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The Devastation of Haiti -- And America

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Wotan
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However much Haitians are suffering now due to the January 12th magnitude 7.0 earthquake near Port-au-Prince, it's nothing compared to how much they're suffering due to almost two centuries of heavy-handed Welfare Statism. A society, economy, and polity based on the sheer intellectual nonsense and utter moral depravity of "soft" socialism and quasi-Marxist-Leninist theory is pretty much a society, economy, and polity which is hit with a horrific natural disaster every day.

And however much Americans and Westerners think themselves very superior to the agonizing people of Haiti -- and secretly laugh at their extraordinary backwardness and primitivism -- the reality is Americans too suffer pain and misery beyond compare due to the Welfare State. If we could somehow go back in time to the mid-1800s, and avoid all government "progress" like the 1930's "New Deal" and the 1960's "Great Society," America today would be far more prosperous in terms of wealth, culture, and personal happiness, than current America is relative to current Haiti.

Compared to what we easily could be and should be, America today is a mere shadow of itself, and even a kind of living hell. The poorest Americans today ought to be millionaires, with three flying Rolls-Royces in the garage, a holodeck in the rec room, a vacation condominium on Mars -- and possible warp drive and immortality.

America today is ultimately not all that different from Haiti: two countries which desperately need laissez-faire capitalism for the economy and live-and-let-live libertarianism for the society. We both need government to confine itself to its actual purpose -- stopping local criminals and foreign invaders -- and which only really consists of a police and a military. Taxes should be cut back to about one percent of GDP, with regulation of the economy and society cut to zero. The current hyper-evil Welfare State in both countries is like being subject to a new Hiroshima and Nagasaki every day.

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America today is ultimately not all that different from Haiti: two countries which desperately need laissez-faire capitalism for the economy and live-and-let-live libertarianism for the society. We both need government to confine itself to its actual purpose -- stopping local criminals and foreign invaders -- and which only really consists of a police and a military. Taxes should be cut back to about one percent of GDP, with regulation of the economy and society cut to zero. The current hyper-evil Welfare State in both countries is like being subject to a new Hiroshima and Nagasaki every day.

Laissez-faire Capitalism is defined in a very specific way, that contradicts your post, in Objectivism (both because its scope is political philosophy in general, not just economics, and because it is based on the principle of individual rights, which means it holds initiation of force to be immoral and illegal in all cases). If you mean something else by that term, and you must use the same expression, you should at least point out the difference first.

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Laissez-faire Capitalism is defined in a very specific way, that contradicts your post, in Objectivism (both because its scope is political philosophy in general, not just economics, and because it is based on the principle of individual rights, which means it holds initiation of force to be immoral and illegal in all cases). If you mean something else by that term, and you must use the same expression, you should at least point out the difference first.

Thanks for the comment, Jake! :D But doesn't capitalism refer to the economic realm of life, whereas libertarianism refers to the socio-personal realm? Isn't the ideal in political philosophy or political science best referred to as freedom -- or else the combination of liberty, justice, and individual rights? I tend to think my use of terminology here is very clear -- maybe even better than contemporary Objectivist usage.

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I tend to think my use of terminology here is very clear -- maybe even better than contemporary Objectivist usage.

One difference is that Ayn Rand took the time to explain what she meant by the terms she used. You seem to assume that we just know what you mean. I have no idea, because it is impossible for me to know: you never even attempt to explain.

For instance, in Objectivism, the principle of individual rights is very well described and argumented, and it clearly prevents the initiation of force, because such an act is always irrational and immoral. (in other words, Politics is the consequence of Ethics and Epistemology, not an arbitrary set of rules men should follow) In your "world", so far, the term's meaning is imposible to know. The only thing I can tell about it is that it does allow for initiation of force, according to Wotanism a man does not have the right to everything he earns: the government, for some reason, can take away one percent, because it is necessary.

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However much Haitians are suffering now due to the January 12th magnitude 7.0 earthquake near Port-au-Prince, it's nothing compared to how much they're suffering due to almost two centuries of heavy-handed Welfare Statism.
Yes, the earthquake is natural, but this is not a natural disaster.

As David Brooks said in the New York Times (Jan 14th, 2010):

On Oct. 17, 1989, a major earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 struck the Bay Area in Northern California. Sixty-three people were killed. This week, a major earthquake, also measuring a magnitude of 7.0, struck near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The Red Cross estimates that between 45,000 and 50,000 people have died.
Edited by softwareNerd
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One difference is that Ayn Rand took the time to explain what she meant by the terms she used. You seem to assume that we just know what you mean. I have no idea, because it is impossible for me to know: you never even attempt to explain.

Is it really so hard to understand? Don't all these words have definitions already? I'm only slightly tweaking them for an Objectivist or 100% pro-freedom context.

...according to Wotanism a man does not have the right to everything he earns: the government, for some reason, can take away one percent, because it is necessary.

Well, I like the word Wotanism! B) But no, I don't believe in gov't taxation, nor that it's necessary. I possibly should have said "one percent of tax equivalent" to be more clear.

But current Objectivism doesn't have an answer to the tax problem. It's a political Fermat's Last Theorum. You'd have to be the purest of philosophical geniuses to figure that one out! So I thought it would be okay to use that term in a not intolerably loose way.

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Capitalism is a social system as much as it is an economic system, based on private ownership of capital.

Merriam-Webster Online defines it as: "an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market."

There's no reference to personal or social behavior. It isn't at all clear that "vice" activities like drugs, prostitution, gambling, and porno are permitted under their, or virtually everyone else's, definition of "capitalism." We seem to need a new word or phrase, to supplement it, or to pair it with. "Live-and-let-live libertarianism" comes to mind. Maybe also just "socio-personal liberalism."

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But no, I don't believe in gov't taxation

Taxes should be cut back to about one percent of GDP

Which is it?

It isn't at all clear that "vice" activities like drugs, prostitution, gambling, and porno are permitted under their, or virtually everyone else's, definition of "capitalism."

That isn't true. You're just ignorant of definitions of Laissez-faire Capitalism which take a very clear position on the legal status of such activities. For one of those definitions, I recommend reading a book called "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal", by a quite famous American author and philosopher named Ayn Rand. Actual supporters of Capitalism (few as they are) are usually very much familiar with her work on the subject, so if you're looking for the definition of the thing, you should probably familiarize yourself with it as well, before using it with too much confidence.

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So is it immoral to blame the Haitian's infrastructure rather than the earthquake?
The poor infrastructure is the immediate cause of most of the damage, but is one part of the general poverty in Haiti. Given where the world is today, Haiti's poverty is obviously the result of human decisions: following incorrect political ideas. That is where the blame lies. Edited by softwareNerd
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Posted by Ari Armstrong on his Twitter:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/4342434.html

Excerpt from the article:

On January 12, around dinnertime, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, decimating the island nation and leaving hundreds of thousands presumed dead. A rescue effort is underway now, but as government officials and rescue agencies sort through the rubble, it is worth asking: Could this tragedy have been prevented?

One group of scientists thinks so. Back in 2008, Eric Calais and Paul Mann, geophysicists who study fault lines in the Caribbean, predicted that Haiti would soon face such a devastating quake. The researchers reported that the Enriquillo fault, the line that Haiti sits upon, could produce a 7.2-magnitude quake if strained enough. Using GPS measurements, the team said that the fault was inching along at 7 millimeters per year, a moderate crawl in the realm of fault lines. But since this highly strung fault line has stretched several millimeters per year for the last 250 years, it was time for it to snap.

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We are already hearing the propaganda commentaries: Oh if only Haiti's government could be strong enough to efficiently tax and spend, then they could have imposed Kalifornia-style building regulations on their citizens and have enough welfare programs in place to help the poor! See what small-government conservatism results in?!

Edited by 2046
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