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Extreme poverty contradicts premise of Objectivism

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Simulacra
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You believe you would be where you are financially if you would have been born in a Favela? This is the premise of Objectivism that I began with and wanted to discuss.

SoftwareNerd is correct, this is not a premise of Objectivism. You need to posit a correct premise of Objectivism in order to debate whether or not it has flaws.

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In fact, in the United States, over 80% of current millionaires are FIRST GENERATION millionaires - meaning they made their wealth themselves. They tend to be rather unobtrusive small business owners who simply work hard, with integrity, and spend less than they earn, and got where they are with nothing more than hard work.

The flashy super rich are actually the exception to the rule.

Source: "The Millionaire Next Door". Worth a read if you ever want to be wealthy. You can't learn to be rich from the poor, after all.

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It shouldn't matter whether you inherited a fortune or not. Inheritance is not a mandate to steal from someone. Even if you got handed millions from your family and never gave a penny to charity, theft is still theft, and rights are still rights.

Simulacra is envious of those with wealth, so he acts to destroy them. He will never attain wealth because he has already mentally precluded himself from ever being wealthy.

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It shouldn't matter whether you inherited a fortune or not. Inheritance is not a mandate to steal from someone. Even if you got handed millions from your family and never gave a penny to charity, theft is still theft, and rights are still rights.

Simulacra is envious of those with wealth, so he acts to destroy them. He will never attain wealth because he has already mentally precluded himself from ever being wealthy.

Agreed. Simulacra is a hater.

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  • 1 month later...
That is what happens in Ecuador, too. St. Francis Xavier, run by the Jesuits, is not only extremely affordable but it also runs its own medical support program for the families of students who can't afford medical care.

I studied at that school myself, and I must say that the Jesuits provide some of the best education out there -- religious class aside (theology, actually, which can come quite useful if you are an atheist), how many highschools teach you philosophy? I've yet to find one person who was taught philosophy while going to a public highschool.

Which is precisely why I am on this forum. I attend public high school, and the word "philosophy" is scarcely uttered or even understood (by the students and even the damned faculty). My desire to understand the world around us led me to education, not the government giving it to me. If the government-provided system doesn't answer a question related to education that I want answered, I don't reduce myself to a sobbing and miserable mass asking for more money in the schools. I find the answer on my own.

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  • 1 month later...
Me and my friends are "the government" - we were elected. We are the majority. We were voted in by "the majority." We represent "the majority." Now do your social duty and do what I say, give me your money, or I will come to your house and take it. Do you disagree, yes or no? Do my "needs" negate your rights, yes or no? Stop evading.

Edit: And pardon me if I interpret your lack of direct response as an inability to respond.

If you've read Rand's ideas, she abhors taxes and sees them as gunpoint robbery. There is no such thing as social duty. Duty in itself is against Objectivism, because it turns certain demands (social or otherwise) into obligations. Need is not a right to claim. Never has been, never should be. (The "it to, ought to" argument comes into this discussion, you can read it on wiki for fun). Needs will never negate rights, if it were, I could claim to "need" to kill children legally or I'll refuse to respect other people's rights (if that makes any sense to you).

Your first question I am unsure how to proceed, because the sentence before that was a statement and not a question, but the premise is that I have a social duty to perform, and that I have given you a blank check on my life. I refuse. I'd rather blow up what I have than surrender it in the name of "social duty". Besides, I (or any rational person) would not vote for someone who just wants something from me.

P.S. please do not post Ad Hominem statements, and remain objective when replying. Thank you

Edited by no1729
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If you've read Rand's ideas, she abhors taxes and sees them as gunpoint robbery. There is no such thing as social duty. Duty in itself is against Objectivism, because it turns certain demands (social or otherwise) into obligations. Need is not a right to claim. Never has been, never should be. (The "it to, ought to" argument comes into this discussion, you can read it on wiki for fun). Needs will never negate rights, if it were, I could claim to "need" to kill children legally or I'll refuse to respect other people's rights (if that makes any sense to you).

Your first question I am unsure how to proceed, because the sentence before that was a statement and not a question, but the premise is that I have a social duty to perform, and that I have given you a blank check on my life. I refuse. I'd rather blow up what I have than surrender it in the name of "social duty". Besides, I (or any rational person) would not vote for someone who just wants something from me.

P.S. please do not post Ad Hominem statements, and remain objective when replying. Thank you

You're right, but the post you're responding to was written in the context of a conversartion. The guy doesn't mean what he wrote, he was trying to figure out what the position of the other person is.

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A century ago, Argentina was one of the top economies in the world. They were an industrial success story during the dawn of the industrial era. Then rampant nationalism and socialism led them to nationalize all their railroads, and then there was Peronism. I did an econ paper on it. It's amazing how government intervention caused consumption to skyrocket, but productivity to plummit.

The school where you don't pay ANYTHING? How about the half-century of political turmoil, violence, terror, and poverty - even though the whole time each government was actively intervening to try and 'help' the working class. Was your education worth that?

Capitalism doesn't offer an explicit guarantee that the poorest of the poor will have their 'needs' provided for. But history shows that it cures the misery of poverty very quickly. This is not an endorsement of the political events in Chile, but economically, they offer a perfect counter example to Argentina. Consider what Argentina might be today if after 1945 it would have maintained a liberalized economy. Instead of miserable poor, you might have a Canada in the South.

As for the poor across the globe - consider why they are so miserable. Infant mortality has been the story of human existence until the industrial era. 'Charity' has transferred untold wealth to the poor to feed themselves, and save their babies. Now, there is overpopulation, but societies still not adapted to modern industrial life. Modern life requires many cultural changes - people must abandon superstition, they must be willing to accept new social and family models, they must learn the importance of individual rights and reject tribalism and caste-systems. Fanatics can't industrialize. If certain peoples had been allowed to make these changes, they would be industrialized and wouldn't need 'free education' to become richer. Their infants would no longer die in such high numbers.

Instead, these people are fed and treated for disease, given free education and 'jobs' - with their need as the only justification. They haven't changed their culture, but are plagued with overpopulation - and have little incentive to change their culture.

That's not to say coddling is the only reason why the poor stay poor, but its essential to look at the justification for giving. I mentioned it was need, instead, it should be virtue. If a community of poor people - say women in an Indian village - show initiative, then let them participate in a generous micro-finance program (ooh, let's not get into a debate on micro-finance). Not only is the help they're receiving given to them for a justifiable reason - to reward their desire to produce, but it will actually help them.

The same goes for education. A tech company can open training centers that benefit both parties. In America, despite education not being 'free', we have a generation of humanities majors who can't get a job, but whose parents happily let them live at home and pay their bills.

What percentage of students earning a 'free' Argentinian degree can transform that degree into a decent career in Argentina?

As for Europe - wait, their story hasn't been fully told. The shock of WWII will wear off and they will return to the extreme ideologies that plague collectivist philosophy, the free defense through pax American will fail them, demographics will destroy them. And, you're assuming life there is so great. It might be better than abject poverty, but how many African farmers suffer because of European farm subsidies? Could Europe pay for the world's poverty? No. Can Africa pay for its poverty? No. Could America? Only for a generation, maybe if that. Only capitalism can save the world, because only capitalism gives permission to people to save themselves.

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A century ago, Argentina was one of the top economies in the world. They were an industrial success story during the dawn of the industrial era. Then rampant nationalism and socialism led them to nationalize all their railroads, and then there was Peronism. I did an econ paper on it. It's amazing how government intervention caused consumption to skyrocket, but productivity to plummit.

Hi,

Would you want to elaborate on some of the key reasons why Argentina could not sustain its success? I would be very keen to know.

Thx!

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Hi,

Would you want to elaborate on some of the key reasons why Argentina could not sustain its success? I would be very keen to know.

Thx!

This is from an old paper I wrote in an undergrad econ class,

"Argentina, colonized during the 16th century, gained independence from Spain in 1816 (3,75). During the 19th century, there was large-scale Italian, German and Spanish immigration. There was also an attempt by Britain to gain influence and control in the country (3,75). At the end of the century, Argentina was considered, “the most prosperous, educated, and industrialized of the Latin American nations.”(3,75)

...

Argentina

An account of the growth in Argentina shows that the GDP growth has been affected by changes total factor productivity. It is necessary, therefore, to examine the country’s history and policies in order to determine what might have cause these changes.

Argentina benefits from, “rich natural resources, a highly-literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base.”(3,79) This distinguishes it from Chile which benefitted primarily from copper mines and was otherwise an underdeveloped farming economy. Moreover, also as mentioned, Argentina benefitted from having a more diverse population of immigrants. It was described as, “the most prosperous, educated, and industrialized of the Latin American nations,” in the late 19th century (3,75).

Central to Argentina’s success were its railroads, “the most important foreign investments in the country up to [the post-WWII period]”(1,17). These railroads were owned for the most part by British companies (1,17). They played a crucial role in the country’s agro-export industry (1,17). However, the Great Depression caused Argentineans to reexamine their economic bases and the role of foreign investment in their country (1,18). Economic nationalism, and the changing international economic order post-WWII caused theories of imperialism and dependency to become the ‘pre-eminent paradigms’ of the 1960’s and 1970’s (1,18). The nationalization of the British-owned railways began in 1948 (1,18).

The 1950’s experienced the rise of Juan Peron, who led a movement of left-wing causes and introduced many social reforms (3,75). The military overthrew him in 1955 (3,75). A series of coups led to his reemergence as President in 1973 (3,75). He died, and his wife Isabel took his place, until she was deposed by the military in 1976 (3,75). This new government was brutally oppressive, killing over 5,000 people (3,75). Economic conditions declined, and this government entered into a futile war with Great Britain over the Falkland Islands in 1982 (3,75). This loss led to the resignation of the President and the reinstatement of democracy. Disruptions due to problems with the military in attempts to prosecute those guilty of the murders finally ended when Carlos Saul Menem was elected in 1989 and absolved any connected to the tragedies (3,75). His government privatized public-sector companies – the state had up until this point played a ‘visible and controversial’ role as a manager of businesses (1,32). The policies of Menem also lowered inflation from 197% to 37% (3,75).

In Summary:

- Argentina began as a very wealthy country in the early 20th century.

- Starting with railroad nationalizations in 1948, it continued with left-wing economic reforms.

- A series of coups marked the latter half of the 20th century, with a particularly brutal regime coming to power around 1980.

- Privatization of public-sector companies and a return to liberal economic policies began with under Menem, elected in 1989.

"

the source marked as "3" is: Kurian, George Thomas, ed. “Argentina” and “Chile”. Encyclopedia of the World’s Nations Volume 1. New York: Facts on File, 2002.

"1" is: Davila, Carlos and Rory Miller, eds. Business History in Latin America: The Experience of Seven Countries. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1999.

Also, my summary at the end parallels a summary of historical events for Chile, and my analysis of the economic data. If you place it side by side with the summary of the data, it explains the economic effect of those policies. It's really basic, the point of it is that socialist policies destroy productivity. I have a graph and all, but I'd have to convert it and so forth, so I haven't bothered.

I don't know, read Atlas Shrugged, it's all the explanation you need.

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This is from an old paper I wrote in an undergrad econ class..

...

In Summary:

- Argentina began as a very wealthy country in the early 20th century.

- Starting with railroad nationalizations in 1948, it continued with left-wing economic reforms.

- A series of coups marked the latter half of the 20th century, with a particularly brutal regime coming to power around 1980.

- Privatization of public-sector companies and a return to liberal economic policies began with under Menem, elected in 1989.

"

...

It's really basic, the point of it is that socialist policies destroy productivity.

Thanks for the detailed post.

So, basically they made a wrong choice of Socialism and Nationalisation due to the losses suffered during Great Depression.

I wonder if their earlier prosperity was due to 'hot money' pouring in to exploit their natural resources. This hot money evaporated during the depression and hence they got dis-illusioned (albeit wrongly), and decided to close.

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Thanks for the detailed post.

So, basically they made a wrong choice of Socialism and Nationalisation due to the losses suffered during Great Depression.

I wonder if their earlier prosperity was due to 'hot money' pouring in to exploit their natural resources. This hot money evaporated during the depression and hence they got dis-illusioned (albeit wrongly), and decided to close.

In reference to what happened here, using a modern example, what Chavez is doing in Venezuela is similar to what and how Juan Peron did here (in Argentina) in the '50s.

Sadly, democracy+population growth leads to populism and that leads to socialism.

You must be aware that this is happenning in the US too.

If you have impoverished/ignorant masses + democracy, you can buy votes promising "whealth distribution", and win. After you win, you "distribute" by nationalization, taxation, "free" health care, etc., and become a "hero" for the masses, wich keep voting you in power.

Obviously you also need to start "twisting" some republican controls and the form of government tends towards majority dictatorship with a personality cult. Also obviously, the living standards tend to get lower and lower so the "leader" needs scapegoats, and of course they are the "imperialism" and "capitalism". (or "greed" or "unregulated markets"... does that ring a bell?)

So it was a "choice" here, as much as the US is "choosing" now his actual path.

On a more colorful note, here you do not even need to resort to an semi-elaborate fraud like "promises of whealth distribution". On some impoverished areas of Argentina, the candidate agents used to distribute among the poor people one shoe of a pair of tennis shoes before the election. If the candidate wins, you get the other shoe.

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Well obviously this topic is quiet interesting as 1) I still believe in Objectivism but only in Patti Friedman's mind and 2) I am from Argentina, have studied its history, and is living proof that the opposite of Objectivism doesn't work (but it's not that Pragmatism doesn't, ouch!) .

1) By this I mean, seasteading, and other forms of creating societies where there were none. Why? Because after thinking about it for 3 years, I realized that in order for a whole country, even a small one, to "change its ways" and make a "great leap forward" it would happen just what happened in Communist China but to the reverse: The Most productive forces would be unleashed creating wealth and prosperity fro themselves and a lot of others, but the less productive forces increasingly dependent on the Government would be dead-sentenced in the worse of cases. It's like the legal case of whether it's homicide, manslaughter, or nothing to let someone die of thirst in front of you. (I know -from this msg board- it's illegal in Arizona). You may lynch me now.

2) Argentina never reallly was that great, it's just that when you have so few population, such fertile prairies, and no Panama Canal to divert half of the World's Trade and Traffic from Cape Horn making The Plata a must stop; then you unavoidably have a wealthy country - for a period. The fact is that Argentina has never been a Republic, probably will never be, and the cause of its not sustained wealth is not Socialism, it's Fascism. If you ever read Ayn Rand referring to Fascism as Guild Socialism, here you have it: all blue collar jobs, and many white ones, are property of the Unions. From the mind of the worker to his family and salary, they are sheer property of the collection of Workers Unions that respond to their capomafia in close ties to the President of the time.

3) By the way: I keep reading resistance to even dealing with the words Objectivism and Utopia in the same sentence or even line. It almost seems like a taboo, and its method out of Stalinist Censorship Guideline, would you folks please prove me wrong and take this last remark with teenie tiny tinge of humor?

Edited by volco
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In reference to what happened here, using a modern example, what Chavez is doing in Venezuela is similar to what and how Juan Peron did here (in Argentina) in the '50s.

Sadly, democracy+population growth leads to populism and that leads to socialism.

You must be aware that this is happenning in the US too.

You couldn't have said it better.

About Democracy + Populaton = Nazism: We really have a problem here. It's happening everywhere and it convinces me that semi-dictatorial systems like His Royal Excellence Lee Kwan Yew's Singapore might be a more savy system since a proper Republic only exists in our minds.

It's happened in Turkey. It's happened in Argentina. And - in the words of Miss Teen South Carolina 2007 it's also happening in "America, South Africa and THE Iraq"

So I don't know what's the answer because Democracy surely isn't and a proper Republic as envisioned by the Founding Fathers and by Ayn Rand is for now, a... ouch (should I say this, is this PC?) ... "utopia". +

Edited by volco
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By thw way when I referred to Democracy in Argentina, I didn't mean 1984. I meant 1912 or 11 when the first actual Democratic Elections were called upon. Prior to that a "Republican" Oligarchy ruled the 4 wealthiest decades of Argentina "The Land of Silver - in Argie sland the land of money". As soon as they allowed for free Universal Suffrage, a stupid party was elected (the UCR) and three administrations later the country was once again, and for the first time since the signing of the Constitution, under Military Rule - the one that would give rise to Peron (a crossbreed between FDR and Mussolini)

So 1912, that's 90 years before Samuel P Huntington warned us the exact same thing and spoke marvels of President Lee.

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Simulacra,

I believe I know how you feel, but 2046 actually has a very good straightforward point that encapsulates Objectivist Ethics and Politics:

1) Do you believe it is practical to take even a little bit form the "rich" and give it to the "poor"? Do you think it works?

2) Do you think it's correct, it's moral, to do so? Remember we're not talking about voluntary donations here.

3) Do you believe that when theft becomes institutionalized (as in Taxation) it becomes moral?

---

As to your question of poor people being able to bootstrap their way to wealth:

First of all: what's the situation now? Can they do this now? We both know it's not the case. Do public hospitals works? Yes, fantastically but only the Fernandez in Palermo Chico, and "Public" Hospital in the best neighborhoods. Public Hospitals DON'T EVEN HAVE GAUZE on the other side of the Gral Paz (outside the city)

When we talk about Global Capitalism or how Capitalism is the only way to solve poverty you've got to keep in mind that we mean it 1) Long -term and 2) by Capitalism we mean that everybody no matter his social status or connections, will be able to OWN the fruit of his own mind and labor. We never experimented Capitalism in Argentina. I'm not being utopic, I mean we actually never experienced levels of economic freedom like those of Singapore or America before 2004.

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There isn't anything inevitable about the rise of socialism / Marxism either in the United States or elsewhere. The world works via ideas that are accepted, and so long as people accept the idea that it is OK to soak the rich via taxation and redistribution, then yes, socialism will advance. It's not that capitalism is some sort of unobtainable utopia, but rather it is an unknown ideal, one that has been covered over with a lot of misrepresentation. If government didn't have the power to redistribute wealth, then socialism wouldn't advance, and the idea of individual rights can take hold and stop that insanity. So, don't think it is inevitable, because it isn't. Communism collapsed as an ideal due to it not being able to get the most impoverished people out of poverty. Once capitalism is better understood then it can rise again, but it is going to take some time and a lot of campaigning for the right ideas. If you give up on ideas, then yes, what happens to the world is inevitable, but in such cases you are exempting yourself from any influence on history. The moral stance is to be for individual rights, and not to say that socialism is inevitable.

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Once capitalism is better understood then it can rise again, but it is going to take some time and a lot of campaigning for the right ideas. If you give up on ideas, then yes, what happens to the world is inevitable, but in such cases you are exempting yourself from any influence on history. The moral stance is to be for individual rights, and not to say that socialism is inevitable.

I belive in capitalism too.

But, I still have an unresolved question in my mind: Is it the ideal system in a world that has an improper distribution of wealth?

Force and Fraud (from govt or individuals or companies) has already caused mal-distribution of wealth in lot of countries. In this context, is Capitalism a good idea? (Also, I know socialism is not a good idea at all).

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I belive in capitalism too.

But, I still have an unresolved question in my mind: Is it the ideal system in a world that has an improper distribution of wealth?

Force and Fraud (from govt or individuals or companies) has already caused mal-distribution of wealth in lot of countries. In this context, is Capitalism a good idea? (Also, I know socialism is not a good idea at all).

Yes, in Capitalism criminals can be punished for all crimes, even ones that occured in the past. But wealth that was destroyed in the past cannot be magically brought back, not even by Capitalism. It's gone. As for mal-distribution of wealth, the greatest current example of the triumph of Capitalism in encating Justice is Eastern Europe, where a lot of the land confiscated by the Soviets after '45 was given back to its proper owners and their descendants 50 years later, by the Courts, after the fall of Communism.

But my impression is that your idea of Justice is based on egalitarianism, not individual rights, so your whole claim that you believe in Capitalism is not true, and you don't think Capitalism can deliver Justice.

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First, let me tell you that I'm from Argentina so my English isn't that good.

This discussion is oriented towards debating whether there should be a completely free market or a subsidized and regulated economy based on man's condition and how the world's current situation of poverty would transition to an Objectivist Utopia.

Correct me if I'm mistaken, but isn’t it true that Objectivism believes that in a capitalist society anyone can get out of their economic condition if they have will power or are smart (without help from the goverment, etc)? It looks like Ayn Rand uses Gail Wynand in The Fountainhead to show this.

50% of the worlds population lives with around $3 per day (according to The World Bank which I believe is on the right, other NGOs would give a worst scenario). I live in Argentina, and with $3 you might survive but will definitely have malnutrition and get many diseases which treatment you won't be able to pay for.

What political system created medicine and abundance and what political system created the dump you're living in? Why do you think America has accumulated the wealth it has, while your country is a dump? It is because here people were given a chance to live free and to live for their own sake; for the pursuit of their life and their happiness.

So if you want a higher quality of life, shouldn't you follow the lesson from history and pursue a political system that respects property rights? THIS is what creates abundance, not socialism or fascism, as proven countless times.

It is the American culture of self reliability and self responsibility that has made it rich. It is extreme poverty that is the representative of the entitlement mentality and it confirms Objectivism, not contradict it. Men who hold rational morality and respect other people's right to life and property as an absolute flourish. Those who do not live in the swamp of "I deserve!" and "it's not my fault!".

If one is disabled and cannot work for a living, it is in one's best interest to leave men free to work and free to keep what they have earned, because only in such a society can one hope to enjoy the generosity of men who have wealth to spare and who value human life. Whom will value human life in a society in which everyone else is out to get a piece of their fortune?

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Is it the ideal system in a world that has an improper distribution of wealth?

Force and Fraud (from govt or individuals or companies) has already caused mal-distribution of wealth in lot of countries. In this context, is Capitalism a good idea?

Yes, absolutely, because it is capitalism that can restore the "proper distribution of wealth." In a capitalist society, where wealthy but unproductive people cannot rely on political pull to keep them afloat, but the best producers are free to rise from poverty, the former will quickly be out-competed by the latter.

Here's a relevant quote from OPAR:

"From shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations," Americans used to say at the turn of the century. If a poor man rose to wealth, then left his money to worthless heirs, his grandson was back on the street without a suit to his name. Project how widespread this phenomenon had to be to give rise to a popular aphorism, then observe what happens to the worthless children of the rich under our present policies. (Most end up in Washington demanding a redistribution of suits.)
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