are the rights of the other drivers not to be harmed or have their property damaged - which is quite a separate issue from the arbitrary and often idiotically low speed limits set by the government.

And for this reason I regard driving under the influence as a victimless crime.

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If there ever was a practical necessity, acting on principle is it.

That is, if by "practical" you mean practical with respect to the purpose of living qua man--since living qua man means surviving by the use of reason, and reason means man's conceptual faculty, and conceptual means: using principles.

Actually I should've said that you would be acting on the principle that you shouldn't ever violate another person's property rights just for the sake of acting on that principle, even though you can gain more(or cause no harm) in some situations by violating their rights. But by acting strictly on non-contradicting principles, then you would have no choice but to always follow all the traffic laws to the T. So you could say, "I must act strictly on principle," or you could say,"I'm only not acting on this principle for select situations because I can gain more by doing so." The problem with the latter is that you couldn't follow any principle that wouldn't contradict the other principle of violating people's property rights. Unless you modify the fundamental principle of Objectivism, which I think is what DavidOdden tried pointing out to me earlier when he talked about red meat:

Rational men act on principle because of what it means to be rational. A principle is a conceptual statement of fact expressed as a "should", for example "you should not eat arsenic". The principle states a fact ("arsenic is bad for the body") and relates it to a prescription for action. Here's another principle: "You shouldn't eat red meat". That principle is grounded in the same reasoning, that red meat is bad for you, and therefore you shouldn't do it. The problem is that the premise is false -- red meat is not automatically / acontextually bad for you. Following that principle just because it's a principle would not be rational. Now substitute an alternative: "Eating more than 2 lbs of red meat in a day is bad for you". That's sometimes true. Maybe always, I dunno. Following principle is good, if and only if the principle is objectively justified with reference to fact.

Then again, he confused me when he said that he would start strictly obeying traffic laws if the road properties became privately owned, which means he sees no sense in modifying the principle of not violating people's rights.

Anyways, the modified principle could be: "you shouldn't violate other people's rights unless you can gain more value by doing so."

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Anyways, the modified principle could be: "you shouldn't violate other people's rights unless you can gain more value by doing so."
But since, in addition, you can never gain more value by doing so, you should not violate other people's rights.

Actually, I don't mean that. Life-threatening metaphysical emergencies are exactly when you should. You should violate a man's property rights when snowed in in the woods and you encounter a cabin. You don't have the right to do so, but you should do it, because the alternative of death kind of takes the motivation away from acting in a strict rights-respecting manner. Your reason for following principle is defined in terms of your ultimate goal and choice, namely to exist. Deciding to die cannot be better, in terms of that ultimate goal, than deciding to live. Putting the matter in comparative terms, what's more important to you and your long-term goal of existing as a man, respecting another man's property rights or avoiding a minor inconvenience by violating those rights; living because you violated someone's property rights, or dying?

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But since, in addition, you can never gain more value by doing so, you should not violate other people's rights.

Actually, I don't mean that. Life-threatening metaphysical emergencies are exactly when you should. You should violate a man's property rights when snowed in in the woods and you encounter a cabin. You don't have the right to do so, but you should do it, because the alternative of death kind of takes the motivation away from acting in a strict rights-respecting manner. Your reason for following principle is defined in terms of your ultimate goal and choice, namely to exist. Deciding to die cannot be better, in terms of that ultimate goal, than deciding to live. Putting the matter in comparative terms, what's more important to you and your long-term goal of existing as a man, respecting another man's property rights or avoiding a minor inconvenience by violating those rights; living because you violated someone's property rights, or dying?

This is confusing, it smacks of the Ring of Giges. Is there anything else you would add to 'ultimate goal and choice'?

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You should violate a man's property rights when snowed in in the woods and you encounter a cabin. You don't have the right to do so, but you should do it, because the alternative of death kind of takes the motivation away from acting in a strict rights-respecting manner.....what's more important to you and your long-term goal of existing as a man, respecting another man's property rights or avoiding a minor inconvenience by violating those rights; living because you violated someone's property rights, or dying?

This is a slippery slope, and a dangerous thought when applied loosely. The above is straight out of a Progressive liberal's mouth when you ask him to justify his welfare state. It most obviously applies to state-provided healthcare, but the "threat of death" can be extended to encompass just about anything one desires, including the slightest inklings of poverty, homelessness, hunger, job loss, or even plain misfortune. Once this extension of definition is complete the liberal can easily conclude that taking anything from anyone with more property than he is justified, on the basis of his need to survive.

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There is a real world example of this question. It is here in Utah, just north of Salt Lake City. A private corporation created a private toll highway to service commuters through a busy corridor because the government had been completely ineffectual at solving the problem. It is the nicest, cleanest, PRETTIEST road I have EVER been on! They even have a website you can look at http://adamsavenueparkway.com/

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How do you know that? I can think of some concrete examples that go against your statement, but I would like to hear your reasoning on the first question first.

Alright, I guess I'll offer the concrete examples of gaining more value by violating other's rights which isn't in an emergency situation.

A pizza delivery driver gains more value by breaking traffic laws because he, 1)gets places faster, 2)gets a lot less stress from not following unnecessary rules. The value he loses is, 1)???.

Watching rights-infringed videos on the internet, or burning a cd for a friend. You gain pleasure and knowledge. What value do you lose?

It's tough to think of them off the top of my head, but there's a couple.

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Why do you think there is something beyond existence?

I assume you are asking if I think there is something beyond existence (rather than asking "why" I do, which would imply that I did). I wasn't implying, and indeed it would be nonsensical to imply that. I was stating that if extended you could say that you can violate others rights if you are certain that there is no chance of it diminishing your chance of survival. For instance if I developed a special 'Young' gun which when fired would reduce everyone to obeying me it would still be wrong to do so, despite the fact that it would greatly increase my chances of survival, etc. Your goal should be a life oriented to your choosing which respects others' goals so long as they don't conflict with yours. Just saying that it consists of your survival is inaccurate.

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A pizza delivery driver gains more value by breaking traffic laws because he, 1)gets places faster, 2)gets a lot less stress from not following unnecessary rules.
To save time, can I refer you to the various prudent predator threads? You are thinking in a very short-term way, in terms of vacation time and a corrupt psychology. BTW don't invoke traffic laws, the point was about violating property rights -- so, why shouldn't a man speed through a private mall parking lot to save 30 seconds on his deliveries. Or why shouldn't a man kill his neighbor and take his swag, if he can get away with it?
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And for this reason I regard driving under the influence as a victimless crime.

Endangering others is as much a violation of their rights as physically damaging them is. 60 in a 55 in broad daylight in light traffic is not by any means endangering anyone. Nor is .000000001% BAC. But if you're drunk then you damn well aren't committing a victimless crime if you're driving - because you've committed the crime of endangering everyone who is near you when you drove.

So what we have there is a disagreement between you and me as to what constitutes an acceptable risk. This is where we see the real problem with roads not being privately owned. If they were, then it would simply be a matter of the owner deciding what is an acceptable risk and then anyone can choose to either accept it by driving on that road, or reject it and not drive on that road.

As it stands, however, nobody owns the roads and so there is no easy way to resolve such differences of opinion as we have here.

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To save time, can I refer you to the various prudent predator threads? You are thinking in a very short-term way, in terms of vacation time and a corrupt psychology. BTW don't invoke traffic laws, the point was about violating property rights -- so, why shouldn't a man speed through a private mall parking lot to save 30 seconds on his deliveries. Or why shouldn't a man kill his neighbor and take his swag, if he can get away with it?

People shouldn't drive fast through a mall parking lot(private or public property)because it puts the driver at a high risk of hitting another person or car. That doesn't have to do with the mall property rights though. That's so the driver won't go to jail for vehicular manslaughter. But on open roads, driving at a comfertable speed over the speed limit in a more desolate area wouldn't cause any physical harm to anyone.

And a person(citizen) should never kill another person because there's always some chance of getting caught. The risk doesn't outweigh the reward.

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And a person(citizen) should never kill another person because there's always some chance of getting caught. The risk doesn't outweigh the reward.
Anyhow, have you read up on those prudent predator threads? As I said, the only context where a rational man would violate the rights of others is when faced with a life-ending metaphysical emergency.
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  • 2 weeks later...
Anyhow, have you read up on those prudent predator threads? As I said, the only context where a rational man would violate the rights of others is when faced with a life-ending metaphysical emergency.

You mean the five hundred pages from these threads? Should I quit my day job and quit pursuing my main goals?

I'm trying to find Peikoff's lecture "Why should one act on principle". Do you know if it's still free on the ARI website, because I can't seem to find it on there.

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I've skimmed this thread, so forgive me if I missed this somewhere in this discussion.

I wonder if, for such widely used commodities as roads, the idea of having a variety of companies and individuals owning all the roads, charging for access to cover maintenance, and establishing the rules isn't a recipe for disaster.

For example - if Jones New York City Street Enterprises controls all of New York's roads, whats to stop them from establishing completely different road rules, signs, and practices from, say, the Greebo Baltimore Road Industrial Center? Can you imagine going from Baltimore to New York and finding that you're supposed to drive on the left, proceed through stop signs and stop at green lights?

And what about the "individuals owning their own streets" idea? I don't object to paying tolls for road usage - beats paying taxes for roads I don't use - but the idea of paying tolls as I turn onto every sub street between my house and my mother in law's (7 turns in 1 mile) would really cause me to consider violating SOMEBODY's liberties with the initiation of force.

So what about this idea: A quasi-governmental agency, owned by all drivers as investors and utilizers, responsible for the management, maintenance, regulation and enforcement of traffic laws for the entire economy? (Edit to add, a better description than Quai-Government agency would be a planned monopoly where all drivers are owners.)

Sort of like a Credit Union, on a MASSIVE scale. Every holder of a drivers license is an equal owner in the Highway Agency in the form of holding a share. Regional, state and national boards of directors (elected by the shareholders) determine local, state, and national regulations - with the national rule setting the national standard for all state and local implementations (thus stop signs are always for stopping, green is always for go, etc). The share in the company, your drivers license, buys you the right to access the roads, and elect the board. When you lose your license, for whatever reason, your ownership ends - your value for the license having been used up. Licensing fees to be set by the board nationally to cover the cost of operation, payment of employees and its directors, maintenance of roads, development of new roads, etc.

Naturally, under a totally LFC system, such an agency could not be *mandated* - I just think it would make sense, and that most if not all rationally minded drivers would agree that such a system would be much more efficient and practical to the consumer than hundreds or thousands of individual road networks.

Edited by Greebo
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For example - if Jones New York City Street Enterprises controls all of New York's roads, whats to stop them from establishing completely different road rules, signs, and practices from, say, the Greebo Baltimore Road Industrial Center?
Note that not only righty-tighty, lefty-loosey (everywhere in the world) but the slope is even the same. Even without government regulation, you'll conveniently find "q" to the left of "w" and above "a". In addition, nothing stops New York City from adopting bizarre traffic laws. I don't think that is a valid argument at alll against privatization.
And what about the "individuals owning their own streets" idea? I don't object to paying tolls for road usage - beats paying taxes for roads I don't use - but the idea of paying tolls as I turn onto every sub street between my house and my mother in law's (7 turns in 1 mile) would really cause me to consider violating SOMEBODY's liberties with the initiation of force.
You're assuming that ownership of roads would change every 50 feet or so -- I don't see any reason to assume that. You're basically described why it wouldn't happen, or wouldn't last if some pack of jokers decided it would be funny to put up a toll booth every couple dozen yards. People simple would not patronize any such road system, and would find a way around.
So what about this idea: A quasi-governmental agency, owned by all drivers as investors and utilizers, responsible for the management, maintenance, regulation and enforcement of traffic laws for the entire economy? (Edit to add, a better description than Quai-Government agency would be a planned monopoly where all drivers are owners.)
A voluntary cooperative; folks in your neighborhood could form a corporation, buy the roads in the neighborhood, and charge non-shareholder users a useage fee for access. We used to belong to one of those kinds of associations, in an out-of-the-way vacation spot. One of many ways.
Sort of like a Credit Union, on a MASSIVE scale.
Maybe, maybe not. Size doesn't matter that much, once you get above the "too small to be practical" threshold. Especially with technology, you don't need actual tollbooths in the city.
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