The Role of Government

Man’s nature as a moral being necessitates Rights, moral principles “defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. The only fundamental Right is man’s right to his own life. Ayn Rand correctly identifies life as “a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action—which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life.”

The most basic corollary of the Right to life is the Right to property. The Right to property makes all other Rights possible. Why? Because man is a rational being. To quote Shaun Connell over at Reason and Capitalism: “Man does not have the brute strength to kill deer, he is not born with fangs to poison his prey, or claws to use as weapons. Man has only his mind. It is his mind that separates man from the animal. The product of man’s own creative effort is his property. Without the unlimited control over the disposition of his own property, man has no means to sustain his life fully, as he sees fit. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.”

The only way to deny this is to resort to a form of collectivist thinking; that the property of some people belongs to other people; that other people can make unearned demands on your property through: sheer weight of numbers (majoritarianism), force, or a duty-sense of morality (such as the bankrupt Kantian imperative, all religions, utilitarianism etc). However, Rights apply to the actions of individuals; society is not an individual and it is not a superbrain that emerges when two or more people assemble, and it is not a Borg Collective. There are only individuals, and there are only individual Rights. Taking the property of a person by unprovoked force is a violation of Rights, and therefore a criminal act. It is a crime whether it is done by another individual, a majority of individuals, or a State. Only a moral subjectivist would assert that a crime becomes acceptable when it is sanctioned by the power of a majority vote, such as democracy. (Moral subjectivism reduces to moral nihilism and should be ignored.) Democracy gives the majority the power to violate the Rights of the minority. The only way to check the power of a democratic government is with constitutional guarantees, such as are present in the United States Constitution. But what does the Constitution guarantee? Individual rights. But you cannot morally justify violating some rights and not others. It is a contradiction; either we have individual Rights or we don’t, and who decides what Rights we forfeit and those we don’t? Well, certainly not the individual in a democracy. No other current system of government does any better though, and most of them are even worse.

So do we even need a government? In a word, yes. I am not a Libertarian nor an anarchist. Those who proffer that we don’t need government are irrational. The only question is: what is the proper role of government? The answer: one that fully respects individual Rights, and whose power is limited to performing only its necessary tasks. What are government’s necessary tasks?

First, consider individual rights. The only way to violate the Rights of a person is by physical force. That is why people must be stopped from using any use of force against their neighbours, with equal or greater force. So the only legitimate use of force is in response to those who initiate its use; those who have violated the Rights of individuals and forfeited their own. Except in an emergency case of self-defence, the issue of what constitutes necessary retaliatory force can be capricious and whimsical; it is in order to guarantee individual rights that the use of retaliatory force be objectively defined and objectively employed. This is why it cannot be left to the whim of an individual. A moral society invests the use of force in a government whose actions are dictated by objective laws. That is why it is necessary to have an objective legal system. But note that all these governmental actions serve one ultimate purpose: to protect the Rights of its citizens. So what are the only legitimate services of government? Protection of citizens against internal or external threats, and a fair objective legal system to mediate disputes between men and define what constitutes a crime or not.

Since government has a monopoly on the use of physical force, its power must be limited to very specific tasks. Government is the only institution that has the power, at the point of a gun, to make demands of an individual. Government exists to protect us from criminals who would violate our rights, therefore it cannot be such a criminal itself. The source of the government’s authority is “the consent of the governed.” This means that the government is not the ruler, but the servant or agent of the citizens; it means that the government as such has no rights except the rights delegated to it by the citizens for a specific purpose.” – TVOS

Under a proper social system, a private individual is legally free to take any action he pleases (so long as he does not violate the rights of others), while a government official is bound by law in his every official act. A private individual may do anything except that which is legally forbidden; a government official may do nothing except that which is legally permitted.

This is the means of subordinating “might” to “right.” This is the American concept of “a government of laws and not of men.”” – TVOS

Taxation is the forced expropriation of individual property. As such, it is an immoral and illegal use of governmental power. The redistribution of wealth is the implementation of mass unearned demands on the property of others; it reduces men to parasites of other men. It is based on the notion that man has a duty to sustain the life of others, but this is patently false. The Right to life means the Right to take action to sustain your life, it does not mean that others must hand you everything you desire. Whether you are unable or unwilling to support your life is either unfortunate or immoral, but one person’s bad luck or laziness is not a burden on anyone else, no matter what the circumstances.

As to what happens to the disabled in such a society is a topic for another discussion, or I direct you to an excellent article here. As to how government is financed in a properly free society is again, a discussion for another article. These issues properly belong to the philosophy of law, but they should start from a foundation of individual rights.

Now, even if it could be argued that taxation was moral and necessary, and that redistribution of wealth was moral and necessary (both of which are grossly incorrect), would that make it acceptable to enforce it? No. Remember that man is a moral being; morality being a code of values to guide actions. Where choice is impossible, value is impossible; where value is impossible, morality is impossible. The only way to render choice impossible is by the use of force. So whilst redistributing wealth to others may be moral (it isn’t), doing so at the point of a gun is immoral. There is nothing generous or moral about someone who is forced to give his property to those who may or may not have earned it. “Mutual consent” is an expression that becomes meaningless in a society where the refusal to consent is met with a loaded gun. Enforcing a system you believe to be moral is contradiction of the most heinous sort.

A legitimate government acts to protect individual rights against those who violate them first. It has no other moral role.

 

(All Ayn Rand quotes are taken from The Virtue of Selfishness, unless otherwise stated.)

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27 Responses to “The Role of Government”

  1. johnnypeepers Says:

    The 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution paved the way for mob-rule mentality to overtake individual property rights and economic freedom. Senators were to be selected by the State, to represent the State, not by throngs of greedy bastards intent on benefiting from income redistribution and massive welfare transfer payments.

  2. evanescent Says:

    Here here!

  3. Shaun Says:

    Interestingly enough, I have the strangest urge to applaud the note. 🙂 Well spoken, well reasoned and very true.

  4. psiloiordinary Says:

    Ok Evan,

    Democracy? No?

    So who is in charge then? Who decides?

    I am really confused here – so much you say seems to contradict other things you are saying – so to go back to basics but it will help me try to understand.

  5. evanescent Says:

    So who is in charge then? Who decides?

    Who decides what?

    Before we can discuss this further, do you agree with my arguments in the article itself. It does no good to talk about taxes etc and financing government if you disagree in principle with the politics of Objectivism.

    I find myself encountering this line of thought quite often, and that’s not a bad thing of course, because I asked the same questions myself at first: how will government be financed etc? Well, table that for now, but we will come back to it eventually. The fundamental question is this: do you agree with the concept of individual rights as I have explained them? ( https://ellis14.wordpress.com/2007/12/08/what-is-morality-and-what-are-%e2%80%98rights%e2%80%99/ ) Second, do you believe that Rights are negotiable, ever? Once this has been established, we come to the important issue of what kind of government is necessary and moral. This is important, because, for example, if you believed that the State or Supreme Ruler ala Hitler could do whatever he wanted, what would be the point in discussing taxes etc? We must address the philosophy of politics first and see what is rational and true.

  6. psiloiordinary Says:

    “Its no good . . .” what?

    I am simply asking honest questions to try to understand your position.

    You seem to be saying that you won’t answer them unless I agree with you. . . .?

    Surely that is not what you mean’t.

    – – –

    I think that democracy gets to decide what rights are – I have said this a few times now – democracy seems to be the best way humanity has yet discovered (although it is not perfect).

    So the question was – if you don’t believe in democracy then who is in charge?

    – – –

    Once again Evan I am simply asking questions about your point of view – would you please answer them.

    They may need to be “revealed” in a particular order for “conversion” purposes bt that is not the situation here is it?

    Psi

  7. Ergo Says:

    “if you don’t believe in democracy then who is in charge?”

    No physical person (or group of persons) is rightfully “in charge” as such in a Constitutional Republic. A democracy is basically majoritarianism–or, a totalitarian of the majority; or, the majority votes decide the law of the land (for example, the democratically elected Hamas government of Palestine). A democracy as such can be a very dangerous thing and can threaten individual human rights. (For example, in India, the supreme court ruled that homosexuality must remain illegal as it stands because the Indian society is not ready to accept a change in the law with regard to this. Therefore, homosexual practice is illegal in India.)

    In a constitutional republic system, the letter of the law is the supreme authority (as it is supposed to be in the case of the United States Constitution); to use your terms, the Law (the Constitution) is “in charge”, and the government exists *only*/solely to exercise the law, implement the law, protect the law, and administer the law.
    The Law itself is drafted against the backdrop of a rational understanding of objective principles applicable to the political existence of people in a society. In other words, objective political principles are codified into law and is applicable to *all* individuals and groups of people. The Law obtains its authority not from god, the pope, the president, or a large group of voting individuals, but from the nature of reality and the requirements of people’s existence in reality.

    This is just to state it in brief. For more detail, of course, we’d have to go into the philosophy of law; and I’m not an expert in that special field.

  8. evanescent Says:

    Psi, Ergo has just presented what is the proper, and only legitimate, form of government.

    As for ‘socialism’, the reason I didn’t provide a definition is simply because it is not MY definition; you only have to go Wikipedia, and type in ‘socialism’.

  9. Psiloiordinary Says:

    OK so we actually agree then – constitutional democracy is the way to go.

    Hang on a mo . . .

    You said you don’t support this.

    And then you said that tax is evil (or something about taking money at gunpoint anyway)

    Now you are saying its the only way to go.

    Please can you clarify?

    I struggle with your implied definition of socialism as a resident of the UK having the UK described as socialist alongside China and the other states you mentioned.

    How does the UK qualify as a socialist state?

  10. evanescent Says:

    Hi Psi, you needn’t have struggled with any definition of socialism, I pointed you in the direction of the proper definition of it. Here is the actual link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism

    I think you’re having real trouble understanding this discussion, and it could be because you’re not trying – no offence, but how difficult was it to search Wikipedia for ‘socialism’?

    Now, you’re right that I oppose democracy and I oppose taxation – but nothing I’ve said should confuse you on this issue. As to how government is funded – good question – we’ll come onto that later. But HOWEVER it is funded, we agree that it cannot be by forced expropriation, yes?

  11. psiloiordinary Says:

    You oppose democracy but agree that it is the only legitimate form of government.

    Evan, I am trying – but your message is awfully garbled at this end. Please spell it out simply for me.

    Blame me for the confusion if you like – I am only a degree educated bank manager with an interest in politics, science and scepticism.

    I explained before that it was your strange use of the word “socialism” which was puzzling me – not a lack of a dictionary. Which is why I asked for your personal definition to help me understand your usage better. You still haven’t said how it is that the UK is socialist along side those other examples.

    Likewise your views on democracy being both the only legitimate form of government and also something you oppose leave me puzzled.

    – – –

    I said before I believe in law and order in a democracy, so yes that means policemen and tax men and fines or prison for those who refuse to pay. BTW the police don’t carry guns over here.

    So no I don’t agree with your last point.

    The rich pay far far less a proportion of their incomes in taxes in the UK’s democratic society as it is.

    – – –

    Please can you spell out your position clearly?

  12. evanescent Says:

    Hi Psi.

    I oppose democracy, and I don’t agree that it is the only legitimate form of government! I’m not sure where you got the impression that I think it is! Democracy is not a legitimate form of government.

    Socialism: “Socialism refers to a broad array of ideologies and political movements with the goal of a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the community[1]. This control may be either direct—exercised through popular collectives such as workers’ councils—or indirect—exercised on behalf of the people by the state. As an economic system, socialism is often characterized by state, worker, or community ownership of the means of production, goals which have been attributed to, and claimed by, a number of political parties and governments throughout history.”

    The government of the UK is currently a social democratic party: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labour_Party_%28UK%29

    And it has been for many years now, in one form or another.

    Socialism as a political theory is defined above. In it’s complete form, it is called communism. The principle behind communism and socialism is the same – with communism the market is fully controlled. With “more free” socialist countries like the UK and to a lesser extent America, the market is what we called “mixed”. “Mixed” economy means that the sources of production are partly state-owned (socialistic) and partly private (capitalistic). It is capitalism that I espouse, which means any form of government must allow the market to be totally FREE – i.e.: under NO state or public control.

    Now, I believe in law and order – but not democracy. I think this common trend of romanticising democracy is demonstrating itself here, as though democracy is the good, and anything else is the evil. But ANY system of authority that does not recognise individual rights is evil.

    Do not equate policemen with taxmen. Do not equate majority vote with justice and legality. In a proper government, we still need policemen; we still need law and order and justice; we still need a legal system; we still need prison and the army.

    And I’m aware that the UK police don’t carry guns; I live in England!

    The rich pay far far less a proportion of their incomes in taxes in the UK’s democratic society as it is.

    This isn’t actually true though is it? The more people earn, the more they are taxed. And the higher band your wages are, the greater the percentage of tax you pay. Besides, if even one penny is forced from someone without their consent, it is a crime. The fact that a group of people got together and made is “ok” does not make it so.

    Democracy is rule of whatever majority is in power at the time. It is STILL the violation of individual rights; it is still the sacrifice to the whim of the majority; it is subjective; it is capricious; it is collectivist; it is irrational.

    I sincerely hope this clears up many of your misunderstandings. I am genuinely happy to discuss this issue with you – my only gripe has been your initial emotionalism on the subject.

  13. psiloiordinary Says:

    Your comments about emotionalism from the person who equated having a NHS to extorting cash at the point of a gun is mildly ironic (yes that is sarcasm).

    So you separate democracy from the constitution? I had missed this – I think because it seems so obviously silly as it completely ignores the fact that we have to pick the constitution in some way to start with.

    Who decides on the constitution in the first place then?

    You are wrong about tax in the UK. You are ignoring trust law, the pensions law, capital gains tax and Inheritance tax and the impact of VAT – I repeat the more you earn the less you pay.

    I work in the business Evan – this is the case, although it is not widely appreciated – but just go and ask a tax accountant or a tax collector if you don’t believe me.

    Starting from nil income you see a “lowish” level of tax which increases with earnings as you describe it but then flattens off and then falls dramatically once you get into six figures.

    – – –

    I agree with this;

    “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves, and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise that control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.”

    Jefferson

    – – –

    So how do you pay for your justice system and law and order, who writes the constitution in the first place and who legislates on an ongoing basis?

  14. evanescent Says:

    Psi said:

    Your comments about emotionalism from the person who equated having a NHS to extorting cash at the point of a gun is mildly ironic (yes that is sarcasm).

    But what I said wasn’t emotional or hyperbole, it was actually true!

    So you separate democracy from the constitution? I had missed this – I think because it seems so obviously silly as it completely ignores the fact that we have to pick the constitution in some way to start with.

    A Constitution should be written by experts in philosophy, law, and politics. The aim of the Constitution is to guarantee individual rights – it would be an objective rational ultimate authority. It would not be made up by the whims of any number of people; it would not be voted on, in the sense of some parts being negotiable.

    Do not confuse having a group of people drawing up an objectively-moral and legitimate document with the rule of the masses. The Founders of the US knew this – that is why the Constitution of the US is the ultimate authority, and in theory, it cannot be dissolved or overruled by any majority vote.

    Starting from nil income you see a “lowish” level of tax which increases with earnings as you describe it but then flattens off and then falls dramatically once you get into six figures.

    So tax does increase the more you earn then. The fact that it drops off after a certain point is irrelevant – people who earn six figures still pay more than those who earn less. Perhaps I’m missing something? In the UK the tax rate is about 22% (roughly) which goes up to 40% (am I close?) after you earn £30,000 a year? At what point does it drop off? I ask because I would like you to clarify this for me.

    So how do you pay for your justice system and law and order, who writes the constitution in the first place and who legislates on an ongoing basis?

    You’ve jumped ahead of me here Psi, before we discuss that, remember I asked you this earlier:

    But HOWEVER it is funded, we agree that it cannot be by forced expropriation, yes?

  15. psiloiordinary Says:

    Your last point first – No I don’t agree – I think democracy works and has the right to raise taxes – I answered this before.

    – – –

    Who decides who these experts of yours are how are going to draw up the constitution?

    Who decides who gets to rule on interpretations of it in the light of new technological and cultural developments.

    Who decides who gets to draw up new legislation to cope with new issues as they arise?

    Who decides who decides the sentences for breaking the laws?

    I have asked you this several times now – who decides who decides?

    – – –

    You are looking at income tax and ignoring the fully messy tangled substrate of the other laws and taxes I mentioned – it is these that enable those rich enough to form SPV’s, trusts and other legal tax avoidance measures to reduce there tax burden very significantly. Use your wealth to buy property and put this in trust for your kids and you can pay tax at much lower levels on the earnings.

    Form a company with you and your wife and pay yourselves in dividends and not salary and pay 10% tax on your earnings. Form a company to buy your house (which is also a business premises) and part of your mortgage costs and the costs of running the hosue can be offset against your income before you pay tax.

    Use off shore trusts and technically earn your income abroad and so not pay any tax on it at all.

    Wake up to the real world.

    There are thousands more methods – this is what many accountants spend all day thinking up and implementing.

    – – –

    So who should pay for justice Evan and what proportion of their income should it be? How should this vary with the level of income?

  16. evanescent Says:

    our last point first – No I don’t agree – I think democracy works and has the right to raise taxes – I answered this before.

    But you haven’t justified why. What if the majority want to take your house from you? What if the majority decide to ban free speech? What if the majority decide to make a particular religion state-endorsed and mandatory in schools? What if the majority decide that you should pay 50% of your wages in tax? What if the majority decide the healthy organs from your children can save the life of more people?

    If you believe the individual rights of men are negotiable, then there is nothing more to discuss. The individual rights of men are a necessity of the type of being we are. They cannot morally be revoked by anyone, not by a dictator, not be a Monarch, not by a robber or mugger, and not by a collection of people that “overrule” what your wishes are.

    Democracy reduces to moral subjectivist – that whatever the majority agrees on is ok. But whatever the majority agrees on can vary. What you’re saying is “might makes right” or “majority makes right” – but this notion itself could be refuted if a majority of people deciding that democracy doesn’t work! The problem with all subjectivism is this: any contradictory position is of equal merit, which means all positions are equally meaningless – ergo any form of subjectivist morality or government is self-refuting. Democracy is totalitarian rulership by the majority – the only thing that prevents democratic countries being like Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia is CONSTITUTIONALISED INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS – these countries simply don’t apply these Rights to their fullest extent. It is BECAUSE of individual rights that western countries “succeed” in any way, in spite of a system that invalidates them, vis-a-vis democracy. Rights exist precisely because the minority need protecting from the majority – and there is no smaller minority than the individual!

    If you’re happy to throw away your proper rights to a collective whim, that’s your choice – but don’t expect others to do the same. But your system of government would destroy such rights whether people agreed or not.

    So I say again, before we go any further we must agree on whether individual rights are negotiable or not. I say they’re not. The burden is on you to argue why individual rights can be violated – if you can.

  17. psiloiordinary Says:

    Hi Evan,

    All of your questions are answered very simply.

    “It isn’t perfect but it seems to work.”

    Now, will you ever give us your suggested alternative?

    Who do you put in charge Evan?

    – – –

    This reminds me of a debate I have had a few times with creationists. The creationist argument goes like this.

    “You can’t logically prove that logic works without using logic.”

    My reply is to point to huge amounts of empirical data showing how it seems to work in the real world.

    That is my reply to you.

    Instead of dreaming up theoretical issues and problems why don’t you give us your alternative?

    – – –

    Not only have you failed to show why your alternative will protect individual rights better than democracy (with all its faults) actually does in the real world, but you won’t tell us what your alternative is.

    Stop putting words into my mouth and start telling us what you are proposing as an alternative.

    Or are you going to refuse to tell me because I won’t agree with you so far?

  18. evanescent Says:

    Psi said:

    It isn’t perfect but it seems to work.

    What do you mean it works? If by “works” you mean that individual rights are violated to further a collectivist agenda, then yes it works – but you have just begged the question. You presuppose your own politics are correct, but that is what you should be proving.

    Who do you put in charge Evan?

    A government of officials has the task of protecting individual rights by means of a police force, army, and legal system. These people are not “in charge” – they are acting within the confines of their mandate to protect individual rights, and they have no power to pass any law that could affect individual rights. Now, on a matter of policy, for example in war time, those decisions can be made by a body of experts, military leaders, legal experts – and there is nothing objectionable about a majority vote in matters of policy where individual rights are not on the line.

    In a proper government for example, it would be illegal to force funds from any person without their consent (i.e. robbery). Any government simply would not have the power to pass such a law because the objective constitution would forbid it.

    This reminds me of a debate I have had a few times with creationists.

    Yes I agree – you keep saying “who decides who decides” as if there is no standard apart from the collective. You merely replace “god” for “the collective”. Here is my alternative: reality. Who writes the Constitution? Well, who wrote the US constitution? Simply put: it doesn’t matter WHO writes it, what matters is WHAT is written – how do we know it’s right? Well, that’s like me asking you how do you know god doesn’t exist? How do you know Santa doesn’t exist? How do you know elephants can’t fly? A constitution would be a very simple document indeed actually, it would define individual rights and guarantee to protect them – every other human action would be forever legal.

    Not only have you failed to show why your alternative will protect individual rights better than democracy (with all its faults) actually does in the real world, but you won’t tell us what your alternative is.

    I have. You’re simply not listening and I really can’t understand what your problem is. I’ll spell it out one last time, try and follow along – use your finger if it helps: universal freedom of action with individual rights guaranteed. In other words, you can do whatever you want, as long as you don’t violate the rights of other people. A proper government would exist to protect this principle.

    “The source of the government’s authority is “the consent of the governed.” This means that the government is not the ruler, but the servant or agent of the citizens; it means that the government as such has no rights except the rights delegated to it by the citizens for a specific purpose.” – The Virtue of Selfishness

    Ayn Rand again: “Under a proper social system, a private individual is legally free to take any action he pleases (so long as he does not violate the rights of others), while a government official is bound by law in his every official act. A private individual may do anything except that which is legally forbidden; a government official may do nothing except that which is legally permitted.

    This is the means of subordinating “might” to “right.” This is the American concept of “a government of laws and not of men.”

    There is no point trying to talk about the finer points of law and order (which properly belongs to the field of political philosophy) whilst you subscribe to a subjective point of view; by definition, you cannot prove yourself right.

    Here is a thought experiment showing why you’re flat wrong, in theory and practice: you believe in democracy, which means you believe in moral subjectivism (which you must do, since you reject that there are certain objective moral truths, such as the Rights of Man). You believe there is no objective right and wrong, and whatever the majority decides is acceptable, for the sake of the “greater good”. I don’t like you disagreeing with me, therefore I’m going to establish my own political party, come to power, change the law, and have you executed for disagreeing with me. Since you agree with majoritarianism, I hope you smile with pride on your way to the gallows.

  19. psiloiordinary Says:

    More thought experiments and theoretical reasons why I am wrong?

    Look at the real world Evan.

    If it is a battle of thought experiments then I can easily beat you because I form a political party and get elected and ban your executions. (Oh dear that one has already happened in the real world – does it still count as much as your thoughts?).

    Who decides whether or not to accept your constitution?

    All these “finer point of law and order” that you want to leave without discussion are what makes up the real world. Why won’t you talk about them?

    Did you know Shermer has described objectivism as a cult?

    “Smile with pride on my way to the gallows” – Evan – wake up and come back to reality man, it is democracies throughout the world that have abolished the death sentence.

    Stick that in a thought experiment.

    Who picks the legislators?

    Who picks the judiciary?

    Where are the checks and balances?

    You are so obsessed with saving tax that you still won’t answer how you pay for the law enforcement or judiciary.

    – – –

    Remember claiming that the richer people get, then the more they give to charity? Remember me asking for evidence? Remember giving me some figures about “states” but not “people”, giving to the Tsunami Disaster charity? Remember me pointing this out? Remember me pointing out the fact that this doesn’t back up your claim about individuals as it was a set of numbers about states? Remember me pointing out that the numbers didn’t even correlate with the wealth of the state anyway?

    Remember your response?

    – – –

    Reality Evan.

    I suggest you read around about Objectivism, perhaps Shermer would be a good place to start, but then give your self a range of views on it to cogitate on.

    – – –

    I am afraid to say you are sounding like a proselytiser and you are not living in the real world.

    Giving a thought experiment proves nothing when it goes against the empirical evidence.

    Didn’t you used to think that?

  20. evanescent Says:

    f it is a battle of thought experiments then I can easily beat you because I form a political party and get elected and ban your executions. (Oh dear that one has already happened in the real world – does it still count as much as your thoughts?).

    You’ve just proven my point: we can pass whatever law we want!

    Who decides whether or not to accept your constitution?

    All these “finer point of law and order” that you want to leave without discussion are what makes up the real world. Why won’t you talk about them?

    Anyone who chooses to live in said country – but any rational person would accept such a constitution since it really just means unlimited freedom as long as you don’t violate anyone’s rights. This is the proper way for man to live.

    Did you know Shermer has described objectivism as a cult?

    Yes I am aware – Shermer is a humanist, a position which I have recently rejected. He’s also an atheist and sceptic. Unfortunately, his philosophy is too based on Kantian/Humean philosophical scepticism, and his morality is rooted in altruism and collectivism – quite an irony when you consider this is also what Christianity is based on too! So, if Shermer is going to deride Objectivism he’s going to have to do so from a morally-objective reality-based philosophy – ooops! Shermer rejects these ideas so his subjective rejection of Objectivism can itself be rejected!

    Here is Ayn Rand herself: “A blind follower is precisely what my philosophy condemns and what I reject. Objectivism is not a mystic cult.”

    Objectivism is a philosophy of REASON. Someone who accepts Objectivism for “cultish” reasons is, by definition, not being an Objectivist!

    “Smile with pride on my way to the gallows” – Evan – wake up and come back to reality man, it is democracies throughout the world that have abolished the death sentence.

    On what grounds did these countries abolish the death sentence? Ask yourself that. Did they do it because it was objectively morally wrong, or because a majority of people happened to agree?

    You are so obsessed with saving tax that you still won’t answer how you pay for the law enforcement or judiciary.

    On the contrary, I’ve deliberately avoided this question all along because it’s a minor issue – I am not going to spoonfeed Objectivism to you when you are unable to defend your own position.

    What you are effectively saying is this: “I can’t be bothered or don’t have the intellect to imagine how a proper government will be financed, so I give up and say that it must be by tax”, or “I can’t foresee every possible answer to every possible question in the future, therefore I will give up and let the government decide for me”. Contrast that with this: “I know there is evidence of evolution, but the bible says we were created, so I will believe that”, or “All the evil in the world doesn’t make sense if god is loving, but my church says he is so I must have faith that god exists”.

    You have faith too, Psi. Your faith is in democracy – you can’t rational argue for it, and you can’t excuse the violation of rights, but you “know” it’s right, so you ignore the faults and pretend every thing’s ok. – Just like a theist does with their religion.

    Remember claiming that the richer people get, then the more they give to charity? Remember me asking for evidence? Remember giving me some figures about “states” but not “people”, giving to the Tsunami Disaster charity? Remember me pointing this out? Remember me pointing out the fact that this doesn’t back up your claim about individuals as it was a set of numbers about states? Remember me pointing out that the numbers didn’t even correlate with the wealth of the state anyway?

    Remember your response?

    Yes, I said this:
    You could research this yourself, but here is just one example:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanitarian_response_to_the_2004_Indian_Ocean_earthquake
    The 2004 Tsunami: note which countries gave the most money in charity and compare with your estimate of personal freedom in those countries.

    Now, if you look at Pledged amounts on a per capita basis, you’ll see the US on 2,875 (USD millions). So when I said that the most free country in the world was also the most generous I was right.

    I also gave you these links

    Here’s another link you might find of interest: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/lif_mem_of_vol_org_cha-lifestyle-members-voluntary-organisations-charity

    And again: http://www.nationmaster.com/red/graph/lif_mem_of_vol_org_cha-lifestyle-members-voluntary-organisations-charity&b_map=1 What do you notice about those countries (in colour) that give charity?? Could they be the more-free more-wealthy countries in the world??

    Notice the pretty countries? Notice which countries relate to the colours.

    Now, I don’t expect you remember this since your interest here is in defending your faith, not reaching an honest conclusion. But for the sake of honest readers I’ll repeat again: where do you think charity comes from? Does it come from the rich or the poor? Does it come with those who have or those you don’t? Does it come with those who are free to give or those who aren’t? The more money people have, the more they can and do give to charity! This is self-evidence truth! Like I said to you before and you ignored: where do you think charity comes from??

    Besides, this is irrelevant anyway because: even if there was no way to guarantee charity, that would STILL NOT justify redistributing the property of others to sustain other people and turn them into parasites.

    From the start of this discussion Psi you have asked question after question, and ignored my responses, and asked more questions. You have not answered the questions I have asked. You want me to give you all the answers without taking part yourself. You have shown no common dignity or grace in an honest discussion. You try to argue on a high-level concept like democracy without noticing that your entire foundation of beliefs is a subjective mess of contradictions. You keep demanding answers from me, but you cannot even justify your starting position.

    You cannot explain why:
    rape is wrong, even if the majority says it is
    murder is wrong, even if the majority says it is
    individual rights cannot be violated, even if the majority say they can

    I have already refuted socialism and collectivism in this and other threads – instead of refuting my arguments or defending your own, you want to drag us down to the finer details of “who pays for the government??”. Well, I’ll make you a deal, we’ll sort that out (and we can!) when you can defend your own political position – something, after all this time, you’re still yet to do.

    I’m here for honest intellectual debate though, I’m not here to defend my faith like you seem to be, so my involvement in this discussion will only continue if I see similar honesty from you.

  21. Psiloiordinary Says:

    Wow man you are in deep.

    Most of these answers of yours don’t actually mean anything. Ducking and diving, dodging and weaving!

    I have been asking the same basic questions all along. You keep on ignoring them.

    You attack my position, which I openly acknowledge is simply based on experience and evidence, for being unprovable logically, while refusing to show the either the evidence or the logic to back up your own position – at least that bit of it you will tell me about.

    I am not interested in proving rationally that rationality works – Empirical data is enough for me.

    You have so many unsupported assumptions that you don’t even acknowledge, it is scary.

    “Any one who acts unchristian is not a christian” – ring a bell? What does this prove? Yet you present your own version of this quote as if it means something.

    You say you won’t answer questions about your own position because it would be spoon feeding me. Way to keep a secret!

    I wonder if you are keeping a secret from yourself – that you can’t engage in a normal civilised debate.

    What is my political position? I haven’t even declared one.

    Why should I have to pass a test of your devising before you will answer a reasonable question about a position you set out on a blog and allow comments and questions on – sounds cultish to me.

    You have not asked me to explain why rape is wrong or murder is wrong. You haven’t even asked me and yet you declare I can’t do it. Is this just rudeness, stupidity or part of your debating technique?

    Here is why (this was written in response to challenges that I don’t know right from wrong as I am not religious);

    http://web.mac.com/theedonfamily/Site/Blog/Entries/2007/4/29_Being_good_without_god.html

    http://web.mac.com/theedonfamily/Site/Blog/Entries/2007/5/3_Being_good_without_god_part_2.html

    The reason I want to “drag you down” is because I don’t know what your position is and so I am asking out of curiosity. Don’t judge me by your own standards.

    Why do true believers view questions as threats? Asking a question is “dragging you down”? More evidence of cult like behaviour?

    Why is asking you questions defending my faith? More evidence of cult like behaviour?

    I think charity has evolved. Not sure if it is a spandrel or an adaptions but we have lots of evidence for altruism in animals (although you have denied this elsewhere).

    Are you going to answer my questions or not?

    Still claiming “Self evident truth” without giving supporting evidence? Hallelujah!

    I have answered all your questions – just not with the answers you claim as self evidently true.

    If you refuse to answer because I don’t agree with you so far then your philosphy of life won’t get you very far.
    After all you only appear to want to tell people about it who already agree with you 😉

    More evidence of cult like behaviour?

    – – –

    “Individual rights can not be violated” Why not? Look at the news man. Do you mean they should not be?

    What about when they conflict. Just two individuals in dispute. Leave aside society versus the individual and stick o simple cases. Two people claim the same right to land say.

    What do you do then?

    Or is this another secret?

  22. evanescent Says:

    Every rational person following this discussion can see the time and patience I have invested in an honest conversation, and can see that my arguments remain unchallenged and unassailable.

    It is clear that Psi is not interested in looking for genuine answers. If he was, he would answer questions instead of constantly asking them. This is quite discourteous.

    As anyone can clearly see from the main article and my comments: I explain what rights are, what rights are necessary, and define the role of government clearly and its power and limitations. Now, Psi wants democracy. He ignores my article, he ignores my arguments. He hasn’t shown which part of my article is wrong. He hasn’t shown that my concept of Rights is wrong. He can’t deny that democracy would violate individual rights. He can’t deny that democracy is unlimited majority rule. He can’t deny that democracy reduces to moral subjectivism and nihilism. So why is he still arguing? Don’t you think it’s fair that I, before answering his questions such as “how do we finance government?”, get him to lay his cards on the table and agree what is a PROPER government in the first place?

    If he disagrees with my concept of “proper government”, should he not be able to explain why? If he thinks that democracy is “good”, even though it violates individual rights by nature, should he not be able to justify it? And should not this argument from him come BEFORE any discussion of smaller resulting questions such as philosophy of law and economics?

    Why should I justify a position as morally correct (which I already have done in the article) to someone who rejects any criteria for reaching a moral conclusion? Since Psi subscribes to moral subjectivism, is it not he who is is left without any stable position to form any opinion on any matter? Doesn’t Psi have to steal the concept of objectivity to call my system of government “wrong”?

    It is clear that Psi’s failure in this debate is not the result of stupidity – he is clearly an otherwise intelligent person. His failure is due to philosophical ignorance from a base of contradictory positions. Because he cannot justify his opinions, he’s left to utter such morally bankrupt credo as “democracy isn’t perfect, but it works”. He forgets that unless he subscribes to an objective worldview, his opinions are meaningless – he might as well be talking about god.

    I leave these questions for the intelligent reader to discern for themselves – Psi’s accusations of cultism are ignorant and irrational – I think he is merely repeating what he’s read, and this shows his faith in his subjectivist collectivist mentality, not in a desire for truth.

  23. Ergo Says:

    Evanescent,

    Psi reveals his philosophical weakness in this statement:

    “I am not interested in proving rationally that rationality works – Empirical data is enough for me.”

    He is either ignorant of philosophy or is so steeped in empiricism that he can’t see how his argument is self-refuting. Empiricism has *nothing* to do with whether rationality works or whether only humans are rational beings. Empiricism is itself based on rationality; in other words, the epistemic criteria used by empirical methods to ascertain matters of observation as matters of fact or logically consistent *require* an ontological dependence on *rational* thinking and logic. Logic is a tool of *reason*. Therefore, you can’t use “empirical data” to convince yourself that reason works, i.e., that logic works; because your methods of measurement already presuppose the use of reason and logic.

    It is impossible to deny that–metaphysically–humans are rational beings. Impossible. Let me repeat that again, it is *impossible* to deny that humans are rational beings. Aristotle had identified an irrefutable fact that humans are rational entities. Psi’s resort to “empirical data” reveals that he is not aware of this basic philosophical fact or that his empiricism does not permit him to acknowledge such absolute levels of certainty; which would explain why he (and some others here in the past) have questioned whether humans are indeed rational beings–or even flatly denied that only humans are rational creatures (all the while ignoring the self-evident fact that to make such a denial or mount such a challenge requires a consciousness that is metaphysically capable of rationality, i.e., reasoning abilities).

  24. jackangler Says:

    “unless he subscribes to an objective worldview, his opinions are meaningless”
    paraphrase: Objectivism can only be properly refuted from a morally-objective philosophy.
    Can you turn me on to the other leading morally-objective philosophies?
    And I’m glad that Psi stopped himself after the 22nd post.

  25. evanescent Says:

    Hi Jack, he didn’t stop himself actually, I had to block him!

  26. Small Business Tax Guru Says:

    I’ve been interested in taxations for longer then I care to acknowledge, both on the personal side (all my working life story!!) and from a legal viewpoint since passing the bar and following up on tax law. I’ve supplied a lot of advice and righted a lot of wrongs, and I must say that what you’ve put up makes complete sense. Please persist in the good work – the more people know the better they’ll be equipped to deal with the tax man, and that’s what it’s all about.


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