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How would an Objectivist Based Government have Dealt with Covid-19

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The dust has not settled so options seem  muddied at this point. The 6 Trillion dollar government plan and spending is being implemented. Most likely more will be spent.

But the arguments for and against the intervention usually turn out to be utilitarian, based on body count, or money lost. The question of affordability is up in the air.

Rarely is the issue of "respect for individual rights" come up.

Even amongst Objectivists, for instance Onkar Gate and Salmieri seemed to disagree with the role of the military in all of this (disagreements appear here too).

Sweden, a supposedly Socialist leaning country, has decided not to mandate job losses. In France you need a letter to come out of your house.

Some countries are paying wages of employees instead of spreading the money to individuals.

A clear and complete picture of how is should be done is not presented by the Ayn Rand Institute, only discussions.

I was wondering if each of us can attempt it and we can peck holes at it, amend it until there is something that can stand on its own.

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Given the nature of the threat I think we have to start with a "new" set of what is normal when thinking of the relationship of activities we take for granted with rights. Why?  Because even thou

The severity, ease and method of transmission is different. So there is a higher threat assessment. It does not give authorities any expanded rights. Activities can change because of threat level, tha

Bluetooth proximity apps on smart phones could track data anonymously, that a positive Covid-19 test could be used to decrypt a single phone number in order to release a message to phone numbers that

I don't think much would happen as far as the government. There might be involvement as far as how diseases can contribute to criminal negligence, but that isn't a special case. The good of the people, protection of the people, resources to the people, making life easier to deal with, etc., these should not be the concern of government. The only concern is objective law, that is, creating the rules by which we determine how to relegate the use of force, and when people initiate force. Although emergencies at the individual level may alter moral action, emergencies are not so broad that they cover an entire geographic region. Not even war justifies "emergency measures"of any extent. 

Anything and everything else must be voluntary. Given the power of trade and voluntary interaction, we can expect a functioning society - even when major things happen. If you don't like something, do something about it. If people don't agree, persuade them. When you respect rights, creativity becomes possible. These are the sort of things you need to talk about if you want to bring focus to respect for individual rights. Discuss innovative solutions to problems! 

The complete picture is voluntary action. To make that sound sensible, you also need to discuss people with the resources, what they can do, and how you can persuade them to help.

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Given the nature of the threat I think we have to start with a "new" set of what is normal when thinking of the relationship of activities we take for granted with rights.

Why?  Because even though the nature of rights does NOT change, given the situation, our normal concrete assumptions about how those rights are exercised and protected has to change, and our normal assumptions about what activities infringes rights or constitutes the initiation of harm changes. So, ASSUMPTIONS about freedom of movement, about what does or does not constitute harm, has to change.  ASSUMPTIONS about the rate of crime and frequency of violation of rights and hence what kind of police and how many officers also necessarily changes.

 

First of all we have to side, as the norm, with those who are uninfected, and harming no one.  People who have no symptoms and who have diligently not come into contact with people who exhibit symptoms, have no reasons to believe they are dangerous, and hence should not be restricted in any way.

Conversely, however, given the nature of the threat, anyone who exhibits symptoms of the virus, or who knows they have been in contact with people who have exhibited symptoms, or knows they have been in contact with a group of people, one of whom has the virus, that person HAS reason to believe they pose a danger.

Authorities also have reasonable grounds to believe they pose a danger. 

The process of protecting the innocent, is necessarily preventive, and uses the same standards regarding evidence of a threat to bodily harm/life as in any other case, although the standard for the evidence depends also on the science of the particular kind of threat.  We do not arrest a man for making a small campfire in is rural back yard, we arrest a man who repeatedly makes a huge 30 ft spark throwing bonfire in his suburban backyard... here the science of FIRE is used to assess the thresholds.

 

The number of perpetrators, and offenders, those who are criminally negligent, and exposing innocent people to the deadly virus, will far exceed the number of common thugs we are used to seeing lurking in our streets.  Enforcement and protection of the innocent during such a plague require greater number of police officers and diligent citizens reporting criminally negligent behavior. 

 

This is nothing like life as normal, because rights are being violated by negligence, at a rate far exceeding anything  we have personally ever seen.

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1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Conversely, however, given the nature of the threat, anyone who exhibits symptoms of the virus, or who knows they have been in contact with people who have exhibited symptoms, or knows they have been in contact with a group of people, one of whom has the virus, that person HAS reason to believe they pose a danger.

You use the word "danger" without much reference to the nature of the danger. In fact, what you are talking about is risk.

Diseases can be considered dangerous in all kinds of ways, but people can be reasonably expected to take care of themselves from the risk. If you are part of a high risk population, then don't go out as much. Death can be reasonably avoided with your own precautions, and if you get the disease, it is from your own lack of precaution (or in other words, it was your willingness to take a risk). It is up to you, not the government, to determine the risk you want to put yourself through. Criminal negligence might be applicable if death is near certain from a disease, or if you work with Iris populations. Still, this is barely happening. The most anyone is really doing is taking a stupid risk.

1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Enforcement and protection of the innocent during such a plague require greater number of police officers and diligent citizens reporting criminally negligent behavior. 

This is how you get a police state. What do you propose to report? "Officer, somebody sneezed on me, and sneezing can be a sign of coronavirus!" It would be a weird thing to say, because you chose to stand near them. Essentially, even if you don't desire it, you would be promoting government surveillance. You aren't just talking about special cases like an infected person working with a high risk population. You are suggesting that there is widespread violation of rights by individuals.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

You use the word "danger" without much reference to the nature of the danger. In fact, what you are talking about is risk.

Diseases can be considered dangerous in all kinds of ways, but people can be reasonably expected to take care of themselves from the risk. If you are part of a high risk population, then don't go out as much. Death can be reasonably avoided with your own precautions, and if you get the disease, it is from your own lack of precaution (or in other words, it was your willingness to take a risk). It is up to you, not the government, to determine the risk you want to put yourself through. Criminal negligence might be applicable if death is near certain from a disease, or if you work with Iris populations. Still, this is barely happening. The most anyone is really doing is taking a stupid risk.

This is how you get a police state. What do you propose to report? "Officer, somebody sneezed on me, and sneezing can be a sign of coronavirus!" It would be a weird thing to say, because you chose to stand near them. Essentially, even if you don't desire it, you would be promoting government surveillance. You aren't just talking about special cases like an infected person working with a high risk population. You are suggesting that there is widespread violation of rights by individuals.

You have ignored much of my post which warns against clinging to concretes which are no longer applicable during a pandemic.  A sneeze is no longer a harmless thing (which you imply)... you can’t treat it as though it still is harmless.  

My advice is to stop focusing on your emotional gut feeling that things “shouldn’t” be any different “just because” and think about the principles involved taking into account the vastly changed context in reality which is presented by the pandemic.

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7 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Authorities also have reasonable grounds to believe they pose a danger. 

A sneeze could have killed you with influenza, if you were in a certain risk group. So "a danger" has always been there. Covid-19 has crossed a line to justify a different way for authorities to behave.

To be clearer, the statement can be amended to: "Authorities also have reasonable grounds to believe they pose ENOUGH of a danger. " And then "enough" has to be defined.

The problem is that there is no objective measure in the threat assessment "used to assess the thresholds".

Do we have the right to upend the life of people who pose no threat. They could (maybe, possibly) pose a threat. But we can be certain that there are innocents.

The fact that we can't identify the individual threat does not give authorities a "different right" to hurt the innocent. The fact that some are vulnerable and will die, does mean that the ones not vulnerable have a duty to them. It can become a battle of collective rights as in the young vs. the older people's rights.

The authorities do (will) have a right to subject a sneezer to a test if they want to interact with even a single vulnerable person. It can then cause them to be put in a forced quarantine. 

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19 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Covid-19 has crossed a line to justify a different way for authorities to behave.

Not really... The means of transmission is the same. 

 

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4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

My advice is to stop focusing on your emotional gut feeling that things “shouldn’t” be any different “just because” and think about the principles involved taking into account the vastly changed context in reality which is presented by the pandemic.

I can't believe I didn't realize this, disagreeing with you must mean I ignored everything you wrote! Thank you for pointing this out, without any additional reasoning, it's really convincing. Your examples cannot be questioned, they are flawless. There are so many perpetrators around that we really need to start having citizens watch each other. You have opened my eyes.

Remind me to call the police next time I see someone's sneezes on another person. Of course I would never know if the person has the virus without a test even if they are out in public. Many people are okay with this risk, and how they run their life is still completely voluntary. But that doesn't matter! It's dangerous and people don't always know what's best for them. %.01 death rate isn't so bad, but 1-2%, oh boy, the game has changed! These infected people around us must be stopped. We must shame them socially. They must conform or be cast out, and the police should go after them. They are just so dirty. They are deadly.

We must be vigilant. The infected are one of the greatest threats to humanity. We should obtain warrants when there are suspicious sneezes. Although the innocent completely realize that they can avoid illness quite easily, and some really don't mind the risk, the innocent must still be protected.

Keep out a careful eye for potentially ill people. Are you doing your part? Become a citizen watch member today and save the world. Service guarantees citizenship!

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

Not really... The means of transmission is the same. 

The severity, ease and method of transmission is different. So there is a higher threat assessment. It does not give authorities any expanded rights. Activities can change because of threat level, that's all.

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The transmission is not different, I don't know what you're talking about. Sneezing, coughing, close contact, breathing on someone, etc. All of these things pose a risk of harm, even death, at all times throughout the year. On top of this, these are not hidden risks (as with sexually-transmitted diseases), so the risk is only apparent when you consent to the risk. There is no special fact about covid that changes the way you can consent, or anything that can intrude upon you without you being aware. 

There are cases where any disease can be weaponized, but these are special cases and infrequent. 

I would hope that Repairman will post. SL's post is deeply concerning. It's one thing to discuss the risk disease poses, it's another to propose expansion of surveillance, both by law enforcement and citizens. There is no mention of how this would be done. 

 

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Bluetooth proximity apps on smart phones could track data anonymously, that a positive Covid-19 test could be used to decrypt a single phone number in order to release a message to phone numbers that had been in proximity during a presumed incubation stage, alerting others the potential of having been exposed so as to consider having themselves tested.

Voluntary participation, with a transparent disclaimer in how the operation is to be exercised and carried out. It would be less of a surveillance application, than an approach to choose to be informed

Edited by dream_weaver
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38 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

The transmission is not different, I don't know what you're talking about. Sneezing, coughing, close contact, breathing on someone, etc. All of these things pose a risk of harm, even death, at all times throughout the year. On top of this, these are not hidden risks (as with sexually-transmitted diseases), so the risk is only apparent when you consent to the risk. There is no special fact about covid that changes the way you can consent, or anything that can intrude upon you without you being aware. 

Transmission is different:

"influenza can spread faster than COVID-19. "

"Mortality for COVID-19 appears higher than for influenza, especially seasonal influenza"

"The reproductive number – the number of secondary infections generated from one infected individual – is understood to be between 2 and 2.5 for COVID-19 virus, higher than for influenza."

"Children are important drivers of influenza virus transmission in the community." .... "preliminary data from household transmission studies in China suggest that children are infected from adults, rather than vice versa."

https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-similarities-and-differences-covid-19-and-influenza

Edited by Easy Truth
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The fundamental question is if one unwittingly infects another, is one still innocent?

1. A knowingly infect B  ... A is guilty, B is a victim
2. A unknowingly infect B ... A is cause, B is a victim

In (2), is A innocent?

In all cases, B has to know that he is infected.

B's rights or recourse would require knowing that A was the cause in the first place.

In this case we have the unidentifiable perpetrator. As if the thief is long gone into the crowd.

Can one disrupt the life of everyone in the crowd?

If everyone in the crowd would reasonable agree to it, yes.

But what if some don't agree to be searched etc.?

Then the money is gone. There is no recourse unless ... B is or has the support of "the tyrant".

Finally, if B has no idea that they are infected, there is no recourse even for a tyrant.

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1 minute ago, Easy Truth said:

Transmission is different:

You still didn't give any examples of different means of transmission (I guess I was a little vague when I just said "the" transmission). Those are just differences in speed of transmission.

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The only point I am making is that the threat assessment is different and so there is a different reaction. Question still stands about what is appropriate reaction.

Although we have to rexaming our current reflexive, habitual and normal assessments in certain areas we took for granted, certain principles stay the same. The concept of the innocent stays the same even if our way of assessment of "the potentially guilty" changes.

The right of "non participation" (a subset of being left alone) causes more diseased cases, making it more dangerous for yourself. Does such a right of "non-participation" exist? Should it exist?

After all, inequality, rejection of equality seems to be acceptance of a more dangerous world for oneself too. Not getting vaccinated also causes that too. The argument will push for: Why not take away as many risks as possible? Isn't that the rational and well reasoned approach?

The nature of the innocent includes those who do not want to participate in creating a "better world". One can attack it as being irrational (which even Objectivists do at times). That fact is one has a right to do the irrational that does not damage other's ability to make reasoned choices in their life.

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1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

Voluntary participation, with a transparent disclaimer in how the operation is to be exercised and carried out. It would be less of a surveillance application, than an approach to choose to be informed

This would be fine. No cops necessary, helps people manage danger as they see fit, and no need to create a culture of suspicion and reporting. A culture of consent and transparency is much better.

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Some items I have been thinking about are:

-Price gouging will be legal, unhampered
This would allow more ventilator and masks to be be attracted to areas that need it
There will be inequality of service, but all will be serviced
Rationing causes some to get no service at all

-CDC role only advisory (as a private actor)
We would have multiple (private) competing advisory and rating agencies for drugs, doctors and hospitals
Has some role as a identification unit. Being able to identify threats
Government role as a threat identification area (perhaps military capability)

-Doctors can treat people anywhere from anywhere (driving prices down)
Even foreign doctors that you trust can treat you without government intervention
Drugs prices rise and fall due to demand.
FDA, CDC, AMA out of the way

-No fear of transparency. Complete freedom of the press and communication
And natural support for whistleblowers
Probably bounties for valid info from China

Suppression of information due to fear of panic (not sure how that plays out)

-Online education etc will be more attractive driving costs down
The farce of the need for campus revealed

 

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On 4/5/2020 at 10:14 AM, Eiuol said:

I would hope that Repairman will post. SL's post is deeply concerning.

What is it that you're hoping I'll post? I'm content to observe the discourse, and make my judgements. Or am I not allowed to judge?

Edited by Repairman
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Seemingly politically correct statement from David Kelley:

"The government is now flooding the economy with credit and subsidies, which will ultimately be paid for by all taxpayers. That is at odds with a libertarian view. Yet the government ordered the lockdown in the first place, which has caused the economic problems the credit/subsidy bill aims to help with. 

So was the lockdown an unwarranted intrusion into individual rights? Maybe. But we have to take two principles into account:

  • Individuals have the right to life, including the right to take measures to protect their health and well-being.
  • No one has the right to infect other people with a dangerous disease.

Assessing the implications of these principles is a complex judgment call. The nature of the novel coronavirus, especially its long incubation period and ease of transmission, make it virtually impossible to contain without society-wide measures.

Contagious diseases are a difficult issue for a libertarian view. The lockdown may not be the best solution, but some measures to halt contagion could be.

Of course, there is plenty to criticize in government responses, starting with China and including the regulatory control that the CDC and FDA maintained over tests."

 

https://atlassociety.org/commentary/commentary-blog/6395-objectivism-and-covid-19

 

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8 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Seemingly politically correct statement from David Kelley:

"The government is now flooding the economy with credit and subsidies, which will ultimately be paid for by all taxpayers. That is at odds with a libertarian view. Yet the government ordered the lockdown in the first place, which has caused the economic problems the credit/subsidy bill aims to help with. 

So was the lockdown an unwarranted intrusion into individual rights? Maybe. But we have to take two principles into account:

  • Individuals have the right to life, including the right to take measures to protect their health and well-being.
  • No one has the right to infect other people with a dangerous disease.

Assessing the implications of these principles is a complex judgment call. The nature of the novel coronavirus, especially its long incubation period and ease of transmission, make it virtually impossible to contain without society-wide measures.

Contagious diseases are a difficult issue for a libertarian view. The lockdown may not be the best solution, but some measures to halt contagion could be.

Of course, there is plenty to criticize in government responses, starting with China and including the regulatory control that the CDC and FDA maintained over tests."

 

https://atlassociety.org/commentary/commentary-blog/6395-objectivism-and-covid-19

 

Thank you for posting this thread ET.

You are presenting very thoughtful ideas based on reasoned principles.  That is a rare thing everywhere in this world today.

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15 hours ago, Repairman said:

What is it that you're hoping I'll post?

Because I want to know your opinion, that's all. I can understand why you would agree with the beginning of those posts, because I do too, but I don't understand agreeing with the authoritarian parts.

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2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Thank you for posting this thread ET.

Good to know because I was starting to think that it is an unimportant mental exercise.

It would be helpful to see what Objectivist principles, concrecretly applied, looks like.

If morality is to be a guide, we need to know how we would behave.

What is becoming clearer to myself is that Objectivism is not about "efficiency" or "increasing live bodies", even though human life is synonymous with "valuable".

Here we see a confusing conflict between egoism and altruism. On one hand it is to our benefit to limit the existence of the virus, on the other hand some don't benefit (naturally immune) and should not be paying the price. It benefits some more than others. It hurts some more than others.

So the question of "What is to my self interest?" has not been clear cut ... But I expect it will be if we hash it out enough.

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4 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Good to know because I was starting to think that it is an unimportant mental exercise.

It would be helpful to see what Objectivist principles, concrecretly applied, looks like.

If morality is to be a guide, we need to know how we would behave.

What is becoming clearer to myself is that Objectivism is not about "efficiency" or "increasing live bodies", even though human life is synonymous with "valuable".

Here we see a confusing conflict between egoism and altruism. On one hand it is to our benefit to limit the existence of the virus, on the other hand some don't benefit (naturally immune) and should not be paying the price. It benefits some more than others. It hurts some more than others.

So the question of "What is to my self interest?" has not been clear cut ... But I expect it will be if we hash it out enough.

Truthfully I think some of the main problems here stem from unfamiliarity with the particular concretes:

1.  People genuinely do not know whether they are dangerous to others and which others or not, nor do they know the severity of those dangers with any specificity.  Especially since symptoms vary so much and testing is not readily available at will, it is rare one knows what one's own condition is.

2. Conversely, people genuinely do not know whether they are being put at risk by others and which others, nor do they know the severity of the danger to their own person.  Statistics do not reflect any particular person's likely response to the virus.. if you are 13 or over... your outcome could run the entire gamut... you have no real clue as to your actual nature in this regard.

3.  The dangers manifest in propagation and exposure which we generally associate with benign, ordinary, behavior, we are accustomed to NOT worrying about ... things like sneezing, coughing, touching, close talking etc.

 

The sum of these particulars has a great influence emotionally and intuitively such that any tendency to be concrete bound will multiply and cut one off from the principles at play.

We need to be careful not to be dragged into the left's default belief in the "clash of rights".  Rights do not clash as they are negative rights i.e. not to be harmed, they do not extend to the freedom to harm others.

 

If we had giants among us whose girths were such they could not see where they stepped and were quite capable of squishing others. they would not have the "freedom not to know whom they squish" as they walk about... they would be responsible not to walk on people   i.e. they would need some viewing apparatus or some kind of skirt when around others... and the law of unjust imprisonment would mean that others would need to accommodate giants whenever they needed passage.

If we had venomous glands in our noses which were not only poisonous to our prey but to each other, we would not have the "right to accidentally kill people" if we sneezed, we would be responsible to keep our noses muzzled, or pointed away from each other, and/or stay home when we are "sneezy" etc.

 

Freedoms are freedoms from harm, not freedoms to do what you want whether or not it harms other people.

 

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical
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