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I'm going to have to stop you there. It's not up to you to decide who gets what wealth because that wealth doesn't belong to you. You have no right to treat other human beings as ATMs.

 

Your wealth only belongs to you by virtue of your living in a civilised society. With rights come responsibilities back to that society.

 

Who is going to pay for the Navy, Army? Where are you going to get your sailors and soldiers if you can't keep your population healthy? Who is going to fund fundamental scientific research, paved roads and other high-risk ventures with uncertain return? How are you going to find the best brains among the young if you don't provide education widely across society?

 

If you live on an isolated island alone and are self-sufficient in everything then you can claim your absolute prerogatives. If you live in a community you are going to have to compromise and temper your personal interests where they clash with those of others.

 

So, in a sense your wealth would also belong to me (if I lived in the same country) - if I pay my taxes then you also must, or you will owe me (as I'm funding your shortfall).

 

Regards

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Who is going to fund fundamental scientific research, paved roads and other high-risk ventures with uncertain return?

 

I just have to leave this here...

 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44090512/ns/health-cancer/?GT1=43001

 

Basically, scientists working at the University of Pennsylvania managed to come up with a treatment that seems to be capable of taking out leukemia. With ONE shot.

 

The kicker: they did it without corporate or government funding of any kind. They got a grant from a charitable organization.

 

Incidentally, the first paved roads in the USA were paid for by the League of American Wheelmen - a group of bicyclists.

 

And speaking of high-risk ventures... private space looks likely to eclipse Public Space (NASA) before very long. (Ironically, in the US, the privatization of space is being promoted by the People For The Socialization Of Everything Else Under The Sun.)

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You can always find an exception for any rule.

 

But the space program is not an exception. There was no way for either the US or USSR to have developed the technologies and done the launches either commercially or on charitable contributions. Now, of course when the technologies have been understood, market formed it's easy (well not really but figuratively speaking...) for commercial interests to come in...

 

Regards

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Michael Archer:

 

I don't think I can give much further discussion with regarding what's ethical or good for society. It all comes down to this argument for me:

No.

I assume that you rightfully earned the calabar bean through hard work and voluntary trade.

Just because I can't afford to buy your antidote, does not give me the right to stick a gun in your face and demand that you give it to me. I should have been more prudent, and planned for the future. You didn't kill me.

If it helps, assume you're part of a crew that shipwrecked on an island and I found my bean in the forest earlier. If your answer is still no, I consider that a little bit sociopathic, because I think it means you value property rights over human lives in all circumstances.

 

I'll respond to some things where I think you misunderstood my meaning or answer your questions however:

 

I'm going to have to disagree when you say it's harmful to the middle class. Before capitalism, there was no middle class. Saying that capitalism is bad because some of the middle class struggles is like saying that oxygen is bad because it fuels criminals. If there was no oxygen, there would be no criminals; likewise, if there was no capitalism, there would be no struggle middle class to suffer.
I'm not saying before capitalism, I'm saying it's become that way. Like if you were to compare the middle class in America 40 years ago to what it is now, the percentage of people that belong to it has gone down notably.

 

She didn't earn anything. Nothing in the poster does it says that she has a high-earning job. Her parents got her everything.
If she's part of the upper 1% and has a fund of sorts, she's probably earning well over what most hard working Americans do just from interest and / or share dividends from stocks. It doesn't matter if it was all given to her, that's a common case with many wealthy families, she's now earning the income from what was given to her. Now you can argue that she didn't "earn" it in a traditional sense of putting work into it, but there are loads of millionaires who the same is true of. If it's made from interest / stocks dividends, she is still legally acquiring that money and the IRS would consider it "earnings."

 

You used the word "tradeoff"; are you a utilitarian?
I'm not sure, my basic attitude is that if a society has enough resources collectively to do so (or an abundance of them), it should be able to provide basic needs for all its citizens, regardless of their condition. If that's not being done, then I think something should be changed so that is accomplished. I'm not anti-capitalism, but I also think there should be limits to it. Like say there was a society where no one could earn more than 100 million dollars. The excess money would be used to fund projects like roads, public schools, libraries, etc. I think that would be great, because I think the overall good that would create for people would outweigh the person's plans for their money past 100 million dollars. At 100 million dollars, the individual still has more wealth, resources and power than the vast, vast majority of humanity.

 

You could even have a system where the earner over 100 million could choose how his extra money was distributed within certain channels. Say the money would normally be going to go to roads, but he wants it all to go to non-profit cancer research instead, that would be fine too. The excess money could NOT go towards buying a new mansion or investing in bank company stock however. The "acid test" for this would be to demonstrate the clear connection as to how this improves society as a whole. Simply "creating jobs" wouldn't count, it would have to do more than that. I'm not sure if this is utilitarian or not, I think it contains elements, but doesn't take it to an extreme.

 

Your tyranny of the majority argument is valid, but I think imposing limits on some of the most powerful people on earth isn't the same as "tyranny." Besides, the limits wouldn't be applied unequally. In my conceptual society, EVERYONE would be under the 100 million limitation. The difference is people earning $20,000 wouldn't be so worried about it.

 

Isn't Social Security bankrupt? Wasn't that a big cause of the whole debt crisis?
Yes, that is part of it, but taxes are also lower than they've ever been. On a micro level, if your paycheck was cut in half and you can no longer pay medical bills, are your medical bills the sole cause of you going into debt?

 

Also, Bush isn't the poster boy for capitalism. I also don't know what caused the poverty rate to increase. But shouldn't have Obama's job plans decreased poverty also?
I wasn't trying to imply Bush was, but he WAS responsible for a LOT of tax cuts, which you can use to see if there's any correlation between that and poverty. As for Obama's job plans, I always felt like it was just stalling the problems from 2008.

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The pepper spray video? How is that "insanity"? The police uses force in retaliation to the initiation of force; that's the entire purpose of the police.

 

The students were using force to stay on the sidewalk (property on which the owner did not give consent). When they were being asked to leave, they chose to stay; that's is the initiation of aggression and force. The police even gave them the opportunity to leave without a struggle, and they said no.

 

I fail to see how the pepper spraying was inappropriate.

 

Your wealth only belongs to you by virtue of your living in a civilised society. With rights come responsibilities back to that society.

 

So you're saying that the effort that someone undertook to create wealth means nothing? What kind of responsibilities are you referring to? Keep in mind that no wealth was "taken" from society (a robber should "give back" to society); the businessman created the wealth.

 

If it helps, assume you're part of a crew that shipwrecked on an island and I found my bean in the forest earlier. If your answer is still no, I consider that a little bit sociopathic, because I think it means you value property rights over human lives in all circumstances.

 

Well in that case, I would give the bean since my survival at that point probably depends on cooperation. Someone who didn't give the bean would be acting immorally, unless he can survive on his own, if he didn't give the bean.

 

But as a fundamental issue, I don't think that the responsibility for someone's life falls to anyone but that person. The problem is that there's absolutely no middle ground between what you're saying and what I'm saying. I say that someone is entitled to their own lives and effort, and you say they're not. I say that all human relationships should be voluntary, and you say they shouldn't be. I say that you should be free to act based on your best judgement, and you say you shouldn't be.

 

If she's part of the upper 1% and has a fund of sorts, she's probably earning well over what most hard working Americans do just from interest and / or share dividends from stocks. It doesn't matter if it was all given to her, that's a common case with many wealthy families, she's now earning the income from what was given to her. Now you can argue that she didn't "earn" it in a traditional sense of putting work into it, but there are loads of millionaires who the same is true of. If it's made from interest / stocks dividends, she is still legally acquiring that money and the IRS would consider it "earnings."

 

I guess you're right, in a sense. But my problem is that her parents worked hard and gave her all that because they love her and they want her to have a comfortable life, and now she says she hates what they did. I think she's biting the hand that feeds her.

 

I'm not sure, my basic attitude is that if a society has enough resources collectively to do so (or an abundance of them), it should be able to provide basic needs for all its citizens, regardless of their condition. If that's not being done, then I think something should be changed so that is accomplished. I'm not anti-capitalism, but I also think there should be limits to it. Like say there was a society where no one could earn more than 100 million dollars. The excess money would be used to fund projects like roads, public schools, libraries, etc. I think that would be great, because I think the overall good that would create for people would outweigh the person's plans for their money past 100 million dollars. At 100 million dollars, the individual still has more wealth, resources and power than the vast, vast majority of humanity.

 

You could even have a system where the earner over 100 million could choose how his extra money was distributed within certain channels. Say the money would normally be going to go to roads, but he wants it all to go to non-profit cancer research instead, that would be fine too. The excess money could NOT go towards buying a new mansion or investing in bank company stock however. The "acid test" for this would be to demonstrate the clear connection as to how this improves society as a whole. Simply "creating jobs" wouldn't count, it would have to do more than that. I'm not sure if this is utilitarian or not, I think it contains elements, but doesn't take it to an extreme.

 

Your tyranny of the majority argument is valid, but I think imposing limits on some of the most powerful people on earth isn't the same as "tyranny." Besides, the limits wouldn't be applied unequally. In my conceptual society, EVERYONE would be under the 100 million limitation. The difference is people earning $20,000 wouldn't be so worried about it.

 

That "overall good" part is a utilitarian idea. I consider myself a moral absolutist, so I guess it's not surprising when we differ so greatly. I think people are entitled to the wealth they make, since I believe that individual rights are moral absolutes.

 

I think when you say "most powerful people", you're missing a lot of important subtext. There's a BIG difference between economic "power" and political power. Case in point: let's compare the late Ghaddfi and the late Steve Jobs. They were both very powerful men, but one's power was economic power obtained through hard work and the other one was political power through the initiation of force and fear. The difference between political power and economic power is that the latter is through positive reinforcement, voluntary relationships, voluntary exchange of goods and production; while the former is through fear, coercion and force. I think peaceful production is good and cannot morally be halted while force is bad.

 

Yes, that is part of it, but taxes are also lower than they've ever been. On a micro level, if your paycheck was cut in half and you can no longer pay medical bills, are your medical bills the sole cause of you going into debt?

 

Are you sure? I remember reading some sort of "tax poem". Back in the days of President Andrew Jackson, there was no income tax, no debt and an enormous middle-class. There wasn't an income tax until the Civil War happened.

 

In your medical bill situation, I would say yes. When you cut taxes, it means nothing if you don't cut expenses. Likewise, if your paycheck gets cut in half, then you have to cut expenses as well. If you have one expense that's not cut, that puts you into debt. That's the way I see it, anyway.

 

I wasn't trying to imply Bush was, but he WAS responsible for a LOT of tax cuts, which you can use to see if there's any correlation between that and poverty. As for Obama's job plans, I always felt like it was just stalling the problems from 2008.

 

I remember he was also bragging about how low the homeless rate was. He cut taxes, but he also bullied banks into making bad loans so he could say how prosperous America was. Little did he know that he was laying the foundation for the recession.

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Well in that case, I would give the bean since my survival at that point probably depends on cooperation. Someone who didn't give the bean would be acting immorally, unless he can survive on his own, if he didn't give the bean.
No, assume there's lots of vegetation and resources and the island is big enough that someone can probably go off and survive on their own if they choose.

 

The problem is that there's absolutely no middle ground between what you're saying and what I'm saying.
Yes there is. You may not AGREE to any middle ground scenarios, but here are several variations, ranging from one spectrum to the other:

 

1. Different scenario, you're fine and didn't eat the berry. You want my bean so you can smoke it in a pipe. (loss of property to me for something foolish)

2. Original scenario, and I also own 2,000 beans. I have no immediate plans for them, but I put in the work in collecting them all. (one bean has minimal value to me, albeit some)

3. Original scenario, but I have no plans for my one bean (one bean may have some value to me, but I'm not sure)

4. Original scenario, but there are 5 people who accidentally ate the berries. If I give the bean to one of them, it might cause the others to become to violent towards the recipient. (bean might not help if I give it to him)

5. Original scenario, but I was going to trade my bean for a boat to get off the island. (bean has very high personal value to me)

6. Original scenario, but we've both accidentally eaten the berry. If I cut the bean in half and share it, we both have a 50% chance of living (great personal risk to my life if I share any of the bean)

7. Same scenario, but we've both eaten the berry, and only the full bean will cure one of us (the only way to save your life is to sacrifice mine)

 

There's plenty of middle ground in these scenario variations, the effects of each scenario for you personally ranges from minimal to extreme. I see a BIG difference between scenario #2 and scenario #7. If you only see something in terms of absolutes, then you're right, there is no compromise in any scenario, even if it means people die with negligible loss to yourself. I find that view sociopathic. I consider people's lives to be generally more valuable than personal property, even if they won't contribute anything to me. However the more I have to sacrifice to help someone (my own life being the most extreme example), the less likely I am to give something up. For me it's a spectrum, not a binary all-or-nothing scale. I can agree to give up my bean in some of the scenarios, but not others, and still have general principles I adhere to.

 

I say that someone is entitled to their own lives and effort, and you say they're not. I say that all human relationships should be voluntary, and you say they shouldn't be. I say that you should be free to act based on your best judgement, and you say you shouldn't be.
That's only true if you look at principles in binary and as 100% absolutes. So if I say you (and myself) are entitled to your own efforts in 99% of situations, but not in 1% of situations where your decisions mean people will die (not by your hand, but from a situation you can very easily prevent) if you're not forced to do so, then me saying you're "not" entitled to your own efforts is only true if you count any exception whatsoever as a tyranny, despite having the vast majority of your rights uninfringed.

 

But my problem is that her parents worked hard and gave her all that because they love her and they want her to have a comfortable life, and now she says she hates what they did. I think she's biting the hand that feeds her.
My understanding was that she hates what her parents did to acquire that wealth (which we know nothing about from the picture). Maybe they built a successful company using forced child labor from a 3rd world region, who knows. I don't think she hates the fact that they gave her wealth, but what they did to get it.

 

That "overall good" part is a utilitarian idea.
Well I do think that the "overall good" can get into grey area fast. While you disagree, I think scenario #2 quite clearly benefits the overall good. I am "robbed" of 0.0005% of my bean supply, and the end result is a man asking for help doesn't right die in front of me. Since the negative impact on me is so miniscule and my intervention is the only thing that will allow this man to live, I think it's unethical to not give him the bean. Otherwise, it's akin to saying I consider my one bean out of 2000 to be worth more than his life, which I think is kind of a monstrous way to look at the world.

 

Scenario #5 I consider murkier however. Yes, I could save his life, but that could severely hinder my ability to improve my own life and escape my conditions. I could even try to get help for everyone else if I leave the island. To me the "overall good" isn't as obvious in that situation. I'd say it's probably the better moral decision to give him the bean, but it would be a very human response to not give it to him in that scenario, because of the value associated with it.

 

And for what it's worth, I'm a strong believer in self-preservation. I only believe in the common good so long as a society HAS resources to easily support everyone. If it's an impoverished region that does NOT, then I feel anything goes, people will do whatever they can to survive.

 

I consider myself a moral absolutist, so I guess it's not surprising when we differ so greatly.
Well, I also like horror movies.

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So you're saying that the effort that someone undertook to create wealth means nothing? What kind of responsibilities are you referring to? Keep in mind that no wealth was "taken" from society (a robber should "give back" to society); the businessman created the wealth.

 

Wealth is meaningless without a society which gives value to things and concepts. You can try to sell iPads to prehistoric aboriginals but for them they would be of very little value.

 

You society gave you the education, roads, history, arts, security of the borders (kind of ;-) ), law and order. What you give back is a share of the value you received from other members in exchange for the fruits of your labour. Once you received your income, economically it has crystallised as funds available for spending or reinvestment. The society then requires you to spend a portion of these funds in a certain way for a "common benefit".

 

There are three issues here:

1) paying taxes to the state as a matter of principle,

2) the magnitude of such taxes and what is the base for their calculation,

3) spending tax money already collected by the state (on what and how much).

 

The necessity of number 1 is unquestionable, the numbers 2 and 3 are open and subject to (never ending) debates. And so they should be.

 

Regards

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I was talking more about that the students were just sitting there, and the cop pepper-sprayed them. Not sure why use of that was needed for just sitting around.

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Wealth is meaningless without a society which gives value to things and concepts. You can try to sell iPads to prehistoric aboriginals but for them they would be of very little value.

 

You're right. The quantity of wealth is determined objectively by supply and demand. What's your point?

 

You society gave you the education, roads, history, arts, security of the borders (kind of ;-) ), law and order. What you give back is a share of the value you received from other members in exchange for the fruits of your labour.

 

And people should and do pay (I object to the government's method of paying) for education and roads.

 

What I give back are called "wages" and they're clearly outlined in the contract between the employer and the employee and both parties are fully aware of the conditions for signing them.

 

Once you received your income, economically it has crystallised as funds available for spending or reinvestment. The society then requires you to spend a portion of these funds in a certain way for a "common benefit".

 

You're also right. Consumption is the end result of production. You can't have one without the other. Capitalism is a system of production e.g. investments and spending.

 

You're only helping my point, Vapymid.

 

There are three issues here:

1) paying taxes to the state as a matter of principle,

2) the magnitude of such taxes and what is the base for their calculation,

3) spending tax money already collected by the state (on what and how much).

 

The necessity of number 1 is unquestionable, the numbers 2 and 3 are open and subject to (never ending) debates. And so they should be.

 

I object to the necessity of number one, but I mentioned the alternative earlier in this thread and it's kind of offtopic since this thread is about Occupy Wall Street.

 

No, assume there's lots of vegetation and resources and the island is big enough that someone can probably go off and survive on their own if they choose.

 

Would I die without the bean since that was my only resource on the island? If yes, I consider giving away the bean to be immoral. If no, then it would be moral to keep it and also be moral to give it away. Because it's my bean, I get to say what happens to it. If it was a loved one, I value their lives more than the bean so I would give it away but I wouldn't give away the bean, just because you told me to do so. If you had a bean then you may give your bean to whomever you please under any conditions you please, but when it comes to my bean it's my choice.

 

The problem is that there's absolutely no middle ground between what you're saying and what I'm saying.
Yes there is. You may not AGREE to any middle ground scenarios, but here are several variations, ranging from one spectrum to the other:

 

Sorry, I wasn't talking about the bean scenario. I was talking about our fundamental moral codes:

 

I say that someone is entitled to their own lives and effort, and you say they're not. I say that all human relationships should be voluntary, and you say they shouldn't be. I say that you should be free to act based on your best judgement, and you say you shouldn't be.
That's only true if you look at principles in binary and as 100% absolutes. So if I say you (and myself) are entitled to your own efforts in 99% of situations, but not in 1% of situations where your decisions mean people will die (not by your hand, but from a situation you can very easily prevent) if you're not forced to do so, then me saying you're "not" entitled to your own efforts is only true if you count any exception whatsoever as a tyranny, despite having the vast majority of your rights uninfringed.

 

I only DO look at principles and binary, 100% absolutes in principles i.e. I agree with James Madison when he talks about "inalienable rights". I figure that if rights are not inalienable, then they're not really "rights" then; they're more like "privileges" that society can take away at any time i.e. society "grants" you existence and peace, but only if it feels like it.

 

I also do look at any small infringement of rights as tyranny. Again, this is because I view rights as inalienable absolutes. The flaws in the non-absolute view of rights are shown in a joke I have between me and my friend; in an incredibly bad TF2 Medic impression, he'll say:

 

"Jaa, jaa, you have ze right to ze freedzom of ze speech, ja. You just can't say anyzing badz about ze Führer az eet hurtz hees feelings; you cant say anyzing badz about ze Party; you can't be a Jude; you can't be a geepsey; you can't be a filsee, filsee capitaleest or communeest. But ozher zhan zhat, you haze ze freedom of ze speech!"

 

If you had trouble reading that, my friend is basically just saying that once you violate an inalienable absolute like the freedom of speech, there's no compromise between force and rights for the same reason that there's no compromise between cyanide and food. If you have the power to abridge a right to any extent, there's no logical reason why you wouldn't be able to extend that power farther and farther.

 

My understanding was that she hates what her parents did to acquire that wealth (which we know nothing about from the picture). Maybe they built a successful company using forced child labor from a 3rd world region, who knows. I don't think she hates the fact that they gave her wealth, but what they did to get it.

 

I just assumed that like all OWS protesters, she says the businesses are guilty until they are proven innocent.

 

Likewise, until I see evidence that her parents got their money through forced child labor in third world countries, I assume that they're honest and hard working businesspeople.

 

Also, the way she worded the poster made it seem to me like she was talking about her parent's money and not hers that she made through trust funds like you're suggesting. I guess there's nothing wrong with wanting to give her trust fund money to the government, but what I found horrible was the idea that she might be saying she wants the government to redistribute her parents money.

 

That "overall good" part is a utilitarian idea.
Well I do think that the "overall good" can get into grey area fast. While you disagree, I think scenario #2 quite clearly benefits the overall good. I am "robbed" of 0.0005% of my bean supply, and the end result is a man asking for help doesn't right die in front of me. Since the negative impact on me is so miniscule and my intervention is the only thing that will allow this man to live, I think it's unethical to not give him the bean. Otherwise, it's akin to saying I consider my one bean out of 2000 to be worth more than his life, which I think is kind of a monstrous way to look at the world.

 

Scenario #5 I consider murkier however. Yes, I could save his life, but that could severely hinder my ability to improve my own life and escape my conditions. I could even try to get help for everyone else if I leave the island. To me the "overall good" isn't as obvious in that situation. I'd say it's probably the better moral decision to give him the bean, but it would be a very human response to not give it to him in that scenario, because of the value associated with it.

 

And for what it's worth, I'm a strong believer in self-preservation. I only believe in the common good so long as a society HAS resources to easily support everyone. If it's an impoverished region that does NOT, then I feel anything goes, people will do whatever they can to survive.

 

I'm confused. You say you're a believer in self-preservation but then you go on to say that you believe that the government should use force to take away a man's tools for self-preservation (abridging a man's rights is taking away is tools for life, in essence. This can be more easily understood if you imagine a starving man about to eat his food but then he's robbed an gunpoint for it). In one sentence, you say that you're "robbed" of the bean but in the very next sentence you say that "it's unethical to not give him the bean." These are different things and concepts with different moral responses.

 

For example, I think it would be unethical to not call 911 if you see a person having a heart attack on the street because I would expect someone to do the same for me if I was having a heart attack and the lost time is negligible in my opinion. However, I don't think there should be any laws restricting people from walking away just as I don't think there should be any laws prohibiting "hate speech". I think that not calling 911 and distributing hateful material would be unethical, but I don't think either action should be banned. It's your right to decide what you do on your time and no one has the right to tell you otherwise, but just because one person deems something as unethical doesn't mean you have the right to initiate force on someone to make them do something.

 

I think you're making the mistake of confusing kindness with altruism. Those words are used interchangeably nowadays, but they mean very different things. Kindness is helping other people while altruism is the theory that you have no right to exist if you don't sacrifice yourself to other people.

 

It would be kind to give one out of the two thousand beans to someone dying (which I would definitely do); it would be altruism to say that you have no right to own those beans and you must sacrifice them all to other people. I reject altruism, since I think that people have the right to decide what they do with their own property.

 

I would give the bean, but I wouldn't do it just because you told me to. I would do it because I'm a nice guy and I want to. If someone else wouldn't, the dying person's need does not justify abridging the bean owner's rights.

 

Well, I also like horror movies.

And may I also take this opportunity to say again that The Tunnel was excellent, and the almost two and a half year development time was incredibly justified. :D

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Would I die without the bean since that was my only resource on the island? If yes, I consider giving away the bean to be immoral. If no, then it would be moral to keep it and also be moral to give it away. Because it's my bean, I get to say what happens to it.
In my example I'm trying not to make YOU the one who owns the bean, because this isn't a judgment of your own character, but your attitude towards the morality of people in general. But assume the person with the bean has not eaten the berry, nor does it have high value to him like in scenario #5. He has no present or planned need for the bean, but it is his property. You're saying it's not immoral to let the berry-eater die right in front of him when he can prevent it, even if the bean has minimal value to him?

 

If you had trouble reading that, my friend is basically just saying that once you violate an inalienable absolute like the freedom of speech, there's no compromise between force and rights for the same reason that there's no compromise between cyanide and food. If you have the power to abridge a right to any extent, there's no logical reason why you wouldn't be able to extend that power farther and farther.
You're describing a slippery slope scenario. That's possible, but to say that ANY compromise means there's nothing stopping total corruption is incorrect. In practice, rights aren't actually unalienable. We have freedom of speech, but the classic example is you can't shout "fire" in a crowded theater where a panic could be caused and people could be trampled. That's not protected under the government, it's a situation where your would-be right can directly result in physical harm to others, even if you didn't physically harm anyone yourself.

 

I'm confused. You say you're a believer in self-preservation but then you go on to say that you believe that the government should use force to take away a man's tools for self-preservation (abridging a man's rights is taking away is tools for life, in essence.
Well this is where the NEED comes in. I think EVERYONE'S need for survival should be taken into consideration. Look at scenarios #5-7. In all of those, I have a real NEED for the bean as well. I think scenario #5 is debatable, but in scenarios #6-7, I NEED the bean just as much as you do. In those scenarios, I'm not suggesting it's immoral to keep the bean for myself at all, I think that's perfectly human.

 

I think you're making the mistake of confusing kindness with altruism. Those words are used interchangeably nowadays, but they mean very different things. Kindness is helping other people while altruism is the theory that you have no right to exist if you don't sacrifice yourself to other people.
That's not how I nor the dictionary defines altruism:

 

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/altruism

 

Kindness I consider helping someone who is in need because you have some concern for them. Altruism I consider to be an act of kindness so great that it comes at great personal cost to yourself, beyond what the majority of people would be willing to do.

In BOTH kindness and altruism you're sacrificing SOMETHING, it's just a matter of scale. Even in calling 911 for someone, you're sacrificing your TIME. I think what we disagree on is the scale of where something ceases to be kindness and becomes altruism. I think you're saying ANY sacrifice of property is altruism, no matter how small or inconsequential to you it is. I disagree and think altruism requires a high personal cost. I don't have a solid definition as to what I consider the crossover point, that's why I outlined some scenarios. To be clear, I consider scenarios #2-3 where I give the bean to be kindness, and #5-7 to be altruism.

 

Also I've never heard of the view before that altruists think people who don't sacrifice themselves as they do think others don't deserve to exist. Quite the opposite; my perception of altruists are that they tend to care about people so much, they want to help everyone as much as possible. I'm not an altruist myself. Scenarios 2-4 I would give the bean, scenario 5 I don't know, scenario 6-7 I definitely wouldn't.

 

It would be kind to give one out of the two thousand beans to someone dying (which I would definitely do); it would be altruism to say that you have no right to own those beans and you must sacrifice them all to other people. I reject altruism, since I think that people have the right to decide what they do with their own property.
That's not how I define altruism at all. Maybe my definition is incorrect (if you think it is, please point to evidence saying so), but I think a true altruist wouldn't make anyone part with their beans, they would take the burden entirely on themselves to try and save the people by finding beans on their own. I think they could try to convince you of the benefit of giving up your beans, but would never force you to do so. Someone like Jesus Christ I consider the classic altruist.

 

What you're describing here sounds like communism, which isn't what I'm advocating at all. Communism would say you have no right to any of those 2000 beans and they should be redistributed. I'm saying that if one person is dying right in front of you and you don't have an equal or at least significant need as him, it's unethical to not give him 1 bean. If your value of property means you refuse to give him the one bean anyway, then I think there should be some force that compels you to give up your one bean so he can live, not all of your 2000 beans. I think personal property counts for something, but not everything. Again, I'm not trying to target you personally, but anyone in the situation conceptually.

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The quantity of wealth is determined objectively by supply and demand. What's your point?

 

You seem to be saying that wealth is created by individuals, irrespective of the society in which they live. I say it's wrong. Without society there can be no wealth in the first place.

 

Wages are your direct costs, wealth is equity, a surplus. The society has costs which cannot directly be attributed to individuals in the form of specific charges and fees, yet those costs must be covered. The source of funds for this is the equity attained by individuals.

 

If you ever run a business of your own you will know what I mean as in most businesses it is impossible to attribute each cost to individual employee/product/desk.

 

Furthermore, to develop itself the society needs investment. The source of funding for that is the same - the net worth of individuals.

 

Finally, I understand that in your view each individual must have the absolute right to decide how much of his equity he wants to spend or reinvest and in what. Just like in corporations, there are cost and profit centres in the operation of societies (countries). And just like in corporations it is inefficient, impractical and unfeasible to let individual profit cetnres to solely decide how much of their profits, if at all, they would agree to transfer to cover the costs of specific cost centres. That's why both countries and businesses must have central management, which takes a view of the entire operation and then decides on allocation of resources.

 

Regards

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Sorry it took me so long to respond! Merry Christmas, everyone! I think this extremely short essay is very relevant. Stay home with your family and loved ones to celebrate your prosperity, your life, and your happiness in this truly American holiday!

 

I'll be surprised if the protesters can make it through this holiday, because it and the people who celebrate it stand for everything which they disagree with.

 

In my example I'm trying not to make YOU the one who owns the bean, because this isn't a judgment of your own character, but your attitude towards the morality of people in general. But assume the person with the bean has not eaten the berry, nor does it have high value to him like in scenario #5. He has no present or planned need for the bean, but it is his property. You're saying it's not immoral to let the berry-eater die right in front of him when he can prevent it, even if the bean has minimal value to him?

 

It's not immoral to not give the bean. I think the mentality that one man is automatically responsible for the welfare of another man--even ignoring the possibility that the sick person became ill from his own negligence--is really incomplete. I think it's really unfair for you to automatically assign responsibility to the productive magical bean farmer, without concern for his thoughts and feelings.

 

In short, is it moral to "let"* someone die? Yes. A man has the right to deal with whomever he wants on whatever terms he sees fit and no one has the right to initiate force on him to make him go against his best interest.

 

*I put quotation marks around the world "let", because the word "let" implies that the responsibility for the dying man's life rests on the bean holder--which I don't believe it does.

 

You're describing a slippery slope scenario. That's possible, but to say that ANY compromise means there's nothing stopping total corruption is incorrect. In practice, rights aren't actually unalienable. We have freedom of speech, but the classic example is you can't shout "fire" in a crowded theater where a panic could be caused and people could be trampled. That's not protected under the government, it's a situation where your would-be right can directly result in physical harm to others, even if you didn't physically harm anyone yourself.

 

I don't see it any other way. If you permit the government to abridge one right, there's no rational reason why it would be out of the question to abridge another.

 

Strictly speaking, if the owner permits people to yell "fire" in a crowded theater, they should be allowed to do it. I don't think any property owner would allow that, anyway. You have the freedom of speech, but you don't have the freedom to abridge another man's right to property; when you yell "fire" in a crowded theater where it's not allowed, you're depriving the theater owner of his right to use his property in the way he sees fit. I don't agree that the freedom of speech conflicts with the right to property, since fraud is not a right.

 

Well this is where the NEED comes in. I think EVERYONE'S need for survival should be taken into consideration. Look at scenarios #5-7. In all of those, I have a real NEED for the bean as well. I think scenario #5 is debatable, but in scenarios #6-7, I NEED the bean just as much as you do. In those scenarios, I'm not suggesting it's immoral to keep the bean for myself at all, I think that's perfectly human.

 

You're using the word "need" as an excuse to take away something rightfully produced by another man. People like Fredrick Douglas didn't care how much the mid-nineteenth century Southern-American farmer needed slaves on his farm in order to feed his family; this does not give him the right to hold another human being in bondage. The farmer's need does not give him a claim an another man's life.

 

A society based on the concept of "need" and "duty" turns into a society where man is either a parasite or a slave. Either a man is either forced to work for a cause he doesn't believe in, or he relies on the effort of other more productive men. I think this is what OWS hopes to achieve.

 

I'd also like to point out that any time you eat, especially if you live in a prosperous continent like North America, there is always someone in Africa who "needs" that food more than you do--they would die without that food. I was wondering: do you consider it moral to eat when other people are hungrier than you? If yes, why?

 

That's not how I nor the dictionary defines altruism:

 

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/altruism

 

Kindness I consider helping someone who is in need because you have some concern for them. Altruism I consider to be an act of kindness so great that it comes at great personal cost to yourself, beyond what the majority of people would be willing to do.

In BOTH kindness and altruism you're sacrificing SOMETHING, it's just a matter of scale. Even in calling 911 for someone, you're sacrificing your TIME. I think what we disagree on is the scale of where something ceases to be kindness and becomes altruism. I think you're saying ANY sacrifice of property is altruism, no matter how small or inconsequential to you it is. I disagree and think altruism requires a high personal cost. I don't have a solid definition as to what I consider the crossover point, that's why I outlined some scenarios. To be clear, I consider scenarios #2-3 where I give the bean to be kindness, and #5-7 to be altruism.

 

Also I've never heard of the view before that altruists think people who don't sacrifice themselves as they do think others don't deserve to exist. Quite the opposite; my perception of altruists are that they tend to care about people so much, they want to help everyone as much as possible. I'm not an altruist myself. Scenarios 2-4 I would give the bean, scenario 5 I don't know, scenario 6-7 I definitely wouldn't.

 

I was using Wikipedia: "Altruism is a motivation to provide something of value to a party who must be anyone but the self"--I find this a massive double-standard. Why do altruists consider it good to provide something to a party that's not yourself but not good to provide something to yourself? Also, I was using in in this sense like Wikipedia said: "The term altruism may also refer to an ethical doctrine that claims that individuals are morally obliged to benefit others. Used in this sense, it is the opposite of egoism."

 

Actually, your Merriam-Webster second definition for "altruism" is what I find immoral. Simply giving something to someone else is not altruism; doing something for other people when it actually affects your own well-being is altruism.

 

If by "sacrifice" you mean "loss" as in "giving up a higher value for the sake of a lower one (i.e. Merriam-Webster's fourth definition for "sacrifice")", yes that would be altruism and I think that would be evil. I would not use the word "sacrifice" to describe exchanging a lower value for a higher one e.g. giving up your bean to save the woman you love; you value the woman you love more than you do a single bean. I would consider that a "selfish gain" since you're preserving one of your highest values.

 

So, in summary, giving the bean to someone you love would be moral and "selfish"--while letting her die for your bean which you do not value as much would be a "sacrifice" and evil.

 

That's not how I define altruism at all. Maybe my definition is incorrect (if you think it is, please point to evidence saying so), but I think a true altruist wouldn't make anyone part with their beans, they would take the burden entirely on themselves to try and save the people by finding beans on their own. I think they could try to convince you of the benefit of giving up your beans, but would never force you to do so. Someone like Jesus Christ I consider the classic altruist.

 

What you're describing here sounds like communism, which isn't what I'm advocating at all. Communism would say you have no right to any of those 2000 beans and they should be redistributed. I'm saying that if one person is dying right in front of you and you don't have an equal or at least significant need as him, it's unethical to not give him 1 bean. If your value of property means you refuse to give him the one bean anyway, then I think there should be some force that compels you to give up your one bean so he can live, not all of your 2000 beans. I think personal property counts for something, but not everything. Again, I'm not trying to target you personally, but anyone in the situation conceptually.

 

Also from Wikipedia: "The word "altruism" (French, altruisme, from autrui: "other people", derived from Latin alter: "other") was coined by Auguste Comte, the French founder of positivism, in order to describe the ethical doctrine he supported. He believed that individuals had a moral obligation to renounce self-interest and live for others. Comte says, in his Catéchisme Positiviste,[1] that:

 

[The] social point of view cannot tolerate the notion of rights, for such notion rests on individualism. We are born under a load of obligations of every kind, to our predecessors, to our successors, to our contemporaries. After our birth these obligations increase or accumulate, for it is some time before we can return any service.... This ["to live for others"], the definitive formula of human morality, gives a direct sanction exclusively to our instincts of benevolence, the common source of happiness and duty. [Man must serve] Humanity, whose we are entirely."

 

The guy that invented the theory of altruism says that altruism is incompatible with the notion of rights. He correctly points out that the concept of "rights" is a corollary of individualism. So, if we discard individualism we are forced to discard the notion of man's rights.

 

There's no such thing as a "group mind;" in a group, there is only a bunch of individual minds. Therefore, minds are corollaries of individuals and therefore individualism, and individualism is a corollary of rights. Therefore, man's rights are corollaries of a man's mind. Mind and force are opposites i.e. a man's survival tool is his mind and he cannot use it effectively if there's a gun pointed to his head. So, in order for a society to exist peacefully, the concept of "rights" is enforced by the government to make sure that people don't use force so that every man may use his only survival tool to the best of his ability.

 

Is it really surprising that when you use force, you violate a man's rights and his mind? Because a man can only survive by using his mind, I believe that no society which uses force as a standard for morality can exist with prosperity.

 

I think what you're describing is socialism or egalitarianism: societies where there's a facade of the upholding of individual rights, but the government can take it away any time they feel like it i.e. if the government can take it any time they feel like it, the absolute inalienable right to property is being violated. Morally speaking, because socialism and egalitarianism has the same moral principle--that man has no right to what he produced--socialism and egalitarianism are on the same moral level as communism.

 

Does a mob have the right to raid an individual's home and take his belongings? If no, then the government doesn't have the right to do that since the government is simply a representative of the people.

 

You seem to be saying that wealth is created by individuals, irrespective of the society in which they live. I say it's wrong. Without society there can be no wealth in the first place.

 

I disagree. On a desert island, what is food or anything that sustains your life, if not wealth?

 

Wages are your direct costs, wealth is equity, a surplus. The society has costs which cannot directly be attributed to individuals in the form of specific charges and fees, yet those costs must be covered. The source of funds for this is the equity attained by individuals.

 

Examples?

 

Furthermore, to develop itself the society needs investment. The source of funding for that is the same - the net worth of individuals.

 

Right...this is why I believe that lassiez-faire capitalism results in the most prosperous society. Individuals act in their own self-interest invest in their society in order to selfishly make more money.

 

Finally, I understand that in your view each individual must have the absolute right to decide how much of his equity he wants to spend or reinvest and in what. Just like in corporations, there are cost and profit centres in the operation of societies (countries). And just like in corporations it is inefficient, impractical and unfeasible to let individual profit cetnres to solely decide how much of their profits, if at all, they would agree to transfer to cover the costs of specific cost centres. That's why both countries and businesses must have central management, which takes a view of the entire operation and then decides on allocation of resources.

 

Impractical? I'd say that Apple, Amazon.com, Google, and eBay are incredibly efficient profit-making machines.

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On a desert island, what is food or anything that sustains your life, if not wealth?

 

Wealth is a surplus which has value for somebody, other than its owner. If you are alone on your island there is no value in any abundance of food beyond what you yourself can eat. If you are not alone - you have a society.

 

Examples?

 

Scientific research, Army, Navy, Air Force, roads, street sweeping, diplomatic corps, police, healthcare (you won't like that, I know), forestry...

 

Individuals act in their own self-interest invest in their society in order to selfishly make more money.

 

While this is an important part of life, you cannot maintain modern society on that alone. Far from every investment into public area of life will make a return (within the timeframe meaningful for the investor or ever). If you look at modern examples where private companies invest into public infrastructure and make money you will see that the moneys are coming from the state in most cases (as guarantees, top ups, availability payments etc.).

 

I'd say that Apple, Amazon.com, Google, and eBay are incredibly efficient profit-making machines.

 

I hope you don't think that these corporations don't each have central management and company-wide budgeting...

 

Regards

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In short, is it moral to "let"* someone die? Yes. A man has the right to deal with whomever he wants on whatever terms he sees fit and no one has the right to initiate force on him to make him go against his best interest.
See I disagree, I think a person can be justified doing whatever is necessary to survive. The best way to prevent someone from taking extreme actions of force is to ensure that there's a way for him to have those basic needs fulfilled. Again, I consider people's lives more important than an individual's property, up to a point.
You're using the word "need" as an excuse to take away something rightfully produced by another man. People like Fredrick Douglas didn't care how much the mid-nineteenth century Southern-American farmer needed slaves on his farm in order to feed his family; this does not give him the right to hold another human being in bondage. The farmer's need does not give him a claim an another man's life.
No, that's completely different. Slaveholders didn't need slaves to survive. They wanted them for economic prosperity, not survival. Also you say that I'm using the word as an excuse, as though depriving people of property is the end-goal. It's not. The end-goal for me is to make sure everyone in a civilization that can afford to do so can have basic needs of its people fulfilled. If that magically happened without intervention from government or some other force, then I wouldn't see depriving people of some property as something necessary. Historically that hasn't happened. Again, I think the late 19th century was a time period of largely hands-off government (before Theodore Roosevelt) and the results were a significant portion of the population living in wage slavery and barely having any sort of social safety net at all. I don't see that as a desireable outcome for society.
I'd also like to point out that any time you eat, especially if you live in a prosperous continent like North America, there is always someone in Africa who "needs" that food more than you do--they would die without that food. I was wondering: do you consider it moral to eat when other people are hungrier than you? If yes, why?
This is a great question that I think leads to an important point. I don't see it as immoral, but more a sad situation. Here's my reasoning: there's no way I could possibly feed all the starving people in Africa, and it's not visible enough for me to be thinking about it most of the time. Even if I gave everything I owned to try and feed people, statistically it would make almost no difference. Thus is gets into a grey area of wanting to help, but also not wanting to do anything because it feels pointless. I think a lot of people probably think the same way. So you have a massive amount of people who WOULD help, but don't because they think their individual contribution won't do any real good, so the only people that ACTUALLY help are the extra dedicated ones. Now by that same reasoning, say there was mandatory charge where 1% of EVERYONE's income went to feeding starving people. Something like THAT would have WAY more resources than individuals to feed everyone and help a lot more people. Also on the micro scale, if I met someone starving in the woods, and I had my lunch on me, I WOULD consider it immoral to eat my lunch in front of them and not give them anything, because at this point, I alone am the only person who can solve this problem. So by eating my lunch, I'm directly choosing to allow them to die.
*I put quotation marks around the world "let", because the word "let" implies that the responsibility for the dying man's life rests on the bean holder--which I don't believe it does.
Well by that mentality, no one has any responsibility for your life if you were dying and someone next to you could easily save you, but doesn't. While that's consistent, I don't see that as a desireable way to live in a society. If you've ever read or seen "The Time Machine" by H.G., this is exactly how the Eloi (the people who have been bred and brainwashed to behave like cattle) behave, they don't help a person dying next to them at all.

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Hey, sorry it took so long to respond. I've been away for a while.

 

All I hear about OWS is the rape, thievery, destruction of property, and forcible occupation of property (which is the entire point of the protest) that goes on in the park. It makes it very hard for me to be sympathetic to them.

 

I consider people's lives more important than an individual's property, up to a point.

 

I think that one is no different from the other i.e. they're corollaries. Since human beings are corporeal, it is essential to life for a human being to own property. I believe if you deprive a man of one, you deprive him of the other.

 

No, that's completely different. Slaveholders didn't need slaves to survive. They wanted them for economic prosperity, not survival. Also you say that I'm using the word as an excuse, as though depriving people of property is the end-goal. It's not. The end-goal for me is to make sure everyone in a civilization that can afford to do so can have basic needs of its people fulfilled. If that magically happened without intervention from government or some other force, then I wouldn't see depriving people of some property as something necessary. Historically that hasn't happened. Again, I think the late 19th century was a time period of largely hands-off government (before Theodore Roosevelt) and the results were a significant portion of the population living in wage slavery and barely having any sort of social safety net at all. I don't see that as a desireable outcome for society.

 

Actually, speaking of nineteenth century, it's true that that's the most capitalistic time period for the United States. Not quite lassiez-faire, but almost. I would consider the period before the civil war to be more capitalistic, since there was literally no income tax or military draft.

 

Yes, wages were low and there was lot of property--but I wouldn't blame that on capitalism. Prosperity doesn't occur overnight and United States had a lot of building to do--they had to rebuild from the previous centuries of mass starvation. It was a growth period for a very young country. Before nineteenth century capitalism, it was purely luck if someone survived or not--I think the poverty was worse before that. Have you seen this video?

 

 

4BbkQiQyaYc

 

Watch Europe and the United States during the "Industrial Age" (late 18th century and nineteenth century). Watch how much the population increases, compared to the precapitalist centuries. If population increase is the measure of how prosperous a society is, then it's clear that the capitalist society is more prosperous. Even during the civil war, the industrial, capitalistic, north was exponentially more wealthy and more populated than the feudal, rural, slave-holding south. Hell, watch United States during the 1920s under arguably lassiez-faire capitalist Calvin Coolidge. Compare single decade with the population growth over several decades after FDR's New Deal up until the invention of modern medicine. Capitalism never created poverty--it simply got it from the previous systems.

 

During nineteenth-century capitalism, the poor actually had a fighting chance, as opposed to the previous millenniums and centuries.

 

This is a great question that I think leads to an important point. I don't see it as immoral, but more a sad situation. Here's my reasoning: there's no way I could possibly feed all the starving people in Africa, and it's not visible enough for me to be thinking about it most of the time. Even if I gave everything I owned to try and feed people, statistically it would make almost no difference. Thus is gets into a grey area of wanting to help, but also not wanting to do anything because it feels pointless. I think a lot of people probably think the same way. So you have a massive amount of people who WOULD help, but don't because they think their individual contribution won't do any real good, so the only people that ACTUALLY help are the extra dedicated ones. Now by that same reasoning, say there was mandatory charge where 1% of EVERYONE's income went to feeding starving people. Something like THAT would have WAY more resources than individuals to feed everyone and help a lot more people. Also on the micro scale, if I met someone starving in the woods, and I had my lunch on me, I WOULD consider it immoral to eat my lunch in front of them and not give them anything, because at this point, I alone am the only person who can solve this problem. So by eating my lunch, I'm directly choosing to allow them to die.

 

And this brings me to the main problem with OWS mentality and the intellectual dishonesty that plagues both American and Canadian politics: during the protest and the political debates, collectivism is the status quo i.e. it's assumed, without question, that one man is automatically morally and financially responsible for another.. Whenever an American politician tries to defend capitalism on a moral level, his opponents will point out a seemingly flaw in the capitalist system; if the politician can't respond immediately or defend his position, it's immediately assumed that the collectivist or socialist position one.

 

I think this a very unfair "burden of proof" issue.

 

What if a schoolteacher told his hardest-working and best-scoring students that it was their responsibility to come in before and after school to tutor the failing students until they were barely passing? When the straight-A students complain, the status according to OWS and American politics would mean the teacher would say "Until you come up with a better solution that does not involve you sacrificing your valuable time and effort, this is what we have to do."

 

This means that other people's misfortune and poverty is the rich and successful people's problem; the burden is placed on the people of ability and not the people actually suffering. This means that the person who suffers the most, wins; it's no longer the capitalistic attitude of "the most successful and prosperous man wins". It's a system of mediocrity and stagnation, not progression.

 

So, if the OWS people complain that their wages are too low, why is that the rich's people's problems? By what right do they claim the lives and effort of other people? ***

 

I'm trying to repudiate the "we are our brother's keeper" mentality, since it unfairly makes people take burdens they may not want.

 

***By rich people, I mean people who made their fortune by hard work and not government favors. Bailouts are one of the few legitimate complaints, in my opinion, from OWS. But they advocate one evil (mixed-economy) to remedy another. That's like a country being afraid of Nazism, so they turn Communist after the war--like Poland did; look how well that turned out for them.

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If population increase is the measure of how prosperous a society is, then it's clear that the capitalist society is more prosperous.
I don't think this is a good measure of prosperity. India is a good modern day example of a nation that has extreme poverty, but an incredible population. Infant mortality rates are generally a much better indicator of how prosperous a society is. Also I'm not saying capitalism is 100% evil and detrimental, I'm saying I think unchecked capitalism fails to address some serious societal problems and can create some serious problems that wouldn't exist otherwise.
So, if the OWS people complain that their wages are too low, why is that the rich's people's problems? By what right do they claim the lives and effort of other people?
Okay, I have two questions related to this. You're saying what right do people have to make claims on the rich. Part of my question, is what right do people have to be rich in the first place? Say a person is born into a rich family that has been rich for generations. Also say the family originally got rich from slave labor back in the 1700s and 1800s and since then members of the family have used their advantages to invest in companies to remain rich. I think we would both agree that using slaves isn't considered right, but the wealth exists today as a result of their work. So this family may work hard at business (or it may not and simply reap from investing), but it also had advantages from slavery that the vast majority of people have not. Why does this family have a "right" to retain their wealth, when descendents of slaves were at a disadvantage for generations and could be working just as hard or not harder than the wealthy families who acquired their wealth by clearly unjust means? By that reasoning what "right" do most Americans have to be here, when most of our conquest is the result of bloodshed or betrayal against Native Americans, Mexicans, and other European colonies?

 

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we should try to undo history and correct all wrongs, it's endlessly complex and a fool's errand; but at the same time, I feel like by placing so much emphasis on the individual's property rights, a sometimes very unjust history has to be taken into account. From a philosophical perspective, it can be seen as affirming the actions of ancestors, no matter how wrong they might be. Holding the value of property rights above all else I feel is a way of maintaining a status quo for those that come from wealthy backgrounds and intentionally leaving things more difficult for those who are not as fortunate REGARDLESS of how hard they works or what their ability is. In fact I saw a related demotivator to this recently:

 

george-monbiot.jpg

 

So anyway, sorry it's so long-winded, but that's essentially my first question. Why should we promote a system that determines your fortune in life often as much or even moreso by your birth than by your work ethic or abilities? It's of course not 100% dictated that way, like it was during feudal times, but it's still quite a real factor.

 

Here's my second question (again, sorry about the length). Aside from the bailouts, you think the OWS people are being unfair towards the rich in who they're blaming. I am in agreement that I think their grievances should be more directed towards government. Anyway, let's take a hypothetical situation. Pretend government in the USA became extremely small and reduced taxes further, offered far less services, definitely didn't have bailouts and more or less let the free market do what it wanted. Just as hypothetical, let's say that for whatever reason, it doesn't even matter, the class divide got far worse. The upper 1% now got substantially richer, the middle class almost didn't exist, and the working class got much poorer, more comparable to what 3rd world countries have. Finally, let's say private charities existed much in the same capacity they did now. Helping many, but only had the resources to deal with a fraction of the people who were suffering. Everyone who was interested in helping was doing so to the maximum capacity they were willing or able to help with. In this hypothetical scenario, what would you propose as being the solution to improving the quality of life for the 90% or more in the working class, living like peasants? Would this even be a concern from your perspective in this scenario?

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I don't think this is a good measure of prosperity. India is a good modern day example of a nation that has extreme poverty, but an incredible population.

 

I guess you're right. But the life expectancy did shoot up tremendously after the industrial revolution.

 

Infant mortality rates are generally a much better indicator of how prosperous a society is.

 

I'm not too sure about that. Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than United States, and even Canada (just barely). I think it's more a measure of quality of medicine and access, but moving on:

 

Okay, I have two questions related to this. You're saying what right do people have to make claims on the rich. Part of my question, is what right do people have to be rich in the first place? Say a person is born into a rich family that has been rich for generations. Also say the family originally got rich from slave labor back in the 1700s and 1800s and since then members of the family have used their advantages to invest in companies to remain rich. I think we would both agree that using slaves isn't considered right, but the wealth exists today as a result of their work. So this family may work hard at business (or it may not and simply reap from investing), but it also had advantages from slavery that the vast majority of people have not. Why does this family have a "right" to retain their wealth, when descendents of slaves were at a disadvantage for generations and could be working just as hard or not harder than the wealthy families who acquired their wealth by clearly unjust means? By that reasoning what "right" do most Americans have to be here, when most of our conquest is the result of bloodshed or betrayal against Native Americans, Mexicans, and other European colonies?

 

The American concept of rights stem from an individual's own life. The reasoning is that if it is right for a man to survive and live, then it is his right to work for his life. All the rights, like the ones outlined in the Deceleration of Independence, comes from the axiom that it is right for a man to live. Being "rich" simply means "having a lot of property" and the right to property is a corollary to the right to life, so you have the right to be rich because you have the right to own property.

 

I like to think the saying "a fool and his money are soon parted" has a lot of gravity in this situation. No matter how wealthy a family will be, it will disappear if that wealth is not sustained by the same drive and perseverance that created the wealth in the first place. And on a practical matter, it wouldn't really be fair to expropriate that family's money as they technically weren't doing anything illegal. Basically, what I'm saying is that once slavery has been outlawed, the family must sustain their wealth through legitimate means; if they don't they go bankrupt. If they're still rich hundreds of years later, they must have been doing something right. And after the slave family is free to make money, it's not fair to them to blame something that happened hundreds of years ago for their economic failure (if they're still experiencing it that many years later).

 

Native Americans? That's a sticky, controversial subject for another day, but suffice to say that they were society based on tribal worship and collectivism. They didn't even believe that an individual had the right to live for himself, or to own property.

 

As for my opinion on the Mexican-American war: while America was technically wrong (there, I said it), I would like to remind you that was the evil, feudal, slave-holding Southern states that did that.

 

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we should try to undo history and correct all wrongs, it's endlessly complex and a fool's errand; but at the same time, I feel like by placing so much emphasis on the individual's property rights, a sometimes very unjust history has to be taken into account. From a philosophical perspective, it can be seen as affirming the actions of ancestors, no matter how wrong they might be.

 

The reason why there's so much emphasis on property rights is, as I've said before, is that property rights come from the right to life. As a society that puts emphasis on an individual's right to life, naturally, it makes sense that an equal amount of emphasis is on property rights. Do you think that human rights and property rights are separate, opposite, or equal? I'm asking, since I believe that property rights and human rights are one in the same.

 

I don't see it as affirming the actions of ancestors. It's more like, "what they did is wrong, but from here on out, this will be a country of freedom and justice." It's not perfect, but you have to look at what the alternative is. My family is from South Africa and the government has all these affirmative action plans for blacks and asians. The South African government is fighting racism with racism. Which is, if I may quote Mike (this is the Accursed Farm forums after all!), "like trying to put out a fire by burning down another building".

 

That's what believe any law that tries to protect rights by abridging the rights of others is like.

 

Holding the value of property rights above all else I feel is a way of maintaining a status quo for those that come from wealthy backgrounds and intentionally leaving things more difficult for those who are not as fortunate REGARDLESS of how hard they works or what their ability is. In fact I saw a related demotivator to this recently:

 

No one said creating wealth was easy. Granted, it's probably easier to sustain a large some of money than it is to grow it from scratch, but the root of growth and sustaining of wealth is the same: freedom and reason.

 

As for Africa, their land is plagued by war and corruption. The little progress they make is always seized by rebels and looters. Africa is a perfect example of why it's important to have a strong government that protects the freedoms and rights of all.

 

Aside from the bailouts, you think the OWS people are being unfair towards the rich in who they're blaming. I am in agreement that I think their grievances should be more directed towards government. Anyway, let's take a hypothetical situation. Pretend government in the USA became extremely small and reduced taxes further, offered far less services, definitely didn't have bailouts and more or less let the free market do what it wanted. Just as hypothetical, let's say that for whatever reason, it doesn't even matter, the class divide got far worse. The upper 1% now got substantially richer, the middle class almost didn't exist, and the working class got much poorer, more comparable to what 3rd world countries have. Finally, let's say private charities existed much in the same capacity they did now. Helping many, but only had the resources to deal with a fraction of the people who were suffering. Everyone who was interested in helping was doing so to the maximum capacity they were willing or able to help with. In this hypothetical scenario, what would you propose as being the solution to improving the quality of life for the 90% or more in the working class, living like peasants? Would this even be a concern from your perspective in this scenario?

 

I'm pretty sure that capitalism created the middle class. As for what I would do? I would try to start a business and make money, but that's really just about it. Again, this is an issue of collectivism being automatically assumed to be that status quo. You're putting the burden of the working class onto me without even questioning the notion that it's my responsibility.

 

All I will say is that if you show a North Korean peasant, a Sudanese peasant, and a Liberian peasent, your working class and said: "these are our peasants", they would probably say that our peasants live like kings.

 

OWS is blaming the elite of our society for being rich. The businessmen are rich, while they aren't. It really sounds like they're blaming the rich people for the fact that they're not rich. I think this attitude comes from the incorrect notion that money is a static quantity that simply switches hands every now and then.

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