myrkul999 on May 10, 2012, 04:18:44 am
Absolute freedom means one is free to do what ever they desire at any time no matter what.  Obviously if you think about that a moment you see the problems it presents.
  • "Bob has a bad night and decides your house blocks his view of the sunrise, with a little explosive he removes it with you still inside.  In a world of absolute freedom he has done nothing wrong.. "

Well, here's the catch:


Everyone has absolute freedom. That's the definition of free will. However, my freedom to swing my fist without consequence ends at your face, and the other way 'round. That's what rights are, the boundaries that mark where the consequences start.

Andreas on May 10, 2012, 07:38:00 am
Are the primaries over, or why has Santorum taken to trolling these forums?  ::)

Azure Priest on May 10, 2012, 08:29:17 am
It is also VERY important to differentiate between a "right" and a "good."

Good: A commodity or service which can be purchased, or bartered.

Right: A fundamental concept that can not be denied except where it comes into conflict with another right or when it is abused to deliberately cause harm to others.

Example: The right to engage in worship does not entitle a worshiper of some pagan/ Elder God deity to go around slaughtering people to "offer their souls unto the one 'true' god."

In yesterday's strip, 05/09/2012, one of the merry Pilgrims stated "health care is a basic right."

Health care, ie a service or commodity provided explicitly for the well being of the body, is a GOOD.

As such, nobody has a RIGHT to health care, food, shelter, or any of life's necessities without purchasing or bartering for them.

Under ideal conditions, a health care practitioner SHOULD have the the ability to accept or refuse service to anyone just like any other merchant. This is far from the case. As a result, health care in most "modern" nations has become a tangled web of insurance, regulations and lawsuits that just keeps driving the price higher and higher with everyone wondering "why,"
and nobody willing to budge an inch for fear of getting steamrolled.

Fortunately, today's strip sidesteps the whole debacle by making the pilgrims realize that "if we want to get away from high taxes, we have to give up the perks those taxes gave us."

Unlike in real life where "progressives" flee a high tax environment, and then push to institute the very policies and programs that created the high taxes they fled from.

Bob G on May 10, 2012, 08:33:38 am
I like to illustrate the divide by my response to someone who says, "I have a right to be heard!":

   No, you don't have a right to be heard. You have a right to say what you like (even, contrary to popular opinion, the right to shout, "Fire!" in a crowded theater*), but that doesn't mean that anyone has to listen to you.
   Your speaking does not interfere with anyone else's rights, and if what you have to say attracts attention from others, then mazel tov to you. If you had a 'right to be heard', that would mean that, if what you said wasn't interesting enough to draw a crowd the governent would have the power to go out and round up an audience for you at catlle prod or bayonet point. This definitely would interfere with the rights of those so affected.

*Indeed, there might be a time when it was incumbent upon you to do so, as in when the theater was actually on fire and people were in danger. What you cannot do is use your right to speak as a defense or justification for your action if you falsely do so, and people or property are harmed as a result.
Whatsoever, for any cause, seeketh to take or give
  Power above or beyond the Laws, suffer it not to live.
Holy State, or Holy King, or Holy People's Will.
  Have no truck with the senseless thing, order the guns and kill.

The penultimate stanza of Rudyard Kipling's MacDonough's Song

mellyrn on May 10, 2012, 08:38:08 am
Quote
So the right ta life is not just the right not ta be murdered but also the right ta be protected. The right ta liberty is not just the right not ta be locked up (or ta be denied the protection of the law) but also the right ta be granted freedom (or granted the protection of the law). And the right ta property is not just the right not ta have yer stuff stolen, but also the right ta be given stuff you need.

Mmm, I don't think so, except for the middle one. 

I say it's never OK to compel someone to take an action.  It is OK to compel him to refrain from some action.  This is because, in compelling action, you are co-opting -- stealing -- from him his most inalienable "property", i.e., his time and his energy.  In compelling refraining from action, we still leave him his own time & energy to use in some other fashion.

The "right not to be locked up" and the "right to be granted freedom" -- since you are free, you just are, up until someone takes some definitive action to capture you, here we're simply requiring the captor to cease & desist.

But the other two?  You're alive and well until you aren't; we can require others to refrain from harming or killing.  But to require others to take positive action to prevent your harm or death crosses the line into co-opting their time and energy for your good.  And as for property?  The right "to be given" stuff?  By whom, exactly?  There's only us here, and if we all have the "right" to "be given" stuff, who's supposed to do the giving?  The infamous "them"?

True, I wouldn't much like sharing a community with someone who consistently refused to help protect other members of the community.  Which brings me back to

Quote
Society is not properly a concrete entity, but rather the process by which omnivorous naked killer apes - who will expediently slaughter and eat each other if circumstances facilitate such activities - manage to live in each others' company without behaving like the proverbial Kilkenny cats.

The philosophers of the Enlightenment spoke of "the state of nature" as a condition of constant warfare between man and man, and members of our species were said to have "come in out of the state of nature" when by virtue of agreement to respect our respective rights we condition our peaceful (if not necessarily amicable) coexistence with the deadliest animals on the planet: our fellow H. sapiens sapiens.

Oh, please.  Hobbes was traumatized by civil war, and in any case couldn't know that the reason humans don't live like the Kilkenny cats is simply that we're not cats, inherently asocial creatures, but humans -- and humans tend to die when we don't have a community.  We're not as group-dependent as bees, but we're not all that far off from them, either.  Society is not an artifice imposed on a bunch of cats to make them behave more like bees, but is humankind's "state of nature".

We do kill other humans -- but we only kill "our own" in some fit of passion.  In fact, it's rather a measure of the extent of your tribe:  whom you'd be aghast at killing, versus whom you're OK with killing.  Someone who considers you one of the pack, the tribe, will probably quite freely leap to your defense if you're threatened with harm -- he is acting, and from his own point of view, too, in defense of his own good:  he sees you as an inherent part of it.  If he has to be forced into it, then obviously he does not consider you one of "his".

Someone who wouldn't use his time & energy to protect me doesn't consider me one of "his" people -- so I'd be disinclined to regard him as one of mine.  Forcing him to pretend to care about me wouldn't serve either of us.

macsnafu on May 10, 2012, 08:58:16 am
Okay, I'll jump in.  A right is a concept about what people ought to be able to do, or not prevented from doing.  Sure, you can have a "laundry list" of rights, but an exhaustive list would be ridiculous and impossible, as rights are essentially a sphere of actions that one should be free to do.  Rights are normative.

The Constitution allegedly limits government, not rights themselves, unless of course your idea of government is that it's supposed to protect your rights.  However, while the Constitution lists some rights, it doesn't try to offer an exhaustive list or even define rights.

My definition above is a bit vague.  While I certainly agree with the libertarian idea of negative rights and that there really is no such thing as positive rights, I no longer know how or where to derive these rights outside of what we as a society, are trying to accomplish.  Rights, like morals, are merely a means to an end.  What end?  I and most people, I think, want a peaceful, progressive, and productive society to meet our needs and desires.  If that is your goal for society, then the libertarian conception of rights is the "right" one, and other types of rights are wrong and held mistakenly by some people. 

Obviously, if you don't want a peaceful, progressive, and productive society, then the libertarian conception of rights are not what you want.  Also, I probably don't want to associate with you if I don't have to.

Rights are normative concepts, so enforcing or protecting those rights is a secondary question after you've defined them.  While many people can probably be persuaded to the libertarian conception of rights, some means or mechanism is occasionally necessary for protecting rights. 

We might hold that the only legitimate purpose of government is to protect rights, but I no longer believe that government is the best means of protecting rights, as governments cannot exist (as we know them) without initial rights violations.  Not even a "limited" government.
I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

customdesigned on May 10, 2012, 10:51:26 am

Based on the premises above, it'd be the government. And it wouldn't "steal" them from others, but purchase them then give them to those who need. Throughout history there have been governments that were wealthy enough through revenue intake to pay for services for its citizens, such as free water, free education, free food when required, free medical services, and so forth. The US is wealthy enough to do this, but to try would run us smack into the old "guns vs. butter" debate. We could probably pay for all sorts of free services by cutting military spending by a quarter or even a third without sacrificing our ability to defend ourselves, but would people be willing to do that?
What your analysis leaves out is the "government" is formed of people who are neither more nor less trustworthy and honorable that the citizens.  If someone is a petty thief, they will still be a petty thief as a "civil servant", but with a vastly greater take.  If they are a violent thug, they will still be a violent thug in law enforcement.  In the US, the Federal government has become the worlds largest corporation, and has all the maladies in spades that liberals complain about in private corporations.   I have often thought that even Socialists should be leary of putting all their eggs in one corporate basket.  The name of the USSR suggests at least an attempt at independent socialist states.

macsnafu on May 10, 2012, 11:02:35 am

We should point out, however, that in a practical sense, for a government to compel people to restrain from harming others, it must put into place rules and regulations that would prevent that harm, then enforce them with inspections to make sure people are in compliance. Otherwise, all the government can do is wait until someone is harmed, then punish those who did the harm (assuming there is even a rule or regulation against the action that caused the harm). In other words, the government must not only restrain from killing but also actively protect. That's what we meant by a right to be protected.
"Actively protect" still doesn't imply an obligation on those being protected.  The policeman on the beat is actively protecting, by his presence and by keeping an eye on things.  But where are rights involved in this?  Private security people do the same thing.  In both cases, they are paid to do this--it's a service, not a right.

Quote
Based on the premises above, it'd be the government. And it wouldn't "steal" them from others, but purchase them then give them to those who need. Throughout history there have been governments that were wealthy enough through revenue intake to pay for services for its citizens, such as free water, free education, free food when required, free medical services, and so forth. The US is wealthy enough to do this, but to try would run us smack into the old "guns vs. butter" debate. We could probably pay for all sorts of free services by cutting military spending by a quarter or even a third without sacrificing our ability to defend ourselves, but would people be willing to do that?

Governments have no money until they tax their citizens--involuntary taxation IS stealing, no matter what they do with the money afterwards.  And that's before we even get into how government spending skews the market.
I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

macsnafu on May 10, 2012, 11:58:29 am
What your analysis leaves out is the "government" is formed of people who are neither more nor less trustworthy and honorable that the citizens.  If someone is a petty thief, they will still be a petty thief as a "civil servant", but with a vastly greater take.  If they are a violent thug, they will still be a violent thug in law enforcement.  In the US, the Federal government has become the worlds largest corporation, and has all the maladies in spades that liberals complain about in private corporations.   I have often thought that even Socialists should be leary of putting all their eggs in one corporate basket.  The name of the USSR suggests at least an attempt at independent socialist states.

Sunny: Fair enough.

Of course, not everyone in government is a petty thief or a violent thug. In fact, the vast majority are not, and many are conscientious dedicated people. However, if we grant your premise, then the free market would also run by petty thieves and violent thugs. Consider the trusts before and during the [Teddy] Roosevelt administration, or the poor quality of many pharmaceuticals and the squalid conditions of many food processing plants before the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act. Consider the highly risky and out of control investmenting that led to the Great Depression and the Great Recession. If the government cannot be trusted because of the thieves and thugs who run it, than neither can the free market.
You're going  by faulty stereotypes, here, not actual history.  The Federal Reserve, for example, was created in 1913, and its policies led to the Great  Boom (The Roaring 20s) and the then inevitable bust (the Great Depression).  Then, as now, the Fed pumped new money into the financial markets and distorted market information.

And, of course, the differences between a government and a free market are immense.  A government has the legal authority to initiate force under various circumstances.  People in a free market may occasionally initiate force or fraud, but they have no legal authority to do so, and once identified, are thus recognized for what they are: criminals.
Quote
Then again, according to the Constitution, "We the People" ARE the government, so if the government sucks, it's our fault.

Sure, sure.  A Congressman 'represents' how many thousands of people?  And he's going to listen to one person over everyone else that wants to talk to him/bribe him/blackmail him?

Of course, you can always vote them out of office--IF you can get enough people to agree with you, on election day, every 2 or 4 or 6 years, and IF there's somebody else worth voting for.  Restrictions on third party and independent candidates mean fewer candidates to choose from.

On the other hand, instead of waiting for an election day, I can change which store I buy from ANY day of the week, or even buy from more than one store on the same day.  And if they don't have what I want, I don't even have to buy from them!

So tell me again exactly how it works that "we the people" are the government?
I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

mellyrn on May 10, 2012, 12:02:46 pm
Quote
IF Premise 1 is correct,

Ah.  OK.  I don't think it is correct, as I think the most fundamental "natural right" (if I may so use the term) is the right to allocate one's own time & energy as one sees fit.  There may be no one I'd actively harm, but there are a few people I wouldn't throw a life preserver to if they were drowning.  Others retain the right (heh) to react to my inaction as they see fit.

Quote
(assuming there is even a rule or regulation against the action that caused the harm)

I've elsewhere proposed a single law:  Primum non nocere, or do no harm.  Merely lacking a regulation specifically against, say, dumping arsenic in the communal water supply shouldn't mean that we just let the dumper do so until the regulation gets written.  So the practice would be, if you considered yourself harmed, you'd call for community action against the harm-inflicter; this might mean an arbiter and a community panel, if an anarchy, or it might mean a judge and a couple armies of lawyers, if a state, in order to determine if you are just a whiner or if you have a legitimate complaint.  Which is, in fact, what we do despite having so many laws no one person could learn them all in even the most extraordinary modern lifetime -- someone always says, "No, that regulation does not apply to me and here's why", and the courts have to be used to decide whether or not it does.  So the only difference my single law would make is, it would hurt the paper industry something fierce.

Oh, and put lawmakers out of business.

Quote
for a government to compel people to restrain from harming others, it must put into place rules and regulations that would prevent that harm, then enforce them with inspections to make sure people are in compliance.

I work in the nuclear industry, and I can tell you that that only provides the appearance of active protection.  My best boss got canned for, in effect, not personally holding the hand of a subordinate each and every workday making sure said subordinate did not get sloppy.  The regulations were there.  The inspections were there.  Extra visits by the supervisor, my boss, were there.  Yet the plutonium got spilled and tracked around anyway because the immediate supervisor, the guy who evidently needed to have his hand held at all times, got sloppy.  I do not know why he wasn't canned, but, that's gubmint for ya.

Quote
In other words, the government must not only restrain from killing but also actively protect. That's what we meant by a right to be protected.

The only way for a government to protect me as I walk down the street is to have agents stationed on every corner.  It's not free; I can't require these actual other human beings to stand on guard for me just because I have an alleged "right" to "be protected".  I can buy their services, however.  If it's my "right", why should I have to buy it?  "They" should have to provide it; if I have to buy it -- either by paying a sensei or bodyguard directly, or indirectly via taxes -- it's not a "right", it's a purchase.  And in the case of a direct purchase, I can sue for failure to protect; in the case of, say, police, they can ignore me, hell, they can even kill me, with impunity, and as they are agents of the very same system that would put them on trial (conflict of interest, much?), there's not a damned thing I can do to them.

Or maybe you're meaning that "right" = "what a government is supposed to provide"? 

Quote
Based on the premises above, it'd be the government. And it wouldn't "steal" them others, but purchase them

Government agents could only purchase goods with funds it had previously stolen.  My church buys stuff for the local food kitchen with funds the members have freely contributed -- and no one gets kicked out of the church if they can't contribute, if they can't contribute some amount determined by church agents, or if they just plain don't want to, so it's a genuine gift when it is given.  We don't think the soup kitchen clients have a "right" to the food; we don't think they have any kind of claim on us; we give it because we want to, because we think it's the "human" thing to do.

Quote
The US is wealthy enough

"The US" is a way to avoid facing each and every American individual and personally force them to fork over however much you think should be forked over.  It's not free.  It's paid for by actual individual human beings.  TANSTAAFL, and all that.

Quote
Premise 2: Natural rights place restrictions on government action.

I'd say that not only is Premise 2 not correct, I'd say that natural rights preclude government as a legitimate entity at all.

Quote
Of course, not everyone in government is a petty thief or a violent thug. In fact, the vast majority are not, and many are conscientious dedicated people.

One of these is true (my thanks to freedomainradio.com):

1)All people are criminals.
2)Most people are criminals.
3)Some people are criminals.
4)No people are criminals.

If 4) is true, we don't need government.

If 1) is true, who the hell cares if we have a government or not?

In the case of 2) and 3), if there is a government, it will come to be run by criminals because criminals tend to seek power if for no other reason than to prevent "authority" from punishing them for their crimes, by being that authority and refusing to punish themselves.

There is no system that "normals" can develop that can't be taken over by psychopaths or criminal types (and if it can be, it will be) . . . except no system at all.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2012, 12:06:54 pm by mellyrn »

myrkul999 on May 10, 2012, 12:10:42 pm
Actually, we're not arguing that the free market IS run by thieves and thugs, at least no more so than any other human enterprise. We're arguing that the fallibility of people is not a sufficient excuse to discount an entire organization, whether it be the free market or government.

You're right. Human fallibility is not the reason we discount organizations like the government. We discount them because of their methods. A government is defined by the method of its revenue generation: Taxes. Taxes are theft, pure and simple. If a company that didn't have a flag took money by force to run its operations, we'd call them criminals. With the flag, we call them government. Anarchists simply ignore the flag and call them as they are, criminals.

And if you think US taxation is "voluntary", try saying "No, thanks, I'll pass on paying". See how well that works out for you.

Killydd on May 10, 2012, 12:47:08 pm
TeamGirl:  an interesting proposition, that we are obligated to protect the rights of others.  I certainly agree with where it comes from, "They came for the others and I did not care because they were not me.  They came for me and there was nobody left to care."  The catch, perhaps with the entire concept of a right, is that any force sufficient to compel someone to not violate the rights of others is necessarily also sufficient to violate these rights.  

The problem with claiming that taxes are voluntary is that there is no actual way to avoid them.  Indeed, you could only legitimately avoid them if you also avoided all services that they provide, which is what people are doing in the story by moving to the Belt.  Alas, our current reality has no Belt that we can reach, because governments have claimed all available land.  Well, there was that interesting experiment where somebody built an island in international waters, but that really got messed up when people said "hey, that must be our land now!"

The right to drive is interesting also:  the simple right itself is clearly the right just to use your own property.  The right to drive in a manner harmful to others clearly does not exist.  How do we differentiate between the two?  The government model is to require a licence and then to fine/imprison you whenever they feel you are driving unsafely, enforced by spending money to keep people out there just to catch you.  The AnCap model is to let you drive unsafely until you actually do damage, then require you to pay for the damage, although in principle your friends will at least slow this down.  But we all have seen people we simply do not wish to share the road with, out of fear for our own lives.  Of course, the people that own the roads would probably end up with some level of traffic police.  (no commons, and a reasonable protection of their investment)

Mellyrn:  I think I can get behind the concept of a body of law that simple.  A great deal of our current law is merely an expansion of that concept, much of the rest should probably be destroyed(I don't care if you do harm to yourself), and I think the remainder is regulations designed to make it easier to enforce the first part.  

On the other hand, I also think that "no system" will get taken over by the psychopaths as well.  Clearly, at some point in our history, there was no law beyond "might makes right."  Somewhere in there we developed the machinery of government, and it quickly led to those in power competing for ever more power, and all the problems of unlimited monarchy that I think is completely anathema to most people around here.

Macsnafu:  I think I agree.  Every seven years is probably too rare for a revolution.

macsnafu on May 10, 2012, 12:56:27 pm

It's true a legislator has to balance the needs and demands of all his constituents, and it's true that in addition to his service he also owes them his leadership, meaning he sometimes votes in ways he feels is in their best interests even if they are opposed to it. However, no legislator can cavalierly disregard the opinion of any constituent. Plus, part of being a legislator is being an ombudsman. Most are very conscientious about helping a constituent in need, even if only for the cynical reason of hoping to get your vote. If they will help with a personal problem, they will listen to your opinion.
Generally, when a congressman helps a constituent, they are helping them circumvent the law, or they help one person while many others still fall through the cracks.  At best, it is still a waste of the congressman's time, because it means he isn't doing "congressional" stuff.

Quote
Hmm. Well, we don't want to dispute your view of things, though we would say that we don't think cynicism makes for a good or rational argument. However, using your market example, we would suggest you can move to a different part of the country where the local constituents and their legislators believe as you do. That's called the free marketplace of politics.
Cynical or not, did I say something that was factually incorrect? 

Furthermore, I don't have to move to a different area to shop at different stores--why should I have to do so for representation?  Of course, almost all states have restrictions on third party and independent candidates, although, to be fair, they are not all equally onerous.  Even so, government institutions themselves tend to have partisan politics ingrained in them.  Think for example, of the Majority and Minority Leaders in Congress. 

Also, all governments are based upon involuntary taxation.  Sure, some have more and some have less taxes, but they all have them.  Governments also tend to be defined by their monopoly control over a given area, and not just taxation.  They claim the legal authority to control it and enforce laws over it. 

So I don't really see where this "free marketplace of politics" actually exists.
I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

myrkul999 on May 10, 2012, 12:57:34 pm
Hmm. Well, we don't want to dispute your view of things, though we would say that we don't think cynicism makes for a good or rational argument. However, using your market example, we would suggest you can move to a different part of the country where the local constituents and their legislators believe as you do. That's called the free marketplace of politics.

It's not cynicism. It's plain facts. Bad people want power. Dispute that. Please prove to me that evil men (and women) do not want power.

And while you're at it, Find me a place on the map where the government allows competition for ALL it's "services", and only charges me for those services it actually provides me.

myrkul999 on May 10, 2012, 01:19:31 pm
Eile: That's not what we meant by involuntary. See our earlier post for that.

Unfortunately, you don't get to define words.

voluntary:
Quote
done, made, brought about, undertaken, etc., of one's own accord or by free choice: a voluntary contribution.

Even (in fact, especially) if we use the "law" definition:
Quote
acting or done without compulsion or obligation.

We still have the clear and blatant fact that taxation is not voluntary. You are correct in stating that no law is "voluntary" either, since when they write it down, it becomes compulsory. I would, however, point out at this point a fine quote from R. A. Heinlein:

"I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do."
« Last Edit: May 10, 2012, 01:22:13 pm by myrkul999 »

 

anything