End the welfare state

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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:02 am

I'm going to attempt to be somewhat original and attempt not to do the paragraph-by-paragraph quote-and-reply that is my usual habit (and which certainly has its virtues!), and attempt to condense my reply into a format which is a little more digestible.

Okay, so re: wealth... again, big shock, but I disagree. I think once you look at wealth as a subjective measure (measured in 'willingness to buy'), you're already treading down the dismal, nihilistic path of the classical economists, treating everything as 'utility' and saying that we can't make any judgment calls between Donald Trump's umpteenth yacht and twenty thousand people insured for medical care. To me, that's just silly. There was a reason that the first words spoken by my econ professor during our first microeconomics class were: 'half of what I will teach you in this class is total bullshit'.

I hold, with the archaic Christians and with Ruskin, that true wealth is that which sustains and improves life, whether of the temporal (food, clothes, land, employment, education) or of the eternal (art, music, religion). I also hold, with the archaic Christians and with my own tradition of Anglo-Catholicism, that social individualism and economic individualism are two sides of the same Whiggish coin, and it is only our current political atmosphere which holds them in opposition. I believe both views to be fundamentally misguided, along with their opposites. Total individualism (the position of the more consistent libertarians) leads ultimately to a Fichtean quasi-fascist dictatorship in which the state (at whatever level) takes over all functions of civil society in the name of protecting individual privacy and property rights; whereas total collectivism... well, we've seen how that's turned out over the past half-century or so.

Regarding comparisons between our wealthy classes and the nobility... TMBJ, you really need to read up on your history texts. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, castles were not for living in! The noble classes may have had them built, but they did not own the castles - at least, not wholly by themselves. As with many mediaeval goods, castles were owned jointly by the public, by the lord and by the monarch - in cases of an attack, peasants in the surrounding lands had the right to take refuge inside the castle. Most nobles actually lived in manors, which were certainly better than the thatched hovels of their serfs, but which were fairly comparable to an upper middle-class home in the UK or the US - not a millionaire's mansion. And once again, I see defence of homes and livelihoods to be a much more useful and noble occupation than - um - not wearing anything and allowing people to take pictures / videos of you? What exactly does Paris Hilton do again?

As for 'punishing the successful' and 'subsidising the mediocre', how would carbon taxes and limitations on advertising do that, exactly? Sure, if you're measuring 'success' by how many figures of quatloos are on the bottom line, my measures might seem punitive; thankfully, I neither define nor worship 'success' in those terms. What I want is to see two products of the same quality competing on equal terms, regardless of who produced them (that is to say, who had more capital, who had the greater access to infrastructure, who had the ear of more politicians). Mom and Pop stores are not more 'mediocre' than huge megacorps, even if their products may be more locally distributed! So, if advertising goes, at the end of the day the product will have to speak for itself. If carbon taxes appear, the price will have to speak for itself. I say that's very much rewarding success.

Speaking of products speaking for themselves, I am convinced that Bill Gates does not deserve to be a multibillionaire on account of Microsoft. The wealth of Microsoft has come not through original and inventive programming (MS-DOS and Windows software was to an overwhelming extent pirated off of previous software), but through the fact that they were willing to go to the patent office on everything they did and leverage their intellectual property to corner the market on operating systems for most computers. They were the target of a number of anti-trust suits, but those came far too late and in far too little quantity to do anything. Steve Jobs did and is doing the exact same thing, so I don't feel any sympathy for Apple, either.

Now, about the religion thing...

I'm not a fan of theocracy. I personally think that the best arrangements are the ones in which the distinction between Church and State is kept porous and vague (as in England prior to Ollie Cromwell). The Church should be the Church and the State should be the State, but allowing the secular State too much autonomy from religious thinking is a bad f#@king move - the proof of that pudding is in secular-atheist American neoconservatism, whose ideology is Machiavelli and Hobbes on LSD: pure power untempered by concerns of anything remotely resembling religious virtue.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia and Iran should serve as warning signs regarding what happens when you conflate all the functions of religion with the functions of the state. It should come as no surprise to anyone that (too much) State power is a corrupting influence on religion, not the other way around. Religion ceases to function on behalf of the least powerful (as it should) and simply becomes a mouthpiece for the most. But, TMBJ, you are deluding yourself deeply if you believe what is going to come out of the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia will resemble a Western-style secular capitalist state with all our sacrosanct divisions between religion and the state. They've probably had more than enough of that shit over the past fifty years. Religion will play a role in public life, for better or for worse, in the new states that will result - and that will be the result of the will of the electorate. If you think that reason enough to believe 'they might f#*k everything up', hey dude, that's your right - but it's their right to do it, also.

Once again, I highly recommend William Cavanaugh's essay on 'religious violence'. Suffice it to say, I'm equally suspicious of religious and secular claims to absolute authority, but the point is that - and your post kind of proves my point, TMBJ - secular claims to absolute authority tend to go ignored, and their assumptions of superiority (in comparison to religion) tend to go completely unquestioned, despite the utterly appalling track record of secularism in the West with regard to preventing violence, let alone building peace.
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby Objectivist » Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:14 am

James wrote:It is always refreshing to see these words from a Libertarian. My single greatest grievance with some of the Libertarians out there is that they believe the changes they envision can be enacted with any degree of speed, whether in parts or in the whole. Those who believe in the more extreme interpretation of a Libertarian world believe in a world which is wholly incompatible with the United States as it exists today—it is something which the country would have to evolve into quite gradually.


I associate with Libertarians on a daily basis and I've never seen anyone ever endorse shutting the lights off overnight. That would be as impossible and completely irrational as the extreme opposite, which would be a completely communist system turned on overnight. It couldn't happen.

I sincerely believe that Libertarian concepts can only be properly endorsed and implemented if people change their hearts and minds about what the role of the federal government should be in their lives. You can't elect Libertarians and push legislation on the people...people who were unfamiliar with the concepts wouldn't understand what was going on and they'd start freaking out. They have to educate themselves and understand that it's within their own best interests to move toward a society of more social and economic freedom.

When Libertarianism was first introduced to me, it shocked and freaked me out a little bit. I didn't understand it at all. I was a Democrat, of course. I didn't understand why things like healthcare or education should be dealt with at a more local level instead of sending that money to Washington. I was apathetic and just assumed that America had to be the policemen of the world and it was up to us to uphold justice across the globe. I didn't agree with it...I just accepted that is how things are and will always be.

WeiWenDi wrote:I'll just say this has been my personal experience, too. It's frightening just how many libertarian debaters I've seen who think all problems can be fixed with a wave of the legislative magic wand, so Objectivist will pardon me for the reasonable assumption that a thread entitled 'End the welfare state' (without any qualifiers about when or how) was designed with similar thinking in mind.


I'm simply being honest in my end result goal with the title. I could have named this thread "Let's slowly cut back on welfare" and it may gain more sympathy and less aggressive posts. However...when you are directly honest about your goals and intentions, more people are likely to check the thread out and see what this is all about.

WeiWenDi wrote:When I look at all the measures being proposed by the libertarian wing, it seems like the ultimate goal is to turn back the clock to sometime around 1880


When you say turn the clock back...you're painting a picture that makes people think it would be a massive step backward to go to a time when the federal government was much less involved in our lives. That's really not that extreme of a move. A lot of Americans go through their daily lives and see no direct benefits to all the things our federal government wastes money on...and they would likely be much more prosperous not having to pay so much taxes to the federal government. When I weigh the benefits of what the federal government does for me, compared to what I could do for my friends, family and myself with the amount of money given to the federal government, it's a no brainer to me. Clearly I can spend my own money better than the federal government can.

A lot of people jump all over Libertarians without realizing they are much more sympathetic to in-state or city government functions. We want to scale back the federal government and decentralize a lot of their functions. Just look at the war on drugs, for example. Libertarians are often quoted as being pro-drugs...but it has much more to do with just wanting the federal government out of the issue and allowing the states to regulate or criminalize them.

Ron Paul and Barney Frank introduced legislation last week to get the federal government out of the marijuana issue. If you google the issue you'll see countless news articles labeled "Ron Paul and Barney Frank want to legalize Marijuana"...and that's not at all what the bill says. The bill says it should be dealt with at the state level and the federal government should get out of it. But people see those shocking headlines and never bother to read what it actually means. They assume if the bill passes every state in America will be selling Marijuana and people are going to die while driving stoned.

Libertarians generally agree that the federal government should exist for a strong national defense, upholding and writing laws through a court system and even dealing with issues like Energy and border enforcement (because they tie to national defense). Depending on who you talk to...you'll get different answers for how much we need the federal departments. I once did a run down of the list of departments and concluded that we could basically cut half of them out and combine/downsize most of the others. Why do we need a department of homeland security, department of defense and CIA? They all serve similar functions.
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby TooMuchBaijiu » Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:51 am

WeiWenDi wrote:I'm going to attempt to be somewhat original and attempt not to do the paragraph-by-paragraph quote-and-reply that is my usual habit (and which certainly has its virtues!), and attempt to condense my reply into a format which is a little more digestible.


Aaahhh, maybe you shouldn't. It becomes less clear what you're addressing, and even I might be less than clear about what's going on in my own argument sometimes (given the volume of words with which you and I go at it, it should hardly be surprising). Look at it this way. When my own words are posted on the board, I can't say you've taken me out of context.

Okay, so re: wealth... again, big shock, but I disagree. I think once you look at wealth as a subjective measure (measured in 'willingness to buy'), you're already treading down the dismal, nihilistic path of the classical economists, treating everything as 'utility' and saying that we can't make any judgment calls between Donald Trump's umpteenth yacht and twenty thousand people insured for medical care. To me, that's just silly.


See, I don't get where you're going with the analogy here. Trump buys the yacht with his own money, while those people on healthcare are publicly financed. Furthermore, Trump has to pay taxes on that yacht, part of which goes to funding healthcare. Now, if you're referring to Trump doling out the health care himself as part of a jobs benefit, I say that it's his choice whether he wants to offer it or not, and the worker's whether he's willing to work for such a man or not. Of course, I would push for a law forcing Trump to provide healthcare, as well as any other large-scale employer, or even better, have a National Health Service.

I hold, with the archaic Christians and with Ruskin, that true wealth is that which sustains and improves life, whether of the temporal (food, clothes, land, employment, education) or of the eternal (art, music, religion).


But who decides what is "valid" temporal or eternal wealth? All the time I see entertainment on the screen and I think to myself, "That's not art, that's shit," but a hundred million people seem to disagree with me a lot. With that in mind, who determines what's "valid" employment or education? There's always an intellectual discipline which is discounted by somebody (I understand you don't think highly of sociology) and employment which many see as less than worthwhile (again, you've voiced your opinions regarding that repeatedly).

I also hold, with the archaic Christians and with my own tradition of Anglo-Catholicism, that social individualism and economic individualism are two sides of the same Whiggish coin, and it is only our current political atmosphere which holds them in opposition. I believe both views to be fundamentally misguided, along with their opposites. Total individualism (the position of the more consistent libertarians) leads ultimately to a Fichtean quasi-fascist dictatorship in which the state (at whatever level) takes over all functions of civil society in the name of protecting individual privacy and property rights; whereas total collectivism... well, we've seen how that's turned out over the past half-century or so.


Total individualism is impossible under anything but an anarchy. That's the whole point behind the social contract, right? Sacrificing some liberties for the necessary amount of order. What isn't impossible, nor should it be discouraged, is the kind of individualism that infringes on nobody else's right to do the same. This is the case in social individualism but not always so in economic individualism-my argument against Lassiez-faire capitalism is that doing virtually nothing to help one's fellow man through concerted public policy keeps the masses from doing what a only a select few can do on their own, even those with both will and way-and that is to reach and execute one's full potential. I don't see how any restrictions on social individualism (other than that which is necessary to keep society going, of course) could possibly help people reach their full potential-in fact, I would see it as a restraining measure.

Regarding comparisons between our wealthy classes and the nobility... TMBJ, you really need to read up on your history texts. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, castles were not for living in! The noble classes may have had them built, but they did not own the castles - at least, not wholly by themselves.
As with many mediaeval goods, castles were owned jointly by the public, by the lord and by the monarch - in cases of an attack, peasants in the surrounding lands had the right to take refuge inside the castle. Most nobles actually lived in manors, which were certainly better than the thatched hovels of their serfs, but which were fairly comparable to an upper middle-class home in the UK or the US - not a millionaire's mansion.


I am aware of the basic purpose for castles, and that no, they weren't strictly palaces, thank you. I just wanted to point out that I find it difficult to accept that a Lord only lived a slightly more luxurious life than his subjects, or that he wasn't going to adopt the most luxurious lifestyle he could afford...and then some. Certainly, the peasants began to tire of the depredations of nobility:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_re ... val_Europe

...if a noble in those days lived a less wealthy lifestyle than today's nobility, it was because he possessed less wealth to begin with. This could be because many Lords had relatively small holdings and held power equivalent to a mayor of a small city, or because the pre- and proto-Capitalist systems simply didn't produce that much wealth. They both sound feasible to me-after all, the Roman Empire lost a lot of dough when they were forced to localize their economies during the Crisis of the Third Century, and the general breakdown and further localization of the European economy during the Dark Ages lowered the standard of living even further...until it was picked up again by an increase in trade after the, what, 13th-15th centuries?

And once again, I see defence of homes and livelihoods to be a much more useful and noble occupation than - um - not wearing anything and allowing people to take pictures / videos of you? What exactly does Paris Hilton do again?


Well, you'll have to excuse Ms. Hilton and her family for not having any Mongol hordes to defend against. And besides, aren't you against the proliferation of the war economy? Why defend such a system just because it's in a pre-modern context?

As for 'punishing the successful' and 'subsidising the mediocre', how would carbon taxes and limitations on advertising do that, exactly?


Well, I never said that I was against a reasonable application of the former measure, as it does help protect the environment. And I hate advertising too, but I understand its purpose. So yeah, I would like to see bans on advertising, but out of a selfish stop-interrupting-my-Youtube-experience sentiment than out of some altruistic desire.

What I want is to see two products of the same quality competing on equal terms, regardless of who produced them (that is to say, who had more capital, who had the greater access to infrastructure, who had the ear of more politicians).


As would I. In fact, I stated that I'd like to see government actually enforce their Anti-trust laws to keep competition going.

Mom and Pop stores are not more 'mediocre' than huge megacorps, even if their products may be more locally distributed!


Sometimes. I've been in enough Mom 'n Pops (I always choose them over the big businesses when I can) to see plenty of aspiring entrepreneurs who have no idea what the hell they're doing. Now there's plenty that are gold, and I certainly want them to be allowed to survive against Wal-mart onslaughts and so forth. But there's only so much you can reasonably do before you're simply allowing small, stupid businessmen to push inferior products at a higher price.

But again, I certainly have every desire to see small, intelligently run businesses not be swamped by megacorps.

Speaking of products speaking for themselves, I am convinced that Bill Gates does not deserve to be a multibillionaire on account of Microsoft. The wealth of Microsoft has come not through original and inventive programming (MS-DOS and Windows software was to an overwhelming extent pirated off of previous software), but through the fact that they were willing to go to the patent office on everything they did and leverage their intellectual property to corner the market on operating systems for most computers. They were the target of a number of anti-trust suits, but those came far too late and in far too little quantity to do anything. Steve Jobs did and is doing the exact same thing, so I don't feel any sympathy for Apple, either.


Well, that's a damn shame for those people who didn't patent their work when they should've. Look, I spent a little time as a musician (or as a "musician"-I know how you metalheads feel about hip-hop). I never performed in front of more than a couple hundred people, and no one ever paid me a dollar. But I sent everything I ever wrote to the copyright office, just out of some paranoid fear someone was going to take those lyrics I could never make money off and somehow do it himself ('Cause my shit deserved to make a million, right? Right? ...guys?) I don't know what you have to pay to get your work patented, but it cost me less than $40 to register my work. Unless there's a detail you left out, it sounds to me like Microsoft was smart about what they did and the people that should've gotten a piece of that action weren't. Hey, Gray built a better phone than Bell, but Bell's in the history books 'cause he got to the patent office sooner. And what can I say? Microsoft's the reason my city is where it is, and not Detroit with lattes and shitty sports teams.

But, TMBJ, you are deluding yourself deeply if you believe what is going to come out of the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia will resemble a Western-style secular capitalist state with all our sacrosanct divisions between religion and the state. They've probably had more than enough of that shit over the past fifty years. Religion will play a role in public life, for better or for worse, in the new states that will result - and that will be the result of the will of the electorate. If you think that reason enough to believe 'they might f#*k everything up', hey dude, that's your right - but it's their right to do it, also.


I don't doubt that religion won't play a role in Egypt or Tunisia. I don't think pure secularism is possible over there. But they'd damn sure better learn to not let Islam or any religion take a firm grip over its government.

The United States doesn't have an absolute division between church and state, in that there are calls to, say, legalize school prayer and put the Ten Commandments in the courts, and religion always plays a role in public policy. While I find such ideas in America abhorrent, I don't suppose corresponding actions in Egypt would make me vomit in rage or anything, as long as minorities and non-conformists are allotted legal and social protection. Because there's a thin line between Islamic (or Christian, or what-have-you) Democracy and a theocracy, which are almost invariably unfree societies.

Once again, I highly recommend William Cavanaugh's essay on 'religious violence'. Suffice it to say, I'm equally suspicious of religious and secular claims to absolute authority, but the point is that - and your post kind of proves my point, TMBJ - secular claims to absolute authority tend to go ignored, and their assumptions of superiority (in comparison to religion) tend to go completely unquestioned, despite the utterly appalling track record of secularism in the West with regard to preventing violence, let alone building peace.


But Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria are more willing to cast off the yoke of secular tyranny than Iranians and Saudis are willing to cast off their religious one. "Secular claims to absolute authority tend to go ignored" and they should be, as should any claim to absolute authority (I assume you're talking about authoritarianism and not simply sovereignty, which is the right of every government).

And considering the nature of religious fundamentalism, I hardly see how any alternative to secularism is any way ideal, because I don't see any religious states that are egalitarian. Even in history, I have trouble finding religious states (who do more than just pay lip service to their traditional faith) who even approached egalitarianism.

Alright, well, any reply will of course be welcome, but you'd better conclude your argument in your next post, because I'll be drawing down my activity in this forum for a little while. Gonna be busy in a minute.
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Fri Jul 01, 2011 4:14 am

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:Aaahhh, maybe you shouldn't. It becomes less clear what you're addressing, and even I might be less than clear about what's going on in my own argument sometimes (given the volume of words with which you and I go at it, it should hardly be surprising). Look at it this way. When my own words are posted on the board, I can't say you've taken me out of context.


:lol: Fair enough.

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:See, I don't get where you're going with the analogy here. Trump buys the yacht with his own money, while those people on healthcare are publicly financed. Furthermore, Trump has to pay taxes on that yacht, part of which goes to funding healthcare. Now, if you're referring to Trump doling out the health care himself as part of a jobs benefit, I say that it's his choice whether he wants to offer it or not, and the worker's whether he's willing to work for such a man or not. Of course, I would push for a law forcing Trump to provide healthcare, as well as any other large-scale employer, or even better, have a National Health Service.


I think you're making this argument way more convoluted and complex than it need be; the analogy was simply in how we are defining 'wealth'. I would say that the producers of Donald Trump's fifth yacht, even though they might charge him as much as it would cost in quatloos to fully cover the medical costs of 20,000 people, are producing less wealth than the hospitals, the doctors and the specialists who make sure those 20,000 people can live and work the next day.

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:But who decides what is "valid" temporal or eternal wealth? All the time I see entertainment on the screen and I think to myself, "That's not art, that's shit," but a hundred million people seem to disagree with me a lot. With that in mind, who determines what's "valid" employment or education? There's always an intellectual discipline which is discounted by somebody (I understand you don't think highly of sociology) and employment which many see as less than worthwhile (again, you've voiced your opinions regarding that repeatedly).


It's not a question of 'who decides' - it's a matter of the quality of life, and that quality is much easier to see in terms of 'temporal' wealth. In terms of 'eternal' wealth, that requires a philosophically and theologically trained eye, but it is a matter of what has better 'narrative appeal'; better and more satisfactory stories can be told by a Gothic cathedral than by a strip mall. Better stories can be told by a graveyard in upstate New York than by anyplace anywhere surrounding Houston.

The question isn't of what people like, it's about what is healthy. This is what I'm on about all the time. Sure, everybody has his own opinion, but that's not to say that all opinions are created equal. Something is wrong with a society whose people have no ambitions other than getting wealthy and consuming whatever they can, because they can. Something is wrong with a society which kicks its poor when they're down. Something is wrong with a society which is willing to tolerate the destruction of what little of its own history it has underneath millions of tonnes of shapeless, soulless concrete. Something is wrong with a society which treats sex as though it's just another consumer good. Something is wrong with a society which likes its music as devoid of real human content and emotion as possible. Something is wrong with a society which values freedom so highly yet cannot decide in any rational way what it wants to do with it.

Seriously, if I'd wanted to be just another sheep who gave a f#@k about popular opinion, I wouldn't have started listening to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest in the first place.

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:Total individualism is impossible under anything but an anarchy. That's the whole point behind the social contract, right? Sacrificing some liberties for the necessary amount of order. What isn't impossible, nor should it be discouraged, is the kind of individualism that infringes on nobody else's right to do the same.


The social contract is mythology, and serious contractarians should be treated with the same derision which we reserve for creationists and intelligent-design supporters. There was never a point in human history where individuals came together and decided 'well, you stop stealing my shit and I won't brain you with my spear' - evolution far better explains social development than contract theory.

That said, I agree that total individualism is impossible under anything but anarchy - and we know that anarchy is impossible. What happens in practice, though, is that the defenders of negative liberty turn to the state and cordon off another area of life that was originally left to the family, to the Church or to unions.

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:I don't see how any restrictions on social individualism (other than that which is necessary to keep society going, of course) could possibly help people reach their full potential-in fact, I would see it as a restraining measure.


Seriously? You don't think mandatory education has any beneficial measures for helping people reach their full potential? You don't think mandatory public service (in European countries like Switzerland or Finland) has any way of building character? If you believe in disciplining wealth to ends which would lead to greater 'potential', why do you not believe in disciplining other resources human beings have to the same ends?

For me, it's always a tightrope act. If you swing too far to one side, you stifle creativity, virtue and human potential under threats of punishment; if you swing too far to the other side, you preclude creativity and virtue by inviting total dissipation and heterogeneity of ends. The follower of Nietzsche is just as imprisoned, indeed, as the prisoner of a police state. One is faced with many roads but is prevented from going down any of them by an external will; the other is faced with equally many roads but is prevented from going down any of them by the indecision of his own internal will.

I guess my questions for you are - how do you view discipline? Do you believe all human choices are equally valid? Why?

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:Well, you'll have to excuse Ms. Hilton and her family for not having any Mongol hordes to defend against. And besides, aren't you against the proliferation of the war economy? Why defend such a system just because it's in a pre-modern context?


That's exactly it. It's in a pre-modern context, which means there were actual restrictions on how militaries are supposed to behave, with actual consequences if they didn't! What I wouldn't give to see a real, honest-to-God discussion of Just War Ethics in modern-day society - and masturbatory apologetics for Bush like Jean Bethke Elshtain don't f#&king count.

I actually tend to think individual soldiers - you know, the people on the ground risking their necks - are a highly honourable lot, and I respect what they do. It's the parading, chest-thumping armchair warriors preaching from their comfortable ivory towers about how we should support them by backing their political party - and the profiteers who sell the guns but don't put their lives on the line - for whom I have less than zero use. Now, I'm not saying that political justifications like this didn't happen in the Middle Ages, only that people could get away with them less often, and that they didn't apologise for themselves in naked, power-seeking terms without getting hammered by the Church.

Machiavelli changed that, in my opinion, for the much, much worse.

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:Unless there's a detail you left out, it sounds to me like Microsoft was smart about what they did and the people that should've gotten a piece of that action weren't.


Yeah, but then they did all sorts of slimy things with their patenting, like the product bundling that led to the US v. Microsoft anti-trust case. My point is, they should have been on top of that shit a lot sooner and a lot harder than they were.

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:But Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria are more willing to cast off the yoke of secular tyranny than Iranians and Saudis are willing to cast off their religious one. "Secular claims to absolute authority tend to go ignored" and they should be, as should any claim to absolute authority (I assume you're talking about authoritarianism and not simply sovereignty, which is the right of every government).

And considering the nature of religious fundamentalism, I hardly see how any alternative to secularism is any way ideal, because I don't see any religious states that are egalitarian. Even in history, I have trouble finding religious states (who do more than just pay lip service to their traditional faith) who even approached egalitarianism.


Well, here we're getting into the trap of secularism vs. fundamentalism, which is a very convenient debate to have for both secularists and for fundamentalists, because it a.) makes religion more scary to those who would be inclined to the secularist position, and b.) makes fundamentalism look more important and more prevalent than it actually is. Fundamentalism only draws its strength from reacting against secularism, so once again it's kind of two heads of the same beast attacking each other.

Like I said, I don't support either position. Having the porous and vague distinction between Church and State powers seems the best solution for maintaining the integrity of both.
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby TooMuchBaijiu » Fri Jul 01, 2011 4:48 am

Dude! I'm trying to draw back my activity here. But I feel I have to field one little bit here:

WeiWenDi wrote:Seriously? You don't think mandatory education has any beneficial measures for helping people reach their full potential? You don't think mandatory public service (in European countries like Switzerland or Finland) has any way of building character? If you believe in disciplining wealth to ends which would lead to greater 'potential', why do you not believe in disciplining other resources human beings have to the same ends?

For me, it's always a tightrope act. If you swing too far to one side, you stifle creativity, virtue and human potential under threats of punishment; if you swing too far to the other side, you preclude creativity and virtue by inviting total dissipation and heterogeneity of ends.


I think we're more in agreement here than you might think. I'm sure you know, for example, that I am a huge advocate for public (and mandatory) education. Because I view such an institution as necessary to, as I put it, keep society going. We can't have a nation of dumbasses, after all. I suppose I might even support some kind of mandatory public service for the same reason, but people shouldn't be made to do anything against their beliefs.

I agree that there is a "tightrope act" to the whole thing. But if I'm going to fall off, I'd rather it be on the side of individualism than authoritarianism.
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:35 am

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:I think we're more in agreement here than you might think. I'm sure you know, for example, that I am a huge advocate for public (and mandatory) education. Because I view such an institution as necessary to, as I put it, keep society going. We can't have a nation of dumbasses, after all. I suppose I might even support some kind of mandatory public service for the same reason, but people shouldn't be made to do anything against their beliefs.

I agree that there is a "tightrope act" to the whole thing. But if I'm going to fall off, I'd rather it be on the side of individualism than authoritarianism.


I think we're already tottering on the side of too much individualism, if we haven't already fallen off - but maybe that's just my Lawful Good side talking. Once again, I ask you: what do you think is the role of discipline in the society? Even creative, artistic and ingenious people require it to some extent.

Again, I think there are massive benefits to a strong presence of community bonds, of civil society in the form of workers' associations and neighbourhood associations and churches, which are given a certain amount of space to do their own thing and regulate some aspects of the lives of their own members, but in the interest of a broader, shared peace that is more than just the state-enforced absence of open hostility (which all too often comes under the name of 'tolerance').
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby agga » Sat Jul 02, 2011 1:50 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:what do you think is the role of discipline in the society? Even creative, artistic and ingenious people require it to some extent.


discipline is important, but for some of us, the type instilled by the school system just doesn't work. the more hindsight i get (14 years now since high school graduation), the more i'm convinced that being required to go to school, to those classes, every day, when all i wanted was to be somewhere else doing what i wanted, did me more harm than good.
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby Ranbir » Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:04 pm

But you stayed, didn't you?
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby agga » Sat Jul 02, 2011 9:09 pm

Ranbir wrote:But you stayed, didn't you?


well, i wasn't a delinquent, and i wouldn't have been allowed to just stay home if i wanted - and i did want; i wasn't a supergenius who could skip right on to bigger and better things; and i got a lot of mercy from teachers who knew i liked to read the books but wasn't going to do the homework. college started out kind of badly because i didn't get much of that mercy there, but it leveled out. i just feel like i got through it, but it was just so much sitting around and getting lectured about how i should be doing this or that, etc etc. - i.e. i should be more disciplined. it was just constantly frustrating.

i mean, i'm not sure what would have been better. i just don't think i got a whole lot out of the 5 days a week 7:45 to 3:00 sitting in a classroom thing.

*edit* anyways this isn't a protest against the welfare state as such, i am really not sure how i feel about that whole thing, which is why i'm not so engaged in this thread...
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Re: End the welfare state

Unread postby Objectivist » Sat Jul 09, 2011 4:10 am

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:I'm sure you know, for example, that I am a huge advocate for public (and mandatory) education. Because I view such an institution as necessary to, as I put it, keep society going. We can't have a nation of dumbasses, after all. I suppose I might even support some kind of mandatory public service for the same reason, but people shouldn't be made to do anything against their beliefs.

I agree that there is a "tightrope act" to the whole thing. But if I'm going to fall off, I'd rather it be on the side of individualism than authoritarianism.


I'm not sure I understand your point above. You call for mandatory government controls over individual decisions but then you finish your statement by saying you'd rather lean toward individualism rather than authoritarianism? I was hoping you could explain a little further.

WeiWenDi wrote:I think we're already tottering on the side of too much individualism, if we haven't already fallen off - but maybe that's just my Lawful Good side talking.


Do you say this because of social networking? I think we've drifted very far from an individualist society. Especially under George W. Bush and Barack Obama...I think the United States of America is more authoritarian now than they have ever been in my entire lifetime. I see more people lining up to be part of "groups" or "collectives" than ever before. What most of these people do not understand is that when you live in a society that respects all people as individuals everyone is protected the same under the law. It is collectivism that separates us and teaches people that they are not a unique individual...that they fit into special "categories" that either help or hurt them in some way.

I'd like to see what you mean by too much individualism?
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