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Comment Re:He's right (Score 1) 487

Well, I can't speak from your point of view so when I say "justifiable" I mean it from the point of view I have, based in self-ownership.

So what of the case where my mentally instable child seems suicidal and I take away his/her gun and switchblade? Technically, I just reduced the number of choices. This question brings the subjectivity of choice and action into question. Maybe alcohol makes one person an addict incapable of function but it makes another person relaxed and free. The trouble is that the individual ultimately controls which one they will become (though it may not feel that way). Maybe my instable child was about to carve a sculpture with that switchblade and start the journey of being a sculptor.

I disagree that *any* poor people are powerless because they are poor. Human beings are incredibly resourceful - there are even homeless people who choose that lifestyle because they like travelling all their lives with no attachment. Others would kill themselves if they became homeless. We don't worry about the ability of birds to feed themselves, and yet humans are so much smarter, stronger and resourceful. The street smart can and often do go to pizzerias and bakeries at closing time to get free food. Religious organizations suffer in order to help the poor. People are generally very altruistic if approached peacefully and humbly.

In my example, the person has their finger over the button of a device you know to be capable of killing millions. Will they push it? We don't know for certain, but chances are, if they went to the trouble to obtain and emplace the device, they intend to use it.

Sure, but why kill them? Killing one person isn't moral just because they might have killed many other people. I want to stress that the action you describe is something that should probably be considered legal or at least unpunished, but it is not moral and is definitely a violation of someone's rights.

I believe the French would have been justified in preemptively attacking the Nazis after the invasion of Poland, for instance.

This is an interesting situation. Millions of people just had their rights terribly violated, and were looking for help. No one came. It would have been totally justifiable as well as moral for all people to go and fight back the Nazis. It would be unjustifiable to create a draft, and force all those people to go fight the Nazis.

In the case of someone holding a gun to your head and saying "suck my dick" -- that is definitely coercion and totally unjustifiable. This is really quite different from offering a poor person a shitty job.

Do you or do you not believe in absolute property rights? You claimed you didn't before, but here you seem to. Does your right to control the fruits of your labor extend to physically harming those who would take them from you?

Yes, I believe in absolute property rights. Absolute property rights do not trump other people's rights. Therefore, I can't justifiably hurt you just because you're on my property. If I do hurt you, I have committed a sort of crime and should be dealt with according to the particular situation and damage done. If you take something of mine, I can take it back or try to stop you even if it involves subduing you.

If I kill someone because they stole my strawberry, I should be punished according to the murder I committed. If someone is trying to kill me and I kill them instead, I should not be punished. Property rights are derived from self-ownership but are not equal to it. My property is not me, and the punishment should always fit the crime.

In the case of my neighbor's farm burning down and giving them just enough food to get by -- I'm a total asshole but I'm not unjustified in my actions. No one is forcing them to stay there -- it's farmland territory so they can scavenge anyway. Hell, they own their property so they should just start rebuilding it -- certainly they should ask for help but not force people to do it.

As for ownership, homesteading is an important concept in property rights. If no one claims ownership of some land, and you're using it -- congratulations! you now own it. This continues until it is abandoned. I tend to reject the theory that when you mix your labor with land or resources you own it -- how much labor? how much land?

Taking a natural resource as your own necessarily means that no one else can use it. It removes that choice from everyone else on the planet, whether they support your idea of property rights or not.

This is a very common fallacy, which also happens to be a key misunderstanding of Marx's about the factors of production. Prices exist as a result of conflict over resources. All prices exist as a resolution to conflict -- this is what a price is. When you sell a resource, you are making it available to others.

Further, it may be said that all property was initially some form of theft -- of depriving others of some resource. However, there is nothing inherently wrong with this (especially given that this is a reference to an ancient time, where man was not as aware as he is now), and there is no argument that justifies violence or re-appropriation of those resources. If those resources are wanted that badly, there should be a mutually agreed upon trade for those resources. Whether it involves capital or not is irrelevant.

I simply reject the notion of people as property. I don't think the concept of property applies to people. I believe that using it in that context is simply an underhanded way of advancing the idea of property as a fundamental right.

The trouble is that people exist, and have bodies. Who owns your body? You or Society? Ownership of the body is identical to possession of the body and related to identification with that body and all of its experiences and memories -- you are the one moving around and doing stuff. What happens if you punch someone in the face? If no one owns the fist or the face, who bears responsibility for the action? If no one felt it, why does it matter? I identify myself with my totally neutral awareness. My body and all of my likes and dislikes are together on their own level. Thus, I am a point of awareness that may or may not exist, but I take complete responsibility for whatever my body may do simply because that is IMO the nature of life, and the nature of living.

Taken to the logical end point, the idea of private ownership of natural resources necessarily leads to a world where all natural resources are owned by a small subset of individuals, and everyone else is dependent on those individuals for survival. I find that outcome unacceptable. Either some limits must be placed on ownership of natural resources, to ensure that everyone has access to a means of survival not controlled by another person, or we must collectively and democratically manage natural resources together.

There's no reason to think that a small subset of individuals would own everything, heck -- how is this any different from government? I will maintain that government is always a small collection of individuals telling everyone else what to do.

As an individual, you really have no input into what the government officials will say or do. When I argue against government -- I'm actually arguing for the decentralization and localization of government. Collective care is a central social role. It's something people naturally care about and engage in. When politics is decentralized to the point that it's more about local views and customs, people are making more informed decisions because they consider the repercussions as they apply to themselves and their neighbors.

Comment Re:He's right (Score 2) 487

But where do freedom and choice exist?

You seem to be making a utilitarian argument, and define utility as relating to how free people feel? I reject utilitarian arguments (they are so common though, sometimes I catch myself making them), simply because utility doesn't exist as an objective measure and different actions affect different people differently. You can't know beforehand how every single person will be affected.

In your case of a poor person starving you hit a pet peeve of mine; why do you assume this person is totally powerless because they are poor? If they don't wish to work for the asshole commanding them, they can look elsewhere or go to a homeless shelter for food. What if the person commanding them is actually a generous person; someone willing to take a chance on the potentially homeless person and is in need of some work to be done? It's the same concept as people with bad credit having to pay higher interest; the money might help them advance but there's a likelihood it won't. The interest is high to fund the loan.

Property rights are a very complex issue, and an issue that most people including libertarians don't think through. I don't see how I went against absolute property rights in my arguments, I think that I reinforced the idea while describing a scenario with the interaction of natural rights and property rights.

I do not have a right to harm anyone else. I have a right to harm myself, mostly because there needs to be both an aggressor and a victim to any violation of rights. When I violate someone else's rights, the punishment must fit the crime. If I stole someone's orange, they don't have the right to kill me. I cannot justifiably ever violate your rights (property rights to your body). Some other arbitration party would resolve the aftermath because the event cannot be taken back.

Your sniper situation is socially acceptable. If you can prove to your community's arbitration system that you saved millions of people through your actions then they will probably not punish you for murder. Your rights are in question because you violated another person's rights. You murdered someone who didn't yet do anything wrong (where is the concrete proof they were going to do it) -- this is unjust. Do you also support "pre-emptive war"?

Absolute property rights are simply derived from absolute rights to own one's own body. The right to own one's body is linked to the nature of consciousness and the physical ability to act for and fend for one's self. A person in a vegetative state doesn't have this right - this person is essentially the property of their next of kin (who actively take ownership of the person's body in a vegetative state).

Sleep is a temporary state and one where the individual is not responsive, but still technically conscious. Brain activity confirms this view, as being in a coma is drastically different than sleep -- an active state of mind. The inactivity of sleep is greatly overstated -- we are born with basic "security features" to wake us in the case of danger.

Comment Re:He's right (Score 2) 487

I appreciate that you have spent the time in issuing some formal arguments, but don't appreciate the patronizing and dismissive attitude you're beginning to take with me.

In the case of the dinner scenario, using force on my part is not justified. I invited you in, and this is now my problem to deal with. You are not hurting anyone. As I invited you in willingly, my property rights have not been violated. I can ask you to leave, but I don't think that's what I would personally do.

Either there's a real reason you're masturbating into your soup, or there's a compulsion you are under. Just spending some time with you in the moment and talking to you would eventually dispel the compulsion. If you were ever to initiate force, I would be justified in self defense.

Let's say I'm not me, and I want to throw you out. Fine, I do so. I am totally responsible for the harm caused to you, and you can sue me or justifiably use the same amount of coercion on me.

Your analogy is flawed, because government is not an owner, nor was it intended to be as such. Breaking arbitrary rules is not initiating force -- as in the case of you masturbating into your soup. You did not conceivably harm anyone, only your standing in that small hypothetical society. It is not morally acceptable for me to throw you into prison, because you committed some faux pas.

It is a sophism to say that because natural rights are debatable, that means anything might be a right and therefore you can throw me into a cage and beat me for masturbating into your soup. I'm not talking about high-minded ideals to live by, I am talking about a survival-of-the-most-adaptable kind of "right." I can own things because I own myself (because I have the ability to keep and control them). I can exist. You're right that this view means that because you are part of a strong collective, you can take my things away and kill me (I will resist). I accept this, and still live in America. I accept that I live in what I perceive as an unjust society. I try to live my life in a just and independent way and in doing so hope that other people will see the value of my approach. I hope I can give some sense of all rights as deriving from one's physical existence and actions, and of seeing no entitlement as a right.

Human beings are compassionate and altruistic by their nature, and modern research keeps confirming this view. They are also habitual and ignorant. People don't want to commit harm, but people are naive and believe what is told to them and thus are able to commit atrocities in the name of what they see is Good or Just. In my anti-collective, anti-statist stance what I am standing up for is the ability of man to cooperate and live in the moment, unwilling to sacrifice or kill another human being for any ideal.

I agree that overthrowing a government which has the support of its people is coercive. I can't force you to not be a masochist, nor would that be productive. However, it is coercive to force me to be a part of your collective, and to take my property away because you don't want me to live near you, or you want to claim the control of me and my labour. In fact America already does this and will continue to do it for some time.

As for Proudhon, I never liked any of his arguments and thought that Marx made more sense (not that I see his arguments as actually making sense) purely because of his relative consistency. I read individualist anarchists because I have come to this view largely on my own, and others have come to the same view in different ways. In reading them, I can expand my views without having to compromise my basic beliefs that violence is wrong, and forcefully taking the result of others' labour is unjustified in any case.

Comment Re:He's right (Score 1) 487

Woops, the part responding to this quote dropped off:

Competition does not necessarily foster innovation or better products.

Wrong. "Better" is defined as better suited to the needs of customers. By definition, competition results in better products.

Comment Re:He's right (Score 1) 487

Thank you for pointing out some gross factual inconsistencies I had, though I want to stress that nothing was said about the arguments themselves.

In the case of 40%, you're right -- that's at best misleading and at worst a lie.

The Act applies to any expatriate if that individual (i) has a net worth of US$2 million or more; (ii) has an average net U.S. income tax liability of greater than US$139,000 for the five year period prior to expatriation; or (iii) fails to certify that he has complied with all U.S. federal tax obligations for the preceding five years (the ‘covered expatriate').

There are multiple ways to have this requirement, #3 has the potential for abuse.

Note that retirement savings are counted in these "capital gains" as well as any property sales, the highest capital gains tax is applied to anything over 600k-- currently 35%, 39.6% starting in 2013. The crux of the argument remains that the US gov will try to lay claim to your property if you want to renounce citizenship (there's even a large fee fee associated with renouncing). Did they earn this money in any form whatsoever? Why are they taking this property?

In the case of public education, yes, individual states had public education previously. However, the reformation made public education a huge effort with the intentions I mentioned. National standards did become an issue, and a federal office was established for education.

Coercion is a necessary variable in the definition of government, the standard poly-sci definition is close to mine. Your definition is for the word "club."

Mises comes to mind in articulating the use of coercion:

"Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning." -Ludwig Von Mises

Do you really expect me to articulate the case for a private police force in the comments section of slashdot? Read some Walter Block or Murray Rothbard for that view, I am not touching it. Again, it's in everyone's interest to pay for a police force that is just -- would you pay for a police force that lets murderers go free? And frankly, your argument ALREADY applies to my criticism of the public police force -- there are thousands of innocents murdered where the murderers go free and unpunished (policemen). I am not in their club, and so I am a lesser human being.

I even know a police officer who was badly beaten and nearly killed by his police officers for reporting something their friend did -- and they went totally free.

Competition does not necessarily foster innovation or better products.

Your ideas of "economic coercion" are silly because there's no coercion involved -- if they drop their prices that low, then everyone benefits for a while. All it takes is making competition and entry into the market easy to stop that kind of "coercion."

Your ideals of "democracy" have created a world of war, starvation, corruption and unpunished murder on many fronts. My ideal is built on reason and rights, where no one is above the "law".

Comment Re:He's right (Score 1) 487

re, the 40% on assets:

Retirement savings are part of these special assets. It's true that it doesn't apply in all cases, but it certainly is a huge tax burden.

Rights are a null concept when totally alone, because they relate only to other people. Again, I disagree that they are irrelevant outside of a given society, and that they should be well known if they are derived from reality. Mathematics and science are both proof that a priori doesn't mean "common knowledge."

The thing that defines government, is that it is involuntary and based on coercion. To this end, I do not care for government. There are ways to organize society that don't involve government -- subscription based government is actually an oxymoron. I fully understand the way that government is meant to function, and perhaps it could work if it was based purely on negative rights (but politicians are self-serving at the expense of others, I don't think it's possible). As soon as positive rights enter the picture, I question the legitimacy of that government.

Public education has been around for a long time, and no government may lay claim to its existence. Public schools are different from public education.

American literacy before the Civil war was good (sorry, relying on memory as I can't find exact figures right now) -- there were no public schools, but families understood the importance of education and would make it a huge priority. There were philanthropic organizations providing free education and housing to the disadvantaged (actually, the 19th century was the greatest century for American philanthropy as a result of the massive wealth created in America).

The public education system in America was officially established to prevent another Civil War from happening (words of the founding leader), not to educate people for the sake of knowledge and well-roundedness. In fact, some of the early standards involved ethno-centric teachings where the Irish were forced to learn how they are inferior. My biggest gripe with public education is that it forces people to learn according to an arbitrary standard set at a federal level -- this means that communities have little to say in the education of their own people.

I know one teacher who have quit public schooling, because the stringent reliance on standards violated any kind of creative methods in teaching and prohibited learning anything more, because the semesters' lesson plans were very specific about what had to be taught.

If you want to go to a private school, you still have to pay for the public schools and adhere to national standards.

Again, public education has existed for a long time and without the support of government. Public schools are a different matter. Public education is an example of a public good as a natural monopoly. It's beneficial to any given community to have one police force, one school, etc -- but this kind of situation rests on peaceful economic grounds. It's okay to have competing and equal police forces and schools, and in fact -- it's a necessity that this can be the case in a free society.

What do you do when the police force is corrupt and the public schools are underperforming? In the case of an open market, businesses adapt to the money available and change business plans dramatically if necessary. In the case of a public funding, organizations can only complain that they don't get enough money. They are not involved with the source of the money, and are not really earning it as a service to customers.

Comment Re:He's right (Score 1) 487

Rights are derived from property rights, you own yourself because you as an individual have the ability to move around and make decisions. No one else can lay claim to moving you around and making you do things. This is the only meaning of ownership. These rights are not invented by society, because they are tied to a priori phenomenon. Human rights exist because of human nature, which has been the constant throughout the ages. Rights are not given by some arbitrary collective.

It's true that rights are still concepts, but then so is anything else. The closer man comes to the truth behind human nature, the further he will understand the nature of human rights.

The rule of law is NOT subjective, the idea is that all laws apply equally to all people, that is clear cut and not objective at all. If it is not carried out that way, it is not the rule of law, it is arbitrary power.

That's an idea which is perfectly fine as an ideal, but it's something that can't be true. How can law enforce itself? In fact, I would argue government is arbitrary power because it is absolute power.

I don't know if government can really be considered a choice. Did you know that if you renounce citizenship from America, you have to pay up 40% of the value of all your assets and whatever taxes are due? That if you work overseas, you are responsible to pay American taxes as well as local taxes (some individual places have agreements to avoid this)?

What makes the constitution(a kind of contract) of a nation binding? Contract law would suggest that any agreement must require two parties. However, this isn't the reality. Most people are born into this kind of servitude and continue the tradition, because they can generally live full lives. What about those who have some claim to property (it has been in their family since before America existed), but do not approve of the federal government and do not choose it.

Let's take a step back in the context of American history -- even 100 years ago you still identified more with your state, as a citizen, than with the federal government. The federal government regularly oversteps its bounds, and is constantly increasing its range of power. It has taken the power to decide how much power it has, and further -- Congress willingly erodes the separation of the three branches of government by giving the executive branch more power.

Again, "go elsewhere" just doesn't apply to these kinds of situations. Reform and even abolishment are totally appropriate actions. The government is run by a lot of people who care about power, and who will violently resist those who would restrain them. Government is just a way of giving people absolute power.

You're completely right that getting rid of government isn't going to solve problems of corruption. However, I would argue that from a historical context, government is indistinguishable from organized crime. Violence & Kidnapping & Murder? Check. Slavery? (draft is the most obvious example) Check. Theft? Check. Taking care of favored people? Check. (In fact, the mafia takes care of anyone considered part of the "family" for life -- this can be earned with favors).

There would be some substantial and lasting effects to getting rid of government. For one, the creation of the federal reserve allowed American politicians to borrow random and absurd amounts of money from the American public at will. World War I would not have been possible without it. In fact, no war could be afforded without such a mechanism. We currently have over 700 military bases around the world; those would no longer be able to exist. All programs that the public does not support would immediately collapse and remain collapsed. In the case of social services, consider that the poor and needy have been largely taken care of in every Western society since the 1600s (often by religious groups).

I would counter that you confuse "cause" and "effect" in supporting government over society. What is government, other than a tool of oppression? If I didn't want to help a friend pay for his child's schooling for whatever reason, would it be just to take the money from me anyway? Is it more just if a group of people votes to take the money from me?

I think whatever inconsistencies you see have more to do with a conflict of definition.

Comment Re:He's right (Score 1) 487

My logic only appears flawed because your contextual understanding is incompatible with mine.

Are pencils threats too, because you can kill someone with them? Guns are primarily for defense, and for hunting food. All rights are derived from property rights -- you own yourself, therefore, etc. Violating another person's rights(negative) is different from defending yourself from violation(neutral/positive) -- this is why guns are morally neutral.

The rule of law IS subjective, because law is an abstract -- don't anthropomorphize law and pretend it can give an answer itself. There are thousands of laws which are unenforced -- explain to me how this feeds into the "Rule of Law" ? "Rule of Law" is an absurd proposition meant to absolve politicians and law officers from wrongdoing. Thousands of murders go unnoticed and unpunished because they were committed by a police officer (yes, these are innocents not gang members shooting at the cops).

[quote]Huge corporations can currently get what they want, because we, the people, let them. We do not have to, and we do not need a revolution to stop them, we simply need to exercise our authority as citizens.[/quote]

Correct, and all governments (totalitarian or not) have the implicit support of the people (Boetie reference). You seem not to realize that our government is corporatist -- you are supporting reckless&evil corporations by supporting the government. The heads of pharma and agriculture regularly step in and out as high-ranking officials at the FDA, we in America subsidize corn for political reasons (note: farmers sell corn for less than the cost to produce -- they are not part of a "free" market whatsoever and are basically indentured slaves). One negative result is that high fructose corn syrup is in damn-near everything and we have the diabetes as a nation to show it. ----

I'll try to address many of your other concerns with an explanation touching on the economics (the study of human action).

You are used to fraudulent big pharma and big business existing, but consider the proposition that destructive monopoly is a creation of government regulation. Corporations existing as individuals with property rights, copyright & IP (a seemingly excellent idea, but it has shown itself to be primarily a tool for corporate interest), bailouts and subsidies -- these are all creation of government. Fannie&Freddie, the housing collapse -- these started with the government. In fact, every depression in history can be linked to some form of loose monetary policy (yes, even the Dutch Tulip craze).

Great evil is committed under this system. Consider that corporations would be unable to lobby, if not for having corrupt politicians giving them their power. Government is the source of corporate power. Yet, it offers much, much less power to individuals. What happens when a loved one is murdered by a police officer, who is never prosecuted? What happens when any government worker does you harm? Because it is government, you do not have a choice. Period.

Did you know that Common Law developed in Britain outside of any government involvement whatsoever? When the US or a major corporation does you harm, you cannot successfully sue them (the American tort system is totally skewed and corrupt) except in relatively minor cases where a locality is involved.

There is nothing *inherently* bad about either unequal distribution of wealth or monopoly. There is something TREMENDOUSLY bad when those things exist as the result of theft or appropriation, because they do not reflect either reality or people's preferences. When millions of people buy iphones and ipads because they're awesome -- this is good. Quality of life increases, and wealth increases. The economy is not a zero-sum game; wealth is better defined as compounded productivity rather than the existence of some material.

When, however, you are wealthy because the government gave you hundreds of billions of dollars (that they did not earn, but took from citizens) as a result of your own bad decisions -- this is quite bad. It is robbing from the poor to give to the rich, curiously -- this is an economically destructive action. The argument that it's better for everyone holds no water, in light of the liquidation which would occur. The good parts of those bad companies would have been bought up by smaller groups with more vested interest.

You do not understand what a free market is. America is a form of State Capitalism, a hybrid of socialism and capitalism (largely because of subsidies and the tax system). Doesn't it make you angry that government regularly seizes property and gives it to corporations? That big business is regularly given humongous tax breaks, just for existing? That local laws don't govern corporations in many cases? This is not equal treatment under the law. And frankly, it illustrates that the "Rule of Law" is a silly concept, because the culprits are all human beings.

As for "GO ELSEWHERE," that's absurd. When the police wrongfully murder your children, or they get drafted -- will you just "go elsewhere"? When America wages constant war for imperial reasons, will you "go elsewhere"? When you are imprisoned for something you did not do, will you "go elsewhere"?

Yes, going elsewhere is a choice in a free market. But we neither have a free market, nor is government market-based.

I leave you with this; I am 100% for the existence of subscription based governments, or at least government where you sign a contract every few years and both sides agree to meet certain obligations. As it is, Americans do not have any way of withholding funds and so there can be no accountability.

Comment Re:He's right (Score 1) 487

On the off chance you won't get upset with this point of view... regulations are not morally neutral because they are solely supported by the threat of violence. Yes, you could make a threat with a gun but it's not a threat in and of itself. This might be too abstract a view, so consider the practicality of what a regulation is. There is no such thing as the "rule of law" -- it is always the rule of Man because laws are interpreted and enforced subjectively. Huge corporations can pay to avoid any particular regulation (fines, lawsuits, whatever), but small businesses and individuals cannot -- do you see how regulation is inherently corporatist?

There are two ways to make money -- earn it by making people support what you do financially, or have it appropriated to yourself (bailouts, eminent domain, copyright abuse, etc -- all violent actions supported by a violent State).

Comment Re:The fact is, US is just as bad as China (Score 1) 536

Exactly! but you could attempt to negotiate, in your example. The argument of "if you don't like it, move elsewhere" is incomplete.

The necessary relationship of government and society is that society implicitly supports its government even in the case of deep tyranny. If you "decline" the "offer" in the case of government, you will be incarcerated, have your property taken away or possibly killed (in sharp contrast to negotiating to buy something -- which is based on mutual consent). But the action taken is reflective of the society -- law means nothing if it is not carried out by someone.

Comment Re:The fact is, US is just as bad as China (Score 1) 536

If it were as easy as "go somewhere else" then government wouldn't matter and it would be like a subscription you can pay; it's easy enough to move to another community, but to move elsewhere in the world? Where is there a place not ruled by arbitrary law punishable by arbitrary levels of coercion?

To an extent tyranny certainly does mean being forced to do anything you don't want to do -- this is a key difference between society and government. In fact, that's why the federal government of the US was originally set up to be both voluntary and restricted to fundamental rights.

Comment Re:So? (Score 1) 435

Really though? A felony requires at least 1 year in prison, while a misdemeanor requires anything less -- a steep fine would certainly keep people away. This has nothing to do with causing damage, rushing a boat or anything except proximity -- if you are within 65 feet of the restricted areas, you are now a felon.

I understand the desire for safety, but this is pretty extreme.

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