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  2. Thanks for sharing! To anyone interested, Objectivist Amy Peikoff recently interviewed the art gallery owners mentioned in this post:
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  5. Four Things Editor's Note: The Van Horns will be taking a much-needed and long-overdue break over the next week. Posting here will resume on June 1 or June 2. I will be intermittently reachable by email and may post on Twitter. 1. During the period social distancing, my son and daughter put their bunk beds to creative use by hosting each other for sleepovers, guest in the bottom bunk, of course. For a while there, I would occasionally hear them making elaborate swap deals with each other. Here is a picture of our garden. We are already close to usable tomatoes -- fried green, of course. (Own photo. Reproduction and use without attribution is permitted.) It has been a boon (and a great relief!) that they get along so well together. 2. One of said swap deals involved a timed period, of my son borrowing a cane my daughter uses for dress-up. As you might guess, a neutral third party by the name of Alexa was to keep track. I discovered this one day by overhearing part of a dispute: It was my daughter, mentioning that she had told Alexa to set a timer for whatever period it was. Sadly, I do not remember the exact wording, because the next thing we all heard was Alexa saying something like, "There are no timers set." After a moment, we all burst out laughing. 3. Some time ago, I believe I mentioned that I had been planning on planting a small vegetable garden with the kids. We did, a few weeks ago, and the whole time, the kids bickered over whose turn it was to help Daddy, whose spade was whose, what to name the plants, and so on. I almost regretted the whole thing, and doubted anyone had any fun. And so it came as an unexpected small delight when my daughter, during a video conference with her teacher, enthusiastically volunteered that her favorite thing for the past week was "planting crops with Daddy." 4. As I have mentioned before, my son has both a strong sense of order and a high degree of respect for checklists. This came in handy yesterday when he balked at me reminding him to put spaces between his words for a writing assignment. Earlier, I had been mildly surprised to see a checklist attached to the assignment, populated with things I figured my son already knew. Conveniently, one of those things was "finger spaces." Even more conveniently, it dawned on me to use the list itself to my advantage. As soon as I pointed to that on the checklist, he stopped bickering and simply did it. And, yes, I felt a little bit like I got one over on him: That bedtime list has not been the only time he has suggested I use a list! -- CAV P.S. I was able to write about three quarters of this post using the end-product of a "sanity project" I took up during this egalitarian mockery of the whole idea of quarantine -- a Linux virtual machine hosted on a pen drive. I ran it on a Dell netbook equivalent running Windows. I am pretty sure the difficulty I eventually encountered came from the virtualization layer, and that I could work around the problem if I had to. I fired the VM up again on my main computer -- where it runs much faster and without such hiccups -- to finish things up. Updates Today: Corrected a typo. Link to Original
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  7. I am having trouble processing the following news about Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who is being considered as a possible running mate for Joe Biden: Yeah, but did you think, first? (Image by Element5 Digital, via Unsplash, license.) In mid-April Whitmer issued an executive order that ultimately instructed many of the state's nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients. That put other residents in jeopardy, and may well have contributed to the high death rate in Michigan nursing homes. About a third of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have been at nursing homes, and the same is true in Michigan, according to some estimates -- although the state Department of Health and Human Services hasn't been able to offer concrete numbers. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had put in place a similar policy, but recently backtracked when it became evident the harm that was being done to the population most vulnerable to the virus -- the ill and elderly. Whitmer, by contrast, renewed her initial order when it expired last week, extending it with an identical mandate -- disregarding the concerns and advice of nursing home advocates and legislators.Yes. After it became clear that her order was almost certainly spreading the coronavirus through the most vulnerable demographic, she extended it for a week. She amended this directive afterwards, but I agree with the Detroit News that she should have ended it at once. The only thing more frightening than the prospect of this person being one of Joe Biden's heartbeats away from the Presidency is the fact that, as of today, Michiganders approve of her handling of the epidemic by a wide margin. What difference does it make if Whitmer is monumentally incompetent or malicious when so many voters more than match her in their degree of indifference or willful ignorance? -- CAV Link to Original
  8. I work outdoors in city parks. I wanted to do this for a long time, but it came handy during Covid. Before Covid I used to go to the public library to work, but now I can't do that. Once it got warmer in the Spring, I began going outside, with a table setup. I'm able to carry all this gear on a bicycle, or by car with a wagon cart for the last mile. Besides the gear, I take lunch with me and plenty of hot tea to keep me warm if it gets cold. (Working in a standing position is warmer.) The biggest challenge that remains is an unlimited and affordable LTE mobile plan. I have an article on Medium that documents it in more detail. It's linked from my homepage.
  9. I have learned a few good points from Charles Tew. I have particularly enjoyed his review of Jordan Peterson. Thanks, Charles.
  10. "That generation approached viruses with calm, rationality and intelligence" [Tucker] said. And character, too. 51 years since 1969 and what has changed? Two generations which gradually abandoned reason - and character virtues. Most, they've given up any idea of objective value. Those were people (my parents' generation) who had faced worse, having gone through a European war of doubtful outcome, and many the Cold War, unpredictable too. They had learned that "life must go on", wars or pandemics, and whatever comes they must protect the values they still had, for themselves, for we the children and later generations. Not as sacrifices to be made, although that's wrongly how every person would then have framed it, but as defending the greater values over the lesser. The post-modern devolution to skepticism, determinism, infantalism and a primacy of sensations has put paid to the rational "calm" (and benevolence to others and good humor). This global shutdown, an attempted suicide of man's life, is how present generations which have only known the soft life, repay our parents and grandparents their tough-minded resolve.
  11. (And Other Heretical Realms) Do you remember, back in the good old days, that whenever the subjects of socialized medicine or socialism came up, you could practically bet the farm on Sweden being held up -- incorrectly -- as an example of those ideas working? I do, too. And -- if life and liberty weren't at stake -- I'd find it quite amusing that now, whenever the subject of Sweden comes up at all, it is framed in such a way as to frighten us from following its once-unimpeachable example. This is, of course, because that nation stands almost alone among civilized, developed countries, as having chosen not to "lock down" in order to control the course of the coronavirus epidemic within its borders. Writing about Sweden's sane response to the pandemic, Michael Fumento raises a couple more issues pertinent to the discussion. One of these issues, which I believe I heard during a podcast I can no longer find (and featuring Yaron Brook, Alex Epstein, or both), is that Sweden's policy decisions were not based on the pursuit of herd immunity. While we're on the subject of Iceland, finding an image for this post was a real treat. Go here and start scrolling to see what I mean. (Image by Tim Trad, via Unsplash, license.) This is not invoking the ... issue of "herd immunity," which many advocates of the "Swedish model" (including Sweden's own ambassador to the U.S.) have proffered, but is one that Tegnell has explicitly rejected for Sweden or any other country. [Chief Epidemiologist Anders] Tegnell speaks, instead, of "some immunity," meaning perhaps 20-25%. Herd immunity requires extremely high proportions of a population protected by vaccination, for example 85 -- 90% to prevent transmission of mumps. [original links omitted, one link added]So, no, Sweden hasn't been acting as if the virus doesn't exist, let alone aiding its spread, as the incorrect framing of its program of voluntary social distancing and minimal government intervention would imply. Second, Fumento draws several comparisons between Sweden and some other countries, incidentally mentioning a few other nations which have also not locked down -- and have not seen their medical facilities overwhelmed with Corona patients. Sweden isn't the only European country that didn't lock down. Iceland didn't either, and can point to a minuscule death rate/per 100,000 population of 2.83. "We have taken a middle of the road approach, rather than lockdown," reports Kari Stefansson, founder and CEO of deCODE, an Icelandic subsidiary of U.S. biotech company Amgen. "Elementary schools, childcare and stores are still open, for example, but we have banned gatherings of more than 20 people and closed theatres and concert halls." ... (Don't be deceived: There's no inherent advantage to having a small population in a tiny geographic area. The European microstates of Andorra and San Marino locked down and yet have extremely high per-capita death rates. As for any island effect, Ireland's death rate is ten times that of Iceland's.) [links omitted, bold added]]I might add that neither Sweden nor Iceland are warm, a factor I've heard some use to dismiss the apparent success Florida and Texas have had controlling their epidemics with less severe or lasting lockdowns. But back to the roll-call of international honor: Fumento also lists Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong as polities that have escaped Armageddon without locking down. This is not to say that the propriety of mass indefinite home detention is purely a scientific matter: It is not. But it should give everyone pause to consider the fact that so many proponents of this policy claim disease control as their motive, while pretending that there is no need to admit of any evidence to the contrary, let alone consider it. -- CAV Link to Original
  12. As it has turned out, the US reached this mortality number in only two months, rather than the predicted four months. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ On US public action, there is some good historical perspective here. Excerpts
  13. https://click.exct.stansberryresearch.com/?qs=3a6639a59d95647b616ebcfa51a4e914ad24a543e37ab41ffccf69a12a051e6af56ae2a8420a1d0c03f02dab2f2ae3c83e03b7258d15a085
  14. I was happy to learn yesterday that the Pacific Legal Foundation has written a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom and other officials on behalf of art gallery owners Quent and Linda Cordair, who have defied a statewide lockdown by reopening their doors. The letter is just over six pages long, but I highly recommend reading it for the many very good philosophical, legal, and historical issues it raises in regard to the irrational policies so many officials have pursued since the epidemic gained steam. Too many have, like Newsom, continued these policies well past the point that a reasonable person could see them as wrong, but at least motivated by panic or genuine concern. Here is just one passage: Image by Tingey Injury Law Firm, via Unsplash, license. The State must act in accordance with due process While the government may adopt laws to protect public health, its power is not unlimited. Even during a pandemic, the State and County must abide by constitutional limits. As one federal court has ruled, the government may legislate to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, but "it does not at all follow that every statute enacted ostensibly for the promotion of these ends is to be accepted as a legitimate exertion of the police powers of the state." And the United States Supreme Court has held that a community's power to "protect itself against an epidemic" might be exercised "in such an arbitrary, unreasonable manner, or might go so far beyond what was reasonably required for the safety of the public, as to authorize or compel the courts to interfere for the protection of such persons." Together, principles of due process and equal protection ensure that laws are a rational means for achieving legitimate ends rather than arbitrary restrictions on personal liberties. Due process requires laws to have a means-ends fit, while equal protection ensures that similarly situated people are not treated differently without a legitimate reason. In the context of public health, these principles "guard against the risk that governmental action may be grounded in popular myths, irrational fears, or noxious fallacies rather than well-founded science." In other words, due process and equal protection ensure that the government's actions are designed to protect people and not merely to control them. [notes omitted, bold after subtitle added]Knowing that good people at the Pacific Legal Foundation are on the case is cause for relief and optimism, and not just on behalf of the Cordairs. State and local governments almost everywhere have displayed a disgraceful and disconcerting appetite for improper and intrusive power over the last few months. We are all Cordairs, now. -- CAV Link to Original
  15. Yeah, market prices really only identify what can be purchased. I think that wages are more about compensation and incentive psychologically speaking. Compensation and incentive are connected to an exchange of values: compensation for what the person is doing compared to what they would have been doing, incentive for continuing to work for you and continuing to trade with you. Assuming the person is doing the job as specified and doing it well, it's a good idea as an employer to be magnanimous as an incentive. The employer would become a desirable trading partner. If I were the employer, I would desire to allow them to have a certain kind of lifestyle, so I need to get some sense of market prices in real estate and food, with compensation as a baseline, and incentive as any money above that. There are other things to consider for rational value exchange, but as far as wages, I think this is enough. And of course, if people want to forgo a rational procedure, okay. Immoral, but that's their problem. And I hope they would not be in business long, because it has a negative impact on the market as a whole. You're right about the difficulty of figuring out what a dollar is worth in terms of time. The fact that the dollar is not linked to anything only makes this problem worse. Unsolvable even; not computable if you like information science terms like I do. So yeah, some commodity should be the basis, whether that something is gold, or something digital like computation power in a computer (which cryptocurrency aims to do). The best I can do given fiat currency is get some sense of the way people spend their money, despite how arbitrary the basis to it is. Sort of like how I know that many books on Amazon are often $10, but Barnes & Noble often sells the same books at $15. I won't be able to objectively determine the worth of a dollar to me, but at least I can get a sense of more and less and what I could get with that $10.
  16. One of my favorite business writers, "Evil HR Lady" Suzanne Lucas, has long been one of my go-tos for advice on working from home. She has been doing so herself for years, and yet has the business knowledge that her pen name implies. This combination of experience and perspective practically makes her required reading on that subject, and that goes double now. This is because she sees this situation from the eyes of both workers and managers at once. If many businessmen now at least better tolerate the idea of people working from home, some see dollar signs and have become a little too eager to go all in. This is where Lucas comes in, as we can see from two of her recent columns on the subject. As usual, she has things to say for employer and employee, but I think employers are more in need of advice by this time. For example, in a piece at AIHR, Lucas notes that "It's okay to hate working from home," and reminds bosses that, "Not everyone lives in four bedroom houses." Working from home has gotten pretty old pretty fast for lots of people, and even for those of us who liked it before the pandemic, it's not so great now: The in-home commute has its hazards, too. (Image by Markus Spiske, via Unsplash, license.) All of this doesn't mean I'm not a champion for working at home. I am! I love it. Or at least, I did love it, and I'll love it again when my children go back to school, and my favorite cafés re-open. But, if you have found that you hate working from home, there's not something wrong with you. If you're a business owner that is tempted to go to a 100 percent remote model, think about how that move will impact your business and your employees. It may be fantastic. It may not be. Talk with people before you make final decisions. [bold added]All I can add to that might be to do a thought experiment about what remote working would be like after we reach herd immunity. The upside of this being a way to avoid illness would obviously go. On top of that, while some would be able to thrive again, others might find that they lack the discipline to work away from an office. Lucas underscores this point in another piece at Inc., where she helps bosses realize that every apparent new advantage of this situation comes with tradeoffs they may not be aware of: I had a boss once for whom everything was an emergency. She would often call me at 4:30 and say, "[Super important executive] needs this report tonight!" At first, I stayed late and did the reports, and noticed that the emailed reports remained unopened for days. Then I got smart. She would tell me it was an emergency, and I would then call the executive's admin and say, "I understand Jane needs XYJ report. When does she need that?" The response was never tonight. Frequently, it was many days or even a week away. I would then pack up my things and go home, and do it the next day. But I had the advantage of a long tenure and a good relationship with tons of people within the company. Your employees may not have that. Don't use the word emergency unless it truly is one. And keep in mind what a real emergency is. That varies from business to business, but not everybody who says they want something immediately actually needs it immediately. A little pushback can be a good thing for maintaining healthy boundaries.I like how Lucas reminds bosses about boundaries, while also giving employees of clueless or indifferent bosses an idea for how to work around them. (Elsewhere, she offers the following admonition: "Don't reward people who are constantly working -- they are going to burn out. Instead, tell them to take a break.") If statewide closures were a blunt response to the pandemic, permanently making every office worker remote would be equally ham-handed. If there is anything the pandemic should have taught us by now, it's that one-size-fits-all, top-down initiatives are problems disguised as solutions. -- CAV Link to Original
  17. I'm not going to presume to speak for anyone else here, but there is definitely a lack of clarity and objectively concrete precision thus far in this thread on this particular matter. In the economy of the U.S.A. today, what would you claim a dollar to be? Presumably an hour is 1/24 of a sunrise to sunrise at the equator. A circular argument would set a dollar at 4 minutes, per such a claim. By interjecting market prices (including real estate and food) only allows the extrapolation to identify how many minutes does it take to purchase a particular real estate or item of food. One of my earlier remarks on this forum cited the thought that fiat currency was theft. I was asked to substantiate the claim. In retrospect, the claim was too abstract to sum up in a 'simple response'. Would you make the argument for a dollar being based on a commodity standpoint? Would the commodity you choose be a metaphysically based material?
  18. "It's just a basic benchmark measure of living a basic life in a Western country (which can help determine what kind of wage you want to pay). I'm not so worried about the exact $15, but I think a living wage, whatever an economist determines that to be, is a good measure for estimating what I would like to pay full-time employees who do very basic labor." Many times I said the employer should offer a job based on the value he gets from the work performed. My claim is that below a certain point, an employer is failing to rationally appreciate the value he gets from the work performed. Absolutely. The only thing it has to do with is how I would like to compensate the person for the work they perform in such a way that they would like to continue working. This is poetic license. This is not what is meant by living wage in this discussion, is not at all how the terms have been defined. If you change the meaning of the terms as I have used them, it will sound like I'm saying something completely different. I'm not sure if you're acting in bad faith, or you honestly missed how we defined what I mean by living wage. I already said minimum-wage laws are immoral, so I don't know what you're talking about. I really don't. Minimum-wage laws should not exist. Minimum-wage laws are bad. I don't like minimum-wage laws. Yup! Earn that $15. How does this contradict anything I wrote? I think anyone performing a full-time job well has earned $15 an hour by rational standards. Really it's just sounding like you told me that I am irrational for saying that as an employer, I want to pay them $15 an hour. I know you didn't intend this, but you ended up undermining your own argument that an employer should pay the value they believe they received. I value the work at $15 an hour. You've been telling me that I shouldn't value the work at $15 an hour. If you think I'm rational to value their work at $15 an hour, you agree with me in principle, at least that my standards are worthwhile. If you think I am not rational to value their work at $15 an hour, then you should make that argument. If you think I am not rational to believe in minimum-wage laws, then you haven't read anything I wrote.
  19. By what standard? Who decides? What kind of life? You sir, think you can put the cart before the horse. Like all mystics you aim to make the sustenance of life, the effect, cause of the wages earned, the cause. But this is backwards. Wages make life possible and determine the scope and scale of that life. You think it is moral for an employee to demand a wage to live a life better than he can attain by his level of work and you think it immoral for an employer to offer a job based on the value he gets from the work performed because that value might not be enough to support the lifestyle demanded by the potential employee. No. The worker trains and then aims to provide valuable work at the best rate he can get. He reaps what he is willing to invest in himself during training and the diligence of effort and skill he brings to his chosen craft, in a market where that work only has so much value to those willing to pay for it. The scope and scale of his life thereafter follows as the effect caused by what he is able to earn. What kind of life he can live in no way has any causative effect on the value of that work to the employer in the context of that employer’s business. The employee’s wage, WHATEVER it is, IS his living wage IF he aims to live and he had better live within those means until he can retrain or do better with the skills he already has. How much would an honest self sufficient man unwilling to take any handouts be able to work per hour and still survive? Take a small apartment at the outskirts of public transit near a modest city and live with five roommates, if you have to. Train to do better, work 60 hours a week. Is that too much work for someone who clearly needs to get their sh!t together? Not by a long shot. What about the leisure time, youtube, social media, and video games some are so accustomed to? Those are luxuries requiring free time, which is a reward for work done and must be earned. In fact I’d go on to say that even too many quite well off people are pulled into idleness and could in fact be spending much more time being productive in their lives. Your $15 per hour, so-called minimum, is a socialist propped up, lazy entitled spoiled infantile adult, expectation that has no basis in reality for any self-respecting hard working person. Like absolutely everything else traded in a free market, work is worth the value it provides to the party buying it in the context for which it is being purchased. “Living wage“? Wages make life possible. Live the life your wages can support and if you want more from life offer more or make more of yourself to EARN that life.
  20. Then that would be arbitrary! There would be no basis for the employer to offer $10 an hour, other than perhaps that it "felt right". If there is a basis, it should be rational. To be rational, one must do some kind of research or investigation into wages, such as what people expect, the value of your currency, everything that goes into determining the worth of something. Not only does this put you into a better position for negotiation, you are also better able to sensibly judge people and their value to you. I'm not saying anything about finding out what the market price is, this is all about finding the price you want to pay. We can't assume that the market price is unassailably rational. There are boom and bust cycles within capitalism and expected by Austrian economists. Someone more economically well read can add more details here. Whatever the more intimate details of that are, generally speaking, the fact that there is a boom and bust cycle shows that within capitalism there is room for error caused by innocent mistakes, and outright irrationality. I don't know what you mean. Maybe my next paragraph will clarify. If you're talking about spiritual values like DW mentioned, these are not subjective (based on how things feel). These are examples of irrelevant details that would not affect your calculation of what you determine the value of their labor to be. You seem to be mixing up so what I mean by determining what a living wage is, with determining the wage I would like to pay (or the wage that the employee wants). Living wage can only be determined by observation of transactions, as you were saying. The next step the rational employer should take when thinking about how they value their employees is figure out their other objectives, like employee retention, creative output, employee satisfaction, and so on. Force, not at all. Immoral, definitely. * I'm realizing now that one thing might be a little confusing. When I say "value" in this discussion, I'm referring to individual determinations about what something or someone is worth. When I say "market price", I'm referring to some kind of average about the monetary price people pay for something or for labor. A living wage would be based on several different market prices, including real estate and food.
  21. Let us say that another employer offers a job at 10 dollars an hour and some do accept and work is completed. (He might have gone up to 15 dollars an hour but there were takers). This is where a transaction has occurred, in reality. No research, no guessing. That was the price at that moment. Are you saying that some research somewhere is going to counter that determination? Based on what again? You only give examples of your sense, opinion, feeling and some appeal to authority. For some reason that is far more valid than the market price. Furthermore, that research that you talk about, has to be based on actual transactions that have been recorded i.e. market price. You can record their blood pressure, their other bodily reactions like brain waves etc. to determine what price should want. But ultimately, there is no way to determine price but via observation of transactions (voluntary decisions) that actually happen.
  22. I don't think so, but I think this goes into an entirely different discussion about how to act with certainty. The value of contextual approaches to knowledge is that they make it possible to act with absolute certainty, while leaving the probabilistic stuff as irrelevant. In effect, any action you take should be done with certainty. If your actions are not taken with certainty, then you didn't take enough time to evaluate or appreciate the situation. If you can't really know what your tactics will do, and you're never quite sure what will happen, sure, then any negotiation tactic you use is no more or less moral than another. Not only that, but you would not be a good negotiator. I know you aren't saying that you can't know anything at all, so my idea is that you are still leaving too much room for guessing and uncertainty. Why do you keep bringing this up when I already told you I think minimum-wage laws are immoral? The quickest way I can reply to this part is that it doesn't seem like you are thinking of academic research in the right way. Many variables are taken into account, including the ones you mentioned. Some are left out because they are determined to be nonessential. Making such a calculation is not normative on its own. The calculation would be descriptive of how people live in the US. You could argue that the calculation is done incorrectly, or left out an important variable, but you couldn't say that the calculation is arbitrary. For the sake of our discussion, I'm suggesting that the minimum worth of a full-time employee (if the employer determines worth in a rational way) is what it would cost them to live a basic life here in the US. Pretending for a minute that I'm an employer: I've determined (through research and whatever else) that a basic life in the US is a good and reasonable benchmark for figuring out the worth of my full-time low skill labor employees. Some of my employees might say they only need $10 per hour, but I still really think their labor is worth $15 an hour by rational standards. That's what I value their work at, it's not intrinsic value. So, I offer them $15 an hour right off the bat. There is no rational reason that someone would negotiate a lower wage for themselves, unless they really felt that they were worth less than $15 an hour. In fact, if an employee reacted like "oh, you don't have to do that, I'm not that good of an employee!", I would insist that they take $15 an hour. In my mind, they would be giving into altruistic pressure that they have been taught. I wouldn't want employees thinking that way at my company.
  23. One way or the other, we both have to concretize things. My going into detail, is an attempt at concretizing things, it is not an attempt at educating you in particular. I also have to determine if I am on the right track or not too. The other issue is leaving breadcrumbs for posterity. There is no telling who in the future will read this stuff, some beginners. In many cases people disagree, when they actually don't, they are just looking at things from a different perspective and pushing for their perspective as being the truth. One example is the following: Gamble in the sense that our knowledge is contextual, that we don't know everything at any moment. Gamble in the sense that there is always some risk level in any action. We all will have moments where we don't know what will happen but we chose to believe that "it will be okay?, simply to be able to function. It is a rational choice amid a psyche that contains emotions and desires that can paralyse you without the motivating thought. There are many business ideas that don't make sense to one person but make a lot of sense to another. And many high risk activities that have very high reward. Rationality and risk averseness does not always make you rich. When you go into business, you never know who will compete against you. You don't know what innovation is going to be discovered by "the other guy". So, you go forward with the idea that you can survive. Sometimes one is wrong. There is a minimum environment, an environment where you need so much nourishment and hope to live. But that relates to abject poverty in which a minimum wage would make sense as a punitive measure against an authoritarian system that is stealing the wealth. You would agree that 15 dollars is far above that minimum environment. In a free market, no one is stealing anything from anyone, a minimum wage that is enforced skews prices and takes opportunities from some and gives it to others. In other words the government is stealing from one group and giving it to another. It is a racket, like licensing laws that keep out other people. In our environment, it is an authoritarian attitude to think "I can determine what a basic life is for someone else". You can only determine what a basic life is for YOU. And even then, when push comes to shove, you may accept something even lower than what you expected to. "Living a basic life" is very arbitrary in the sense that: what we don't like, we can get used to. It is a moving target. It also depends on your knowledge of alternatives. If you don't have any better choices, it is the best choice. For instance, people can live with others and create arrangements that allow for lower cost of living and lower wages. In other words, people can change their baseline for "a basic life" based on the situation at hand. There are variabilities that are not taken into account with a blanket minimum wage enforcement ... or even its academic determination.
  24. The defacto $15, from what I read of the OP, is derived from the government welfare side of the equation. If government doles out $14.99 not to work, $15 to work might seem to be a converse position, yet that still wouldn't ensure that a penny is the motivating factor to go from the non-effort (or evasive effort) of acquiring the dole, to one of productive effort.
  25. What are you trying to ask me or point out? That passage is about minimum wage laws. I think ET was referring to the de facto (which doesn't involve force or laws) minimum wage that I've been talking about. But anyway, the number isn't arbitrary.
  26. Excerpting from The Ayn Rand Letter, Vol. 1, No. 23 Auguast 14, 1972 A preview—Part II: "The artificially high wages forced on the economy by compulsory unionism imposed economic hardships on other groups—particularly on non-union workers and on unskilled labor, which was being squeezed gradually out of the market. Today's widespread unemployment is the result of organized labor's privileges and of allied measures, such as minimum wage laws. For years, the unions supported these measures and sundry welfare legislation, apparently in the belief that the costs would be paid by taxes imposed on the rich."" What, philosophically, has changed since she wrote this?
  27. Some Comments on Rand’s Theory and Some Historical Notes Merlin Jetton would not want to count ordinal scales as measurement scales (“Omissions and Measurement” JARS Spring 2006). Similarly, on his view, ordered geometry and affine geometry should not pass muster as multidimensional measurement systems. I do count ordinal and other scales on up to ratio scale as measurement scales, I count ordered geometry and affine geometry as measurement systems, and in all of that I’m in league with the principal measurement theorists of the last few decades. Even if one did not think of ordinal ranking as measurement, it would remain that it takes the set structures the theorists have found for it, going beyond the structure for counting (absolute scaling). This makes Rand’s conjecture (her analysis conjecture presupposed by her formation conjecture) and mine (weaker than hers) an addition to the simple substitution-unit standing of instances under a concept that is common to pretty much all theories of concepts or universals. There are, I say, some indispensable concepts we should not expect to be susceptible to being cast under a measurement-omission form of concepts. Among these would be the logical constants such as negation, conjunction, or disjunction. The different occasions of these concepts are substitution units under them, but the occasions under these concepts are not with any measure values along dimensions, not with any measure values on any measure scale having the structure of ordinal scale or above. Similarly, it would seem that logical concepts on which the fundamental concepts of set theory and mathematical category theory rely have substitution units, but not measure-value units at ordinal or above. The membership concept, back of substitution units and sets, hence back of concepts, is also a concept whose units are only substitution units. Indeed, all of the logical concepts required as presupposition of arithmetic and measurement have only substitution units. Still, to claim that all concretes can be subsumed under some concept(s) other than those said concept(s) having not only substitution units, but measure values at ordinal or above, is a very substantial claim about all concrete particulars. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ These notes below do not go to the truth or importance of Rand’s theory (and its presuppositions), only to its originality or uniqueness and its relations to other theories in the history of philosophy. From my essay: In the years after composing this paper (2002–03), I learned of a “pale anticipation” of Rand’s measurement-omission perspective on concepts way back in the fifth or sixth century. My studies of Roger Bacon, a contemporary of Aquinas, led me to study Bacon’s mentor and model Robert Grosseteste (c. 1168–1253). The latter mentioned that Pseudo-Dionysus (an influential Neoplatonic Christian of the fifth or sixth century) had held a certain idea about the signification of names. From James McEvoy’s The Philosophy of Robert Grosseteste (1982): “[Grosseteste] reminds us that Pseudo-Dionysius himself at one point introduced the hypothesis that the names signify properties held in common, but subject to gradation in the order of intensity. Thus the seraphim, for instance, are named from their burning love; but it goes without saying that love is a universal activity of spirit” (141–42). Angels were thought to exist and to have ranks, I should say. Some kinds have burning love; others do not have that kind of love. The thought of Pseudo-Dionysius and of Grosseteste was that angels in the different ranks, angels of different kinds, all shared some properties (e.g. their participation in being, their knowledge, or their love) that the various types possessed in various degrees. I have located the pertinent text of Pseudo-Dionysius. It is in chapter 5 of his work The Celestial Hierarchy. The heading of that chapter is “Why the Heavenly Beings Are All Called ‘Angel’ in Common.” Dionysius writes: “If scripture gives a shared name to all the angels, the reason is that all the heavenly powers hold as a common possession an inferior or superior capacity to conform to the divine and to enter into communion with the light coming from God” (translation of Colm Luibheid 1987). To the preceding compilation of historical anticipations of Rand’s analysis of concepts in terms of measurement omission, I should add the case of John Duns Scotus. Continuing from Aristotle and Porphyry, medieval thinkers reflecting on universals and individuation held specific differentia added to a genus make a species what it is and essentially different from other species under the genus. Similarly, individual differentia added to a species make an individual what it is and different from other individuals in the species. Scotus held individuals in a species to have a common nature. That nature makes the individuals the kind they are. It is formally distinct from the individual differentia, a principle that accounts for the individual being the very thing it is. The individual differentia, in Scotus’ conception, will not be found among Aristotle’s categories. Individual differentia are the ultimate different ways in which a common nature can be. Individual differentia are modes of, particular contractions of that uncontracted common nature. “The contracted nature is just as much a mode of an uncontracted nature as a given intensity of whiteness is a mode of whiteness, or a given amount of heat is a mode of heat. It is no accident that Scotus regularly speaks of an ‘individual degree’ (gradus individualis)” (Peter King 2000—The Problem of Individuation in the Middle Ages. Theoria 66:159–84).
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