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InvisibleAgent Cooper
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Registered: 08/04/00
Posts: 210
Loc: right behind you
capitalism is loneliness [Re: Phred]
    #580705 - 03/16/02 06:15 PM (18 years, 11 months ago)

In reply to:

So when non-violent methods (strikes, boycotts, public censure -- none of which I objected to, you will note, since none involve force) of obtaining the businessman's belongings (his building and his machines) fail, your ultimate solution is to use force. "The ends justify the means."




No, if the factory owner continued to maintain his ownership of the means of production, the factory would be shut down. No customers, no workers, no public support - market forces. Strong pressure would continue and continue until the owner had lost any reason to own the factory (no profit and accumulating losses). At this point he could either absorb his losses and take a bus over to Capital City or negotiate with the workers and maintain some sort of role in the ongoings of the factory (a balanced job complex, of course). He would work.

I consider "robbery" and "human sacrifice" on different planes than workers taking over a factory. Do I support seizure by force of the workers themselves? Not necessarily. I can, however, understand that in some instances it would justifable - a private electrical company, for example, that is the only source of electrical power in the present time.

In reply to:

However, the websites to which you keep directing me do not agree with your largesse. THEY would not allow me to keep my kiln (or factory or farm).




I believe I have posted links only to the parecon site and the Anarchist FAQ. The parecon site is less revolutionary and more about creating alternatives in society that would act like gravity. The FAQ advocates revolution via general strikes, education, and worker's self-management. Now, do the websites simply state as you claim "you may not...?" Nope. All in all, the writings say, Here is an alternative to psycho capitalism that we like and think you should like to. Via democratic struggle and participation, we shall makes these alternatives a reality.

In reply to:

Who built the houses that are left sitting empty and given away for free?




Either we constructed them or they were abandoned by land-lords or previous occupants. As time passes and houses eventually wear away, more and more of the houses would be constructed by us. Where else would a house come from?

In reply to:

Who comprises this neutral body? Who chose the members of this body? By what standards do they reach their judgement?




Anyone who wants to help out in problem solving and advice can help out; in more populated areas the community can form such a council via delegation and in less populated areas those who volunteer to help out would; same standards as anyone in today's world who is an advisor (neutral observance of facts and rational opinion). Following the judgements are optional.

In reply to:

So force is okay as long as it doesn't kill?




Force is a last resort, reserved for extreme instances. Even though anarchists are hostile to authority, we do recognize the need for self-defense - we are not generally pacifists. Like I stated before, force in housing situations would be highly unlikely given the social environment, and the consequences of such force would be almost not worth the trouble.

In reply to:

Your comment about "an easily replaceable free house" intrigues me. In today's societies, a house is virtually always the largest single expenditure a person will make in their lifetime. None of the websites to which you have directed me explain where free houses come from. Can you?




Houses are either built by the individual or the community itself or left abandoned. The principle is occupany and use. In a capitalist world, purchasing a house is a major investment, but in a libertarian socialist world, there would be no land-lords, no comission agencies, no possible property taxes, no land held privately for profit, etc. A comparsion of housing in today's semi-capitalist world to what we envision is not accurate.

This provides homes for those who need homes without having to maintain a welfare-state.

In reply to:

...the automobile was a "possession", because you didn't make your living from it.




Correct.

In reply to:

In the GANG'S opinion, it is "property" because they use it as a means of production.




Just because the potential for minimal production latently exists in a "thing" does not automatically give them the green light to steal my possessions to exploit that potential. My right to my possessions comes first. Besides, I doubt they would even desire to operate a taxi service for profit due to a lack of a market and public disapproval of their theft. And I can always reposses my possession.

This is different than a factory that was already a means of production and had a thousand employees dependent on the owner for a living. Good try though.

In reply to:

To have your farm seized is hardly "voluntarily sharing" it.




Look at the Spanish Revolution - those who chose not to include their farms in the collective did not and lived as they pleased.

In reply to:

According to the websites you link, The Collective is the sole owner of the means of production. If an individual prefers to create and utilize his OWN means of production, it may be seized from him at any time by The Collective, since The Collective does not recognize his right to own it.




A free association would not be interested in some guy making his own widgets and trying to sell them so as long as his actions do not effect us.

In reply to:

What is the "local housing council" if not a government? Or the "utility council"? Or the "neutral body" who decides whether or not you get to keep your house?




A neutral body does not decide who keeps what. They would just try to settle the problem through advice. Whether the individuals at hand choose to follow their advice is their decision. Such bodies as a "housing council" are not authorities, rather facilitators that help you have a house. Think of them as realitors without the profit motive.



Edited by Agent Cooper (03/16/02 06:21 PM)


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OfflineEchoVortex
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Re: The United States is NOT Capitalist... [Re: Phred]
    #580972 - 03/17/02 12:55 AM (18 years, 11 months ago)

"In other words, you claimed that majority rule is the ONLY option available to human societies."

No I didn't. Minority rule is also an option, and one I don't find very attractive. The other option is to have completely homogeneous communities, like your example of the Amish. This obviously has no relevance to contemporary, multicultural, industrialized societies. My point was that in situations of majority rule, those who do not share the opinions of the majority will feel their rights are being impinged upon, and that, unfortunate as this is, it is an inescapable fact of majority rule. Unfortunate it may be, but still preferable to minority rule. You then countered that you were for NO rule. This doesn't make much sense, because you DO support courts, cops, and military. This leaves the question of who formulates the laws and who interprets them--this is a form of rule, the only form recognized by democracies. "The rule of law, not of men." Still, somebody has to draft those laws. Which once again brings you back to square one, of who decides what those laws should be--the majority, or a minority. It's really an inescabable problem, unless you do away with laws altogether.

"The history of the US from 1776 till 1909 is beside the point? Okay, then. "

I left that one unaddressed because I didn't want to embarass you. That was the lamest of the lot. Why not ask African-Americans about the protections of minority rights and opinions in the US from 1776 to 1909? Or maybe you could ask the Native Americans. Oh, I know, how about asking the Jews? The US didn't attain its growth during the 19th century by being a bastion of FREEDOM--it attained it through SLAVE LABOR, not only among the the actual slaves, but among the sweatshop workers as well. The fact that you can hold up 19th century America as an example of how things SHOULD be is a pretty damning example of your distorted view of history.

"You see the two worldviews expressed here as identical. I see them as diametrically opposed. "

I don't see the two worldviews as identical. They're self-evidently quite different. Where I see the resemblance is in the impatience with complexity, the belief that one sweeping prescription can cure a host of ills.

"Neither you, nor any group, has the right to force me to support any random individual."

No group has the right to force you to remain within a given nation and a given political system. Once you make the choice to remain within that nation and receive the benefits therefrom, you are making an implicit agreement to abide by the laws of that nation. If the laws of that nation, reflecting the wishes of the majority, include taxation for a variety of uses, including defense, including public works and infrastructure, and yes, including aid for those individuals who for whatever reason may be incapable of supporting themselves, you are free to take it or leave it. If you leave it, you also relinquish the benefits of living in that society: access to public health or public education, access to wealthy consumers who have the werewithal to purchase your products, access to parks and libraries and other public resources, access to an educated workforce to work in your businesses, etc. etc. All of these factors, tangible and intangible, make up "public society" and reflect the fact that if you make the CHOICE to live in a certain society, you have responsibilities to that society. If you don't like the way tax dollars are being spent, you can leave, or you can make TAX DEDUCTIBLE donations to the charity of your choice. Or you can play the tax evasion game, a game which becomes easier the more money you have.

In my last post, I listed three different political/economic systems under which I would be willing to live. One place I would never be willing to live, one place that would match my definition of a living hell, is a hypothetical nation in which all the citizens have extremely well-though-out rationales for their rights but have barely any idea of the meaning of the word "responsibility."


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OfflinePhred
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Re: capitalism is loneliness [Re: Agent Cooper]
    #580983 - 03/17/02 01:11 AM (18 years, 11 months ago)

Agent Cooper writes:

At this point he could either absorb his losses and take a bus over to Capital City or negotiate with the workers and maintain some sort of role in the ongoings of the factory (a balanced job complex, of course). He would work.

Or he could ship his machines to Capital City, strip the wiring and plumbing out of his building and collapse the empty shell.

(March 13) -- ... even a seizure of the factory by the workers themselves... is not fairly likened to "robbery".

(March 16) -- Do I support seizure by force of the workers themselves? Not necessarily. and Force is a last resort, reserved for extreme instances.

So which is your final position re the seizure of the businessman's factory? That of March 13 or that of March 16?

(March 16, 5:10 am) -- And if you produce a mass abundance of pottery... while the community is in the process of building their own kiln, even better. You can even try selling them, but I'm sure you'll just receive funny looks from people...

(March 16, 7:15 pm) -- I can, however, understand that in some instances it [seizure] would justifable - a private electrical company, for example, that is the only source of electrical power in the present time.

If the community can ignore my private pottery company (the only source of ceramics at the present time) while they build their own kiln, why can they not ignore the private electrical company (the only source of electricity at the present time) while they build their own electrical source? Why must they seize an existing one?

The (Anarchist) FAQ advocates revolution via general strikes, education, and worker's self-management. Now, do the websites simply state as you claim "you may not...?" Nope.

The Anarchist FAQ does more than simply state it, it repeats it ad nauseum, with elaborate "rationalizations", abundant quotes from prominent anarchists, and links to the works of writers who claim "property is theft" and "property is homicide".

Following the judgements are optional.

Then why bother to consult the council in the first place? Wouldn't a letter to Dear Abby be less trouble?

Houses are either built by the individual...

Which individual? The one who was expecting a free house? Does he get free tools and materials and free training on how to build a house? Where does he live until the house is complete? Or do you mean the houses are built by an individual who builds houses as a hobby in his spare time?

... or the community itself ...

Ah. A group of hobbyists, then.

... or left abandoned.

Abandoned by whom? Those who have moved to Capital City?

In a capitalist world, purchasing a house is a major investment, but in a libertarian socialist world, there would be no land-lords, no comission agencies, no possible property taxes, no land held privately for profit, etc.

Even in a society with no landlords, commission agencies or property taxes, building housing is a VERY expensive undertaking. After 75 years of practice, the Soviets never got the hang of it.

This provides homes for those who need homes without having to maintain a welfare-state.

EVERYONE needs a home. If one citizen is entitled to a free home, denying ANY citizen a free home cannot be justified. And providing the "necessities of life" with no charge to the recipients of these necessities is the defining characteristic of a welfare state. Even though your home builders do not pay taxes to provide free homes for others, they provide their labor that otherwise would have provided their families with goods. Same difference... either their bank account is taxed or their time is taxed.

Just because the potential for minimal production latently exists in a "thing" does not automatically give them the green light to steal my possessions to exploit that potential. My right to my possessions comes first.

Unless your possessions are things (wires, magnets, an engine etc.) with the latent potential to be used to generate electricity, apparently.

And I can always reposses my possession.

How? Through the judgement of a council whose advice can be ignored? Or through the use of non-lethal force? What if the gang decides to re-repossess your possession the next time you leave it unattended?

This is different than a factory that was already a means of production and had a thousand employees dependent on the owner for a living. Good try though.

I'm confused. In the factory example of March 13 and March 16, the thousand employees seemed to have no difficulty going on an extended strike, destroying the customer base for the factory's products, and risking having the owner move his stuff elsewhere... certainly not a process that will happen overnight. Now these same thousand employees are "dependent" on the owner for a living? Why don't they just build a new factory? A thousand of them should be able to accomplish the task pretty rapidly. They certainly seem to have no difficulty building houses.

Look at the Spanish Revolution - those who chose not to include their farms in the collective did not and lived as they pleased.

Then you WOULD object to having your farm seized by a People's Committee. Oh, dopey me! *smacks self* I forgot... the People's Committee WOULDN'T seize it, even though a farm is a tool of production (a farm produces food), because they didn't do so in the Spanish Revolution. But the People's Committee WOULD seize a soup factory (a soup factory produces food) because a factory is a tool of production. Once again I am confused. Wait, wait... I think I've got it now. The People's Committee would simply organize a strike of your farmhands, convince all your customers to refuse to buy your crops, and wait till you moved to Capital City. THEN they would seize the farm. I think I'm starting to get the hang of this.

A free association would not be interested in some guy making his own widgets and trying to sell them so as long as his actions do not effect us.

But as soon as the guy has employees, his actions DO affect you? For example the factory owner who has a thousand employees who have no way to support themselves without him. I think I am finally beginning to grasp the fundamental principles here:

You are permitted to own "property" (tools of production) as long as you can run that "property" by yourself -- a kiln or a fully-automated computerized electrical generator, for example. In this case, the generator is not truly "property". But if your tool of production is too primitive to be run by you alone, and you hire some employees, then your tool of production is transformed into "property", you are transformed into an "exploiter" and you are to be driven out of business through strikes and boycotts and public censure. Unless, of course, it is one of those instances where it is justifiable to seize your tool of production outright. I really DO think I am finally grasping this!

Such bodies as a "housing council" are not authorities, rather facilitators that help you have a house. Think of them as realitors without the profit motive.

I must confess I fail to see the need for such bodies if all one needs to do is a pick any house and move in.

pinky


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OfflinePhred
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Re: The United States is NOT Capitalist... [Re: EchoVortex]
    #581044 - 03/17/02 03:29 AM (18 years, 11 months ago)

echovortex writes:

My point was that in situations of majority rule, those who do not share the opinions of the majority will feel their rights are being impinged upon, and that, unfortunate as this is, it is an inescapable fact of majority rule. Unfortunate it may be, but still preferable to minority rule.

Not necessarily. For example, my rights would be less impinged upon if I were ruled by a king who stayed strictly within the boundaries of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights as defined by the Founding Fathers, rather than by a President, Senate, and Congress who ignore both, as is the case in the US today.

You then countered that you were for NO rule. This doesn't make much sense, because you DO support courts, cops, and military.

I agree that one of the frustrating things about the English language is that the same word spelled the same way has different meanings depending on the context in which it is used, but since I was responding to your point about majority rule vs minority rule, I thought it was apparent that I was using it in the same context you were : "rule" as in "to rule", "to command", as does a king or a dictator, rather than "a rule" in the sense of "a regulation" or "a law". I will try to make it plainer next time.

This leaves the question of who formulates the laws and who interprets them--this is a form of rule, the only form recognized by democracies. "The rule of law, not of men."

Actually, it is not a form of rule (command) at all. It is a protection from being ruled (commanded). But what if the laws are blatantly unconstitutional, or violate the Bill of rights? Such as the drug laws, the military draft, the segregation laws, and even slavery? All of those laws were enacted in the US. And, by the way, the US is not a Democracy. It is a Constitutional Republic, in which the members of the legislative body are elected by a (supposedly) democratic method.

Still, somebody has to draft those laws. Which once again brings you back to square one, of who decides what those laws should be--the majority, or a minority. It's really an inescabable problem, unless you do away with laws altogether.

It is an inescapable problem if one believes that fundamental principles and individual freedom are irrelevant, agreed. And the majority never gets to vote on the laws that are passed in the US. Further, even when a majority of voters DOES get to vote on a State law through a referendum, the federal government may strike it down. (Medical marijuana referendums).

Why not ask African-Americans about the protections of minority rights and opinions in the US from 1776 to 1909?

The rogue southern states (the agrarian slave states) were the ones who violated the rights of others, not the northern states (the industrialized capitalist states). The southern states even tried to secede from the union over this issue. A civil war was fought over it, if I recall correctly.

Or maybe you could ask the Native Americans.

The same Native Americans who used to torture and murder farmers? The same Native Americans who used to capture, torture, and enslave members of other Native American tribes? But let's put those instances aside, since by no means did the majority of Native Americans tribes indulge in these practices.

It must be remembered that most of this activity took place in parts of the continent that were NOT PART of the US at the time, hence not yet subject to Washington's authority. Some of these areas were not yet even Territories, let alone States. However, the way that private individuals, and some US cavalry commanders and even the US government behaved towards Native Americans is a national disgrace. A long legacy of broken treaties is something that must never be forgotten.

Oh, I know, how about asking the Jews? The US didn't attain its growth during the 19th century by being a bastion of FREEDOM--it attained it through SLAVE LABOR, not only among the the actual slaves, but among the sweatshop workers as well.

The sweatshop workers were not slaves. They sought employment voluntarily, even eagerly. Life in Capitalist America was no bed of roses, but it was infinitely better than in the Statist European countries they had fled. It was so much better that they would make every possible effort to bring as many relatives as they could across the ocean to what they called "The Golden Country".

The fact that you can hold up 19th century America as an example of how things SHOULD be is a pretty damning example of your distorted view of history.

Again, you seem to miss the point. You prefer to compare the relatively harsher conditions of the 19th century, when the Industrial Revolution and Capitalism were just getting started, with the relatively easier conditions of the 20th century. It is much more realistic to compare 19th century capitalist countries (England and America) with 19th century Europe. Or to compare 19th century England and America with 18th century England and America. You seem to respect empirical evidence and statistics. It just so happens I have a ton of them from this era. If you like, I can make a separate post to show whose view of history is distorted.

Where I see the resemblance is in the impatience with complexity, the belief that one sweeping prescription can cure a host of ills.

There may at first glance be a superficial resemblance, but that is all it is. The fundamental PRINCIPLE -- no man or group of men has the right to violate the rights of any individual -- is not complex at all. But the successful IMPLEMENTATION of this basic principle in every aspect of human interaction IS complex. Incredibly so. As you correctly pointed out, the formulation of an objective body of law flexible enough to cover all existing and possible future permutation of that principle is difficult, demanding, and requires minds of great intelligence, integrity, and foresight. Further, it must be an ongoing process, as new technologies such as birth control, the internet, and cloning (to name but three) have demonstrated.

No group has the right to force you to remain within a given nation and a given political system.

No group has the right to force me to flee the place of my birth in order to prevent my rights from being violated.

Once you make the choice to remain within that nation and receive the benefits therefrom, you are making an implicit agreement to abide by the laws of that nation.

Does this hold true of all nations? Like the African nations where the tribe in power systematically murders other tribes? Or like when Belgium introduced socialized medicine in the early 60s and thousands of doctors trying to flee the country were forcibly inducted into the army by a hastily passed law?

If the laws of that nation, reflecting the wishes of the majority, include taxation for a variety of uses, including defense, including public works and infrastructure, and yes, including aid for those individuals who for whatever reason may be incapable of supporting themselves, you are free to take it or leave it.

Of course. That does not mean that your rights are not being violated, or that you would not be better off if the government would obey its own constitution.

If you leave it, you also relinquish the benefits of living in that society: access to public health or public education...

I would rather pay a doctor when I need him. I prefer to be privately educated, and I have no children.

... access to wealthy consumers who have the werewithal to purchase your products...

I make pottery. I don't need wealthy consumers (who would be even wealthier if they weren't being taxed to death).

... access to parks and libraries...

I live in the country where there are tons of trees, and the library I use was endowed by Andrew Carnegie, not the government.

... access to an educated workforce to work in your businesses, etc. etc.

I don't need high school graduates to run my kiln.

All of these factors, tangible and intangible, make up "public society"...

All of those things are nice to have. But none of those things require tax dollars or government intervention in order to exist. Doctors, teachers, wealthy consumers, parks, libraries, and educated people willing to work for wages all existed before government decided that it had the right to involve itself in those areas. As a matter of fact, all those things exist in the Dominican Republic today, and no tax dollars are spent on their production. If the only way I can obtain those things is through the violation of the rights of others, I prefer to do without.

... and reflect the fact that if you make the CHOICE to live in a certain society...

Babies don't get to choose where they are born.

... you have responsibilities to that society.

My responsibility to the individuals who comprise that society is to refrain from violating their rights.

If you don't like the way tax dollars are being spent, you can leave, or you can make TAX DEDUCTIBLE donations to the charity of your choice. Or you can play the tax evasion game, a game which becomes easier the more money you have.

Or you can refuse to pay your taxes, and have other people's tax dollars support you in a federal prison.

In my last post, I listed three different political/economic systems under which I would be willing to live. One place I would never be willing to live, one place that would match my definition of a living hell, is a hypothetical nation in which all the citizens have extremely well-though-out rationales for their rights but have barely any idea of the meaning of the word "responsibility."

Since the majority of those currently living in those three systems have never even bothered to ask the questions "Does man need government at all?" and "If so, under what principles should it be organized?" much less expend the effort to find the answers, I think you will probably have all three options available to you for a long time to come.

pinky


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Invisiblemykal dylburt
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Re: The United States is NOT Capitalist... [Re: trendal]
    #596068 - 04/02/02 02:49 AM (18 years, 10 months ago)

you are seriously deluded.

your idea of capitalism is known as laissez-faire and has little to do with what capitalism actually is. capitalism is an economic system, not a political system, just as is socialism. the idea of them being linked can only be attributed to your (i presume) Western education (communism = autocracy, capitalism = freedom and democracy, etc.)

capitalism is an economic system based on private property (private ownership of production) whereas its antithesis, socialism is based on public property (public ownership of production.) there is nothing else under the nation-state: privatization and nationalization. a combination of the two is what most countries are. profits from private production are used for welfare, roads and the like.

the United States of America is _THE_ capitalist country of the world, in fact, the only reason why capitalism still exists to this day. there is not a single for-profit company in the US that is state owned--everything is private. that's capitalism. the political aspect is simply what the country has evolved into.

have you read "Wealth of Nations" ?

once again, capitalism = economic system , not political system. the false link created between these political and economic systems is the cornerstone of Western education.

capitalism : 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


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OfflinePhred
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Re: The United States is NOT Capitalist... [Re: mykal dylburt]
    #596151 - 04/02/02 04:59 AM (18 years, 10 months ago)

mykal dylburt writes:

your idea of capitalism is known as laissez-faire...

Whenever I use the word "Capitalism" with a capital C, it is to indicate that it is the pure, laissez-faire capitalism to which I refer... the kind that the Founding Fathers envisioned. It should not be necessary to use "laissez-faire" since it is a redundant prefix -- Capitalism is by definition laissez-faire -- but so few people today have even the vaguest idea of what Capitalism was that it is necessary to throw in the "laissez-faire" reminder every now and then, otherwise you get people arguing that the US of today is Capitalist.

...and has little to do with what capitalism actually is. capitalism is an economic system, not a political system, just as is socialism.

Wrong. Both are politico-economic systems. Ever taken a Poli-Sci course? Or even a grade school Civics class?

the idea of them being linked can only be attributed to your (i presume) Western education...

The Soviets and the Chinese and the Taliban consider Capitalism to be a political system as well. It is not a strictly Western point of view.

...(communism = autocracy, capitalism = freedom and democracy, etc.)

As for autocracy vs freedom, that is a given. If the State controls all means of production, there is by definition an autocracy. And, as I have pointed out before, it is not necessary for a Capitalist government to be a democracy. It is irrelevant whether the members of the government are chosen by popular vote, by drawing colored balls from a hat, or by inheritance. As long as the government restricts itself to the protection of its citizens and stays completely out of the area of commerce it is by definition a Capitalist government.

a combination of the two is what most countries are. profits from private production are used for welfare, roads and the like.

Correct. As the title of the thread indicates, the US is NOT Capitalist. Politically and economically it is a mixture of freedom and controls, of State-owned (or State-protected) commercial ventures and privately-owned commercial ventures.

the United States of America is _THE_ capitalist country of the world, in fact, the only reason why capitalism still exists to this day.

Sadly, it is true that the US is today the most capitalist of the major countries. There are other smaller countries that no one cares about who are closer to pure Capitalism than the US is today. Hong Kong was certainly a prime example, but Hong Kong is no more.

there is not a single for-profit company in the US that is state owned--everything is private.

Utility companies are owned by the various States. If they are not owned outright, they are protected from competition. Same difference... the only players in that field are those sanctioned by the State.

have you read "Wealth of Nations" ?

Yes.

once again, capitalism = economic system , not political system.

Once again, you are incorrect.

the false link created between these political and economic systems is the cornerstone of Western education.

It is no false link. Capitalism is as much a politico-economic system as is Socialism or Anarchism or Fascism. In a way, it is ironic to call it a politico-ECONOMIC system at all, since in a Capitalist system the government has no say in commercial transactions whatsoever. If anything, Capitalism is not an ECONOMIC system at all, since the government has nothing to do with the economy. It is STRICTLY a political system.

capitalism : 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

Would you care to quote the source of that definition? Any Poli-Sci professor (even a SOCIALIST Poli-Sci professor) will tell you that it is incomplete. But, even so, let's run with it for a while and see what it logically implies:

...characterized by PRIVATE or CORPORATE ownership of capital goods...

As opposed to what? COLLECTIVE or STATE ownership, presumably. In other words, the government has no say in the economy, just as I have maintained all along.

... by investments that are determined by PRIVATE decision...

As opposed to what? COLLECTIVE or STATE decision, presumably. In other words, the government has no say in THIS area of the economy either.

...and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a FREE MARKET

As opposed to what? Pricing, production and distribution of goods determined by the COLLECTIVE or STATE, presumably. In other words, the government has no say in THIS area of the economy either. So, even though this definition does not specifically point out that in a Capitalist system there is no government involvement in the economy, it is quite clear by implication that this is the case.

pinky


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Re: The United States is NOT Capitalist... [Re: Phred]
    #596678 - 04/02/02 05:03 PM (18 years, 10 months ago)

Uh, pinky, if you'll notice the guy was responding to trendal, not to you. Of course if you want to jump in you're free to do so, but when he asks questions like "Have you read The Wealth of Nations?" it's slightly absurd when you proudly step forward to answer yes, since the question was intended for somebody else.

By the way, I have a question for you. You maintain that taxation is theft and morally wrong. Yet you also accept that there is a need for a legal system, police, and national defense. Which begs the question: where is the revenue to support those government functions supposed to come from?

If it is from taxation, you should probably revise your condemnation of taxation to something like "taxation is morally wrong except in those cases when it is used to protect a nation's citizens from force, either internal or external." That, however, would be a logical contradiction because force is being used to collect those taxes in the first place. So you'd have to say, "taxation is morally wrong except in those cases when I say it is okay." But if you start attaching such qualifications, your position loses moral coherence. And of course, it opens the field wide open to debate, and you can be sure that everybody is going to bring his or her own agenda to the table. Many people will even dispute the necessity for police or the military, or argue at the very least that those functions receive far too much of the pie. Others will have a whole shopping list of instances when taxation is "okay."

So what other options are there? Should the government have bake sales? Or maybe the government should initiate state-owned enterprises? Or perhaps the government should play the stock market?

I really can't see how a Capitalist (with a capital 'C') such as yourself would accept such propositions. But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that you would approve, given the stipulation that the government is merely another market player, like any other, on an even playing field. That is to say, state enterprises won't be allowed to pull strings and jiggle the works in their own favor. This means that government revenues will be subject to all of the vagaries of the marketplace--which could very well mean that, oop! sorry! this neighborhood will only have police service four days out of the week. Or maybe we'll have to pull in our aircraft carriers for a month because we can't afford the jet fuel. Or that court cases will be even more backlogged than they are now. In other words, in times of economic uncertainty this could mean disruption of very essential state functions. A good recipe for disaster.


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Re: The United States is NOT Capitalist... [Re: EchoVortex]
    #596820 - 04/02/02 06:58 PM (18 years, 10 months ago)

Uh, pinky, if you'll notice the guy was responding to trendal, not to you.

Oops. So he was. My bad. I guess he read only the first post in the thread. That explains a lot.

By the way, I have a question for you. You maintain that taxation is theft and morally wrong. Yet you also accept that there is a need for a legal system, police, and national defense. Which begs the question: where is the revenue to support those government functions supposed to come from?

There are a number of alternatives. The proceeds from existing State lotteries alone would easily handle all police and court functions, and probably leave enough surplus to handle virtually all military expenditures as well... especially if the military were restricted to legitimate national defense functions, as opposed to "police actions" such as Viet Nam or Panama.

Voluntary contributions would continue to be accepted, of course. Today it is not uncommon for people to leave substantial chunks of their inheritance to hospitals, museums, universities, and other institutions.... including the IRS. People have left their entire fortunes to the government in the past, and more would likely do so in the future if they paid no taxes. Believe it or not, even today the IRS is the sole named beneficiary of a surprising percentage of wills. From the sentiments expressed in this thread and other similar threads in this forum it is reasonable to assume many Shroomerites will leave their money to the IRS, since they find inheritances and trust funds to be immoral.

Another source of revenue would be "contract insurance". Whenever a written contract, regardless of size, is executed between two parties, a percentage may (or may not) be paid to the government. The vast number of contracts executed daily, and the sums involved, would yield a considerable amount of revenue even at very low percentages... almost certainly less than half a per cent. If you choose to insure your contract, you may use the court system to adjudicate disputes arising from it. If you choose not to pay, then you are on your own in seeking redress for any perceived breach of contract.

These are three sources of income which involve no taxation. There are probably others I am too unimaginative to think of.

If it is from taxation, you should probably revise your condemnation of taxation to something like "taxation is morally wrong except in those cases when it is used to protect a nation's citizens from force, either internal or external." That, however, would be a logical contradiction because force is being used to collect those taxes in the first place. So you'd have to say, "taxation is morally wrong except in those cases when I say it is okay."

I have said already in this thread that any taxation used to support other functions is morally wrong. To presume that taxation will be required to support these functions is to presume that lotteries, contract insurance, voluntary contributions and other methods of raising revenue will be insufficient to cover their costs... something that has yet to be proven.

But if you start attaching such qualifications, your position loses moral coherence.

How so?

And of course, it opens the field wide open to debate, and you can be sure that everybody is going to bring his or her own agenda to the table.

What agenda? The only thing left to decide is exactly how many cops, judges, and troops are required.

Many people will even dispute the necessity for police or the military...

Those people are called Anarchists.

... or argue at the very least that those functions receive far too much of the pie.

In a Capitalist society, those functions receive ALL of the pie, if by pie you mean the government budget. No one else receives a dime.

Others will have a whole shopping list of instances when taxation is "okay."

As they do today. In a Capitalist society, their shopping lists are irrelevant.

pinky



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Re: The United States is NOT Capitalist... [Re: Phred]
    #597024 - 04/02/02 10:24 PM (18 years, 10 months ago)

"I have said already in this thread that any taxation used to support other functions is morally wrong. To presume that taxation will be required to support these functions is to presume that lotteries, contract insurance, voluntary contributions and other methods of raising revenue will be insufficient to cover their costs... something that has yet to be proven."

It is also yet to be proven that they WOULD be sufficient. Let us assume, charitably, that the 200 million adults in the US were all stupid enough to spend $5 per week on lottery tickets. That would bring in about 52 billion per year. State lotteries typically make a profit of 30-35 cents on the dollar, so the actual revenue from said lottery would be about 18.2 billion, assuming a 35% profit margin. The Defense budget alone of the US in FY2002 was 343 billion. Even if we assumed that the defense budget could be pared in half (an impossibility, but just to help you out) and assumed that lotteries could bring in 100 billion per year, there would STILL be a shortfall of over 70 billion dollars. This is to say absolutely nothing, of course, about the costs of police and courts. If you really think that contract insurance and voluntary contributions will make up the difference, fine, but why should I or anybody else believe it without any hard numbers? Besides which, the revenues from lotteries, voluntary contributions, contract insurance, etc. would be subject to the same fluctuations as state industries. There would still be the danger of disruption in services.

You say that there are other possible sources of income that you are "too unimaginative to think of." That is obviously an ingenuous statement: if you really believed you were that unimaginative, why would you be making proposals for the upheaval of government as we know it in the free world? It's easy to make sweeping proposals based on abstract arguments: the hard part is actually getting anything to work. This is a problem you seem to prefer to leave to others. This is also true of most Libertarian political candidates, which is why they're STILL never elected to national office despite the advent of the internet and other public access sources of media dissemination. It is not, as you suggested some time ago, that 99% of the people in this country are living with some kind of medieval mindset (i.e., the earth is flat) and that the Libertarians are the misunderstood Copernicuses of the 21st century.


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Re: The United States is NOT Capitalist... [Re: EchoVortex]
    #597198 - 04/03/02 01:36 AM (18 years, 10 months ago)

EchoVortex writes:

State lotteries typically make a profit of 30-35 cents on the dollar, so the actual revenue from said lottery would be about 18.2 billion, assuming a 35% profit margin.

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal a few years back that gave figures on the lottery industry. I don't know if the article is online anywhere. If not, there are probably figures out there somewhere. At any rate, the figures given in that article were substantially higher than 18.2 billion profit a year. You are the one who insists on empirical data and hard statistics. There is no point in either of us trying to GUESS what lottery revenues may be.

The Defense budget alone of the US in FY2002 was 343 billion. Even if we assumed that the defense budget could be pared in half (an impossibility, but just to help you out)...

A lot of people feel US military spending is much higher than it needs to be in order to provide for national DEFENSE. Could the US be defended from foreign aggression for less than $170 billion a year? It probably could, if the Pentagon stopped buying $600 dollar toilet seats and $125 screwdrivers, and maintaining overseas military bases on every little pissant island. What's the annual budget for the base at Guantanamo? Does anyone really believe Castro is going to invade Florida? How much did the Viet Nam war cost? The Gulf War? Did either one have anything to do with national defense?

This is to say absolutely nothing, of course, about the costs of police and courts.

In a Capitalist society, costs for police, courts, and prisons would be substantially lower. Gambling, prostitution, and drug offenses currently consume enormous amounts of money. I can't remember what the direct costs of the WOD alone are annually in the US, but I know it's higher than 18.2 billion dollars. Then there are all the subsidiary crimes... what percentage of burglaries, robberies, and murders are a direct result of the trade in illegal drugs?

If you really think that contract insurance and voluntary contributions will make up the difference, fine, but why should I or anybody else believe it without any hard numbers?

I am not in a position to provide hard numbers. Others more familiar with the US economy may be able to do so. What was the value of the contracts signed in the US last year? A trillion dollars? Ten trillion? More?

As for voluntary contributions, I can only speak for myself, but if I had to pay no taxes at all, I would have no trouble coughing up twenty bucks a week or so to pay for police and military -- I pay more than that right now on cigarettes alone. In the last year I paid income tax, (1987) I paid just under a thousand bucks a week in income tax and various compulsory "payroll deductions". In 1987, a thousand bucks a week was considered to be a fair amount of money. I would have no difficulty paying a fiftieth that amount today. Hell, in the 1980s I used to donate a hundred and fifty bucks a year to PBS and I hardly even watched TV. I gave 100 bucks a year to the local college radio station and I listened to it even less than I watched TV.

If a cheap single bastard like me would gladly pay twenty bucks a week for legitimate government protection, how much do you think someone with a nice house and two cars and a family and a successful business would pay voluntarily?

... if you really believed you were that unimaginative, why would you be making proposals for the upheaval of government as we know it in the free world?

I freely admit I am not particularly imaginative when it comes to novel ways of making money. But just because I personally am unable to think of new ways to make money doesn't mean that the mass violation of individual rights is correct. As for "upheaval", the erosion of liberty in the US was a gradual process. The restoration of liberties does not need to occur overnight. Just as so-called government "services" were introduced bit by bit, they can be eliminated bit by bit.

Finally, if you really believe the US is "free", there is no point in continuing. The US government controls countless aspects of your everyday existence. You wake up each morning on a mattress that bears a tag imprinted "do not remove under legal penalty" to the sound of your clock radio playing a station regulated by the FCC. The clock radio itself must meet numerous government standards for electrical devices. You brush your teeth with FDA approved toothpaste, then use a toilet that has a government-mandated low capacity water tank (unless you illegally smuggled an old-style one in from Canada, as so many people do these days). You eat your cereal with milk that comes from government subsidized cows (milk that hasn't been poured into the sewer systems to stabilize prices), then drive your kids to a government run school in your car equipped with government-mandated airbags, hoping the airbags don't malfunction and kill your kid. You stop to fill up with gas that brings the station owner a profit of maybe a cent or two per gallon, but 60 cents profit (taxes) to the government. You hope you don't get pulled over for your expired license plates, because a friend might have left a roach under the back seat. You get to work and piss into a cup and hand it off to the lucky shmoe who gets to test it for illegal drugs. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

This is considered "the Free World" ?

It's easy to make sweeping proposals based on abstract arguments: the hard part is actually getting anything to work.

They worked just fine in the US for well over a century. And, as I have said before, anyone incapable of thinking in abstract principles is incapable of deciding which form of government is the best.

It is not, as you suggested some time ago, that 99% of the people in this country are living with some kind of medieval mindset...

When did I ever say that?

I do, however, believe that most of the people living in the world today are pretty much indifferent to politics. Even people who are opposed to the WOD, for example, continue to vote for Republocrats, or choose not to vote at all.

pinky


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Edited by pinksharkmark (04/03/02 01:41 AM)


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Re: The United States is NOT Capitalist... [Re: Phred]
    #598874 - 04/04/02 07:28 PM (18 years, 10 months ago)

"At any rate, the figures given in that article were substantially higher than 18.2 billion profit a year. You are the one who insists on empirical data and hard statistics. There is no point in either of us trying to GUESS what lottery revenues may be. "

If you'll look closely, just to give your argument a fighting chance, I assumed a profit of 100 billion a year, even though it was 5.5 times what I think can reasonably be raised. Even if I assumed an annual 200 billion profit, it would hardly suffice to support even the most minimal government imaginable (The US federal gov't budget alone was 2 trillion--ten times that. This doesn't cover most police and court costs, which are part of state budgets. Even with massive across the board cuts, there's no way that courts, cops and police could be paid for with 200 billion a year).

As for contract insurance, isn't that what courts are for? So it's like saying you can only use the courts on a "pay-as-you-go" basis. If you don't buy contract insurance you have no redress in case of breach? And wouldn't that put an inordinate share of the government funding burden on business? I tried to do some research on contract insurance, only to find that it's exceedingly uncommon, if not entirely a hypothetical concoction of Libertarians.

"It probably could, if the Pentagon stopped buying $600 dollar toilet seats and $125 screwdrivers, and maintaining overseas military bases on every little pissant island. "

There was a big furor over that in the 80's. I haven't heard anything about $600 toilet seats for over 15 years. What I HAVE heard a lot about is low-ranking enlisted men whose families are below the poverty line because they don't get paid enough. Who knows? Maybe it's a media conspiracy. Anyway, 15-year-old soundbites hardly make for convincing debate.

"In a Capitalist society, costs for police, courts, and prisons would be substantially lower."

Thanks, Nostradamus. Yet another unfounded prediction. These costs could just as well be more expensive, as more consumers have to take take unregulated producers to court to seek redress for dangerous/deadly products, useless products, environmental pollution, and other forms of force and fraud which are averted to some extent today by federal oversight.

"If a cheap single bastard like me would gladly pay twenty bucks a week for legitimate government protection, how much do you think someone with a nice house and two cars and a family and a successful business would pay voluntarily?"

This is all anecdotal and therefore worthless. Neither of us may have the reams of hard facts necessary to build an airtight case, but in the final analysis the burden of proof falls upon your shoulders because you're the one arguing for radical (even if drawn out over time) change and arguing that it is feasible. Even in order to raise 200 billion/year every adult in America would have to contribute $1000/year through some combination of lotteries and voluntary donations--which may be less than they're paying now, but it is still not a given that they would pay it.

There will certainly be many people who will refuse to give ANYTHING. Sooner or later the existence of such people will come to the attention of those who DO voluntarily contribute to keep essential government functions afloat. Human nature being what it is, sooner or later those people are going to resent the fact that large numbers of their countrymen are enjoying the benefits and protections that should be a SHARED burden, but not carrying their share of that burden. In other words, freeloading. Sooner or later, those people will begin to insist that the freeloaders pay their share--in other words, COERCING those people to pay. In other words, reinstituting a non-voluntary tax. That tax may be a fraction of what it is today, but it will still be a tax. This is the way democratic (notice I'm using a lower-case 'd'--I know you're really picky about those things) societies work. You like to put words into the mouths of the Founding Fathers of this country that you don't even live in--well, I'll indulge a bit of that myself and tell you quite plainly that Democracy, in the final analysis, was a much higher priority to them than Capitalism.

"Finally, if you really believe the US is "free", there is no point in continuing. "

I apologize, I simply used the "free world" epithet in the standard sense of industrialized, democratic nations. No, I don't think the US is "free," nor do I think that any other country on this planet is "free." If it isn't the government breathing down your neck it's the warlords, the landowners, the vulture capitalists, etc. If I were a black person in the Dominican Republic, I would certainly feel a lot less free than you do, or than the hereditary white landowners (many of whom, by the way, go to socialist Cuba, not Florida, for their medical care, even though they could afford the US if they wanted it). It's true that DR mulattos have some upward mobility (certainly more than the blacks) but I doubt they feel extremely free either, or why would they be migrating in such large numbers to the US? Whether YOU feel free there or not is irrelevant; you are white (obviously, although I've never seen your face), you brought a lot of hard currency with you, and you're always free to run back to Mama Canada's socialist apron if the shit hits the fan. They'll take you back too, ingrate though you are.

"They worked just fine in the US for well over a century. And, as I have said before, anyone incapable of thinking in abstract principles is incapable of deciding which form of government is the best."

Anyone incapable of understanding that an expanding, rural, sparesely populated agrarian-economy nation is not the same thing as an economically saturated, urban, densely populated service-economy nation is also incapable of deciding which form of government is the best. You seem to have confused "thinking in abstract principles" with "applying rules or maxims without consideration of qualifying or mitigating factors." They are not the same thing. There are also various, and often conflicting, defintions of various abstract notions such as "justice," "fairness," "rights," "responsibilities," "natural law," "morality," etc. The very existence of the philosophical enterprise rests on the fact that even axiomatic abstract principles are contested. Just as an example, we can take the Kantian categorical imperative: "Act only according to the maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law." This sounds good until one stops to consider the fact that the 9/11 terrorists would have no trouble willing that the killing of people they consider to be accomplices and agents of evil become universal law. The categorical imperative would have done nothing to stop them from doing what they did. So perhaps we should revert to a simpler formulation such as "don't kill another human being, ever" but then what do you do if some madman is about to gun down a bus full of schoolchildren and the only way to stop him is to kill him? So perhaps then the rule has to be revised to say, "don't kill another human being unless it is to protect another human being" but what do you do then when some terminally ill patient begs you to help him take his own life because the pain is excruciating and he only has a month left anyway? So perhaps one should say, "don't kill another human being unless it is for a higher good," but one is left begging the question of how to define that higher good.

Individual rights are essential and good, but that doesn't mean that society has to write a blank check for every individual alive within its borders. For example, should a small child have the right to own a handgun? Or a battery of chemical and biological weapons for that matter? Let's say the small child has done nothing wrong and has never stated any intention of doing anything wrong with those weapons. Does he have a right to them? Perhaps using a child is not a fair example. Okay, should adults have the right to OWN nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons? Let's say a friendly, mild-mannered accountant with no criminal record wants to purchase anthrax, sarin, and weapons-grade plutonium. Does he have the right to own those things? After all, he hasn't hurt anybody--yet. He is not using force or fraud to obtain those things. He is not violating anybody else's rights in order to obtain them. He just feels that he would be happier if he had a basement arsenal of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. The Libertarian doctrine that people should be free to do what they want as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others would say, YES, he does have a right to own those weapons of mass destruction. I realize this is a reductio ad absurdum, but you yourself have said such extreme examples are necessary to test the validity of a philosophical position. What this example demonstrates is that the Libertarian position is sheer insanity.


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Re: The United States is NOT Capitalist... [Re: EchoVortex]
    #599085 - 04/04/02 11:29 PM (18 years, 10 months ago)

EchoVortex writes:

As for contract insurance, isn't that what courts are for?

Not exclusively, no. Courts also handle criminal cases.

So it's like saying you can only use the courts on a "pay-as-you-go" basis. If you don't buy contract insurance you have no redress in case of breach?

Correct.

And wouldn't that put an inordinate share of the government funding burden on business?

Far less than they currently pay in taxes (plus the overhead they spend filling in government forms). Any businessman would choose contract insurance over taxes in a second, believe me. Besides, businesses could choose to do without the insurance, just as many businesses today choose to operate without fire insurance or hurricane insurance or whatever.

... the burden of proof falls upon your shoulders because you're the one arguing for radical (even if drawn out over time) change and arguing that it is feasible.

And it falls upon your shoulders to prove it is correct to continue the mass violation of human rights by using an economic justification. It seems you are saying, "Government is allowed to violate your rights because it's cheaper than respecting them."

Even YOU can't deny that a government restricted solely to police, courts, and military would have an operating budget of far less than 2 trillion dollars a year, even if there were more civil suits being pressed by consumers. And, by the way, it is normal for the loser in a civil suit to pay court costs. No need to use funds raised by lotteries, voluntary contributions, etc.

Even in order to raise 200 billion/year every adult in America would have to contribute $1000/year through some combination of lotteries and voluntary donations--which may be less than they're paying now...

It's a LOT less than they are paying now. Less than a tenth, when you add State taxes, taxes on gasoline, booze, cigarettes, etc., and if your figure of 2 trillion for the federal budget is correct.

... but it is still not a given that they would pay it. There will certainly be many people who will refuse to give ANYTHING.

True. Just as today there are organizations and individuals who pay no income tax.

Human nature being what it is, sooner or later those people are going to resent the fact that large numbers of their countrymen are enjoying the benefits and protections that should be a SHARED burden, but not carrying their share of that burden. In other words, freeloading.

You mean like how some people resent the "freeloading" welfare recipients in today's society? How much of the burden do these recipients share? At least in a Capitalist society, those "freeloaders" aren't RECEIVING someone else's hard-earned money, they are just not chipping in.

Sooner or later, those people will begin to insist that the freeloaders pay their share--in other words, COERCING those people to pay. In other words, reinstituting a non-voluntary tax.

How would they do that? Mug them and send the money to the government?

You like to put words into the mouths of the Founding Fathers of this country that you don't even live in--well, I'll indulge a bit of that myself and tell you quite plainly that Democracy, in the final analysis, was a much higher priority to them than Capitalism.

Have you ever read the works of the Founding Fathers? I'll bet I am more familiar with them than the majority of Americans are. One doesn't have to live in the United States to recognize the brilliance of their work. And a foreigner can mourn the death of their achievement as keenly as any American citizen. Apparently more keenly than some Americans citizens.

The Founding Fathers were very aware that majority rule (democracy) is tyranny. That is why the US was set up as a constitutionally limited Republic rather than a Democracy. They took great pains to restrict what government could do, because they understood that the biggest threat to liberty is not criminals, but government. They designed a brilliant sytem wherein individuals can do anything not expressly FORBIDDEN, while government may do only what is expressly PERMITTED -- no matter how many people may wish the government to do more. In my opinion, it is no exaggeration to say the Founding Fathers created the greatest accomplishment in the history of the human race.

If I were a black person in the Dominican Republic, I would certainly feel a lot less free than you do, or than the hereditary white landowners (many of whom, by the way, go to socialist Cuba, not Florida, for their medical care, even though they could afford the US if they wanted it).

Ummm... so it's not okay for me to espouse the well-documented ideas of the Founding Fathers of the US, but it is okay for you to make assumptions about a country whose history you've never read? I doubt you are as familiar with the way things are in the Dominican Republic as someone who has lived here for a decade and a half. There may be some who go to Cuba for medical care, but I've never met one. Why would they? There are excellent doctors here in the DR. Most of the clinics in Cuba are lucky if they have aspirin.

It's true that DR mulattos have some upward mobility (certainly more than the blacks)...

The blacks here have as much opportunity as the mulattos. There are many black business owners I know personally here who have more money than I do. A LOT more.

... but I doubt they feel extremely free either...

You are really good at deciding how other people feel, aren't you? Dominicans DO feel free. The older ones all remember life under Trujillo, and the younger ones have heard about him from the time they could talk. We have the textbook contrast of Haiti right across the border, and Cuba is just a hop skip and a jump across the water. Not all Dominicans are well educated, but they are not fools. Damn right they feel free.

...or why would they be migrating in such large numbers to the US?

If Sweden and Canada and all those other countries on your Top Twenty lists are so great, why do so many Canadians, Britons, and Europeans migrate "in such large numbers to the US"?

Whether YOU feel free there or not is irrelevant; you are white (obviously, although I've never seen your face)...

Now that is an interesting statement. Actually, I am not white, although some of my ancestors were. Why did you presume I was? Because I am articulate, well-read, and I believe in freedom? Do you think only white folk can have those attributes? As an aside, I run into a lot of prejudice here sometimes because I was not born here. The blackest Dominican feels superior to any non-Dominican, white, yellow, or black. They are a very proud people.

... you brought a lot of hard currency with you...

I could have brought a hell of a lot more and employed a hell of a lot more jobless people if I hadn't had it stolen from me by government.

... and you're always free to run back to Mama Canada's socialist apron if the shit hits the fan. They'll take you back too, ingrate though you are.

Of course they would take me back! The Canadian government LOVES childless taxpayers who pay a thousand bucks a week in taxes year after year while never drawing a dime in unemployment insurance, welfare, or medical services (except for a checkup every few years). It's a sweet deal for them.

Anyone incapable of understanding that an expanding, rural, sparesely populated agrarian-economy nation is not the same thing as an economically saturated, urban, densely populated service-economy nation is also incapable of deciding which form of government is the best.

It was not the agrarian accomplishments of the US that made it the top dog. It was its industrial and scientific prowess. This industrial might developed in the century and a half that the US was still very close to pure Capitalist. How do you think it went from an empty, hostile wilderness to an "economically saturated, urban, densely populated service-economy nation" ?

You seem to have confused "thinking in abstract principles" with "applying rules or maxims without consideration of qualifying or mitigating factors." They are not the same thing.

What qualifying or mitigating factor is there for violating the rights of a peaceful individual?

There are also various, and often conflicting, defintions of various abstract notions such as "justice," "fairness," "rights," "responsibilities," "natural law," "morality," etc.

That is so. Obviously, some of those definitions are incorrect.

Just as an example, we can take the Kantian categorical imperative: "Act only according to the maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."

Kant was not a philosopher, he was a mystic, and a self-contradictory, incoherent one at that. He stated repeatedly that his mission was "to save fair faith from cold reason". Have you ever read Kant? I have. It was sheer torture. Not only was the man a loon, but an execrable writer to boot.

So perhaps then the rule has to be revised to say, "don't kill another human being unless it is to protect another human being" but what do you do then when some terminally ill patient begs you to help him take his own life because the pain is excruciating and he only has a month left anyway? So perhaps one should say, "don't kill another human being unless it is for a higher good," but one is left begging the question of how to define that higher good.

If you phrase those questions as an abstract principle rather than as specific concretes, the answers are clear. The fundamental principle is -- No human has the right to force another to act against his will except in retaliation to the initiation of force, and then only against the initiator. So, yes, one may shoot a hostage taker to prevent him from killing his hostage. And yes, if it is the wish of a terminally ill patient to have his life ended, one may end it.

Individual rights are essential and good, but that doesn't mean that society has to write a blank check for every individual alive within its borders.

Then why do you insist "society" has the right to force ME to write a blank check for any individual living within its borders? Who has the right to proclaim that MY life, MY effort, is to be used to support some crackhead who is too lazy to find a job? And WHO is society? Society is nothing more than many individuals. If any single individual doesn't have the right to take my money against my will for whatever he feels is a worthy cause, how do several individuals magically gain this "right"?

Okay, should adults have the right to OWN nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons?

No, because there is a clear difference between a sword or a pistol or a shotgun, which can legitimately claimed to be instruments of self defense, and WMD (weapons of mass destruction), which cannot. Since the fundamental principle I outlined above states that the only acceptable use of force is in retaliation, and then only against the initiator, clearly simple possession of WMD establishes intent to initiate force. In this case, the government has the right to confiscate them, just as they would have the right to pre-emptively disarm a man with dynamite strapped around his waist from entering a day care center.

What this example demonstrates is that the Libertarian position is sheer insanity.

What the example demonstrates is that faulty conclusions can be reached when fundamental principles are ignored.

It is easy to figure these things out when you think in PRINCIPLES rather than making decisions based on "whatever most people feel is right this week".

pinky


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Re: The United States is NOT Capitalist... [Re: Phred]
    #599640 - 04/05/02 02:55 PM (18 years, 10 months ago)

"As for contract insurance, isn't that what courts are for?

Not exclusively, no. Courts also handle criminal cases."

My point was that there is no need for contract insurance if that is what courts are for.

"Besides, businesses could choose to do without the insurance, just as many businesses today choose to operate without fire insurance or hurricane insurance or whatever."

Ah . . . thereby making it even harder for the government to raise the needed revenue.

"And it falls upon your shoulders to prove it is correct to continue the mass violation of human rights by using an economic justification."

Does any international organization or legislative body define taxation as a "violation of human rights"? Perhaps you do, perhaps Libertarians do, but most people, most human rights organizations, and most people who actually pay taxes, would not go so far as to call it a "violation of human rights." If I don't feel that my "human rights" are being violated, it's a bit absurd for you to insist to me that I should feel that way.

"You mean like how some people resent the "freeloading" welfare recipients in today's society? How much of the burden do these recipients share? At least in a Capitalist society, those "freeloaders" aren't RECEIVING someone else's hard-earned money, they are just not chipping in."

Yes, people DO resent freeloading welfare recipients, which is why, in the US at least, there has been a thoroughgoing welfare reform, carried out by a Democrat president no less. That resentment was translated into political action. It took time, but it happened.

"How would they do that? Mug them and send the money to the government?"

Do I need to spell everything out? They would do it by electing leaders who would reinstitute taxation, that's how.

"Have you ever read the works of the Founding Fathers? "
Yes I have. They recognized that "taxation without representation" was a great evil, and they fought it. They never said, however, that taxation WITH representation is a violation of human rights.

"If Sweden and Canada and all those other countries on your Top Twenty lists are so great, why do so many Canadians, Britons, and Europeans migrate "in such large numbers to the US"?"

Certainly not in the same numbers with respect to percentage of the population.

"Now that is an interesting statement. Actually, I am not white, although some of my ancestors were. Why did you presume I was? Because I am articulate, well-read, and I believe in freedom? Do you think only white folk can have those attributes? "

No, I thought you were white because you are smug, miserly (by your own admission), and believe that those who do not agree with you do so because they are intellectually impaired. These are attributes I associate with white people. I didn't mean it as a compliment. Call me a reverse racist if you want.

"Kant was not a philosopher, he was a mystic, and a self-contradictory, incoherent one at that. He stated repeatedly that his mission was "to save fair faith from cold reason". Have you ever read Kant? I have. It was sheer torture. Not only was the man a loon, but an execrable writer to boot."

I have read Kant. He is (and this is not just my opinion) one of the most important and seminal thinkers in the Western philosophical tradition. I'm not particarly enamored of his prose style, but he was an extremely methodical thinker who cut through a lot of rationalist claptrap by circumscrbing the limits of human intelligence. I'm sorry if you have trouble following his arguments, but your frustration gives you neither the right nor the authority to claim, ridiculously, that he was "not a philosopher." You betray serious misunderstanding here, just as you did when you claimed that Nietzsche is the philosopher of fascism. That the Nazis used and perverted Nietzsche's writings for their own ends is an undeniable fact (even the devil can quote the Bible for his own ends), but only the shallowest and most fragmentary reading of Nietzsche would lead one to believe that he would have supported Nazism.

"If you phrase those questions as an abstract principle rather than as specific concretes, the answers are clear. The fundamental principle is -- No human has the right to force another to act against his will except in retaliation to the initiation of force, and then only against the initiator."

So let me get this straight. If I own a store, for example, and a shoplifter steals my goods (without the use of force--this is shoplifting, not a holdup) I can't detain him? If somebody wants to sell crack next to an elementary school, I can't stop him? If a monopoly corporation or a group of oligopoly corporations engage in price fixing, they can do so? Give me a break.

"If any single individual doesn't have the right to take my money against my will for whatever he feels is a worthy cause, how do several individuals magically gain this "right"?"

How do human beings get rights in the first place? What magic or alchemy brings this about? In nature, "red in tooth and claw," might is the only right. In a state of nature, he who brings the most force to bear does whatever he damn well pleases, and those who are weaker answer to him. Rights only exist because a group of people have magically come together to agree that they should, and agree that they will protect those rights. Rights emanate from society. Either that, or they emanate from God. That's what the Founding Fathers believed ("endowed by their Creator . . ."). If one doesn't accept the existence of God, one must accept that rights emanate from society and a social contract. They certainly don't emanate from nature. I find it amazing that, as someone so concerned with rights, you have thought so little about their fundamental justification.

If rights emanate from society, then it only stands to reason that society can define certain responsibilities that accompany those rights.

"No, because there is a clear difference between a sword or a pistol or a shotgun, which can legitimately claimed to be instruments of self defense, and WMD (weapons of mass destruction), which cannot. Since the fundamental principle I outlined above states that the only acceptable use of force is in retaliation, and then only against the initiator, clearly simple possession of WMD establishes intent to initiate force"

If our friendly accountant believes that some foreign invasion is imminent, or that vast segments of the population are "out to get him," he can argue that pistols and shotguns will not suffice for self-defense. So, he would like to own just enough sarin to take out a thousand people, just for self-defense. The difference is simply one of scale, not necessarily of intent. The vast majority of firearms sold in this country are NEVER used for self defense. This is an established fact. They are used for recreation. The second largest use of firearms is for criminal acts. Self-defense (in terms of the actual number of times a firearm has actually been used) comes in a distant third. Since firearms are used far more often for criminal activity than for self defense, one could argue that simple possession also constitutes enough intent to justify limiting the ownership rights of recreational and "self-defense" owners. Anyway, I'm not interested in arguing gun control, but my point is simply that once you introduce the concept of "intent" you then create a need for interpretation. Interpretation is the act of applying fundamental principles to specific instances. It is not a clear and easy process, which is something you seem to be unwilling to accept.


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Re: The United States is NOT Capitalist... [Re: Phred]
    #600246 - 04/06/02 02:28 AM (18 years, 10 months ago)

holy fuckin shit man...

there's just so many great replies on this thread, covering so many areas,

Such staunch defences of capitalism!
Such intelligent rebukes of capitalism!

It's like reading a good book!

This is something I've much passion for, this phenonemon of society.

Capitalism, or whatever you call the present "system of America", seems to me like reincarnation of the old slavery. There's a lot of working poor people in the states. People who WORK HARD, yet only have just enough shelter and food. While the managers and shareholders can be multi-millionaires. Why can't we all share in the bounty? We should.





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CANADIAN CENTER FOR POLICY ALTERNATIVES


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Re: The United States is NOT Capitalist... [Re: carbonhoots]
    #600365 - 04/06/02 07:53 AM (18 years, 10 months ago)

carbonhoots writes:

Capitalism, or whatever you call the present "system of America", seems to me like reincarnation of the old slavery.

The current system of America is certainly not Capitalism. It is neither fish nor fowl. It is a mixture of ever-decreasing freedom and ever-increasing government control.

Opponents of Capitalism blame the ills of modern day America on the tattered remnants of Capitalism. Supporters of Capitalism attribute these ills to the rising tide of government control.

People who WORK HARD, yet only have just enough shelter and food.

Would there be less of these people or more of them if the government were to relinquish its stranglehold on the economy and on the personal choices of its populace?

While the managers and shareholders can be multi-millionaires.

Or lose everything.

Why can't we all share in the bounty? We should.

You DO share in the bounty. As just one of countless possible examples, the computer you typed your post on and the internet that directed it to this website were made possible by the productive effort of people who are now millionaires.

pinky


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Re: The United States is NOT Capitalist... [Re: EchoVortex]
    #600414 - 04/06/02 10:12 AM (18 years, 10 months ago)

echovortex writes:

My point was that there is no need for contract insurance if that is what courts are for.

Your original question was not what should courts DO, but how were they (and police and military) to be FINANCED.

Does any international organization or legislative body define taxation as a "violation of human rights"?

Of course they don't. It would be contrary to their interests to do so. Observe that the government violates human rights in more ways than by simple taxation. Is depriving someone of their freedom because they choose to eat a mushroom picked from a cow patty not a violation of rights? The WOD is financed by tax dollars. The Viet Nam draft was financed by tax dollars.

If I don't feel that my "human rights" are being violated, it's a bit absurd for you to insist to me that I should feel that way.

The fact that you don't feel your rights are being violated does not mean they aren't being violated. I don't insist that you should FEEL any way whatsoever. If you are comfortable with having your rights violated, fine by me. Others are NOT comfortable with having theirs violated.

Do I need to spell everything out? They would do it by electing leaders who would reinstitute taxation, that's how.

Ah. The tyranny of the majority once again. This is precisely why the Founding Fathers realized the necessity of a Constitution... to limit the power of government. In a Capitalist society, it wouldn't matter if one year the trendy thing to do was to elect representatives who were in favor of violating the rights of the populace, because the Constitution prohibits these violations.

No, I thought you were white because you are smug, miserly (by your own admission), and believe that those who do not agree with you do so because they are intellectually impaired. These are attributes I associate with white people. I didn't mean it as a compliment. Call me a reverse racist if you want.

Tsk, tsk... personal attacks again rather than addressing the issue at hand. Smug? How am I smug? I am CONFIDENT (not smug) that my points are correct, just as you are confident that yours are correct. How does that me make more "smug" than you? Miserly? I never "admitted" I was miserly... I have stated repeatedly that I donate VOLUNTARILY to individuals of my own choosing who are less fortunate than I. That is, however, irrelevant to the basic principles under discussion. As for "intellectually impaired", those who base their belief system on what "most other people feel is right this week" rather than using their own faculty of reason are not using their intellectual capacity to its fullest.

I have read Kant. He is (and this is not just my opinion) one of the most important and seminal thinkers in the Western philosophical tradition.

I have read Kant. He was (and this is not just my opinion) the inventor of one of the most hare-brained philosophical "systems" ever written down on paper.

I'm not particarly enamored of his prose style, but he was an extremely methodical thinker...

Kant may have been wordy, but he was hardly methodical. He is self-contradictory, disorganized, repetitive, arbitrary, and his theories bear absolutely no relation whatsoever to the observable facts of the universe. His entire edifice is based on faith rather than reason. I must admit I am astonished to hear one who insists on "empirical proof" express admiration for Kant, who offers not a single iota of proof anywhere in his work.

... who cut through a lot of rationalist claptrap by circumscrbing the limits of human intelligence.

Perhaps because he was a little shortchanged in the intelligence department himself.

I'm sorry if you have trouble following his arguments...

Oh, I have no trouble following his arguments. I had trouble DECIPHERING them, but that was just because I chose to read his works in their entirety. I had been told that most people's understanding of his "philosophy" was flawed, and that the only way to really know what he meant was to read him rather than read abstracts of his work by other commentators. Well, guess what... he really DID say all those things I had already read elsewhere, and the commentators were not misrepresenting his assertions at all.

... but your frustration gives you neither the right nor the authority to claim, ridiculously, that he was "not a philosopher."

A bit of poetic license there. It would have been better to say that he wasn't a SERIOUS philosopher.

You betray serious misunderstanding here, just as you did when you claimed that Nietzsche is the philosopher of fascism.

I never said Nietzsche was a Fascist. He was not. He was a Romanticist and a proto-Pragmatist.

... only the shallowest and most fragmentary reading of Nietzsche would lead one to believe that he would have supported Nazism.

Agreed. Nazi philosophy (such as it was) owed more to Kant and Hegel than to Nietzsche. I think it unlikely that Nietzsche envisioned all the potential ramifications of his philosophy.

If I own a store, for example, and a shoplifter steals my goods (without the use of force--this is shoplifting, not a holdup)...

Certainly force has been involved. The shoplifter has seized your property without your permission.

... I can't detain him?

You may choose to detain him until the police arrive. You may not shoot him.

If somebody wants to sell crack next to an elementary school, I can't stop him?

In a Capitalist society, drugs would not be illegal, therefore you may insult him, picket him, try to persuade him to move his business elsewhere, but you may not forcibly prevent him.

If a monopoly corporation or a group of oligopoly corporations engage in price fixing, they can do so?

Coercive monopolies cannot exist under Capitalism. They can exist only with government assistance. This has been demonstrated over and over again. The owner of a product has the right to decide at which price he will sell it.

How do human beings get rights in the first place? What magic or alchemy brings this about?

Man possesses rights by his metaphysical nature.

In nature, "red in tooth and claw," might is the only right.

This is true of organisms whose means of survival is instinctual. It is not true of organisms whose means of survival is rational thought.

In a state of nature, he who brings the most force to bear does whatever he damn well pleases, and those who are weaker answer to him.

Which is why the Founding Fathers were so careful to devise a system wherein individuals did NOT have to answer to those whose preferred method of human interaction was through the exercise of force.

Rights emanate from society.

Ah! The lightbulb illuminates. Now things become clear. If you believe rights "emanate" from society, then it is no wonder you hold the opinions you do. This deserves a separate post.

Either that, or they emanate from God.

If by God you mean the metaphysical universe, you are fundamentally correct.

If one doesn't accept the existence of God, one must accept that rights emanate from society and a social contract. They certainly don't emanate from nature. I find it amazing that, as someone so concerned with rights, you have thought so little about their fundamental justification.

Rights are neither a religious construct nor a societal one. They are a metaphysical attribute of each individual, just as are consciousness and volition.

If rights emanate from society, then it only stands to reason that society can define certain responsibilities that accompany those rights.

But since rights DON'T emanate from society, "society" has no right to define any such responsibilities. Your rights impose no responsibilities or obligations on me or anyone else except in the negative sense... I have an obligation not to violate your rights.

If our friendly accountant believes that some foreign invasion is imminent...

He should make this knowledge available to the military. It is their obligation to protect him from such an invasion.

... or that vast segments of the population are "out to get him," he can argue that pistols and shotguns will not suffice for self-defense. So, he would like to own just enough sarin to take out a thousand people, just for self-defense. The difference is simply one of scale, not necessarily of intent.

Not so. It is not a matter of "scale" at all, but one of "selectivity". WMD are by definition incapable of being used selectively, therefore by their very nature their use cannot help but violate the basic principle involved... the retaliatory use of force may be applied only to the initiator(s) of force. This is why all civilized nations have rejected the use of WMD.

Since firearms are used far more often for criminal activity than for self defense, one could argue that simple possession also constitutes enough intent to justify limiting the ownership rights of recreational and "self-defense" owners. Anyway, I'm not interested in arguing gun control, but my point is simply that once you introduce the concept of "intent" you then create a need for interpretation. Interpretation is the act of applying fundamental principles to specific instances.

The fact that firearms may be used for criminal acts does not make simple possession of a firearm proof of criminal intent. Possession of a Sarin gas bomb does. Yes, there is a need for interpretation, but one does not need to be a rocket scientist to make a correct interpretation in this case. Other cases may not be so clear cut, which is why the creation of an objective body of law is such a difficult task.

It is not a clear and easy process, which is something you seem to be unwilling to accept.

I agree that it there is some difficulty involved, and that great care must be taken to apply the principle correctly. However, if no principles at ALL are involved (other than such Pragmatist pseudo-principles as "whatever works", or "whatever is cheapest" or "whatever the current USA Today Poll says") then the task becomes not difficult, but IMPOSSIBLE, and mob rule wins again.

pinky


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Edited by pinksharkmark (04/06/02 10:19 AM)


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The Founding Fathers on Rights and Democracy [Re: EchoVortex]
    #600421 - 04/06/02 10:35 AM (18 years, 10 months ago)

echovortex writes:

You like to put words into the mouths of the Founding Fathers of this country that you don't even live in--well, I'll indulge a bit of that myself and tell you quite plainly that Democracy, in the final analysis, was a much higher priority to them than Capitalism.

and:

How do human beings get rights in the first place? What magic or alchemy brings this about?

and:

Rights only exist because a group of people have magically come together to agree that they should, and agree that they will protect those rights. Rights emanate from society. Either that, or they emanate from God. That's what the Founding Fathers believed ("endowed by their Creator . . ."). If one doesn't accept the existence of God, one must accept that rights emanate from society and a social contract. They certainly don't emanate from nature.

Okay, then... Let's see what the Founding Fathers' position was on the nature of individual rights and Democracy.

Prior to the formation of the United States of America, the State had been held to be the ruler of the individual, logically antecedent to the citizen and to which he must submit. The Founding Fathers reversed this hierarchy. Their starting point was the primacy and sovereignty of the individual. They held that the individual logically precedes both the group and the institution of government. Whether or not any social organization exists, each human possesses certain individual rights. And "among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" -- or, in the words of a New Hampshire state document, "among which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; and in a word, of seeking and obtaining happiness".

These rights were regarded not as an arbitrary collection, but as corollaries derived from a single fundamental right. Man's rights, declares Samuel Adams, "are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature." Man's rights are natural -- they are warranted by the laws of reality, not any arbitrary human decision; and they are inalienable -- absolutes not subject to renunciation, revocation, or infringement by any individual or group. Rights, according to John Dickinson, "are not annexed to us by parchments and seals... They are born with us, exist with us; and cannot be taken from us by any human power without taking our lives. In short, they are founded on the immutable maxims of reason and justice."

And "to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..." The powers of government are, therefore, limited on principle: government is forbidden to infringe man's rights. It is forbidden because, in Adams's words, "the grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defence of those very rights..."

In the view of the Founding Fathers, the State is the servant of the individual. It is not a sovereign possessing primary authority, but an agent possessing only delegated authority, charged by its citizens with a specific practical function, and subject to dissolution and reconstruction if it trespasses outside its assigned purview. Rather than being the ruler of man, it exists to prevent the division of men into rulers and ruled. It exists to enable the individual, in Locke's words, "to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of men, but to have only the law of nature for his rule."

"I have sworn upon every altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." Jefferson -- and the other Founding Fathers -- meant it. They didn't confine their efforts to the battle against theocracy and monarchy. They fought, on the same grounds, invoking the same principle of individual rights, against democracy, i.e. the system of unlimited majority rule. They recognized that the cause of freedom is not advanced by the multiplication of despots, and they didn't propose to substitute the tyranny of a mob for that of a handful of autocrats.

We must bear in mind, says Jefferson, that the will of the majority "to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression." In a pure democracy, writes Madison, " there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."

When the framers of the American republic spoke of "the people", they did not mean a collectivist organism, one part of which was authorized to consume the rest. They meant a sum of individuals, each of whom -- whether strong or weak, rich or poor -- retains his inviolate guarantee of individual rights.

"It is agreed," says John Adams, "that 'the end of all government is the good and ease of the people, in a secure enjoyment of their rights, without oppression'; but it must be remembered that the rich are people as well as the poor, that they have rights as well as others; that they have as clear and as sacred a right to their large property as others have to theirs which is smaller; that oppression to them is as possible and as wicked as to others."

The genius of the Founding Fathers was their ability not only to grasp the ideas of the period (the Enlightenment) but to devise a means of implementing those ideas in practice, a means of translating them from philosophical abstractions to political reality. By defining in detail the division (and limits) of powers within the government and the operating procedures, they established a system whose operation and integrity were independent, so far as possible, of the moral character of any of its temporary officials -- a system impervious, so far as possible, to subversion by an aspiring dictator or by the public mood of the moment.

The heroism of the Founding Fathers was that they recognized an unprecedented opportunity, the chance to create a country of individual liberty for the first time in history -- and that they staked everything on their judgment: the new nation and their own "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor." Since liberty requires the principled recognition and practical implementation of man's individual rights, Lord Acton spoke the truth when he said that liberty "is that which was not, until the last quarter of the eighteenth century in Pennsylvania."

pinky


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Re: The United States is NOT Capitalist... [Re: Phred]
    #600541 - 04/06/02 02:38 PM (18 years, 10 months ago)

"I have read Kant. He was (and this is not just my opinion) the inventor of one of the most hare-brained philosophical "systems" ever written down on paper."

Don't you mean Ayn Rand?

"Certainly force has been involved. The shoplifter has seized your property without your permission. "

He has exerted force on my property, not on my person. You may argue that my property is a metaphysical extension of my person. I could argue, in turn, that my psyche is also a metaphysical extension of my person. If someone were to insult me and hurt my feelings, that would also be a "metaphysical" expression of force, to which I could try to respond, physically, by tying him up and stuffing a rag in his mouth. This is where metaphysical definitions of "force" lead us.

"His entire edifice is based on faith rather than reason."
His entire edifice is based on defining what is, and is not, available to reason and human understanding through the mediation of the senses. You cannot even describe what his project is, so you resort to meaningless and slanderous labels. Kant was concerned primarily with epistemology; political philosophy contents itself to operate at grosser levels of understanding without considering the truly fundamental issues of ontology and epistemology that underpin everything else. Without those fundamental considerations, political philosophy winds up being kindergarten philosophy. I don't agree with everything Kant has written; I nonetheless recognize the scope of his achievement.

"In a Capitalist society, drugs would not be illegal, therefore you may insult him, picket him, try to persuade him to move his business elsewhere, but you may not forcibly prevent him."

I would rather spend my time working and making a productive contribution than picketing every single demented person who comes near my children. The society you describe is a patent absurdity.

"Coercive monopolies cannot exist under Capitalism. They can exist only with government assistance. This has been demonstrated over and over again. "

No Capitalist economy has yet to exist. How is it possible, then, that this has been "demonstrated"? More promises, promises.

"This is true of organisms whose means of survival is instinctual. It is not true of organisms whose means of survival is rational thought."

It has, unfortunately, been true of humanity for most of its history. It is still true today in many places in the world. The only thing that keeps it at bay is social cooperation.

"If by God you mean the metaphysical universe, you are fundamentally correct."

Please demonstrate the existence of the metaphysical universe.

"Rights are neither a religious construct nor a societal one. They are a metaphysical attribute of each individual, just as are consciousness and volition."

Consciousness and volition and verifiable facts, phenomena that are open to observation. Rights are a metaphysical construction, and such constructions, like monetary currency, only hold weight if enough people concur in their existence and essential character.

"Not so. It is not a matter of "scale" at all, but one of "selectivity". WMD are by definition incapable of being used selectively, therefore by their very nature their use cannot help but violate the basic principle involved"

Anthrax can be used selectively, as can certain chemical agents. So perhaps they should be legalized?

As far as your long disquisition on the Founding Fathers goes, it is very well put, very eloquent, and draws nicely on the words of the Founding Fathers themselves. In and of itself it is a wonderful statement of principles. The only problem is that nowhere does it directly address the issue of taxation, and how they felt about THAT.

Here is a quotation from the online Tax History museum project (http://www.tax.org/Museum/1777-1815.htm):

"Government inefficiencies encountered during and after the Revolutionary war, particularly with respect to matters of taxation and finance, frustrated a growing number of influential public figures. This group of nationalists ? George Washington, Robert Morris, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams, to name a few ? advocated a stronger central government to administer fiscal and commercial policies directly, rather than devolving control to the individual states. Nationalists had several concerns. The intransigence of states like New York and Rhode Island prevented the passage of a tariff, impeding the national government's ability to pay its bills. Furthermore, a number of states had decided to discharge some of the national debt on their own, undermining Morris's plan for the Confederation government to assume the debt burden unilaterally. But without a revenue raising mechanism of its own or timely contributions from the states, the Confederation could not hope to pay even the interest on the national debt. As early as 1780, Hamilton had warned that "without revenues, a government can have no power. That power which holds the purse-strings absolutely, must rule.""

The Founding Fathers, too, had to confront the daily realities of governance. Although the income tax as we know it in the United States is less than a century old, the government of this nation, throughout its history, has had to resort to various means of revenue generation, of which the most popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was the import tariff--which is certainly a form of taxation, akin to sales tax. This served two purposes: protectionism and revenue generation. Let this be clear though: simply because it is not a direct income tax, it is still a tax.


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The source of Rights [Re: EchoVortex]
    #600548 - 04/06/02 02:47 PM (18 years, 10 months ago)

echovortex writes:

Rights only exist because a group of people have magically come together to agree that they should, and agree that they will protect those rights. Rights emanate from society. Either that, or they emanate from God. That's what the Founding Fathers believed ("endowed by their Creator . . ."). If one doesn't accept the existence of God, one must accept that rights emanate from society and a social contract. They certainly don't emanate from nature. I find it amazing that, as someone so concerned with rights, you have thought so little about their fundamental justification.


I have already posted some quotes from the Founding Fathers illustrating their views on the source of rights. Here is MY position on their fundamental justification.

The source of rights is neither divine law nor congressional law, but the law of identity. Aristotle said "A is A" -- and Man is Man.

Rights are conditions of existence required by man's metaphysical nature for his proper survival. If man is to live, it is RIGHT for him to use his mind, it is RIGHT to act on his own free judgement, it is RIGHT for a man to work for his values and to keep the products of his work. If his own life is a man's purpose, he has a RIGHT to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational. Any individual or group who attempts to negate a man's rights is WRONG.

A right is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's (or woman's) freedom of action in a SOCIAL context. There is only one FUNDAMENTAL right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): an individual's right to his own life. Since life is maintained through a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action, the right to life means the right to engage in such action. It means the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, furtherance, fulfillment and enjoyment of his (or her) own life. Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The concept of a "right" pertains only to action -- specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men... ANY other men.

Thus, for every individual, a right is the moral sanction of a POSITIVE -- of his freedom to act on his own judgement, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice. As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations on them except of a NEGATIVE kind: to abstain from violating his rights.

The concept of "rights" is the concept that provides the logical transition from the principles guiding an individual's actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others. It is the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context -- the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of a society, the link between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.

An individual holds rights, not FROM "the Collective" nor FOR the Collective, but AGAINST the Collective -- as a barrier which the Collective cannot cross. Rights are a man's protection against all other men.

pinky


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Re: The United States is NOT Capitalist... [Re: EchoVortex]
    #600595 - 04/06/02 04:11 PM (18 years, 10 months ago)

echovortex writes:

He has exerted force on my property, not on my person. You may argue that my property is a metaphysical extension of my person.

That is exactly what I argue.

I could argue, in turn, that my psyche is also a metaphysical extension of my person. If someone were to insult me and hurt my feelings, that would also be a "metaphysical" expression of force...

An insult is not the initiation of force, it is an opinion you could choose to ignore. If I call you a fool, you may become annoyed. You may also laugh your head off, because my opinions are meaningless to you. On the other hand, if I steal your food, you die.

... to which I could try to respond, physically, by tying him up and stuffing a rag in his mouth. This is where metaphysical definitions of "force" lead us.

The initiation of force in the context of human affairs is easy to define metaphysically. If an individual is physically prevented by another individual from carrying out the actions he deems necessary to further his survival (always providing of course that such actions do not violate the rights of others), then force has been used. If I call you a dolt for carrying out those actions, it does not prevent you from carrying them out. Communication is not force.

You cannot even describe what his project is, so you resort to meaningless and slanderous labels.

You cannot even describe what Ayn Rand's philosophy is, so you resort to meaningless and slanderous labels.

Kant was concerned primarily with epistemology...

And it is precisely his epistemology which is fundamentally flawed. His epistemology is flawed because his theory of metaphysics is flawed. As you yourself say: "Consciousness and volition and verifiable facts, phenomena that are open to observation." Kant's "noumena" are neither verifiable facts nor open to observation.

If you wish to delve deeper into Kant's arbitrary constructs, I suggest we open a separate thread.

... political philosophy contents itself to operate at grosser levels of understanding without considering the truly fundamental issues of ontology and epistemology that underpin everything else. Without those fundamental considerations, political philosophy winds up being kindergarten philosophy.

Correct. This is why a proper political system must be based on a proper system of ethics, which must rest on a proper method of epistemology, which must be based an objective grasp of metaphysics. The political views one holds are ultimately a reflection of one's metaphysics.

No Capitalist economy has yet to exist. How is it possible, then, that this has been "demonstrated"?

If one has yet to exist, where is your empirical proof that monopolies are the inevitable result of Capitalism?

It has, unfortunately, been true of humanity for most of its history. It is still true today in many places in the world. The only thing that keeps it at bay is social cooperation.

In the societies where individual rights are most fully realized, it is kept more at bay than in societies where these rights are less fully recognized.

Please demonstrate the existence of the metaphysical universe.

The only way to do so is ostensively. *Gestures all around himself* There... there is the universe. It exists. You can perceive it with your own senses. You are currently engaged in debate with another inhabitant of the universe.

Consciousness and volition and verifiable facts, phenomena that are open to observation. Rights are a metaphysical construction, and such constructions, like monetary currency, only hold weight if enough people concur in their existence and essential character.

Rights may be violated by those who choose not to acknowledge their existence, and even by those who do. That doesn't change the fact that rights exist.

Here is a quotation from the online Tax History museum project (http://www.tax.org/Museum/1777-1815.htm):

"Government inefficiencies encountered during and after the Revolutionary war, particularly with respect to matters of taxation and finance... [snipped] ... As early as 1780, Hamilton had warned that "without revenues, a government can have no power. That power which holds the purse-strings absolutely, must rule.""


The Founding Fathers were new at the game of government. I imagine the concept of national lotteries and contract insurance never occured to them. Further, as early as 1780, it is unlikely that the treasury had yet had much in the way of bequeathments left to it.

The Founding Fathers, too, had to confront the daily realities of governance. Although the income tax as we know it in the United States is less than a century old, the government of this nation, throughout its history, has had to resort to various means of revenue generation, of which the most popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was the import tariff--which is certainly a form of taxation, akin to sales tax. This served two purposes: protectionism and revenue generation. Let this be clear though: simply because it is not a direct income tax, it is still a tax.

It is a tax, true. But there is a fundamental difference between taxing the productive efforts of every citizen (income tax) and skimming a commission on an imported product (tariff). In the first instance, property is being seized from its rightful owner -- the American citizen. In the second instance, the citizen retains all his property (currency), and is free to choose among several alternatives. I am partial to pottery, so let's use a clay pot as an example. Our citizen may use his currency to: buy an untaxed domestic pot, buy a taxed imported pot, buy some clay and make his own pot, rent a pot.

pinky


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