ContraryGuy on May 10, 2012, 02:02:43 pm
Today's strip (5/9/12, page 951) reminds me that I'm not clear on the terminology here.  What is a 'right'?

I know there are things I want for which I will fight with all I've got, like choosing for myself what I will or will not do.  That doesn't stop other people from trying to force or coerce me, so I may indeed have to have that fight.  At what point does this thing I want, to choose my own actions, acquire the mantle of a 'right', as in 'the right to choose for myself'?

Does the term only imply how hard I'll fight for it, how much trouble he can expect who tries to deny it to me?  Does it imply that I have a community of like-minded people who will help me fight for it?

(If I were a dictator, I'd make free speech a positive obligation.  How am I to know what people are thinking if they don't say it?)

A "right" is an ability to pursue an action, or abstain from an action.  A right is granted by a higher power, but can only be taken away as a punishment from a higher power, as an act of violence, or as willing suspension ("give up your rights")
Examples of "higher powers" include, God (or Creator of choice), any form of government that you agree has power over you, or the opinion of the majority of the people in your society.

An "inalienable" right is one that is inherent to you, and cannot be separated from you except through acts of violence.  Because an inalienable right was never given to you, no government or majority opinion can take it away; such groups can merely suppress such rights, usually through violence or threat of violence.

mellyrn on May 10, 2012, 02:17:58 pm
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it's the unsupported illogical leap from there to the conclusion that no government (made up of people by implication) can be trusted.

OK, I'll spell it out.

Imagine an election.  The candidates are Joe Normal and Jack Psychopath, but since Jack is a psychopath, you, the voter, know him as Jack Charming.  He's a con man.  That means he's good at getting you to trust him, even though he does not deserve it.

Since Joe is a normal, that by psychological definition means that there are things he will not do, things to which he will not stoop, in order to win office.

Since Jack is a criminal, he will do anything -- lie, cheat, steal and kill -- in order to "win" the office.

Who is more likely -- not guaranteed, merely more likely -- to get elected?  Normals won't assassinate rivals; criminals will.  Normals won't bribe the vote-counters to miscount or bribe the homeless with food to go in and cast extra votes under the names of dead people; criminals will.  Normals won't hire a data company to comb the voting rolls in order to cull felons from the rolls and tell said data company that a mere 80% match is good enough to strike a name from the registered-voter list; a criminal would, and did (though she was never even charged with a crime, that doesn't make it any less criminal).

Now let's add a new level:

I want power, and I think in a much longer time range than most people.  So I get my two godsons (not related, see) to run for office, each in a different party.  Then I don't care which party is most favored in the election; either way, my man is in office.  I can even let the elections be ever so fair; I still control.

Please cease from dismissing as "cynicism" conclusions you simply don't like.

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We would argue that based on historical precedence, that conclusion does not automatically follow from the stated premise.

What planet are you from?  Name me a US president who kept a campaign promise and quote the promise and cite the keeping of it.

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properly legislated taxation by representatives you help to elect

a) I didn't help elect them.  For one thing, when Candidate1 strongly supports causes A and B, which I favor, but opposes C, D, and E, which I also favor; and Candidate2 oppposes A, supports B, C, and D and opposes E, and I only get one vote, what in hell do you think I'm voting for?  Neither one of these people represents me.  Honestly, have you ever seen a candidate with whom you agreed in all particulars?

b) Representatives?  In 2008, when the bank bailouts were first proposed, calls to "representatives" were said to be running 300-to-1 against; one pundit joked the calls were split 50-50:  "50% 'no' and 50% 'hell, no'!"  But the bailouts passed.  Oh, yeah, real representative, there.

c) When they don't even read the bills they pass (try a search on "congressmen don't even read the bills they pass")??  How in the hell is that anything I had any power over?


Killydd:
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On the other hand, I also think that "no system" will get taken over by the psychopaths as well

Yeah, I see what you mean; otoh, "no system" lacks a center of power for the taking. 
« Last Edit: May 10, 2012, 02:23:24 pm by mellyrn »

myrkul999 on May 10, 2012, 02:24:08 pm
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.

Eile: We said we wouldn't reply to irrational arguments, but you challenged us, so [get 'em, tiger!]:

Sunny: The a priori claim that "bad people want power" isn't what we disagree with; it's the unsupported illogical leap from there to the conclusion that no government (made up of people by implication) can be trusted. The burden of proof is on you to present a logical argument that shows how we get from the premise to the conclusion, then provide empirical evidence to support it. We would argue that based on historical precedence, that conclusion does not automatically follow from the stated premise.

No? I could state any number of historical and current references which back up the conclusion. But I'm not going to. Instead, I'll just present logic. If you really want examples, I can list them if you want.

Let's assume that some portion, but not all, people are predisposed to corruption. Governments, as you stated, are made up of people. We'll even give you the benefit of the doubt and allow that government is a representative slice of the population, rather than skewed toward those who enter into politics in order to gain power (we'll assume they're offset by the percentage of people who enter into politics with the intention of helping people).

So now we have a representative slice of the population, which, by virtue of being in government, have power over the rest of the population. As was stated before, the population is composed of some people who would, if given the chance, rob you blind, and some who would not. since the government is (ideally) representative of it's people, so too is the government composed of some people who would, if given the chance, rob you blind, and some who would not.

So now, we have a government agency, composed of some people who would, if given the chance, rob you blind, and some who would not, which, by virtue of being in government, have power over the rest of the population. The people who are willing to use immoral and illegal means to advance their position will, by their very nature, use those means, and thereby advance their position faster and further than those who would not. Internal audits and the like will catch some, but not all of these people. Those that are left are the most ruthless, and the best at not getting caught. They will, by that "virtue", rise to the top of the power structure, to a position where they can then control the internal investigations, steering them away from themselves, and potentially allies, as well.

So now, we have a government agency, the upper echelons of which are composed of people who would, given the chance, rob you blind, and the lower ranks comprised of people who would not, which, by virtue of being in government, have power over the rest of the population. You'll note that I did not once mention elections, because the vast majority of government agencies are not peopled by elected representatives, but simply people hired off the streets. I left out elections for another reason, but that one is best left to another discussion. Mellryn sufficiently covered elections, anyway.

Cynical? Damn right. But it's backed up by historical precedent, and has been shown to happen time and again.

myrkul999 on May 10, 2012, 02:43:28 pm
But there are other ways to consent to something.

Ah. So now we find the root of the disagreement. Anarchists (and many libertarians) do not acknowledge any form of consent except explicit. An oft-repeated line is "I didn't sign the Constitution". The idea of consenting to something by the act of being born is patently ridiculous. That is what you're saying with "As a citizen of the US, or even just a resident, you all tacitly consent of your own free will to be governed by the Constitution."

Killydd on May 10, 2012, 02:45:00 pm

Fair enough. But yer own market analogy claims you can change venues at will. A government venue may be bigger, but that doesn't invalidate your own analogy that you could change to another if you wanted to.

And there are districts, communities, counties, even whole states that have eliminated taxes, so yer claim is factually incorrect. The remaining taxes you allude to that still exist are those applied by the other government levels that haven't eliminated their taxes.

I'm not sure what you're talking about there.  For example, Alaska, with no taxes, does so by selling oil which was bought by the US from Russia back in the 19th Century.  That money came from taxes in one form or another, and went to a country that, like all other major powers at the time, pretty much just walked in, planted a flag, and supported its claims with military might.  Ah, the wonderful days of colonialism when small communities simply didn't matter.  Of course, most communities don't have such nationalized resources at their disposal to sell.  Of course, I could see rationalizing property taxes as simply the state renting out land to the current owner, at a variable rate based on increasing with improvements that said renter made to his property.

And of course, that doesn't get into the financial and social costs of actually picking up and moving to a different location, which certainly reduces such choices.  

On the other hand, let us consider a fully democratic community, that decides by a two-thirds margin to raise taxes for a specific project.  You still have that one third that voted against it, and is now being assessed a fee that they disagree with, even if they will also be benefiting from it.  While I agree that this is fair, many disagree with this scenario.  

mellyrn:  
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What planet are you from?  Name me a US president who kept a campaign promise and quote the promise and cite the keeping of it.
 
Certainly not all campaign promises are kept, and certainly some are poorly carried out, but some have been.  Part of the problem with perception here is that opponents take every chance to remind you of things that they didn't do correctly.  http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/promise/141/make-military-deployments-predictable-for-troops-a/ is one recent example, though I certainly admit he has also broken his share of them.

mellyrn on May 10, 2012, 02:57:00 pm
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they're starting to degenerate into irrationality and insults, which we won't respond to.

Kettle.  Black.

You're both very cute and you're both obviously bright, and if either of you is of voting age yet, I'll be quite surprised. 


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Certainly not all campaign promises are kept

I stand guilty of hyperbole.  Yet there is a reason the joke, "How can you tell when a politician is lying? His lips are moving" is funny.  It's painfully funny.  I truly do not know why people keep going back to the voting booth as if it mattered.  How many times do you have to be lied to before you grow even a little caution about placing your trust?

Killydd on May 10, 2012, 03:09:37 pm
Mellyrn, I'd certainly agree that we need more accountability to promises.  But do we try to keep the guy in that kept his promise on 80% of the issues where we disagreed anyway, or the one with no track record yet, but promises to be more like us?  I guess to me it's all like choosing between McDonald's and Burger king when you want a good taco anyway.  There has to be a better way, but anarchy doesn't feel like it, at least not in the long run.  Of course, I'm also somewhat amazed that Boner didn't have more of a riot on his hands.

mellyrn on May 10, 2012, 03:11:49 pm
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There has to be a better way

I'm with you there.

myrkul999 on May 10, 2012, 03:14:54 pm
I guess to me it's all like choosing between McDonald's and Burger king when you want a good taco anyway.  There has to be a better way, but anarchy doesn't feel like it, at least not in the long run. 

I'm curious. Why not, when Market Anarchy will allow you to go to Taco Bell (or Del Taco, or Taco Casa or...)?

Andreas on May 10, 2012, 03:38:34 pm
I have a lot of respect for thrift, but I would like to point out that the bytes involved in a user profile are not a limited resource, and so it strikes me as entirely preposterous for what seems to be two people to use a single account to contribute to a discussion. No offense, that's the response it engenders in me. I am put off, and when I am put off, I tend to completely disregard the cause.

myrkul999 on May 10, 2012, 04:04:03 pm

The idea of consenting to something by the act of being born is patently ridiculous. That is what you're saying with "As a citizen of the US, or even just a resident, you all tacitly consent of your own free will to be governed by the Constitution."

Sunny: You are absolutely right. What we should have said was, "By choosing to remain a resident of the US, you all tacitly consent of your own free will to be governed by the Constitution." Thank you for pointing that out.

Which is the same response statists have always used: "If you don't like it, you can always leave". Rest assured, that if a place existed where I could go, and expect my rights to be respected, I would. Unfortunately, there is no belt to escape to yet, so I cannot. As it is, I am a member of The Shire Society (some of you may recognize the seal on my picture), and will be moving to New Hampshire to participate in the Free State Project (Which, according to the current EFT story arc's exposition, dooms me to an early death... I am willing to take that risk). I hope to make that place, so that when people like you trot out that old saw, the other person has an option to take. And I assure you, they will. And we will welcome them.

Killydd on May 10, 2012, 04:28:03 pm

The idea of consenting to something by the act of being born is patently ridiculous. That is what you're saying with "As a citizen of the US, or even just a resident, you all tacitly consent of your own free will to be governed by the Constitution."

Sunny: You are absolutely right. What we should have said was, "By choosing to remain a resident of the US, you all tacitly consent of your own free will to be governed by the Constitution." Thank you for pointing that out.

The problem is that many of the people here actually wish to go to Heinlein's Coventry, that is have the option of going somewhere with no constitution instead of choosing one here that they don't like. 

I guess to me it's all like choosing between McDonald's and Burger king when you want a good taco anyway.  There has to be a better way, but anarchy doesn't feel like it, at least not in the long run.

I'm curious. Why not, when Market Anarchy will allow you to go to Taco Bell (or Del Taco, or Taco Casa or...)?

I guess in this metaphor, let's call AnCap a taco, while what I want is some obscure Ethiopian food that they don't sell in this town.  But the point of the metaphor was complaining that our political options are too narrow.  As for why I think it won't work well, that's a bit more complicated. 

Let's examine a genuine market anarchy:  The Black Market.  Yes, there's some small businessmen in it, but there's also some big ones.  And when you get to the big ones, you notice that a certain amount of ruthlessness appears to be needed to stay big.   Meanwhile, the small people in those organizations are still earning about the same as they do at their second job at...Taco Bell.  Meanwhile, the goods stay fairly low quality, because that's what sells the most.  And this is even with goods that demand quality, like drugs.  Just ask anyone that had a bit too much rat poison cut into their ecstasy. 

And of course, we've seen other cases, as my earlier point about Tyranny being the next step after Anarchy.  It's hard to say how long this would normally take, since what we typically call anarchy now is either a few warlords duking it out for the title of Top Dog, or a complete collapse of civil order where it's the violence that gets our attention. 

Of course, let's take my experience with Burning Man.  The lack of rules certainly generates a lot of creativity, art, and such, but rules have still crept in, mostly dealing with fire safety.  Of course, surrounding communities are imposing some of these, since you really can't get away from everything to have one of these gatherings.  I admit, it's a lot of fun, until you run into one of those really bad eggs that wrecks the engine of your ride home, and you're either dealing with normal government again or trying to convince yourself that just warning people not to trust him will be enough.

customdesigned on May 10, 2012, 04:45:11 pm

The idea of consenting to something by the act of being born is patently ridiculous. That is what you're saying with "As a citizen of the US, or even just a resident, you all tacitly consent of your own free will to be governed by the Constitution."

Sunny: You are absolutely right. What we should have said was, "By choosing to remain a resident of the US, you all tacitly consent of your own free will to be governed by the Constitution." Thank you for pointing that out.
That's why the Amish have their formal "running amok" time, where Amish teenagers are required to visit the outside world (prepared with mini-courses on the culture and getting around such as a tourist would take) for an extended time (up to 2 years) and then decide whether to return to the Amish community and abide by their rules and restrictions.

customdesigned on May 10, 2012, 04:56:38 pm
I have a lot of respect for thrift, but I would like to point out that the bytes involved in a user profile are not a limited resource, and so it strikes me as entirely preposterous for what seems to be two people to use a single account to contribute to a discussion. No offense, that's the response it engenders in me. I am put off, and when I am put off, I tend to completely disregard the cause.
Actually, the bytes involved *are* a limited resource.  Recording memory, including your own (or more accurately, the erasing of memory that allows setting it to a known state) increases entropy.  This is pretty much the origin of the "arrow of time".  Physics has no preferred direction in 4-space, but all the representations in your memory are from a direction with lower entropy.   This is why information and entry have the same mathematics.  Just as the universe has a maximum entropy, so any conceivable memory device has a maximum entropy = information capacity. 

But you probably just meant to say that bytes are *really* really cheap at this point in time and space, and the entropy increase from a new profile (or this comment) are no more significant than another billion dollars added to the US "deficit".

customdesigned on May 10, 2012, 05:04:42 pm
I admit, it's a lot of fun, until you run into one of those really bad eggs that wrecks the engine of your ride home, and you're either dealing with normal government again or trying to convince yourself that just warning people not to trust him will be enough.
So, what do you do when you run into one of those "really bad eggs"
in government?