1049: "Bookshelf"

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pareidolon
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby pareidolon » Tue May 01, 2012 9:51 pm UTC

snowyowl wrote:
pareidolon wrote:
Gedankenwelt wrote:
Djehutynakht wrote:I'm confused. In the last panel, is he putting it back and escaping the critical room, or is someone else on the other side locking him in the room in a BHG-esque attempt at getting rid of everyone who doesn't share his literary tastes?

EDIT: Due to the lack of another "rumble", I'm inclined towards the second.

This should be a fun bookstore. I wonder what happens if someone picks up Twilight...

My interpretation is that a second person with a "terrible taste" shows up, and will get trapped while freeing the first person. Not sure if that makes sense, though...


Obviously, what is happening here is that the last panel, which is nothing but a perspective shift of the first, is his past self coming to pick out the book, at which point he will release his future self who is already on the other side, and who will then run off into the library while splitting up into every potential form of himself as altered by different experiences within the room.Angry nerd disclaimer: this is a satirical reference to another work and not my original idea.

What is the other work? It sounds badass.

Time Fcuk.

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Pfhorrest
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue May 01, 2012 9:52 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:I consider that a good feature, for a certain value of 'compromise'. It is right to be principled; and to compromise those principles, even for good ends, is wrong.
Objectivism, as I understand it, is less about principles and more about a paradigm concerning how the world works--Atlas Shrugged describes consequences of behavior, not ideals that should be embraced. I mean, the ideals are there, but they're a result of understanding how humans work and how we can best maximize human prosperity and happiness.

This is actually one of my criticisms of Objectivism as well -- trying to derive an 'ought' from an 'is' -- but it applies just as much to your proposed alternative. Objectivists and Communists alike, as you say, will often speak broadly of 'human nature' and try to derive moral principles from it. Even much more respectable philosophers like John Locke try the same approach (that guy named two whole books after the matter). You are suggesting making scientific observations about human nature instead of these broad sweeping generalized assumptions, but I contend that that doesn't really help because how humans are has no bearing on how humans ought to be.

"People are basically rational, therefore...", "People are basically good, therefore...", "People are basically self-interested, therefore...", "People are a conflicted mess of egotistic and altruistic, rational and irrational behaviors, according to meta-study XYZ, therefore...". It doesn't matter. I mean, those are facts about the world which need to be considered when plotting a course through reality to get to good ends, but they're no more specially relevant than facts about the availability of certain resources or facts about the weather or facts about the behavior of dangerous wild animals. Those facts by themselves tell us nothing about how anything ought to be.

(For clarity, unlike most who support this fact-value distinction, I don't conclude that all values are subjective and nothing is really any better or worse than anything else. In fact, I consider attempts to reduce values to facts tantamount to that. I consider some things to be objectively good and others objectively bad, some objectively right and others objectively wrong. But, unlike most who support that position without reducing fact to value, I don't conclude that those objective values are handed down from any kind of supernatural authority, either. In fact I consider that tantamount to moral subjectivism too. I think there is a method of investigating what ought to be which is perfectly analogous to, but still distinct from, the scientific method we use to investigate what is. But that's a long tangent of its own.)

Likewise, neither do any 'oughts' imply any 'is's. As others (possibly yourself) have said, reality doesn't give a flying leap whether you are good or bad, right or wrong. Good does not entail victory and bad does not entail failure, however much fiction would portray otherwise. Sometimes, even often, the good guys lose and the bad guys win. But that, in turn, doesn't say anything about who was good or bad; just who won or lost.
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drakvl
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby drakvl » Tue May 01, 2012 10:01 pm UTC

To the person asking about the Sluggy story arc: it was Kiki Shrugged.

Pfhorrest wrote:I agree that there are many people in the generally libertarian/free-market/capitalist/"conservative"/"Objectivist" line of thought follow a process like this. However, I think it equally disheartening that the other half of the false dichotomy argue from the negation of the absurdity to the negation of the obvious truth.


And I agree with you on this. It is disturbing how many ideologies are willing to accept True Belief as a suitable replacement for compassion.

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Karilyn
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Karilyn » Tue May 01, 2012 10:03 pm UTC

Kaylakaze wrote:Your kind thinks if someone dies from corporate malfeasance, it's perfectly fine since the survivors can sue them (at least TECHNICALLY they can, good luck having the resources to actually do it) instead of trying to prevent the death in the first place. ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES

No. Here is what I and (to the best of my knowledge) my kind believes.

1. The police cannot constantly watch all people at all times to prevent murder/theft/crimes. There is simply not enough resources to fund the police to do this.
2. Likewise, the government cannot create overseeing bodies to watch all businesses at all times to prevent them from resulting in the death of people, or stealing, or being negligent, or whatever. There is not enough taxes to go around, even if you had a 100% tax rate.
3. What the police are supposed to do, is investigate after a crime has occurred, discover the guilty party, and bring them to the court system, where they are tried, and punished to the full extent of the applicable laws that they broke.
4. The exact same thing should happen to businesses.

If someone dies from corporate malfeasance, then the person or people responsible should be arrested and tried for First, Second, or Third Degree murder, or manslaughter, and if convicted, be punished as anybody else would be. Most deaths which would be caused by corporate malfeasance would be third degree murders. This is the same as murders are handled when dealing with individuals. And that is what a death by corporate malfeasance is; murder. And it should be treated exactly the same way by law.

This does not mean you should try and regulate and watch every single aspect of businesses in order to somehow stop this. The fear of going to jail for the rest of their lives, should be enough to stop people in charge at a company from being negligent. If it does not, no amount of regulation in the world would stop them from being negligent either. We all know that you will go to jail for the rest of your life for third degree murder if you are on the cell phone while driving the car and strike and kill a child crossing the street; this unfortunately does not stop people from talking on a cell phone while driving their car, but it does insure that those who end the live of someone by their negligence, are punished appropriately for it.

If the system is failing to convict the guilty parties, then that is a flaw with the conviction process, and does not mean that you need to somehow constantly observe everything that any company ever does with eagle eyes to make sure they don't do anything bad. That doesn't work with individuals, and it doesn't work with companies.
Gelsamel wrote:If you punch him in the face repeatedly then it's science.

drakvl
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby drakvl » Tue May 01, 2012 10:11 pm UTC

pareidolon wrote:
snowyowl wrote:What is the other work? It sounds badass.

Time Fcuk.


In all honesty, I was thinking The Garden of Forking Paths. Borges rocks. He will be the reason when I finally learn Spanish.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby chenille » Tue May 01, 2012 10:22 pm UTC

Karilyn wrote:If you take someone's stuff, without an agreed upon value of exchange of either goods or services, then it is not your stuff, and still belongs to the previous owner despite being in your possession. That is the basis of the concept of theft within civilized society, and has been that way for thousands of years.

Of course if you take this principle yet want to have anyone in America actually own the property they actually do, you need to invent a reason it was ok to completely dispossess the Native Americans, the way Rand did.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue May 01, 2012 10:22 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:I consider that a good feature, for a certain value of 'compromise'. It is right to be principled; and to compromise those principles, even for good ends, is wrong.
Objectivism, as I understand it, is less about principles and more about a paradigm concerning how the world works--Atlas Shrugged describes consequences of behavior, not ideals that should be embraced. I mean, the ideals are there, but they're a result of understanding how humans work and how we can best maximize human prosperity and happiness.

This is actually one of my criticisms of Objectivism as well -- trying to derive an 'ought' from an 'is' -- but it applies just as much to your proposed alternative. Objectivists and Communists alike, as you say, will often speak broadly of 'human nature' and try to derive moral principles from it. Even much more respectable philosophers like John Locke try the same approach (that guy named two whole books after the matter). You are suggesting making scientific observations about human nature instead of these broad sweeping generalized assumptions, but I contend that that doesn't really help because how humans are has no bearing on how humans ought to be.
This is part of why I'll probably never get philosophy; this strikes me, again, as a problem with words--not with facts.

I have a goal; I want humans to prosper. I make some of my decisions as a moral animal based on that goal. Understanding human nature--understanding human behavior, human psychology, human needs, human wants--makes my decisions as a moral animal more effective. But these are otherwise unrelated fields; my understanding of human needs in no way informs my understanding of how humans should act--only how I should act to encourage prosperity.

How humans ought to act is something I've derived from how I feel about humans in general--I like them, so I think they ought to act in a way that increases their prosperity, their happiness, their joy. What humans are gives me the data I and others need to correctly bring about this result. Why can't more philosophies pursue their ends with science rather than presumptuous ideals? I suspect because if they did, they wouldn't be philosophies--they'd be simple statements of ends and a discussion about the best means to arrive at those ends. And I think that's a much more fruitful discussion than... well, whatever the hell is going on in this thread.

EDIT: Sorry if that comes off as a little dismissive toward philosophy; I'm kind of bitter about the whole field.
drakvl wrote:In all honesty, I was thinking The Garden of Forking Paths. Borges rocks. He will be the reason when I finally learn Spanish.
Guayaquil is fantastic, too. Pretty much all of Borges stuff is, though. It's like the Twilight Zone, but better--rather than a single twist at the end, his stories just twist and twist until you're right back at the beginning.
Last edited by The Great Hippo on Tue May 01, 2012 10:31 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

Kaylakaze
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Kaylakaze » Tue May 01, 2012 10:30 pm UTC

Jamaican Castle wrote:
Kaylakaze wrote:You're free to name a communist "regime" that wasn't interfered with by capitalists in general and the United States in particular.


What did the US ever do to the People's Republic of China? (Preventing them from taking over Taiwan notwithstanding.)

I mean, we (and by "we" I mean "MacArthur") did threaten to invade during the Korean War, but since their response was "bring it" I don't think that had much influence on the prevailing thought over there.

If you're referring to a more general sense that it developed in a world full of capitalism and is therefore indelibly marked by it (which it is), well, that's life. We don't know what the world would have been like if communism became the widespread economic system and then capitalism sprouted from within it, but since that's not the world we've got, such musings aren't of much practical use.

</ramble>


I'd argue that China is far from communist and very capitalistic. I'm not really sure how communist it used to be. I suppose the difficulty is in trying to untangle the web of inter-connectivity enough to say whether or not their society was heavily influenced by foreign capitalism. Did it force them to have to spend more on military than they other wise would? Did interference with their trading partners by the US cause significantly stress on their system? I don't know. What I do know is they have enough problems not related to their economic system that their economic system is almost irrelevant.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby J Thomas » Tue May 01, 2012 10:32 pm UTC

drazen wrote:
Typical black-and-white view, and completely not appropriated in rational self-interest, which demands pragmatism.


"We don't negotiate" only works when the other party wants to negotiate - like with kidnappers who ask for ransom - because they only gain something if you do negotiate.

Thieves, on the other hand, won't stop robbing just because you refuse to pay them, because they gain from the theft itself. The situation is completely different.


It's hard to negotiate with people who try hard to keep you from finding them. If you can establish communication there might be something worth negotiating over. It all depends. I don't want to be too doctrinaire about it. In an ideal world I would never have to deal with predators or parasites. In the real world, sometimes I can't afford to eliminate parasites but can only spend enough to keep them more-or-less in check. Better if I could get rid of them. Assuming they are in fact no doing me good in ways I don't understand yet.

Here's an example: I take a maintenance medication that's $300/month. If my insurance stops paying, I can still buy it. It would suck, but I could do it. If the government gets involved, they might say I'm not ALLOWED to take it, ruining my quality of life.


Maintenance med that's $300/month. If your insurance company paid full price that would deeply cut into their profit on you. But they don't pay full price. They have the clout to get deeply discounted rates. Companies that sold directly to you would naturally charge you extra, to help make up for what they don't get from the volume buyers.

Do you in fact need this maintenance medication? My wife was once put on an anti-anxiety medication, and whenever she tried to reduce her dosage she got anxiety attacks. The damn addictive drug caused intense anxiety as one of its withdrawal effects. That wasn't as bad as its use for epilepsy, though. It was marketed as preventing epileptic attacks, but the users found themselves stuck increasing the dose until they reached the maximum safe dose, and then when they tried to taper off they tended to get a lethal epileptic attack. She had a very bad month getting off that, but she was mostly OK after it cleared. That was an ideal drug for the manufacturer. A temporary monopoly. Patients tended to get onto it for life or at least a very long time. Patients got immediate punishment for missing a dose. Ideal. But maybe you will die without your own maintenance dose. How can you find out whether it is actually good for you? The professional who prescribed it is likely far too overworked to look into it in any detail.

I do not trust you or them. If there's anything in my life I'm willing to commit immoral acts to keep from happening -- it's that. But people like you are the danger to me, not a corporation that's raking in big profits. Your system is the one in which society would decide what is "enough." It's terrifying, and while it handles BASIC medical care very well, if someone has a serious problem, your system is the one where they are most likely to be told they can fuck off and die unless they're super rich. Your system is me paying more, for less.


I can sympathize with that. And yet you probably are not qualified to tell how good your medical care is. And I'm not clear what anybody ought to do about it all.

Also, if it weren't for many government regulations, health care would be cheaper. Their involvement can only make it more expensive or less effective. There will be no incentive for it to be cheaper and there will be no recourse when they do something wrong (you might only have a 1% chance of beating a corporation, but you have about a 0% chance of beating the government).


Yes, but look how we got here. We started with catastrophic medical coverage. You can't afford to pay for rare extremely-expensive medical procedures, so you pay in to an insurance scheme more than you ever hope to take out, and if you are one of the unlucky few whose insurance pays jackpot winnings, at least it doesn't bankrupt you.

But then it turned into payments for routine coverage, and the uninsured prices for routine coverage went up. Pretty soon nobody could afford to be uninsured.

And prices kept rising, to the point that most people couldn't afford insurance either. Employers paid insurance for whole families because they could afford it, they could pass the costs on to customers and also it was an untaxed business expense.

Now we're reaching the point that employers can't afford it either. The only ones who can afford medical insurance are the very rich and the federal government. Plus a few giant corporations that can dicker with the insurance companies.

It wasn't just the government that made it turn out this way. It's inherent in the medical insurance system.

And you're worried about the government cutting your benefits. If you get a catastrophic problem -- the sort the insurance was originally designed to deal with -- will they pay? Or will they tell you the fine print does not pay for the particular problem you have, and you can spend the last months of your life trying to get them to authorize treatment.... Of course this is better than the government. If it happens to you, it means you chose the wrong insurance company, or the wrong policy. You did carefully read those 70 pages of fine print legalese, right? You know what they say and you know what is required for them to refuse payment. So if it does happen, you will be in a great position to argue with them about the details.... :?

Well, any libertarian or objectivist is against corporate crime and collusion. We see government agencies as captured by one of two parties: (a) corporations, who write the rules in their favor, or (b) ideologues, who write the rules in order to impose their will on a society of millions. We view both as evil. We're usually more scared of (b) than (a), but we certainly don't approve of either.

Well, a true Randian would rather die than give in to a parasite, especially some low-life criminal. Of course, they'd also have taken practical steps to stop the criminals from having a good chance at hurting them in the first place. And they'd have taken steps to be ready for any lawbreaker who would confront them. If it's a robber and they're not home, they probably bought renter's insurance.


There's insurance, and then there's "insurance". Theft insurance might pay you for what's stolen, or it might merely pay the thieves to leave you alone (and to stomp on other thieves who enter their own territory).

I think you misunderstood my point. I was talking about how some industries die and new ones rise up. You don't want the same 4-5% unemployed all the time. Yes, there are problems: our uneducated factory workers are obsolete, and there's nowhere for them to go. It was more profitable for them to collect 99 weeks of unemployment than to take a pay cut. The standards most companies have for hiring have become absurd - not even considering the unemployed? Even I find that completely fucked up and can't explain it. It's not even in THEIR interests to do that, because they're creating a permanent underclass with deep resentment against them. This is one thing that I admit has me utterly baffled, because it makes no sense. I'd love to hire the unemployed. For one thing, I bet they'd be cheaper, and maybe out to prove something (rather than a job-hopper who's only seeking a payday and advancement).


I think it's partly the big-business mindset. If the one who's hiring is himself a junior manager, and he hires somebody that doesn't work out, that makes him look bad. Hire somebody who's unemployed and there might be a reason he's unemployed. He might have something seriously wrong with him. A reflection on your judgement, that you didn't notice and you got a bad result. But if you hire away a successful employee from another company to do the same job at your company, then if he doesn't work out there was no reason you should have expected he wouldn't. He was doing fine at the other company, right? The only little sign there might be some problem was that he was willing to leave and come work for you.... It looks absurd in the big picture, but junior managers aren't paid to look at the big picture. They're paid to look good and not take unnecessary risks.

But a pro-growth policy gives them (and everyone) somewhere to go. The alternatives to capitalism remove any incentive to work hard at all. If no matter how hard I work, my life never gets better, why should I work at all?


"Capitalism" as we currently practice it is deeply flawed. So are all the other traditional alternatives. So we need something new. I can suggest a few sentences to describe a little of what a solution might look like. There would be a society that was basicly capitalist, and there would be a group of people who created and enforced rules for effective free enterprise. These people would be somehow above the game, they would not care which companies "won". I'm not at all clear how to create such people, but I think a successful economy would somehow do that.

Governments have not done very well at setting and enforcing the rules for economies, so far. But that is not an argument for playing with no rules, or for letting cabals of businessmen create and enforce the rules. We need something new and better.


I think plenty of us has criticized regulatory capture. The existence of the government apparatus itself is what allows big corporations to skew the rules in their favor. When they aren't running the show, ideologues tend not to distinguish between huge corporations and the little guy, and drive up costs which stagnates growth, killing the golden goose that funds all the things that they want to use the government to do.


It's possible that big businesses can skew the rules in their favor even without government. We won't get a chance to test that until we get a society with big businesses and no government. It kind of worked like that in Iceland during the later stages. Not big businesses, but rich men with big farms tended to run the society for their own benefit. They set up the legal system so people couldn't do lawsuits unless they cooperated. The parallel system of trial by combat potentially allowed great mercenaries to kill people and win their farms, but a rich man could hire his own mercenaries to oppose them....

If I made a regulatory change, here's one idea: I'd change the FDA from banning things to rating them for their safety.


There are a whole lot of deadly poisons that I do not want to be openly for sale to anybody. So I want to keep something like the prescription system. The FDA has a lot of valuable expertise, probably better if they get to ban the worst stuff. Here's an idea -- get a whole lot of people who log into a great big online database and track their symptoms and treatments. When they die they get somebody to log their deaths. So when you get symptoms you can look at the database and get some sort of prognosis by seeing what has happened to other people with similar symptoms. See what happens to people who get different treatments. You'd have to be good at statistics to get full use of a system like that, but some things would just pop out. Particularly, ineffective drugs might tend to show themselves as mostly ineffective.

That way if someone wanted to take a risk with a new drug, they could -- but they'd be the one choosing the level of acceptable risk.


That's just fine when people pay for their own care. So, say we have a lot of people that the government pays for. Why not assign them randomly to experimental treatment? The treatments that look best so far get the most new tries. Then when a treatment is proven better than the traditional version, the self-pay people might choose to use it. Science works....

Here's another one: base the capital gains tax on the length of time an investment is held. You could kill short-term speculation overnight. Hold a stock/investment a day? Bang, 99% tax on profits. I can be reasonable when it's something like hedge funds, who are basically just gambling with society's money and well-being, and not contributing anything at all, while profiting from it -- and then getting bailouts when they screw up. I completely agree that situation is ridiculous.


Well done! I agree. I want to take i further. The NYSE was originally founded to be a trading monopoly. You couldn't trade on the NYSE unless you were a NYSE broker, and brokers were at first forbidden to trade on any other exchange. They make a whole lot of money off investors. Why do we need them? The computers and technicians needed to run a fair, honest stock exchange are not very expensive. Why not have a government-owned automated stock exchange? Publish the specialist's book. No brokers. (If brokers want to sell stock advice like racecourse touts, they can do that.) Any citizen can buy and sell stock, at no commission and no fee. Set up a simple tax system so the stock exchange can handle all the taxes for you, but as you say 99% or 100% tax on quick profits, very low tax on profits deferred until retirement etc. Short selling is easy -- if you want to buy stock at somebody else's price and then sell it for less, go ahead. The market would not be set up to maximize the number of transactions because it does not collect a fee per transaction. A private corporation stock market is designed to maximize their own profits. A government stock market could be designed to assist people in building retirement incomes.

However, nobody is approaching the problem in the right way - Obama's "drive up the marginal tax rates" isn't going to do anything, and the marginal rate will eventually hit the middle class due to inflation. So we need smarter solutions, rather than things that make people feel good, but have little practical value relative to our severe problems (the entire assets of every millionaire in America would only fund the government for something like 47 days -- so, yeah, it's definitely a spending problem, not a tax problem).


In good times, government can spend more than it taxes and have a good result. In bad times anything it does is wrong. We need good times, and for that we need cheap alternative energy. We don't know how to do that yet.

Anyway, I'm not even a pure Objectivist. I'm mostly libertarian, and more strongly a civil libertarian/individual liberty advocate than anything. For me, I do not believe others have the moral right to compel me to act the way they want, merely for existing.


I'm more a pragmatist. Others will try to coerce you if you are within the range of their power. You can try to coerce them back if you can carry it off. If you hate to conform even to a minimal extent, you need to live somewhere with no close neighbors. I don't care much about moral rights, it's what they'll do and what you'll do. To avoid coercion, be a hermit.

I will gladly pay tax on resources, but I consider a tax on personal income from labor to be corrupt and immoral.


I agree. Put it this way -- if a slave is allowed to get part of the income from his work and count that toward buying his freedom, it's wrong to tax that money. Similarly, it's wrong to tax a wage-slave's wages. Someone who sells stuff in a marketplace that he made -- it's OK to tax that. But tax wages? No.

And I definitely don't owe socialistic people a damn thing just because they want to get their way at my expense.


If you live in an autocratic kingdom, then you must pay whatever taxes the king declares you must pay. If you live in a democracy then you must pay whatever taxes the majority votes for or the majority's representatives assign. If you disagree, go find someplace to live that doesn't do that. I get the impression there are some people who live in yachts on the high seas. There are some disadvantages to being a citizen of the world. Monaco is supposed to accept citizens who don't want to pay a lot of tax, but I don't know what their catch is.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Kaylakaze » Tue May 01, 2012 10:35 pm UTC

Karilyn wrote:Possession alone does not indicate ownership. If you take someone's stuff, without an agreed upon value of exchange of either goods or services, then it is not your stuff, and still belongs to the previous owner despite being in your possession. That is the basis of the concept of theft within civilized society, and has been that way for thousands of years.


My point is where did that object that's being traded for come from in the first place? No one poofed it out of the air by magic.

By I see the point that your'e really getting at: not paying taxes is theft. Agreed.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby J Thomas » Tue May 01, 2012 10:45 pm UTC

Kaylakaze wrote:
jpers36 wrote:
My statement is no less factual than yours.


Yes it is. We've never seen a purely communist society, at least not on a large scale, that had no capitalism influencing them and we have seen purely capitalist societies with no communism influencing them.


I kind of think we've seen societies with no communism influencing them. In britain there was the early industrial revolution, for example. Unless you consider the Christian influence to be a kind of communism. But was it purely capitalist? As I vaguely remember reading, traditionally the king would give the salt monopoly to one of his friends to run, and his friend could pocket some of the money provided he gave lots of it to the king. It was easier to charge a monopoly market price for salt and kill salt smugglers, than to run a complex tax system. Is that level of nongovernment enough to call it purely capitalist, even though they had an aristocracy and a king and serfs and all?

Or would it be better to say that it was not purely capitalist and it was in fact influenced by christian communists?
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Kaylakaze » Tue May 01, 2012 10:47 pm UTC

Karilyn wrote:
Kaylakaze wrote:Your kind thinks if someone dies from corporate malfeasance, it's perfectly fine since the survivors can sue them (at least TECHNICALLY they can, good luck having the resources to actually do it) instead of trying to prevent the death in the first place. ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES

No. Here is what I and (to the best of my knowledge) my kind believes.

1. The police cannot constantly watch all people at all times to prevent murder/theft/crimes. There is simply not enough resources to fund the police to do this.
2. Likewise, the government cannot create overseeing bodies to watch all businesses at all times to prevent them from resulting in the death of people, or stealing, or being negligent, or whatever. There is not enough taxes to go around, even if you had a 100% tax rate.
3. What the police are supposed to do, is investigate after a crime has occurred, discover the guilty party, and bring them to the court system, where they are tried, and punished to the full extent of the applicable laws that they broke.
4. The exact same thing should happen to businesses.

If someone dies from corporate malfeasance, then the person or people responsible should be arrested and tried for First, Second, or Third Degree murder, or manslaughter, and if convicted, be punished as anybody else would be. Most deaths which would be caused by corporate malfeasance would be third degree murders. This is the same as murders are handled when dealing with individuals. And that is what a death by corporate malfeasance is; murder. And it should be treated exactly the same way by law.

This does not mean you should try and regulate and watch every single aspect of businesses in order to somehow stop this. The fear of going to jail for the rest of their lives, should be enough to stop people in charge at a company from being negligent. If it does not, no amount of regulation in the world would stop them from being negligent either. We all know that you will go to jail for the rest of your life for third degree murder if you are on the cell phone while driving the car and strike and kill a child crossing the street; this unfortunately does not stop people from talking on a cell phone while driving their car, but it does insure that those who end the live of someone by their negligence, are punished appropriately for it.

If the system is failing to convict the guilty parties, then that is a flaw with the conviction process, and does not mean that you need to somehow constantly observe everything that any company ever does with eagle eyes to make sure they don't do anything bad. That doesn't work with individuals, and it doesn't work with companies.


Given a corporation is at fault, who would you arrest? The CEO? The shareholders? the board members? Everyone in the organization? This is part of the problem with the concept of corporate personhood. You think because someone can't be on watch 24/7 that it's best to not have anyone on watch ever? You think because there are instances when a law will be broken that it's best to just have no laws then?

And who is even advocating watching companies all the time or pretending it's even feasible. The phrase "corporate oversight" isn't literal. The idea is you look and say "Oh, doing XYZ can have a significantly negative impact on the citizens that live near your pollution factory, so you're not allowed to do XYZ." THAT is government regulation. If the company does XYZ, then, even if no one got hurt, they've broken the law and can be punished. Without the regulation, they just keep doing XYZ until someone's dead and THEN the law steps in to stop them. Preventing a disaster is always better than cleaning up afterwards.

Edit: Or even better, from a legal standpoint, Company A is doing RST, company B does UVW and C does XYZ. All three of these plants are located near a small town. Now, it's known that RST, UVW, and XYZ are harmful and cause lung cancer, however, we don't want to have government regulation destroying their business, do we? So within the space of 5 years in this town, there are 20 deaths of children under 5 due to lung cancer. Who do the police arrest? They go to A and A says "You know how B is and their UVW process. It's obviously them." B says "It's C and their polluting ways" and C says "C'mon, you know RST is as dangerous as pure uranium." Legally, none of them can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and none can be arrested. 20 children dead and no justice is done. It's difficult enough to "prove" in civil court that a company who was known to be breaking the law and doing something harmful was responsible for a death. Criminal court has much stronger requirements.
Last edited by Kaylakaze on Tue May 01, 2012 10:57 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Karilyn
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Karilyn » Tue May 01, 2012 10:54 pm UTC

chenille wrote:
Karilyn wrote:If you take someone's stuff, without an agreed upon value of exchange of either goods or services, then it is not your stuff, and still belongs to the previous owner despite being in your possession. That is the basis of the concept of theft within civilized society, and has been that way for thousands of years.
Of course if you take this principle yet want to have anyone in America actually own the property they actually do, you need to invent a reason it was ok to completely dispossess the Native Americans, the way Rand did.
I do not think it was appropriate to dispossess the Native Americans, but what is done is done. This is hardly a unique thing in the world. Just because bad things have been done in the past, doesn't justify you to repeat those bad things because the people in the past got away with them.

In modern society, it is generally frowned upon for one country to take the property of another country by force. In the past, however, only the property rights of "the people of your nation/race" were considered to be valid. That doesn't make it right. Most educated people nowadays are aware that nationalism and racism are bad things.

Kaylakaze wrote:By I see the point that your'e really getting at: not paying taxes is theft. Agreed.
If you expect for me to disagree with that, then you're wrong. I think it is inappropriate to not pay taxes which are required by law. That does not mean that I cannot disapprove of the form of a specific tax.

Rule of thumb: Breaking a law is bad even if the law itself is bad. You obey the law while simultaneously working to change the law. Only in extreme circumstances should this not be done.
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Karilyn » Tue May 01, 2012 11:16 pm UTC

Kaylakaze wrote:Given a corporation is at fault, who would you arrest? The CEO? The shareholders? the board members? Everyone in the organization? This is part of the problem with the concept of corporate personhood.
The person the order came from to do the stupid thing. Typically this would be the person immediately overseeing the event.

Kaylakaze wrote:You think because someone can't be on watch 24/7 that it's best to not have anyone on watch ever?
Yes, with the possible exception of very dangerous situations. How is this any different from how we handle laws with individuals? Police are ONLY on watch in high risk areas, and even then it's basically nothing more than drive around the block of a neighborhood where there are regularly break-ins once or twice a night. What makes you think that it's feasible to do more than that for businesses too?

Kaylakaze wrote:You think because there are instances when a law will be broken that it's best to just have no laws then?
No. Nothing I said remotely resembled that statement. Laws are in place not to be enforced proactively; no law has ever succeeded in this task. Laws are in place to be enforced reactively; to have it written in stone before hand that "If you do this, you will be punished." And then if the legal system is functioning correctly, people are punished when they do what was written in the law to not do.

Kaylakaze wrote:And who is even advocating watching companies all the time or pretending it's even feasible.
Politicians in Washington.

Kaylakaze wrote:The idea is you look and say "Oh, doing XYZ can have a significantly negative impact on the citizens that live near your pollution factory, so you're not allowed to do XYZ." THAT is government regulation. If the company does XYZ, then, even if no one got hurt, they've broken the law and can be punished.
I agree that this is how it should be done. Unfortunately this is not how it is done. Regulatory committees are created, at great expense to tax payers, who are in a constant state of auditing companies for XYZ, and requiring companies to maintain extensive documentation about XYZ, and generally causing a big muck of bureaucratic bullcrap.

If it was done exactly as you just said, then I'm 100% supportive of it. And it is sometimes done like that. Unfortunately, when it's done neatly and cleanly like you just said, is extremely uncommon. And when government regulations involve complex regulatory committees and expensive oversight and bureaucratic red tape, THAT is when I criticize the law, regardless of the quality of the law.

I don't care if the law said "Companies should not use human babies as a filler in ground beef," if the same law also required that a regulatory committee be created that maintains oversight of beef companies (and all other meat companies to make sure they aren't supplying the ground beef companies with human babies), and requiring hundreds of pages of documentation by the ground beef companies every month to prove that they are not using human babies as filler, and then fining the company massive amounts of money should they even miss a single comma in their documentation. If the same law is requiring that sort of nonsensical bureaucratic bullcrap, then I would protest to the law on that principle.

Only when government regulation is done cleanly and without bureaucracy, in the form you described, is it a good thing, no matter how well intentioned the regulation is.
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Jamaican Castle » Wed May 02, 2012 12:20 am UTC

Karilyn wrote:I don't care if the law said "Companies should not use human babies as a filler in ground beef," if the same law also required that a regulatory committee be created that maintains oversight of beef companies (and all other meat companies to make sure they aren't supplying the ground beef companies with human babies), and requiring hundreds of pages of documentation by the ground beef companies every month to prove that they are not using human babies as filler, and then fining the company massive amounts of money should they even miss a single comma in their documentation. If the same law is requiring that sort of nonsensical bureaucratic bullcrap, then I would protest to the law on that principle.

Only when government regulation is done cleanly and without bureaucracy, in the form you described, is it a good thing, no matter how well intentioned the regulation is.


How, then, do you propose to enforce such a regulation without bureaucracy? If pass a law forbidding companies from grinding up babies as ground beef, and then do nothing to enforce it, you might as well not have bothered. Because companies would continue to be able to grind up babies to their heart's content - who's going to stop them?

Also, let's take something a little less all-or-nothing than ground babies. Let's say there's a factory that's producing, oh, I don't know, a bunch of CO2. You go to them and say, "stop producing CO2" and they say "we can't do that, it's not physically possible to run this business without some of it" and you finally compromise that they can release a little bit, but not too much. How do you decide how much is too much? Most legislators aren't qualified to make that judgment, nor do they have time to become qualified. So they create a bureau that will find qualified people to do nothing but decide how much CO2 that factory can safely and/or legally spew out.

It's one thing to say, "there should be less paperwork in the bureaucracy". That's fine and admirable (if not necessarily realistic). It's fine to say, "bureaucracy needs to be more efficient and responsive". But you can't simply call for an end to it as though bureaucracy were the equivalent of grinding up babies. The country wouldn't function without it.


I apologize for egregious overuse of the world "bureaucracy", also "grinding babies".

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby J Thomas » Wed May 02, 2012 12:35 am UTC

Kaylakaze wrote:What did the US ever do to the People's Republic of China? (Preventing them from taking over Taiwan notwithstanding.)


I see you are not familiar with recent chinese history.

At the turn of 1900, China was still officially run by descendents of the Mongols who had taken it over centuries before. They allowed a lot of capitalism in china, though of course they had an entirely authoritarian government. But foreigners with advanced weapons had come in and taken over a lot, and the effete Mongols couldn't do much about it. Various rebellions tried to drive the foreigners out (the two opium wars, the boxer rebellion, the taiping rebellion, etc. The foreigners easily defeated chinese armies, and they defeated fanatical nationalists as well -- with more difficulty. The foreigners enforced capitalism, for example by not allowing the chinese government to regulate opium imports. Finally the chinese public got so disgusted with the Mongol regime that they overthrew it. Sun Yat Sen got a lot of popular support, but the various generals ran their own areas because they had armies who obeyed them and Sun Yat Sen mostly did not. (He had a peculiarly chinese idea of democracy -- for example he wanted an elected censor who would make sure that bad things did not get published.) In the confusion, chinese communists started organizing the peasants that everyone else tended to ignore.

Manchuria had everything needed to make iron, and Japan needed iron. Japan took what they needed, brushing aside the chinese armies. The USA started to unofficially supply china with assistance against the japanese. We picked Chiang Kai Shek to be the chinese leader who could beat japan. He claimed to be Sun Yat Sen's spiritual heir and he had a big army. When the USA got into WWII we tried to send more supplies to China and train chinese troops but we had a lot of problems. We wanted to build a road across northern Burma (Myanmar) to China but failed for a long time. The japanese army kept winning and expanding their territory, so they controlled more starving chinese peasants that were no use to them. We did wear them down considerably, so that after Hiroshima the USSR managed to quickly conquer most of the land the japanese had taken, and sent large numbers of japanese soldiers to siberia where they tended to die. They also gave supplies to various communists in Manchuria etc.

After the war we kept supplying Chiang. He was supposed to subdue the other warlords and unify china. We would have a capitalist china with US airbases to threaten eastern USSR. But the communists kept winning or something. Chiang had an organization that could suppress other warlords, but he didn't know how to suppress terrorists among the peasants. It didn't work to kill all the peasants that had communists among them -- that got the survivors upset and ready to join the communists. Chiang asked for more supplies but nothing worked. Chiang retreated to an offshore island with our help. The USA then had a great big argument about "Who lost china?". We figured the rise of communism in china must be some american's fault. We declared the chinese communist government a rogue state and tried to get the world not to recognize them as a nation or trade with them. We insisted that taiwan was china and taiwan got china's security council seat in the UN. We were implacably hostile to red china, reasonably enough since they aligned with the USSR instead of with us, and all the money we spent to help Chiang suppress his peasants was wasted.

You ask what did we ever do to them? We did our level best to get all their leaders killed before they could take over china. We did the best we knew how to help Chiang Kai Shek kill them. We gave him artillery and airplanes and bombs hoping he would kill enough communists that he could rule china. After he failed, for a long time we tried to arm taiwan in the hope that when china collapsed they could come back and the population would support them and they could take over china again.

I'd argue that China is far from communist and very capitalistic. I'm not really sure how communist it used to be.


They killed a bunch of bankers and industrialists for being bankers and industrialists. They set up collective farms. Etc. You seem to be pretty ignorant about this stuff. As I heard it, today they have subjected 1/3 of their economy to crony capitalists. Vastly rich men who set up giant factories where peasants can work cheap. They have set up a crooked stock market where chinese citizens bet their money and lose it. They have set up a predatory banking system. They have a mercantilist international economic policy. It's like they studied their communist texts about the evil things capitalists did, and now they are systematically doing them with a vengeance -- to themselves and to us. I don't know where it's heading really, but I can easily imagine they intend to suddenly stop and point out to their people that the catastrophe they are (will be) having is precisely what they said all along comes from capitalism. Then they can shoot their billionaires and change course again.

I suppose the difficulty is in trying to untangle the web of inter-connectivity enough to say whether or not their society was heavily influenced by foreign capitalism.


In the old days, when they were forced to allow unlimited imports into china by foreigners, of everything including opium, that was a heavy influence.

Did it force them to have to spend more on military than they other wise would?
The US threat "forced" them to make nukes, which are tremendously expensive. More recently, our threats are "forcing" them to expand their military at the expense of the rest of their economy.

Did interference with their trading partners by the US cause significantly stress on their system?


That one is harder to be sure about since their trade was disrupted by WWII and the communists had not restored much before the USA tried to destroy their economy.

I don't know. What I do know is they have enough problems not related to their economic system that their economic system is almost irrelevant.


No. It is deeply relevant. Comparing china to, say, indonesia, the chinese economy is mostly why we care about them. Indonesia is the world's fourth largest population but they are too poor to be much of a threat to anybody. So we can afford to ignore them. If they interfere with our oil production in indonesia we make some noise about what barbarians they are and we try to politely make them cringe and give in. But they can't demand our attention. China can.
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby oops » Wed May 02, 2012 1:25 am UTC

Every time I see a comic like this, I can't help but think of this parody:

http://plover.net/~bonds/asdf.html

It's cheap and lazy. It's just saying "Haha, look at how stupid they are!" You could put any other book in here.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby whateveries » Wed May 02, 2012 1:38 am UTC

HonoreDB wrote:Image

So, I think the main point of the comic was the witty way to comment on a book, not the specific commentary. To that end, I've made a site where you can generate your own version that says whatever you want about whatever book you want.

Enjoy!


heh I likes it.
oh and spoiler means spoiler. (the clue is agatha christie and trains)

Spoiler:
Image
it's fine.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby drazen » Wed May 02, 2012 1:41 am UTC

Maintenance med that's $300/month.

But maybe you will die without your own maintenance dose. How can you find out whether it is actually good for you? The professional who prescribed it is likely far too overworked to look into it in any detail.


I should have been more specific. My copay is only $30. The last time I had to pay full price for the medication (2001), it was $300/month. A couple times when my insurance information went wacky, the "full price" quoted by the pharmacy for a 30 day supply was in the $300 range.

I had a medical issue from age 14 to 25 that took a lot of work to solve - three specialists, two surgeries (the first one was botched), lots of experimentation. We've tried altering the medication or stopping it, but nothing else works; tapering it off has bad results. Not life-or-death epilepsy results, but something unpleasant enough to make life completely unmanageable and hellish in its own right. Most of the other treatments are either (1) useless or (2) invasive or (3) have side effects that are worse than the illness. I spent 10 years in hell, but the system worked for me eventually. If it was the government, I'm pretty certain I would have found no solution and ended up killing myself, because for one thing, I never would have been able to pursue the problem as aggressively as I did. It would not have been "cost effective" or a "good use of resources."

Yes, but look how we got here. We started with catastrophic medical coverage. You can't afford to pay for rare extremely-expensive medical procedures, so you pay in to an insurance scheme more than you ever hope to take out, and if you are one of the unlucky few whose insurance pays jackpot winnings, at least it doesn't bankrupt you.

But then it turned into payments for routine coverage, and the uninsured prices for routine coverage went up. Pretty soon nobody could afford to be uninsured.

And prices kept rising, to the point that most people couldn't afford insurance either. Employers paid insurance for whole families because they could afford it, they could pass the costs on to customers and also it was an untaxed business expense.

Now we're reaching the point that employers can't afford it either. The only ones who can afford medical insurance are the very rich and the federal government. Plus a few giant corporations that can dicker with the insurance companies.

It wasn't just the government that made it turn out this way. It's inherent in the medical insurance system.


I was a the Ronpaul guy in 2008 and again in 2012, and he summed it up. Once upon a time, people carried major medical and payed out of pocket for routine expenses. But governments mandated that everything be covered. This drove up prices. It was regulation and control that caused the situation we're in. More regulations and more control can ONLY result in higher prices or lower quality of care. We do need a better system, but handing everything over from one monster to another even worse monster is a bad, bad idea.

And you're worried about the government cutting your benefits. If you get a catastrophic problem -- the sort the insurance was originally designed to deal with -- will they pay? Or will they tell you the fine print does not pay for the particular problem you have, and you can spend the last months of your life trying to get them to authorize treatment.... Of course this is better than the government. If it happens to you, it means you chose the wrong insurance company, or the wrong policy. You did carefully read those 70 pages of fine print legalese, right? You know what they say and you know what is required for them to refuse payment. So if it does happen, you will be in a great position to argue with them about the details.... :?


Insurance can't deny treatment. They can deny coverage, but I can still pay, even if it bankrupts me. Not ideal, but the government could deny ACCESS to treatment. I'd rather have an ugly option than no option. Not pretty, for sure, but those are the choices currently on the table.

I think it's partly the big-business mindset. If the one who's hiring is himself a junior manager, and he hires somebody that doesn't work out, that makes him look bad. Hire somebody who's unemployed and there might be a reason he's unemployed. He might have something seriously wrong with him. A reflection on your judgement, that you didn't notice and you got a bad result. But if you hire away a successful employee from another company to do the same job at your company, then if he doesn't work out there was no reason you should have expected he wouldn't. He was doing fine at the other company, right? The only little sign there might be some problem was that he was willing to leave and come work for you.... It looks absurd in the big picture, but junior managers aren't paid to look at the big picture. They're paid to look good and not take unnecessary risks.


If this is the case, I would attribute a lot of it to regulatory capture. Since corporations have entrenched positions, they do not want to rock the boat. A company on the rise would be willing to take more risks.

I've often wondered if we could do something with government hiring where older and unemployed workers get first crack. Not a guarantee of a job, but they are invited to the first round and if the government rejects them all, they would have to explain it based on the applicants' qualifications. I'm not thrilled about having tons of government jobs, but I'd at least like to have people in them who actually appreciate having them and who have a sense of civic duty.

Of course, I could say similar things about government jobs that you say about corporations. Many government agencies discourage hard work, so they can get a bigger budget and grow their empire. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between.

"Capitalism" as we currently practice it is deeply flawed. So are all the other traditional alternatives. So we need something new. I can suggest a few sentences to describe a little of what a solution might look like. There would be a society that was basicly capitalist, and there would be a group of people who created and enforced rules for effective free enterprise. These people would be somehow above the game, they would not care which companies "won". I'm not at all clear how to create such people, but I think a successful economy would somehow do that.
Governments have not done very well at setting and enforcing the rules for economies, so far. But that is not an argument for playing with no rules, or for letting cabals of businessmen create and enforce the rules. We need something new and better.


The point I and others make is that there aren't really objective people who can do this. If there is a group of rule-makers, the people who want to twist the rules in their favor will seek to control the rule-making process. This is not a system of no rules; it is a system of limited rules, applied broadly. The current system is reams of specific rules, applied haphazardly.

By setting a simple process in which parties cannot violate each others' rights in pursuit of their personal aims, you limit the ability of people to bend the rules (because no rules can be written favoring one group). Societal pressure is always better than government pressure. I happen to agree with many (though not all) of the criticisms of the Occupy Movement -- but I abhor, pardon the pun, about 99% of their proposed ideas.

There are a whole lot of deadly poisons that I do not want to be openly for sale to anybody. So I want to keep something like the prescription system. The FDA has a lot of valuable expertise, probably better if they get to ban the worst stuff. Here's an idea -- get a whole lot of people who log into a great big online database and track their symptoms and treatments. When they die they get somebody to log their deaths. So when you get symptoms you can look at the database and get some sort of prognosis by seeing what has happened to other people with similar symptoms. See what happens to people who get different treatments. You'd have to be good at statistics to get full use of a system like that, but some things would just pop out. Particularly, ineffective drugs might tend to show themselves as mostly ineffective.


There are a lot of deadly poisons out there now. Some dude killed his wife by putting antifreeze in her Gatorade. Ever read John Taylor Gatto? A tank of gasoline has the same energy as three sticks of dynamite. We all drive around with giant killing machines (cars) all the time, and that's been A-OK for a century. We have lots of totally legal things that we can use to kill each other. Having more of them out there isn't going to make a lick of difference.

Deadly poisons would not be openly for sale on store shelves. No reputable company would market "poison cola," certainly not in a free, democratic society in which it would be on the internet in about 8 seconds. And I thought we already had plenty of regulations about who can buy those.

Kind of like your database idea, though. It pretty much aligns with my idea of rating things rather than banning them. While I do want more on the market, I also want the information to be very transparent. Like the bit about the epilepsy drug -- it could still be viable for older patients near the end of their life, but not so wise for young people. I don't believe in zero oversight, but I do advocate for rational oversight, which I do not believe we have at the moment.

That's just fine when people pay for their own care. So, say we have a lot of people that the government pays for. Why not assign them randomly to experimental treatment? The treatments that look best so far get the most new tries. Then when a treatment is proven better than the traditional version, the self-pay people might choose to use it. Science works....


Only if it's voluntary! I don't want the government randomly assigning me to an experimental treatment. And in medicine, what works for Patient A won't always work for Patient B. The maintenance medication I take is supposedly not "the best," but for me, it's the only thing that was ever effective (given that I've tried about a dozen different things, I highly doubt it's a placebo effect).

Well done! I agree. I want to take i further. The NYSE was originally founded to be a trading monopoly. You couldn't trade on the NYSE unless you were a NYSE broker, and brokers were at first forbidden to trade on any other exchange. They make a whole lot of money off investors. Why do we need them? The computers and technicians needed to run a fair, honest stock exchange are not very expensive. Why not have a government-owned automated stock exchange? Publish the specialist's book. No brokers. (If brokers want to sell stock advice like racecourse touts, they can do that.) Any citizen can buy and sell stock, at no commission and no fee. Set up a simple tax system so the stock exchange can handle all the taxes for you, but as you say 99% or 100% tax on quick profits, very low tax on profits deferred until retirement etc. Short selling is easy -- if you want to buy stock at somebody else's price and then sell it for less, go ahead. The market would not be set up to maximize the number of transactions because it does not collect a fee per transaction. A private corporation stock market is designed to maximize their own profits. A government stock market could be designed to assist people in building retirement incomes.


That's actually a fairly nifty idea. As long as it's a competitor and not the be-all, end-all. I'd like the option for private equity (for example, the government doesn't like people buying gold... I've noticed that most corporate retirement plans, which tend to be tax-deferred, won't let you choose precious metals funds anymore). But aside from a couple concerns about their overreach, I like how you think here. I might prefer it be done by a private, not-for-profit entity, but I like the general idea. So I'll salute you back. At least we found ONE thing we agree about! Kudos to us!

In good times, government can spend more than it taxes and have a good result. In bad times anything it does is wrong. We need good times, and for that we need cheap alternative energy. We don't know how to do that yet.


Well, not quite. You were right, every system is broken. Socialism/Communism is always broken. Capitalism isn't too broken... up until you run out of places to expand, like now, and then its weaknesses show through. But government spending more than it takes in is almost always bad, because it leads to inflation and diminished ability to act later. Inflation hurts the people you claim you want to protect, the most. Cheap alternative energy would be nice (and was a central plot point in Atlas Shrugged, actually). But really, cheap energy period leads to good times. Bill Clinton was no genius; he had a Republican Congress... the first true peacetime in decades... and gas at 99 cents a gallon. If we all liked the 90s, the formula was deregulation + peace + cheap energy.

I'm more a pragmatist. Others will try to coerce you if you are within the range of their power. You can try to coerce them back if you can carry it off. If you hate to conform even to a minimal extent, you need to live somewhere with no close neighbors. I don't care much about moral rights, it's what they'll do and what you'll do. To avoid coercion, be a hermit.


Well, I do have a lot of hermit-like tendencies! But it's not particularly moral to say to people that you will either coerce them, or drive them into hiding. Sounds like a fascist or a racist or a totalitarian to me: "Do it my way or get lost." I mean, I don't care if people enter into voluntary, socialistic agreements -- I just don't want them to be government-run, or to be compulsory. I like the idea of private cooperative endeavors instead. Who knows, maybe someday I'd even join one, depending on how it was set up.

I agree. Put it this way -- if a slave is allowed to get part of the income from his work and count that toward buying his freedom, it's wrong to tax that money. Similarly, it's wrong to tax a wage-slave's wages. Someone who sells stuff in a marketplace that he made -- it's OK to tax that. But tax wages? No.


We agree, but for different reasons. It is immoral to tax income because you own your labor. The profit for your labor should always go to you. To have it taken from you involuntarily is theft, even if it is for a "good cause" such as Social Security. Nobody else has a justifiable claim to the product of your labor (i.e., your wages) and therefore the only just personal income tax rate is 0%.

Capital gains and corporate income are different, as one isn't labor and one is a special entity with certain privileges and immunities. Those taxes, I'm OK with. I don't necessarily like them, but I don't consider them as evil as a personal income tax on labor, either. I'm always OK with consumption taxes because resources are limited and people should be paying a fair value for them (although we might differ over the rates or what gets taxed more and what doesn't) -- thus creating a reasonable mechanism for the transfer of physical resources into private property. I agree that there are problems about how this transfer happens right now, e.g., corporations getting exclusive rights to resources cheaply.

If you live in an autocratic kingdom, then you must pay whatever taxes the king declares you must pay. If you live in a democracy then you must pay whatever taxes the majority votes for or the majority's representatives assign. If you disagree, go find someplace to live that doesn't do that. I get the impression there are some people who live in yachts on the high seas. There are some disadvantages to being a citizen of the world. Monaco is supposed to accept citizens who don't want to pay a lot of tax, but I don't know what their catch is.


While a democracy may vote in taxes, it doesn't make them moral. For people to seize almost the whole of the globe and then proclaim "If you don't like it, get out" is pretty much just an argument from authority/power rather than a valid line of reasoning. It's the sort of thing a Libertarian, or an Objectivist, would consider amoral and evil.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby mickercat » Wed May 02, 2012 1:44 am UTC

J Thomas wrote:At the turn of 1900, China was still officially run by descendents of the Mongols who had taken it over centuries before.
...Finally the chinese public got so disgusted with the Mongol regime that they overthrew it.


No. China was ruled by the Manchus, who also ruled (most of) the Mongols. The Manchus were descendants of the Jurchen, who had ruled much of northern China up until their conquest by the Mongols under Chinggis Khan and his successors. The Manchus established their own state in Manchuria in the late 1500s and conquered the Mongols of Inner Mongolia in 1636 and most of China in 1644 (anti-Manchu resistance by the descendants of the Ming emperors continued until 1662 or so), and the Mongols of Outer Mongolia submitted to the Manchus in 1692. The Mongols and the Manchus were quite distinct culturally and linguistically and did not at any time consider themselves of the same stock--for example, the Mongolian verb manjlakh "to be like a Manchu" means roughly to smile at all parties but keep your own counsel and do whatever is necessary to secure your own political interests (which in Mongolian culture is considered not a particularly good thing--the stereotype among non-Mongols familiar with Mongol culture is that to a Mongol you're either their closest friend or their bitterest enemy). This is worth correcting not only for the sake of persnicketiness but because it had some real-life political consequences: When the Chinese republican revolution (the Xinhai Revolution, to be precise) started in 1911 and the last Manchu emperor abdicated in 1912, the nobles of Outer Mongolia argued (or later claimed to have argued) that they owed allegiance to the Manchu emperors, who ruled the Manchus, Mongols, Han Chinese, and other peoples of the Qing dynasty, individually and not to the successor state set up by the Chinese Republican movement (which claimed that republican China succeeded to the entire territory of the Qing Dynasty and not just to the Han Chinese portions of it, a claim continued by the Guomindang and deeply ingrained in the worldview of modern Han Chinese on both sides of the straits but not welcomed by many minorities of China); since it was in Russia's interests to support them, this resulted in a referendum in 1947 that gave Mongolia independence--later repudiated by the Guomindang in Taiwan but accepted by the Chinese Communist Party--and hence Mongolia is an independent nation.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby jpk » Wed May 02, 2012 2:33 am UTC

SamSam wrote:
Flynn777 wrote:
blowfishhootie wrote:"Agreeing with 90 percent of every sentence" is not the same thing as "agreeing 90 percent of the time."


It's not? Then what, pray tell, is it the same thing as?


I don't know if some people are still confused by this, but agreeing with 90% of someone's sentences and then disagreeing with their conclusions is definitely not the same thing as agreeing with them 90% of the time. At least not in the general sense where "agreeing with 90% of the time" implies you generally agree with a person.

1. All men are mortals
2. Socrates is a man
3. Therefore, be an asshole to everyone

You probably agree with 66% of my sentences there, but you would definitely not agree with my logic or my conclusions. While you might say "I agree with 66% of SamSam's sentences," you would not say that you generally agree with me.

That was Radall's (quite obvious) point.



I could believe 100% of your sentences there and not agree with your logic.

Let's imagine someone who believes the following:

All men are mortals
Socrates is a man
Therefore, Socrates is a mortal.
If someone is an asshole, you must be an asshole to them.
Everyone is an asshole.
Therefore, be an asshole to everyone


You would have to agree that this person believed your 1, 2, and 3, but he does not agree with your logic. That is, he does not believe that your 1 and 2 imply your 3.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby webgiant » Wed May 02, 2012 2:43 am UTC

Djehutynakht wrote:I'm confused. In the last panel, is he putting it back and escaping the critical room, or is someone else on the other side locking him in the room in a BHG-esque attempt at getting rid of everyone who doesn't share his literary tastes?

EDIT: Due to the lack of another "rumble", I'm inclined towards the second.

This should be a fun bookstore. I wonder what happens if someone picks up Twilight...

The rumble is not the sound of the machinery. Its just there to get your attention for the important, and accurate, message written on the wall. Then the entire bookshelf whirls around again very smoothly and quietly because there's no need to emphasize anything on the return trip.

If you pick up Twilight, nothing happens right away. The horrors only begin when you buy it.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Wiskie » Wed May 02, 2012 2:45 am UTC

Randall, stop with the political stuff.

We're all scientists here and that's what xkcd is about. I see "romance" and "sarcasm" and "math" listed as topics on the main page, but I surely don't see "politics" or "philosophy" so throw that ish out the window already.

And, let's say you feel like the well's gone dry and you can't find inspiration, consider the *new and exciting subspecialty of "Epigenetics." You haven't done that one yet!

*relatively speaking
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Wed May 02, 2012 2:47 am UTC

Wiskie wrote:We're all scientists here and that's what xkcd is about.

...

Apparently "what xkcd is about" doesn't depend on what xkcd is, in fact, about.
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby webgiant » Wed May 02, 2012 2:53 am UTC

honorious wrote:the problem with ayn rand, of whose writings i was an enthusiast for a spell and still hold in a tentatively high regard, is that while her logic is sound, despite being set in an idealistic world of her own devising and therefore making the application of her ideals impractical in the real world, is that the sound logic is discolored by her deep seeded resentment issues, leading to randall's alt text punchline "therefore be an asshole to everyone"

It is rather convenient that Ayn Rand's first bestseller was about a railroad worker by the name of Galt who was unfairly persecuted by the government for his ideas and pro-capitalist philosophy. Convenient because Garet Garett's novel "The Driver", written in 1922 and entering the public domain in 1954 on his death ("Atlas Shrugged" was first published in 1957) was about a railroad worker by the name of Henry Galt who was unfairly persecuted by the government for his ideas and pro-capitalist philosophy. A major theme of "The Driver" is the question, "Who is Henry Galt?"

Many people have claimed that "The Driver" is nothing like "Atlas Shrugged" in writing style. I agree, "The Driver" was much better written and doesn't contain any 60 page monologues that take six hours to read aloud. But thankfully for Ayn Rand, she lived in a country where books still entered the public domain in a timely manner and did not have infinite copyrights, the kind her philosophy would soon create.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby J Thomas » Wed May 02, 2012 3:03 am UTC

mickercat wrote:
J Thomas wrote:At the turn of 1900, China was still officially run by descendents of the Mongols who had taken it over centuries before.
...Finally the chinese public got so disgusted with the Mongol regime that they overthrew it.


No. China was ruled by the Manchus, who also ruled (most of) the Mongols. The Manchus were descendants of the Jurchen, who had ruled much of northern China up until their conquest by the Mongols under Chinggis Khan and his successors. The Manchus established their own state in Manchuria in the late 1500s and conquered the Mongols of Inner Mongolia in 1636 and most of China in 1644 (anti-Manchu resistance by the descendants of the Ming emperors continued until 1662 or so), and the Mongols of Outer Mongolia submitted to the Manchus in 1692. The Mongols and the Manchus were quite distinct culturally and linguistically and did not at any time consider themselves of the same stock--for example, the Mongolian verb manjlakh "to be like a Manchu" means roughly to smile at all parties but keep your own counsel and do whatever is necessary to secure your own political interests (which in Mongolian culture is considered not a particularly good thing--the stereotype among non-Mongols familiar with Mongol culture is that to a Mongol you're either their closest friend or their bitterest enemy). This is worth correcting not only for the sake of persnicketiness but because it had some real-life political consequences: When the Chinese republican revolution (the Xinhai Revolution, to be precise) started in 1911 and the last Manchu emperor abdicated in 1912, the nobles of Outer Mongolia argued (or later claimed to have argued) that they owed allegiance to the Manchu emperors, who ruled the Manchus, Mongols, Han Chinese, and other peoples of the Qing dynasty, individually and not to the successor state set up by the Chinese Republican movement (which claimed that republican China succeeded to the entire territory of the Qing Dynasty and not just to the Han Chinese portions of it, a claim continued by the Guomindang and deeply ingrained in the worldview of modern Han Chinese on both sides of the straits but not welcomed by many minorities of China); since it was in Russia's interests to support them, this resulted in a referendum in 1947 that gave Mongolia independence--later repudiated by the Guomindang in Taiwan but accepted by the Chinese Communist Party--and hence Mongolia is an independent nation.


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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby neothe1 » Wed May 02, 2012 3:07 am UTC

I have come here to rant about how people dismiss Rand without reading her works, considering her philosophy or, more importantly, the motivations for her being the person she was. However, I see that people have done a fairly good job of this already. I usually enjoy Randall's smug rhetoric (except when he rags on people in the humanities), but this comic seemed a bit of a cheap shot.

I just want to add that, as a Russian Jew myself (Rand left the U.S.S.R. for the U.S. in the 20s), I very well understand how she entered the whole hyper-capitalism mode that allowed her to create all that producer/moocher rhetoric. Having said that, I don't need to be a Rand fanatic or an Objectivist zealot to read and critically think about this book. Thus, I agree with Flynn777's rather apt evaluation: "'You have terrible taste' is a disappointingly lazy reply."

P.S. To counter-balance the criticism, I have a rather entertaining (or so I think) Rand anecdote. When I had actually finished reading all of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, I wrote a letter to Leonard Peikoff (a friend of Rand's and an executor of her estate), telling him that I was interested in his philosophy and curious as to how it justified infinite individualism, or infinite expansion/growth rooted in the idea of idividualism. I soon got a response back, saying that Peikoff's time was not worth explaining anything to me. No one has given me a better explanation of Objectivism since. ;)

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby JonT » Wed May 02, 2012 3:16 am UTC

Kaylakaze wrote:If people like you were allowed to have their way and eliminate any socialism from the US government, there would be people starving to death in the streets. As for obesity, it's far more of a symptom of not having proper food than having too much. Prisons may be a net drag for the economy, but they sure provide lots of funds to those who own them. If I could tell you where a black site was, it wouldn't be a black site anymore. Though why bother with such things when police can just gun you down in the street?


I didn't call for the elimination of any socialism from the US Government. I said as an economy theory, socialism fails - for the same reason our own country is heading into dangerous waters - eventually run out of other peoples' money. Poor food choices still means they are getting food and not starving to death (see N. Korea), making my statement true. Prisons are still a net drag on the economy - regardless of whether they are privatized or not. That is money that is taken out of the economy in the form of taxes. Again, my statement is true.

Kaylakaze wrote:As for your last 2 questions, I don't understand where you're getting them from. One thing I am sure of is if you were allowed to have your way, there would be Walmart and Exxon gulags where anyone who wanted to form a union would be sent.


I suspect your tin foil hat might be out of alignment. Where did I call for abolition of unions? I mentioned labor camps, something very common in Communist systems (see USSR, China, N. Korea, etc.)

Kaylakaze wrote:If I recall the discussion, we were talking about places of economic distress, not places where a single madman decided to be crazy. Of course, when we have such a madman, we need to look at the conditions that allowed such a personality to flourish in the first place.


Again, incorrect. I was comparing three economic systems. Though madmen exist in all, isn't it just the weirdest coincidence that many of them are affiliated with Communist regimes?

Kaylakaze wrote:It's always the same with your type. You think everything happens in a vacuum. You think if you shoot a gun haphazardly wherever you want, as long as it's on your land, it's fine even if you end up hitting someone or damaging someone else's land. You have no understanding of the situations other people face outside of those you have yourself faced, and think that it's all equal. Your kind thinks if someone dies from corporate malfeasance, it's perfectly fine since the survivors can sue them (at least TECHNICALLY they can, good luck having the resources to actually do it) instead of trying to prevent the death in the first place. ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES


1. Wrong, I don't injuring someone or damaging their property is OK. I am for personal freedom and private property - unlike the other two economic systems.
2. Wrong. I don't need to live under communism to know it is a miserable failure. I don't need to live under socialism to see it is unsustainable. I never claimed there was any equality in the three - I've pointed out there are major differences.
3. Wrong (sensing a trend - nah, not you) - no person or organization has the right to take a life except in self-defense (including the death penalty)
4. YAY - you finally got one right - ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES. Good for you!

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Wiskie » Wed May 02, 2012 3:22 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
Wiskie wrote:We're all scientists here and that's what xkcd is about.

...

Apparently "what xkcd is about" doesn't depend on what xkcd is, in fact, about.


Ok fine, because "science" isn't one of the subjects listed. All I'm saying is, that from the perspective of an avid xkcd fan, this comic disappoints me. I see the title "Bookshelf" and immediately I wonder what it could be about... "Is it a discussion of the bookshelf's obsolescence in the day and age of e-readers? Could it be a comedic retelling of one of Randall's experiences at Barnes and Noble? Or, something different but equally entertaining/thought-provoking?"

Instead, I get...this, a politically-charged comic that unabashedly takes a swipe at libertarians.

Now, I like xkcd, but if I recall this is the second politically-related comic in a week, and I like to think I speak for a silent majority when I say "enough!" Of course, Randall can do whatever he wants. He's the boss. And I, of course, will be here tomorrow morning reading whatever he puts out anyway.

But Randall's too intelligent to be wasting his time with political stuff which, believe me, has been discussed in detail numerous times before and is probably being discussed right now--on a different site. Although, I guess 11 pages worth of (albeit, interesting) philosophical discussion tells me some folks didn't get the memo.

Still, I'm not arguing.
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby JonT » Wed May 02, 2012 3:25 am UTC

Kaylakaze wrote:Sadly, it's been my observation that delusions don't have consequences all that often. If ever a communist government had been allowed to form without the oppressive thumb of capitalist imperialism getting involved, then maybe we could see what the results would be. Of course, implementing a communist society in an environment where people like you exist WOULD require harsh measures. Do you deny that violent rebels must be dealt with, regardless of the economic system?


Congratulations - though you stumbled across it you eventually reached the fundamental tenet that is the hallmark of all Communist systems. Communist systems require "harsh measures". There must be a central authority demanding sacrifice of others literally at the point of a gun.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Karilyn » Wed May 02, 2012 3:33 am UTC

Jamaican Castle wrote:
Karilyn wrote:Only when government regulation is done cleanly and without bureaucracy, in the form you described, is it a good thing, no matter how well intentioned the regulation is.
How, then, do you propose to enforce such a regulation without bureaucracy? If pass a law forbidding companies from grinding up babies as ground beef, and then do nothing to enforce it, you might as well not have bothered. Because companies would continue to be able to grind up babies to their heart's content - who's going to stop them?
Let me ask you a counter question. I'm not doing this to mock you, but I seriously want you to answer your own questions, but with it being individuals instead of a corporation. And then I will have a better understanding of your position that I might be able to figure out how to approach it.

"How then do you propose we enforce civilian law? If we pass a law forbidding people from murdering each other, then do nothing to enforce it, you might as well not have bothered. Because people would continue to be able to murder each other to their heart's content - who's going to stop them?"

If you can answer the above question (and hopefully your answer doesn't include bureaucracy), then you probably have the same answer that I have for how to enforce laws on companies. Because honestly I'm confused at how you would think we should approach civilian law if you think it's impossible to enforce laws without bureaucracy, and I would like some clarity on the matter.

Jamaican Castle wrote:I apologize for egregious overuse of the world "bureaucracy", also "grinding babies".
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Wed May 02, 2012 4:34 am UTC

Wiskie wrote:Now, I like xkcd, but if I recall this is the second politically-related comic in a week, and I like to think I speak for a silent majority when I say "enough!"

Maybe, maybe not. The comic is not a democracy.
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Jamaican Castle » Wed May 02, 2012 6:07 am UTC

Karilyn wrote:Let me ask you a counter question. I'm not doing this to mock you, but I seriously want you to answer your own questions, but with it being individuals instead of a corporation. And then I will have a better understanding of your position that I might be able to figure out how to approach it.

"How then do you propose we enforce civilian law? If we pass a law forbidding people from murdering each other, then do nothing to enforce it, you might as well not have bothered. Because people would continue to be able to murder each other to their heart's content - who's going to stop them?"

That depends on the type of crime, of course, but it presumably involves some kind of police or other. Which is itself a form of bureaucracy. All a "bureau" is is a group of agents - i.e., people who have been hired to do something - that have a formal structure and rules.

So basically, the individual analogue of the regulation bureau would in fact be the police (usually; it might be the FBI, the IRS, Interpol, it hardly matters). They perform the same function, and they have the same general structure, so it really doesn't make sense to object to one and not the other.

Because honestly I'm confused at how you would think we should approach civilian law if you think it's impossible to enforce laws without bureaucracy, and I would like some clarity on the matter.

I think we "should*" approach civilian law the way we do, with a formal system of designated agents, public and internal regulations**, and thorough documentation. Whether you want to call that "bureaucracy" is, I suppose, up to you.

So, essentially, my position is that bureaucracy is the inevitable result of having so many laws. A law gets passed and someone, somewhere gets the job of enforcing, and sometimes interpreting, it. But then you want to have finer control, so you pass another law that says something slightly different, and suddenly your agent has to decide what exactly he's looking at here, which requires a fine level of reporting from/on the public/corporations/suspects/whatever the case may be. The reason, say, police departments*** have such a love of paperwork is necessity. For instance, let's say the legislature decides that police officers shouldn't be able to grab evidence illegally and use it in court anyway. So they pass a law forbidding it (which exists). Now, suddenly, every officer on every investigation needs to be able to prove, on demand, that all of their evidence was properly obtained. Which means a paper trail, since that's the only thing that (theoretically) can't be changed after the fact.

* I don't mean this to say that the system we have is perfect, or that it's perfectly applied in the real world. But the details are really not important when looking at the overall structure.

** The police, of course, have procedural laws that apply specifically to them, which generally manifest a mini-bureaucracy inside the bureaucracy, Internal Affairs. Sadly, I don't think it's the case that IA is monitored by an Internal Affairs2 group, which would be followed in turn by IA3, IA4, etc. But I sometimes wish it were.

*** That word, "department", is an instant clue that you're dealing with bureaucrats after all.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed May 02, 2012 6:17 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:how humans are has no bearing on how humans ought to be.
This is part of why I'll probably never get philosophy; this strikes me, again, as a problem with words--not with facts.

I have a goal; I want humans to prosper.

Where the philosophy comes in is to get to this point that you start from. The rest of it which follows in your post is all fine, natural science is absolutely the correct method of figuring out the most effective ways of accomplishing your goals. The problem is with figuring out the goals in the first place.

If everybody agreed on universal human prospering, and agreed on what it was to prosper, we'd have no need for ethics. And if everybody agreed on the facts of reality, we'd have no need for science. But those are both big complicated questions with nontrivial answers.

Scientists can go about their work because they have at least instrumental acceptance of some broad philosophical principles about what counts as reality and how to get your assertions closer to it: empiricism, realism, criticism, etc. Where philosophy becomes relevant in that descriptive domain is when you get people who argue against the science because they don't agree with those principles: the kind of people who put the word of a trusted authority or an old book or the voices in their head above repeatable observations, falsifiable theories, etc. When you argue about why people should listen to what science has to say, you are doing philosophy.

Likewise, in order for us, collectively, to proceed with building a better world, enough of us have to at least instrumentally accept some broad common principles about what a better world would be and the right way to go about building one. You say "I want humans to prosper". What if someone says "I don't care about other people, I only want myself to prosper." Or what if someone says "So do I, but I don't think that what you want really counts as prospering". You need to resolve those differences before you can work together on figuring out the most effective means of bringing about that prospering, and that's where philosophy comes in.

This is a common pattern I observe: people who start with reasonable premises (like you) and want to focus on going forward from there (which is a good thing too) often don't appreciate the value of the logically prior work which justifies those premises against those who would dispute them, and in doing so allows that later work to go forward.
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby J Thomas » Wed May 02, 2012 8:01 am UTC

drazen wrote:....
Of course, I could say similar things about government jobs that you say about corporations. Many government agencies discourage hard work, so they can get a bigger budget and grow their empire. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between.


CN Parkinson pointed out that in bureaucracies, whether government or big business, bureaucrats make work for more bureaucrats. They don't have to discourage hard work, there is an unlimited amount of hard work available for people who manage data.

.... Governments have not done very well at setting and enforcing the rules for economies, so far. But that is not an argument for playing with no rules, or for letting cabals of businessmen create and enforce the rules. We need something new and better.


The point I and others make is that there aren't really objective people who can do this. If there is a group of rule-makers, the people who want to twist the rules in their favor will seek to control the rule-making process. This is not a system of no rules; it is a system of limited rules, applied broadly. The current system is reams of specific rules, applied haphazardly.


It doesn't work well to have government workers who make $100,000/year putting stringent limitations on business managers or bankers who make $10,000,000/year. Stuff gets in the way. Still, we need rules. We need rules that don't get twisted in favor of the influential. Ideally it should be a reasonably transparent process. We need some way to have people who are above the game who decide the rules. As you point out, we don't have such people. We must find a way to create them, or find them.

.... So, say we have a lot of people that the government pays for. Why not assign them randomly to experimental treatment? The treatments that look best so far get the most new tries. Then when a treatment is proven better than the traditional version, the self-pay people might choose to use it. Science works....


Only if it's voluntary! I don't want the government randomly assigning me to an experimental treatment


If you can pay your own way and you choose to do that, then you get to choose your treatment -- and if your MD disagrees you can fire him and get a better one. If you voluntarily choose to let the government pay your medical bills then you take the treatment they give you. They will try out cheaper treatments and new treatments, and find out what works better.

And in medicine, what works for Patient A won't always work for Patient B.


Sure. If you can find out what makes the difference then you might know what to test for Patient C. Until you can do that you're playing the odds. So you try the treatment that works the most often, and if that fails then you try another, and keep trying until you run out of treatments or the patient dies.

In good times, government can spend more than it taxes and have a good result. In bad times anything it does is wrong. We need good times, and for that we need cheap alternative energy. We don't know how to do that yet.


Well, not quite. You were right, every system is broken. Socialism/Communism is always broken. Capitalism isn't too broken... up until you run out of places to expand, like now, and then its weaknesses show through. But government spending more than it takes in is almost always bad, because it leads to inflation and diminished ability to act later. Inflation hurts the people you claim you want to protect, the most.


Well, no. Say that GDP increases 3% one year. Other things equal this hides a multitude of complexities the government can spend 3% of GDP to prevent 3% deflation. Somebody will get that value. Should it be the people who held onto money without spending it? The banks? Of course the temptation is to deficit-spend more than that. Deflation can be even worse for an economy than inflation, but you don't hear people warning about it much because governments usually do such an excellent job of preventing it.... Agreed that governments tend to have bigger deficits than they should.

I'm more a pragmatist. Others will try to coerce you if you are within the range of their power. You can try to coerce them back if you can carry it off. If you hate to conform even to a minimal extent, you need to live somewhere with no close neighbors. I don't care much about moral rights, it's what they'll do and what you'll do. To avoid coercion, be a hermit.


Well, I do have a lot of hermit-like tendencies! But it's not particularly moral to say to people that you will either coerce them, or drive them into hiding. Sounds like a fascist or a racist or a totalitarian to me: "Do it my way or get lost." I mean, I don't care if people enter into voluntary, socialistic agreements -- I just don't want them to be government-run, or to be compulsory. I like the idea of private cooperative endeavors instead. Who knows, maybe someday I'd even join one, depending on how it was set up.


Regardless of your morality, other people will try to coerce you. If you disagree with them about how loud your music should be, or how much acrylamide monomer you should leak into the common groundwater, they will not simply agree to disagree. When they have the power to coerce you and they know they're right, and you won't go along, they will do so. Furthermore, it's around 90% predictable that when you have the power to coerce people and you know you're right and they continue doing the harmful things they insist don't affect you, you will coerce them. People do that.

If you live in an autocratic kingdom, then you must pay whatever taxes the king declares you must pay. If you live in a democracy then you must pay whatever taxes the majority votes for or the majority's representatives assign. If you disagree, go find someplace to live that doesn't do that. I get the impression there are some people who live in yachts on the high seas. There are some disadvantages to being a citizen of the world. Monaco is supposed to accept citizens who don't want to pay a lot of tax, but I don't know what their catch is.


While a democracy may vote in taxes, it doesn't make them moral. For people to seize almost the whole of the globe and then proclaim "If you don't like it, get out" is pretty much just an argument from authority/power rather than a valid line of reasoning. It's the sort of thing a Libertarian, or an Objectivist, would consider amoral and evil.


Sure. When your sort is in power you can debate the morality of whether you should do it. But when you are a small minority who tries to tell the people with the power what's moral for them to do, they will probably not have a lot of tolerance for you. They will make the argument from authority/power because they can. You will knuckle under or get out, because those will be the choices available to you. That's how it works.

Say you have a sincere difference of opinion with somebody about what they ought to do. The truth is, you can get more cooperation if you have a strong sense of morality and a gun than you can with a strong sense of morality alone.

People use coercion *a whole lot* because it works in the short run.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

HugoSchmidt
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby HugoSchmidt » Wed May 02, 2012 8:12 am UTC

Okay, then, what "many" policies did they enact that "are called" Socialist?



Oh, for chrissakes...

How many times do I need to go over this?

25 point plan of the Nazi party:

1 We demand the union of all Germans in a Great Germany on the basis of the principle of self-determination of all peoples.
2 We demand that the German people have rights equal to those of other nations; and that the Peace Treaties of Versailles and St. Germain shall be abrogated.
3 We demand land and territory (colonies) for the maintenance of our people and the settlement of our surplus population.
4 Only those who are our fellow countrymen can become citizens. Only those who have German blood, regardless of creed, can be our countrymen. Hence no Jew can be a countryman.
5 Those who are not citizens must live in Germany as foreigners and must be subject to the law of aliens.
6 The right to choose the government and determine the laws of the State shall belong only to citizens. We therefore demand that no public office, of whatever nature, whether in the central government, the province, or the municipality, shall be held by anyone who is not a citizen.
We wage war against the corrupt parliamentary administration whereby men are appointed to posts by favour of the party without regard to character and fitness.

7 We demand that the State shall above all undertake to ensure that every citizen shall have the possibility of living decently and earning a livelihood. If it should not be possible to feed the whole population, then aliens (non-citizens) must be expelled from the Reich.
8 Any further immigration of non-Germans must be prevented. We demand that all non-Germans who have entered Germany since August 2, 1914, shall be compelled to leave the Reich immediately.
9 All citizens must possess equal rights and duties.
10 The first duty of every citizen must be to work mentally or physically. No individual shall do any work that offends against the interest of the community to the benefit of all.
Therefore we demand:
11 That all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished.
12 Since every war imposes on the people fearful sacrifices in blood and treasure, all personal profit arising from the war must be regarded as treason to the people. We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war profits.
13 We demand the nationalization of all trusts.
14 We demand profit-sharing in large industries.
15 We demand a generous increase in old-age pensions.
16 We demand the creation and maintenance of a sound middle-class, the immediate communalisation of large stores which will be rented cheaply to small trades people, and the strongest consideration must be given to ensure that small traders shall deliver the supplies needed by the State, the provinces and municipalities.
17 We demand an agrarian reform in accordance with our national requirements, and the enactment of a law to expropriate the owners without compensation of any land needed for the common purpose. The abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in land.
18 We demand that ruthless war be waged against those who work to the injury of the common welfare. Traitors, usurers, profiteers, etc., are to be punished with death, regardless of creed or race.
19 We demand that Roman law, which serves a materialist ordering of the world, be replaced by German common law.
20 In order to make it possible for every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education, and thus the opportunity to reach into positions of leadership, the State must assume the responsibility of organizing thoroughly the entire cultural system of the people. The curricula of all educational establishments shall be adapted to practical life. The conception of the State Idea (science of citizenship) must be taught in the schools from the very beginning. We demand that specially talented children of poor parents, whatever their station or occupation, be educated at the expense of the State.
21 The State has the duty to help raise the standard of national health by providing maternity welfare centres, by prohibiting juvenile labour, by increasing physical fitness through the introduction of compulsory games and gymnastics, and by the greatest possible encouragement of associations concerned with the physical education of the young.


22 We demand the abolition of the regular army and the creation of a national (folk) army.
23 We demand that there be a legal campaign against those who propagate deliberate political lies and disseminate them through the press. In order to make possible the creation of a German press, we demand:
(a) All editors and their assistants on newspapers published in the German language shall be German citizens.
(b) Non-German newspapers shall only be published with the express permission of the State. They must not be published in the German language.
(c) All financial interests in or in any way affecting German newspapers shall be forbidden to non-Germans by law, and we demand that the punishment for transgressing this law be the immediate suppression of the newspaper and the expulsion of the non-Germans from the Reich.
Newspapers transgressing against the common welfare shall be suppressed. We demand legal action against those tendencies in art and literature that have a disruptive influence upon the life of our folk, and that any organizations that offend against the foregoing demands shall be dissolved.

24 We demand freedom for all religious faiths in the state, insofar as they do not endanger its existence or offend the moral and ethical sense of the Germanic race.
The party as such represents the point of view of a positive Christianity without binding itself to any one particular confession. It fights against the Jewish materialist spirit within and without, and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our folk can only come about from within on the principle:
COMMON GOOD BEFORE INDIVIDUAL GOOD
25 In order to carry out this program we demand: the creation of a strong central authority in the State, the unconditional authority by the political central parliament of the whole State and all its organizations.
The formation of professional committees and of committees representing the several estates of the realm, to ensure that the laws promulgated by the central authority shall be carried out by the federal states.
The leaders of the party undertake to promote the execution of the foregoing points at all costs, if necessary at the sacrifice of their own lives.



Run the stuff in bold past any US conservative and they'll call that "socialism". It's not, but it is close. It's kindred.

Also, please remember the eugenics was unquestionably a left-wing movement at the dawn of the last century.

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Zamfir
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Zamfir » Wed May 02, 2012 8:24 am UTC

Hitler was also a vegetarian, you know. And he loved dogs. And free schools for poor children. And generous old age pensions. And common law in Germany! Evil man, truly.

Every time my train arrives on time, I shout "Fascist" to the driver, but they just look confused.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby Netreker0 » Wed May 02, 2012 8:42 am UTC

JonT wrote:
Karilyn wrote:EDIT: I'm not going to lie, I find the Ayn Rand detractors in this thread to be extremely unpleasant, and most of her supporters to be fairly nice individuals. If I was going by nothing other than the personality of the people defending/attacking her, I imagine it would generate an opinion which is very different than what you want to give across. You might want to tone back the level of hostility and insults in your criticism of objectivism if you don't want to make your own argument look bad. Cause in terms of "people being assholes," which seems to be the main criticism of objectivism, every objectivist in this thread has been polite and friendly, while the majority of the detractors have been total assholes. Which makes you look like hypocrites, and makes your claim that objectivists are assholes look like strawmanning at best, and ad hominem at worst.


I couldn't agree more. While not an absolute, it's been my experience that those who rely on name-calling (especially in an online venue where backspace is a viable option) lose credibility by being incapable of cogent discussion, or merely being trolls.


I wonder if you feel the same way after the last 5 pages of comments? I get the feeling that the Ayn Rand supporters read Karilyn's post and took it as a challenge.

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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby J Thomas » Wed May 02, 2012 9:25 am UTC

HugoSchmidt wrote:
Okay, then, what "many" policies did they enact that "are called" Socialist?



Oh, for chrissakes...

How many times do I need to go over this?

25 point plan of the Nazi party:


1 We demand the union of all Germans in a Great Germany on the basis of the principle of self-determination of all peoples.


Not socialist.

2 We demand that the German people have rights equal to those of other nations; and that the Peace Treaties of Versailles and St. Germain shall be abrogated.


Not socialist.

3 We demand land and territory (colonies) for the maintenance of our people and the settlement of our surplus population.


Not socialist.

4 Only those who are our fellow countrymen can become citizens. Only those who have German blood, regardless of creed, can be our countrymen. Hence no Jew can be a countryman.


Not socialist.

5 Those who are not citizens must live in Germany as foreigners and must be subject to the law of aliens.


Not socialist.

6 The right to choose the government and determine the laws of the State shall belong only to citizens. We therefore demand that no public office, of whatever nature, whether in the central government, the province, or the municipality, shall be held by anyone who is not a citizen.


Not socialist.

7 We demand that the State shall above all undertake to ensure that every citizen shall have the possibility of living decently and earning a livelihood.


Socialist!

8 Any further immigration of non-Germans must be prevented. We demand that all non-Germans who have entered Germany since August 2, 1914, shall be compelled to leave the Reich immediately.


Not socialist.

9 All citizens must possess equal rights and duties.


Socialist?

10 The first duty of every citizen must be to work mentally or physically. No individual shall do any work that offends against the interest of the community to the benefit of all.


Socialist?

Therefore we demand:
11 That all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished.


I'm pretty sure they didn't do that.

12 Since every war imposes on the people fearful sacrifices in blood and treasure, all personal profit arising from the war must be regarded as treason to the people. We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war profits.


I'm real sure they didn't do that.

13 We demand the nationalization of all trusts.


Did they do that? I don't remember anything that would say one way or another.

14 We demand profit-sharing in large industries.


Did they do that?

15 We demand a generous increase in old-age pensions.


This isn't particularly socialist, and I don't know whether they did it. They didn't last long enough to pay a lot of old-age pensions.

16 We demand the creation and maintenance of a sound middle-class, the immediate communalisation of large stores which will be rented cheaply to small trades people, and the strongest consideration must be given to ensure that small traders shall deliver the supplies needed by the State, the provinces and municipalities.


Did they do that? I never heard one way or another.

17 We demand an agrarian reform in accordance with our national requirements, and the enactment of a law to expropriate the owners without compensation of any land needed for the common purpose. The abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in land.


They only took land from Jews.

18 We demand that ruthless war be waged against those who work to the injury of the common welfare. Traitors, usurers, profiteers, etc., are to be punished with death, regardless of creed or race.


They did that, but it isn't particularly socialist.

19 We demand that Roman law, which serves a materialist ordering of the world, be replaced by German common law.


Why is that socialist? That isn't socialist.

20 In order to make it possible for every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education, and thus the opportunity to reach into positions of leadership, the State must assume the responsibility of organizing thoroughly the entire cultural system of the people. The curricula of all educational establishments shall be adapted to practical life. The conception of the State Idea (science of citizenship) must be taught in the schools from the very beginning. We demand that specially talented children of poor parents, whatever their station or occupation, be educated at the expense of the State.


That isn't socialism, that's meritocracy.

21 The State has the duty to help raise the standard of national health by providing maternity welfare centres, by prohibiting juvenile labour, by increasing physical fitness through the introduction of compulsory games and gymnastics, and by the greatest possible encouragement of associations concerned with the physical education of the young.


That isn't socialism, that's statism. They wanted a strong army.

22 We demand the abolition of the regular army and the creation of a national (folk) army.


That isn't socialism and they didn't do it.

23 We demand that there be a legal campaign against those who propagate deliberate political lies and disseminate them through the press. In order to make possible the creation of a German press, we demand:
(a) All editors and their assistants on newspapers published in the German language shall be German citizens.
(b) Non-German newspapers shall only be published with the express permission of the State. They must not be published in the German language.
(c) All financial interests in or in any way affecting German newspapers shall be forbidden to non-Germans by law, and we demand that the punishment for transgressing this law be the immediate suppression of the newspaper and the expulsion of the non-Germans from the Reich.
Newspapers transgressing against the common welfare shall be suppressed. We demand legal action against those tendencies in art and literature that have a disruptive influence upon the life of our folk, and that any organizations that offend against the foregoing demands shall be dissolved.


That isn't socialism either. That's nationalism.

24 We demand freedom for all religious faiths in the state, insofar as they do not endanger its existence or offend the moral and ethical sense of the Germanic race.


I dunno. Is religious tolerance socialism? Did they in fact do that?

Run the stuff in bold past any US conservative and they'll call that "socialism". It's not, but it is close. It's kindred.


You're telling us that all US conservatives are idiots. Why are you telling us this?

Further, somehow you are judging a political party by its campaign promises. If a party says things it thinks voters want to hear, that it has no intention of actually doing, what does that say about the party? Consider for example the GOP, which has campaigned for 30+ years for small government but which -- during 20 years of power -- has never decreased government. Does it actually make sense to call them a small-government party? Consider long-running GOP stand against abortion. What have they done about abortion beyond rant against it? Are they somehow an anti-abortion party?

The nazis said some things they thought socialists wanted to hear. That doesn't make them socialists.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

HugoSchmidt
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Re: 1049: "Bookshelf"

Postby HugoSchmidt » Wed May 02, 2012 9:54 am UTC

To J Thomas,

One, I quite specifically pointed you to the bolded bits and pointed out that these would be described as socialist initiatives, two, they most certainly did do these things so please quit , three, quit being tiresome and boring. I've argued this out repeatedly above so go back and read that if you want to see further reasoning, and if you cannot see that this puts the Nazis firmly in the left-wing economic tradition, it is because you do not want to. Quit being boring.


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