0610: "Sheeple"

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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Wed Jul 22, 2009 6:22 am UTC

ellbur wrote:The way our government runs things right now can be phrased in terms of property rights. The government owns the right to tax income, as an example, among many, many other things. Many of these rights are conveyed at birth, by virtue of being born in the US, but ultimately people and corporations can exit these agreements by leaving the country.

Phrased in this way, the Objectivist goals amount to a massive redistribution of property rights. In particular, much of the right to tax and redistribute income will be removed from the government. Other rights, such as the right of sick people to public money, will be redistributed. I think it is commendable of Objectivists to not take property rights as they stand to be fixed, and to see solutions for the general welfare that go beyond existing property structures. However, Objectivists should keep in mind that altering property rights opens the door to a discussion of what is a prudent way to distribute property, and that there is no obvious answer to this question. Furthermore, since Objectivists wish to dissolve many existing property rights, this makes it natural to consider all property rights as suspect, and none as particularly sacred.


Um, no. People have rights. Governments do not. Calling something a 'right' does not make it so.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby ellbur » Wed Jul 22, 2009 6:27 am UTC

andrewclunn wrote:Um, no. People have rights. Governments do not. Calling something a 'right' does not make it so.

Sorry about that; those rights that I ascribed to the government could also be phrased in terms of people. (After all, money that is taxed does go to somebody, eventually).
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Math_Mage » Wed Jul 22, 2009 6:37 am UTC

ellbur wrote:Sorry about that; those rights that I ascribed to the government could also be phrased in terms of people. (After all, money that is taxed does go to somebody, eventually).

I think Andrew is referring more to the fact that the income tax is a POWER that the people have invested in the government. Maybe we're saying the same thing, I don't know.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Wed Jul 22, 2009 6:48 am UTC

IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:Ah, well where Rand says talent here, think of her as saying the word skill. I know it's a change, but the meanings of words can change over time and she was not a native english speaker. When you recognize that by the word 'talent' she meant it to mean developed ability or skill, then you will see why this is not a contradiction.


You should read the quote in context in the introduction of "We the Living." Also, I am confused, because you yourself has said that Rand's image of man is essentially idealistic. I am merely pointing out that basing a moral system around the behavior of an ideal might not be the best decision.


"We the Living" is one of the few works by Rand that I have not read. Even so, I feel no obligation to agree with Rand on anything. I did not choose Objectivism because I liked everything Rand ever said. I chose Objectivism because it was the culmination of those things that Rand said that I agreed with strongly. Not every word Rand put to paper is something I would defend as a moral truth, it's important to know that.

As to basing morals on ideals, what else would you base them on? Oh yes, the Utilitarianism you espouse. I will then answer that section of your statement and this question below.

IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:On utilitarianism as a criteria for deciding between moral philosophies:
And I do not agree to that standard as a valid one. You know what 9 out of 10 people enjoy? A gang rape. To say that something is for the "greater good" is to justify actions that we all should know to be wrong because one believes the ends justify the means, I believe such morality will often be used as a guilt-based means of rationalizing evil.


Define evil? It is a loaded word. If you don't like my yard stick, suggest another yard stick. How can we compare two moral systems? What criteria should we use to decide between two self-consistent, reasonable approaches to morality? By what objective measure does Randian morality rate highly?


There is a fundamental difference between idealistic moralities and consequential or deontological moralities. Idealistic moralities are built around a set of principles, stating that these are virtues and should be held as ideals (aiming toward the ideal person.) Consequential moralities are built around the idea of achieving desired goal(s) and setting up a standard of principles that would lead to them (aiming toward the ideal society.) Objectivists scoff at the idea of Utopia (for example) because self-actualization is found entirely through one's self and not through modifications to society (at least to Objectivists that is.) So your entire notion of a societal goal or external standard is completely foreign to Objectivism. The only standards in Objectivism are reason, reality and one's own happiness.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Wed Jul 22, 2009 6:58 am UTC

Math_Mage wrote:
ellbur wrote:Sorry about that; those rights that I ascribed to the government could also be phrased in terms of people. (After all, money that is taxed does go to somebody, eventually).

I think Andrew is referring more to the fact that the income tax is a POWER that the people have invested in the government. Maybe we're saying the same thing, I don't know.


I'm not sure, perhaps. What I mean is that any action that the government is allowed to make it does so because its citizens give it permission, and that actions which people make are not done via government authority or by its permission. If a government fails, people will build a new society (much faster than you might think.) If people fail, then government does not exist as it is formed from and of people. When one starts ascribing rights to abstract entities like governments, cooperations, and religious establishments, then one states that there are additional rights that individuals might only have access to if they are part of one of those establishments. Which in turn means that one is saying that certain individuals have more rights than others.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby ellbur » Wed Jul 22, 2009 8:23 am UTC

andrewclunn wrote:If people fail, then government does not exist as it is formed from and of people. When one starts ascribing rights to abstract entities like governments, cooperations, and religious establishments, then one states that there are additional rights that individuals might only have access to if they are part of one of those establishments. Which in turn means that one is saying that certain individuals have more rights than others.

I realized that I made two big mistakes in my last substantial post.
1. I talked about property holdings by the government instead of by individual people, which misses the point. It's not really important that the government is the mediator of those property holdings; ultimately it all comes down on individuals.
2. I liberally used the phrase "property rights", which looks to be ambiguous.

I'm going to try to restate my argument with two corrections:
1. I will not mention the government. Yes, the government still exists, but it's not the key here.
2. I will use the phrase "property holding" to refer to a piece of property owned by someone. To refer to the general right to own property a la "life, liberty and property" I will use the phrase "right-to-property".

Here are some examples of some property holdings:
- There is road construction going on down the street from me right now. The people who drive around here own the ability to drive on the improved road surface (it was filled with potholes) via an agreement in which local property owners provide the money in exchange for the ability to live around here.
- The population of this country as a whole owns the peace-making advantages afforded by the United Nations, partly through an agreement in which they pay money to the UN in exchange for the ability to work in the United States.
- People in this country with HIV own the benefits of treatment through money that is payed by people in exchange for working in the US

I'm not trying to say that these are necessarily good property holdings, but they exist.
I think it's fair to say that Objectivism seeks to dissolve many property holdings. This is why I interpret it to be redistributive. Note that I consider this a positive feature. I hope that clarifies my position.

andrewclunn wrote:There is a fundamental difference between idealistic moralities and consequential or deontological moralities. Idealistic moralities are built around a set of principles, stating that these are virtues and should be held as ideals (aiming toward the ideal person.) Consequential moralities are built around the idea of achieving desired goal(s) and setting up a standard of principles that would lead to them (aiming toward the ideal society.) Objectivists scoff at the idea of Utopia (for example) because self-actualization is found entirely through one's self and not through modifications to society (at least to Objectivists that is.) So your entire notion of a societal goal or external standard is completely foreign to Objectivism. The only standards in Objectivism are reason, reality and one's own happiness.

I'm guessing, then, that you consider Objectivism closer to an idealistic morality than a consequential one?

This puzzles me. If Objectivism is based around a set of ideals, there's not much common ground we can debate on. Yet you have put a lot of effort into debating, and sought for a bunch of ways to find common ground (such as gentrification). But if Objectivism is really about a set of ideals, then any common ground we might have is a windfall, and doesn't actually support Objectivism.

The problem that IntentionallyLeftBlank is trying to solve by talking about utilitarianism is that while we can talk about what's good for society, we keep getting snagged on various concepts of property rights. I understand you don't like utilitarianism, and I'm not crazy about it either, but IntentionallyLeftBlank is (I think) really trying to offer you a way to phrase Objectivism in terms we can all understand, so that we don't trip ourselves up again. He offered utilitarianism; perhaps you could offer a way you like better?
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby markfiend » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:16 am UTC

drazen wrote:All but four years of my education [...] were in private school,

Yet you claim not to be privileged? :lol:
markfiend wrote:Because humanity is a social species, morality is an evolved set of behaviours that has contributed to the survival of our species. Therefore I believe that morality is based on a recognition of our common humanity. On this basis, it seems obvious to me that the great divide between rich and poor -- that 75% of the world's resources are used by 25% of its population -- is an immoral state of affairs. The resources used by the defence industry (an Orwellian concept if ever there was one; defence used as a euphemism for warmongering) could provide food, healthcare, education and housing to the entire world's population. That they are used instead to kill, maim, starve, and subdue people, again, is immoral. (Quite frankly it astounds me that these things even need to be said.)

OK putting aside the socialism argument, is anyone going to offer an argument as to how Objectivist morality reacts to this state of affairs? Is it really the case that such injustice is irrelevant to an "idealistic morality"? If so I fail to see how you can call it a morality at all.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Wed Jul 22, 2009 3:11 pm UTC

ellbur wrote:- There is road construction going on down the street from me right now. The people who drive around here own the ability to drive on the improved road surface (it was filled with potholes) via an agreement in which local property owners provide the money in exchange for the ability to live around here.
- The population of this country as a whole owns the peace-making advantages afforded by the United Nations, partly through an agreement in which they pay money to the UN in exchange for the ability to work in the United States.
- People in this country with HIV own the benefits of treatment through money that is payed by people in exchange for working in the US

I'm not trying to say that these are necessarily good property holdings, but they exist.
I think it's fair to say that Objectivism seeks to dissolve many property holdings. This is why I interpret it to be redistributive. Note that I consider this a positive feature. I hope that clarifies my position.

- That road construction is either paid for by local taxes (if it's a local road) or it is funded through tolls (if it is a highway) so the taxation will correspond with the use. Meaning that I'm not paying taxes for a bridge to be built in Alaska... oh wait, never mind.
- In my opinion the UN is a pointless waste of time. It has no teeth and often passes broad resolutions that nobody follows anyways (kind of like the Vatican.)
- I don't know exactly what you mean here. Do you mean that the US has better treatment for HIV patients?

ellbur wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:There is a fundamental difference between idealistic moralities and consequential or deontological moralities. Idealistic moralities are built around a set of principles, stating that these are virtues and should be held as ideals (aiming toward the ideal person.) Consequential moralities are built around the idea of achieving desired goal(s) and setting up a standard of principles that would lead to them (aiming toward the ideal society.) Objectivists scoff at the idea of Utopia (for example) because self-actualization is found entirely through one's self and not through modifications to society (at least to Objectivists that is.) So your entire notion of a societal goal or external standard is completely foreign to Objectivism. The only standards in Objectivism are reason, reality and one's own happiness.

I'm guessing, then, that you consider Objectivism closer to an idealistic morality than a consequential one?

Yes

ellbur wrote:This puzzles me. If Objectivism is based around a set of ideals, there's not much common ground we can debate on. Yet you have put a lot of effort into debating, and sought for a bunch of ways to find common ground (such as gentrification). But if Objectivism is really about a set of ideals, then any common ground we might have is a windfall, and doesn't actually support Objectivism.

I'm not attempting to convert anyone. I'm an Objectivist, but you don't have to be in order for me to respect you or your position. The entire reason I got involved in this thread was because this comic attacked Objectivists, insinuating that we are condescending bitter people. I felt that I should try to explain what exactly Objectivism is, so that people don't simply come away with a false interpretation of what Objectivism is.

ellbur wrote:The problem that IntentionallyLeftBlank is trying to solve by talking about utilitarianism is that while we can talk about what's good for society, we keep getting snagged on various concepts of property rights. I understand you don't like utilitarianism, and I'm not crazy about it either, but IntentionallyLeftBlank is (I think) really trying to offer you a way to phrase Objectivism in terms we can all understand, so that we don't trip ourselves up again. He offered utilitarianism; perhaps you could offer a way you like better?

Okay, this a a gross simplification, but it I guess his explanation of Utilitarianism was too. Objectivism could be seen as the worship of honesty. Do not lie about reality and do not lie about your motivations. Be honest, even when it isn't socially acceptable. Integrity is not A virtuous trait, it is THE virtuous trait.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Wed Jul 22, 2009 3:32 pm UTC

markfiend wrote:
markfiend wrote:Because humanity is a social species, morality is an evolved set of behaviours that has contributed to the survival of our species. Therefore I believe that morality is based on a recognition of our common humanity. On this basis, it seems obvious to me that the great divide between rich and poor -- that 75% of the world's resources are used by 25% of its population -- is an immoral state of affairs. The resources used by the defence industry (an Orwellian concept if ever there was one; defence used as a euphemism for warmongering) could provide food, healthcare, education and housing to the entire world's population. That they are used instead to kill, maim, starve, and subdue people, again, is immoral. (Quite frankly it astounds me that these things even need to be said.)

OK putting aside the socialism argument, is anyone going to offer an argument as to how Objectivist morality reacts to this state of affairs? Is it really the case that such injustice is irrelevant to an "idealistic morality"? If so I fail to see how you can call it a morality at all.


Markfiend, I must say I liked your other avatar better. The game of life is thought provoking, the symbol of anarchy (unless I'm mistaken and that's not what your avatar is) not as much.

Familiar with the Pareto principle? Like Benford's Law and the bell curve, it is a natural distribution model observable in the real world.

Wikipedia wrote:The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes...
Because of the scale-invariant nature of the power law relationship, the relationship applies also to subsets of the income range. Even if we take the ten wealthiest individuals in the world, we see that the top three (Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim Helú, and Bill Gates) own as much as the next seven put together.[5]...

A chart that gave the inequality a very visible and comprehensible form, the so-called 'champagne glass' effect,[6] was contained in the 1992 United Nations Development Program Report, which showed the distribution of global income to be very uneven, with the richest 20% of the world's population controlling 82.7% of the world's income.[7]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle

Maybe the 75/25 you mentioned is a natural phenomenon that cannot be changed. It is also present in alcohol consumption (20% of users buy 80% of product), the clothes we wear (we wear our favorite clothes 80% of the time), and work done by large groups (20% of the people do 80% of the work).
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby markfiend » Wed Jul 22, 2009 4:01 pm UTC

palam wrote:Markfiend, I must say I liked your other avatar better. The game of life is thought provoking, the symbol of anarchy (unless I'm mistaken and that's not what your avatar is) not as much.
:lol: Fair enough. The change was prompted by this thread, and I will almost certainly change back soon. :mrgreen: (Edit -- anarchy symbol on an anarcho-syndicalist flag to be precise ;) )
palam wrote:Familiar with the Pareto principle? Like Benford's Law and the bell curve, it is a natural distribution model observable in the real world.
[...]
Maybe the 75/25 you mentioned is a natural phenomenon that cannot be changed. It is also present in alcohol consumption (20% of users buy 80% of product), the clothes we wear (we wear our favorite clothes 80% of the time), and work done by large groups (20% of the people do 80% of the work).

Perhaps. If so I find it profoundly depressing.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:36 pm UTC

In fact, this thread is also representative of the Pareto principle. As it gets longer, it is approaching 20% of the posters posting 80% of the posts.

As of this post:
139 unique users

andrewclunn 57
Flewellyn 35
palam 28
brian0918 27
Kilroy(zTC) 23
Pazi 22
markfiend 20
rigaTony 12
ellbur 11
scwizard 8
Eikinkloster 7
bloodyblade45 7
drazen 6
FoolishOwl 6
NO U 5
TiPerihelion 5
Snowflake 5
Ghavrel 5
RanCorp 5
SU3SU2U1 4
IntentionallyLeftBlank 4

3 posts: 7 users
2 posts: 17 users
1 posts: 94 users

Everybody 3 posts and up makes 20.14% of the posters. Given 450 different posts, the top 20% wrote 323/450 posts, which is approx 72% of all the posts. Given time, the limit is approaching the 80/20 distribution.

EDIT: If one considers the amount of words one has contributed, I'm pretty sure we're already at an 80/20 distribution. # of posts doesn't as closely match "effcts" as well as post length does. I know that most of the people at the top of the list have been quite verbose.
Last edited by palam on Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:53 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby FoolishOwl » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:46 pm UTC

Even Marx and Engels argued that nationalizing property is not socialism. Engels pointed out that if state control of industry was all that socialism meant, then Otto von Bismarck, who nationalized industries but persecuted socialists, would have been a champion of socialism.

As I said before, I'm a marxist, but I have some criticisms of Marx. In particular, I think he was over-excited by the bourgeois revolutions that were occurring throughout his lifetime -- he saw the developing working class taking part in bourgeois revolutions, and occasionally making coherent demands on its own behalf, and assumed that working class revolt would pick up right where the bourgeois revolts left off. I think he forgot that, as he himself pointed out, commodity production and the bourgeoisie that developed based upon it had spent at least two millenia in growing and developing, economically and politically, before finally becoming the dominant power. The bourgeois revolutions were the final acts of clearing away rubbish that was in the way of an already dominant class. Marx seemed to assume that the trend of capitalism was to create economic structures that were socialized, except for their control, and that all that remained for the working class was to take political control of an already socialized economy. Marx and Engels realized in light of the Paris Commune that the working class could not seize control of the existing state, but must create a new state in its own image. I think that this also extends to questions of economic organization. That is, I think we have to develop socialist and democratic institutions within capitalist society, institutions that capitalism will depend upon but cannot control, and that those institutions must grow and develop until they become dominant.

Part of the tragedy of the Russian Revolution, to my mind, is that such institutions that had been developed up to that point, weakened as they had been by World War I, were subordinated and consumed in the defense of the Russian Revolution, which turned out in the end to be another bourgeois revolution. I used to be an ardent Trotskyist, but lately, I've come to think that the left Mensheviks, or at least Julius Martov, had a more consistently marxist and more accurate assessment of the situation in Russia. Martov said, before October 1917, that the worst thing that could possibly happen in a country like Russia is that there would be a bourgeois revolution, but the bourgeoisie would not effectively lead it, so that it would fall to the workers' party to lead the revolution, which would mean that the workers' party would be transformed, by the circumstances of taking and holding power, into a bourgeois party. This was exactly what happened, but the fact that Martov predicted it ahead of time was largely forgotten.

I've come to think that the various Communist Parties have generally been comprised of, or at least clearly led by, layers of middle-class intellectuals who saw themselves as being able to do the bourgeoisie's job better than the bourgeoisie. Generally, the bourgeoisie comes to power by mobilizing workers to their cause, and factions of the bourgeoisie attain dominance over other factions of the bourgeoisie by mobilizing workers to their cause, and naturally, they must find some means to do so. In effect, then, Communist Parties have generally become bourgeois parties, however sincere and dedicated their members were to the welfare of workers.

The biggest problem with socialism is, I've come to believe, that we have little idea what socialism would be, or how to achieve it. Simply organizing politically, without attending to economic organization, does not create a base for a socialist society. In this, I think anarchists have generally been right where marxists have generally been wrong.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby drazen » Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:24 pm UTC

Yet you claim not to be privileged?


Let's see, I grew up in a trailer in the woods, constantly hearing about how we were one check away from being out on the street. Every day. Every day. Any 'privilege' I got came from the sacrifice and love of family, NOT the "benevolence" of government, whose taxation only made living more difficult. In short: we stuck together. But we did it by choice, not at the point of a (metaphorical) gun. I was the first person from either side of the family in the 100 years of known genealogy to go to college and the first one to get a white-collar job. My ancestors were 100% blue-collar working class, through and through. My roots are not "rich white people" by any means. Heck, the Portugese part would have been considered a racial minority at one point, and the dash of Native American still would be. It wasn't privilege, it was a hell of a lot of work and sacrifice, in a place that, at the time, was not very well developed economically. And I look after my family every day and always will, grateful for how much they were able to do with so little. But it sure as hell wasn't any thanks to people like you. So, no. You don't get to negate 25+ years of hard work and sacrifice, none of which was "easy" under any definition of the word (well, except for the public high school, which was a complete joke other than the AP classes). Fine, I had family. But that means if I owe anyone, I owe them, NOT less fortunate strangers, from whom we never took a God damn thing in our entire lives.

Paying a few fucking dollars out of your wages is not oppression

The taking of life is murder; the taking of liberty is slavery; the taking of property is theft. My production is mine and mine alone. It is not "owed" to anyone. To assume the government can tax income is to assume they own all your income. Go down that road, and you have NO freedom.

That "few fucking dollars" is about $14,000 a year. And that is before any other taxes (gas, sales, excise) Just one year of that would be a down payment on a house. Two years would be the elimination of all my outstanding debt.

The only federal government services that I support are the military, post, and roads, which is about $500 billion a year. Let's double it and say $1 trillion to cover war debt interest and all that. OK, the population is 300 million. Let's say only 200 million of them are working, producing adults (the rest being kids and elderly). Unemployment insurance is paid by taxes on employers in most cases. So, do some simple division, and I'm currently overcharged by about $7000 a year. Forcing me to pay for services that I don't want is immoral. My position is that I should not be forced to pay for them, and in return, I should not have access to them. This is a rational, consistent, and moral position. You might not like it, but you have consistently failed to demonstrate any obligation to my fellow man other than your own belief that it exists.

In the end, I have proposed a simple solution, over and over: let's all go our separate ways and see whose society would be more prosperous. Not just one possibility, but hundreds. That you would force (through the systematic control of money, land, and resources) millions of people to endure a system that they don't want (and that will steal their production, shorten their lifespan, and lower their quality of life) is immoral, and puts you more in line with bible-thumpers, communists, Islamic militants, and tin-hat dictatorships. I don't care who's looking for totalitarian control - I don't care what their intentions are - it is wrong, and they are evil.

I have no wish to control you in any way (other than for you and everyone who believes what you do to be booted the hell out of my life forever), but you wish to control me, even when I am causing no harm. Andrew summed it up best while quoting Batman: "I won't kill you. But I don't have to save you." It's a great quote for this thread: just like Ra's Al Ghul, you wish to destroy what people have, merely because it is imperfect by your standards, and you would replace it with your own twisted vision for the world.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby ellbur » Thu Jul 23, 2009 6:57 am UTC

palam wrote:In fact, this thread is also representative of the Pareto principle. As it gets longer, it is approaching 20% of the posters posting 80% of the posts.

Haha that's awesome.

Since I had nothing better to do, I tried it with words (fwoooooosh I know regexes fwoooooosh). The top ones are
1395,IntentionallyLeftBlank
2230,FoolishOwl
3029,rigaTony
3863,ellbur
5048,brian0918
5059,markfiend
5079,Kilroy(ZTC)
6335,drazen
7268,Bloodyblade45
7694,Flewellyn
11060,Pazi
16129,andrewclunn
19411,palam

Total words: 118953
Total posters: 139

So the top (0.2 * 139) = 27.8 ~~ 28.
In the top 28 posters 105933 words.
105933 / 118953 = 89.1%
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby markfiend » Thu Jul 23, 2009 10:41 am UTC

drazen wrote:To assume the government can tax income is to assume they own all your income.

Non sequitur.
The only federal government services that I support are the military, post, and roads

So you're happy for your taxes to go towards killing people with the military, but not saving their lives with healthcare?
you have consistently failed to demonstrate any obligation to my fellow man other than your own belief that it exists.

No you're just not listening.
shorten their lifespan, and lower their quality of life

[citation needed]
just like Ra's Al Ghul, you wish to destroy what people have, merely because it is imperfect by your standards, and you would replace it with your own twisted vision for the world.

And yet again you're erecting straw men,

I'm through talking to you.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby DreadArchon » Thu Jul 23, 2009 2:49 pm UTC

markfiend wrote:So you're happy for your taxes to go towards killing people with the military, but not saving their lives with healthcare?

This assumes that government health care is going to be particularly effective. From the American government, at least, I mostly expect it to be more of a mess than a useful system.

The military, on the other hand, is important to maintain. I don't support the warmongering that's been going on here since WWII, but I do think we should keep the military, which makes it a better cash sink than government health care.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:41 pm UTC

ellbur wrote:Total words: 118953
Total posters: 139

So the top (0.2 * 139) = 27.8 ~~ 28.
In the top 28 posters 105933 words.
105933 / 118953 = 89.1%


LOLS!! That's great. If you use regexs, it probably took you much less time to do than it took me.

I was wondering, did you factor out non-unique nested quotes? It's arguable that those should count in the "effects" section of "20% causes make 80% of effects." I know I dedicated almost an entire page to one of those. However, I also had a "unique" quote when I "quoted" wikipedia. It would be interesting to see where using that methodology would get us. Factoring those out however might take forever to calculate.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:24 pm UTC

markfiend wrote:Because humanity is a social species, morality is an evolved set of behaviours that has contributed to the survival of our species. Therefore I believe that morality is based on a recognition of our common humanity. On this basis, it seems obvious to me that the great divide between rich and poor -- that 75% of the world's resources are used by 25% of its population -- is an immoral state of affairs. The resources used by the defence industry (an Orwellian concept if ever there was one; defence used as a euphemism for warmongering) could provide food, healthcare, education and housing to the entire world's population. That they are used instead to kill, maim, starve, and subdue people, again, is immoral. (Quite frankly it astounds me that these things even need to be said.)

OK putting aside the socialism argument, is anyone going to offer an argument as to how Objectivist morality reacts to this state of affairs? Is it really the case that such injustice is irrelevant to an "idealistic morality"? If so I fail to see how you can call it a morality at all.


markfiend, I've won several community service awards. Quite frankly, I enjoy helping those in need. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. I see that it also helps to build a sense of community and so I see a real benefit to myself to actively help in social programs in communities I frequent, in order to help make/keep them stable and prosperous communities. I don't need some fear of a higher power or socially imposed sense of duty to make me realize that there are real benefits to everyone (including myself) by helping those in need. But when you start taking money our of people's checks and sending that money to those in need, you create animosity among the classes. When people receive help from government run programs, they feel entitled to them rather than a sense of gratitude. What happens when the free market creates massive clumps of wealth in people like Bill Gates? He gives $30 billion away to charity (causing others to be inspired into also giving), and his company's success and existencecreates millions of jobs. I am not an Objectivist because I do not care. I am an Objectivist because I care more about really helping people than simply appearing like I want to help people, and the solutions that Objectivism offers are real, tangible and I can see them in action all the time.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby FoolishOwl » Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:09 pm UTC

andrewclunn, maybe you can explain something that's been puzzling me. It's hard for me to miss the fact that many people involved with FLOSS (free / libre / open-source software) describe themselves as libertarians or Objectivists, and Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, describes himself as an Objectivist. I tend to think of these as some of the best living examples of the creation of social property -- in fact, it occurred to me that part of what led me to socialism was my admiration for Richard M. Stallman's ideals -- but I doubt that's how Objectivists understand these projects. My best guess is that there's some idea involved that knowledge is not property.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby wolfticket » Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:23 pm UTC

Off discussion but on topic:
Image
Everyone reads xkcd these days, right?
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby DreadArchon » Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:43 pm UTC

wolfticket wrote:Off discussion but on topic:
...
Everyone reads xkcd these days, right?

Awesome. Saved. That was worth periodically clicking on this thread for. :P
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Thu Jul 23, 2009 9:10 pm UTC

FoolishOwl wrote:andrewclunn, maybe you can explain something that's been puzzling me. It's hard for me to miss the fact that many people involved with FLOSS (free / libre / open-source software) describe themselves as libertarians or Objectivists, and Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, describes himself as an Objectivist. I tend to think of these as some of the best living examples of the creation of social property -- in fact, it occurred to me that part of what led me to socialism was my admiration for Richard M. Stallman's ideals -- but I doubt that's how Objectivists understand these projects. My best guess is that there's some idea involved that knowledge is not property.


I was unaware that Jimmy Wale is an Objectivist. I (personally) have sort of a love / hate relationship with the freedom of information movement. I am certainly tired of the fact that so often it is the publishers not the writers, creators or inventors that make all the money off of music, books, software, etc... And making drastic changes to copyright laws is something I wholeheartedly support. However, the thought of giving the fruits of one's labor and especially the inventions of one's mind away for free worries me. However, all open source software is voluntary in nature, so I don't really have a problem with it morally, I just wouldn't ever contribute my labors (I'm a computer programmer) to it, as I believe that I should be compensated for my work. Objectivists do believe that thoughts, discoveries and all other sorts of information are property, but just as other property, they can be sold or given away as the owner choses. People who support open-source development are simply choosing to give their work away. I would guess that Jimmy Wale believes that he has much more to gain from society having free alternatives to paid information repositories are available than the profits he would gain by selling his work (but of course, you'd have to ask him.)

Honestly, it's the people who justify piracy through the argument of "freedom of information" that really bother me. There are free options out there. If you want free, then limit yourself to the open source software and things that are now under public domain. Sometimes you get what you pay for though, and software piracy is theft and morally wrong, and justifying it under an assumption that all information should be free is essentially saying that you need market forces to create the content you desire, but are unwilling to then support that market, and would rather leach off of it. If you don't pay for the things you like, then the market will stop making them. It's as simple as that.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby palam » Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:03 pm UTC

The more one knows, the more capable a thinker he becomes. The only way to make the world a better place, to prevent sexy but unrealistic social organization memes from making everyone miserable (Russian communism), is to give people the ability to reason it out for themselves. The Wikipedia guy totally makes sense to me. He and I have probably drawn similar conclusions. Technological means of mass education seems to be the only realistic way today of making the world a better place. When people have the ability to think well, everyone wins. People and their lack of intelligence and/or realism + democracy = eventual misery (CA Props anyone?). My heart bleeds just as much as the next Liberal, however I will not cripple my ability to effect that change by deluding myself into believing people are a way that evidence clearly demonstrates otherwise.

I grew up poor. I am a racial minority. I chose to be a secondary school teacher. I have, sadly, also won a community service award (admittedly when I was much younger). When I was younger, I once saw kids from my BSA troop handing out toys to kids in a Toys-for-Tots drive. I was there with the rest of my family on the receiving end. I think the marginal utility of that toy (a chess set) did not make up for the fear of being discovered by my peers. Pride is worth a lot. The one thing that set my family apart from other poor minorities is that we valued education (as a teacher who sees little versions of my former self every day, I have no idea how this happened). What set me apart from the rest of my family (still pretty hopeless) is that I grew up thinking that only I could help me.

However growing up in fairly extreme poverty has granted me a realism that prevented me from falling for the psychological trap that befalls most that fit into my demographic who care for their fellow man. I have not blinded myself by creating a false dichotomy of "good" camps and "bad" ones. I do not think man is better than how he is.

People that want free social benefits for the bottom rung of society, who support a European style of Socialism, who protest against "sweatshops" in third world countries, want to help their fellow man just as much as I do. However, the only way to help humans is to help them help themselves. Recall the adage "Give a man a fish and he can eat a day; teach him how to fish and he will eat a lifetime." People do not need (or often want) to be given things or to be told what to do "for their own good." However, if we give them the opportunity to teach themselves how to think, then they will make themselves better. If they don't, they will suffer. If suffering doesn't motivate them to make themselves better, should we intervene? No. They have chosen for themselves at that point. When we are unwise, we often have to learn from our own experience until we get wise (and start learning from the experience of others). We don't have to do it for them, nor should we try. Suffering is part of life. It is the cold reality that motivates us to succeed. What we can do to make the world better is to simply provide that opportunity to learn. We, however, should not attempt to remove the suffering. If we do, we rob them of the human right to beat back the cold abyss for themselves and the joy associated with such a monumental success.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby yaPete » Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:49 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:all open source software is voluntary in nature


You'd be surprised. An awful lot of open source software these days is developed by company employees, as their assigned "day job". About 2/3rds (measured) of the Linux kernel, for instance, IIRC. The Eclipse ecosystem tends to feel quite corporate as well; of course the original core came from IBM.

For some companies, valid and healthy contribution to open source can also be a sound commercial strategy.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Math_Mage » Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:27 am UTC

FoolishOwl wrote:andrewclunn, maybe you can explain something that's been puzzling me. It's hard for me to miss the fact that many people involved with FLOSS (free / libre / open-source software) describe themselves as libertarians or Objectivists, and Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, describes himself as an Objectivist. I tend to think of these as some of the best living examples of the creation of social property -- in fact, it occurred to me that part of what led me to socialism was my admiration for Richard M. Stallman's ideals -- but I doubt that's how Objectivists understand these projects. My best guess is that there's some idea involved that knowledge is not property.


I'm not sure what the contradiction is. The free display of publicly available knowledge seems an unqualified good, and the voluntary display of private knowledge equivalent to charity, certainly a Rand-compatible action.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby drazen » Fri Jul 24, 2009 3:03 am UTC

To assume the government can tax income is to assume they own all your income.
Non sequitur.


No, a non-sequitur would be, say, "I like bananas." Labor is performed for compensation. For an external agent to take a cut of that compensation is theft. Even if the external party is performing services, it does not mean that the person who earned the income actually wants or supports those services.

I have been extraordinarily reasonable about taxation for someone with a libertarian streak. I have not opposed taxes on business (which controls vast swaths of resources) or consumption (so that if you consume more resources, you also justly compensate people for that access; this includes property taxes) or fees (such as water, sewer, or trash). Taxation of salaries and wages is my one objection to the tax code being unjust, because taking a cut of someones' money (property) denies them choice and opportunity. It is utterly irrelevant what services are provided in exchange for the funds taken, as it is not a voluntary arrangement. The people that income taxes hurt the most are the working class, who I thought you were trying to help. I have merely pointed out that the best way of helping people is to not take away the one thing they absolutely, positively need in order to improve their lot in life; and that anything less than this is theft. If any other entity than government acted in this manner, it would be considered as much closer to extortion and racketeering than to noble benevolence.

So you're happy for your taxes to go towards killing people with the military, but not saving their lives with healthcare?


I'm happy towards them going towards defense of the nation (which does not include a lot of what the military is doing right now, that I'm not necessarily supportive of). If it's big enough, they don't have to kill anyone, because nobody will attack. I'm not happy about most of our globe-trotting adventures, although Obama has already driven up the deficit more than Bush's eight years in a mere six months.

Police, fire, and public health - i.e., the prevention and treatment of serious and contagious diseases - are all OK. Roads too, but as I've said, they are generally paid for by gas taxes and tolls and fees, not income taxes. Mail too, but we do pay for postage. Courts, and basic antitrust structure to keep the playing field relatively fair, sure. But when it comes to paying for my neighbor's kidney dialysis? No. Well, technically I do that now, but the difference is that I choose to do it, by purchasing health insurance and being in a shared plan that spreads out risk over a large pool. I distrust the government far more than I distrust my insurance provider. I can sue my insurance carrier, but good luck going up against the government. See below as to why I'd rather take my chances with the corporations, who at least have some incentive to do right by people, and not with the government, which would effectively have the totalitarian power to determine who lives and dies, and what quality of life those lucky enough to live will be permitted to attain.

In this country, we really have mixed up health care, but not in the way you think. "Insurance" is meant to be for unexpected catastrophes, not daily life. But the government takeover will effectively deny care when you are most sick (again, see below). You can get care now. It might drive you to bankruptcy - it might ruin your credit rating when you can't pay the bill - but you at least have the choice of getting treatment or not.

you have consistently failed to demonstrate any obligation to my fellow man other than your own belief that it exists.
No you're just not listening.


Actually, you're not listening. You have completely ignored, multiple times, the reasonable argument that diverse societies should be allowed to exist and be provided with the means to do so: that all people be given a choice to determine their course. In the absence of any acknowledgment of this, I can only infer that you believe that only those with your philosophy may be the arbiters of all human existence (hence the comparison to Ra's Al Ghul - hardly a straw man in this context). This makes you no better than Bush, charging into Iraq for regime change (actually there were, what, like 8 different reasons? I sort of lost track - didn't care for him, either. Other than some incredibly boneheaded social policies and one tax cut, he was the most liberal president ever on every other issue.)

Your attempts to demonstrate my "obligations" are just the rantings of someone indoctrinated by a liberal teacher or professor. Your argument that I have them is circular: because you say I owe them, I owe them? Sorry, nope. But thanks for playing. Show me a real contract, and we'll talk. Demonstrate that I took something from someone (such as breaking into their house), and we'll talk. Spout some brain-damaged notion that I'm somehow responsible for the sins of people who looked like me and did bad stuff decades or centuries before I was born, but who never gave me anything? There's the door; come back when you have something tangible.

shorten their lifespan, and lower their quality of life
[citation needed]


The current health care legislation includes, or has included at various times, the following provisions:

(1) Rationing. Barack and company call it "cost controls," but, guess what: expensive procedures are expensive. If the government is to cover everyone, it will be making judgments about whether or not a procedure is covered. You might not get the most effective treatment; you will probably get the cheapest one, and be denied the opportunity to choose another. As someone who takes a very expensive maintenance medication (for a chronic condition that causes ulcers) that is the ONLY thing that allows me to have anything remotely resembling quality of life, for which there is no generic (and generics tend not to work for me anyway), so, yeah, this is a HUGE deal to me. It's the difference between a somewhat normal life, and borderline inability to function in society.

(2) Denial of service. In the current legislation, no doctor will be able to refuse to take new patients, and their compensation will be limited. This means longer wait times for specialists (problematic now), and fewer doctors who are less competent over time, as the sacrifices required to become a doctor will not be worth it to most capable people.

(3) One provision bans private health insurance, and another bans doctors from providing care outside the government system. So if the government decides you get painkillers and a wheelchair instead of an operation, you will NOT be able to do a damn thing about it. You won't be allowed to pay for it. You will suffer and die, and it will be a government bureaucrat that made that call. Most likely, it will be when you get older. It's one thing to let people suffer or let people die due to circumstance or chance or fate or whatever you want to call it, but it's another entirely to actively prevent them from getting well.

(4) This doesn't even count the secondary effects. If you go after drug or medical companies, and they can't get a good ROI for R&D, say goodbye to major breakthroughs. There are government grants, but they're much slower moving, if they ever produce anything at all. Businesses do not operate when they cannot make returns that justify their level of risk and investment. It is not enough to merely be "profitable" - corporate finance 101 - if you expect a better rate of return somewhere else, you don't invest in the business with a lower expected value to you.

I'm through talking to you.

I take my leave as well. It has been a thorough displeasure. I have asked for no more than liberty, and you pissed all over that. But, of course, arrogant fascists have no love for the liberty of others, only their own ego, greed, and power.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby IntentionallyLeftBlank » Fri Jul 24, 2009 4:09 am UTC

andrewclunn wrote:Objectivism could be seen as the worship of honesty. Do not lie about reality and do not lie about your motivations. Be honest, even when it isn't socially acceptable. Integrity is not A virtuous trait, it is THE virtuous trait.


I find this contradicts something you said earlier- this makes it seem that objectivism is about reality, as it "really is." i.e. objective appeal to what actually exists in human behavior. How can a moral system be both honest about reality (based on the world as it is), and idealistic/utopian (based on the world as it SHOULD be)?

Also, I ask again, if we have two self-consistent "rules to live by" how do we choose between them?
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby markfiend » Fri Jul 24, 2009 8:05 am UTC

SIWOTI...
drazen wrote:I'm through talking to you.

I take my leave as well. It has been a thorough displeasure. I have asked for no more than liberty, and you pissed all over that. But, of course, arrogant fascists have no love for the liberty of others, only their own ego, greed, and power.

Fuck you. I'm no fascist. Justify that or take it back. I came THIS close to reporting this post to the moderators. You've called me a fascist more than once on this thread, when what I am arguing is actually the polar opposite of fascism.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:20 pm UTC

IntentionallyLeftBlank wrote:
andrewclunn wrote:Objectivism could be seen as the worship of honesty. Do not lie about reality and do not lie about your motivations. Be honest, even when it isn't socially acceptable. Integrity is not A virtuous trait, it is THE virtuous trait.


I find this contradicts something you said earlier- this makes it seem that objectivism is about reality, as it "really is." i.e. objective appeal to what actually exists in human behavior. How can a moral system be both honest about reality (based on the world as it is), and idealistic/utopian (based on the world as it SHOULD be)?

Also, I ask again, if we have two self-consistent "rules to live by" how do we choose between them?


Look, I was asked to simplify Objectivism as much as possible, so of course that's going to appear more abstract than it should be. But really, honesty and integrity about the nature of the universe and ones desires, motivations and goals, are not contradictory. Basically, being a truly honest person WILL result in achieving most of the ideals that Objectivists aspire to, and because the truth is always first and foremost, there can be no contradictions.

Quite frankly, I think I've explained Objectivism frontward and backward at this point. I might post in this thread again, but I feel as though anything more will just be me repeating myself. As a closer I'll link to two pieces by Rand (both being excerpts from Atlas Shrugged.) The first is a defense of trade and money (see capitalism), and the second is the first of a video series remake of the famous "This Is John Galt Speaking" speech.

http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=1826
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOt6rUkU5xY
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby cephalopod9 » Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:29 pm UTC

This is why we can't have nice things.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby accessory to oranges » Sat Jul 25, 2009 4:21 am UTC

I would like to move that this thread have a copy on the "Serious Business" section
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Deus » Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:45 am UTC

Hehe, i like this one.


And well, i've seen a good deal of liberals and libertarians often flatly states, "YOU GOTTA WORK FOR A LIVING"

I mean DUH!!

Somehow alot(not generalising i'm gonna say atleast 8-10 i've met on the internet and on the street) of libertarians and extremist liberals that think that they are the only one enlightend about ambitions and hard work.

ITS impossible for ME a socialist(socialdemocrat), to know about those traits. YES sirrree, im a parasite that only votes so i can suckle on the tax payers.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby FoolishOwl » Sat Jul 25, 2009 2:17 pm UTC

accessory to oranges wrote:I would like to move that this thread have a copy on the "Serious Business" section

Seconded.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby andrewclunn » Sat Jul 25, 2009 3:09 pm UTC

FoolishOwl wrote:
accessory to oranges wrote:I would like to move that this thread have a copy on the "Serious Business" section

Seconded.


It already exists http://echochamber.me/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=42709
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby drazen » Sun Jul 26, 2009 11:43 pm UTC

I'm no fascist. Justify that or take it back


I was not using the strict definition of fascism the political system. Instead, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascist_(epithet), or definition #2 from Merriam-Webster: "a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fascism).

From part of Wikipedia's definition, I view your ideology as: oppressive; intolerant (I have not heard you accept my separate-states proposal, from which I can only infer you seek dominion over the world for your own political philosophy), aggressive (government control), and dictatorial (a refusal to allow or even acknowledge alternatives). Just because YOU don't happen to think your preferred political system is oppressive or dictatorial does not disqualify me from stating otherwise.

The usage I employed is extremely common in the USA. In the context in which I invoked it, it was in the sense that people called Bush Jr a fascist for, say, certain provisions of the Patriot Act (disclaimer: I did NOT vote for or support Bush, and this is not an invitation for a referendum on his policies). The left does not get to claim exclusive use of the term - but I'm not all that surprised that one of them would go apoplectic when confronted with a taste of their own medicine.

Or are you now going to insist that "apoplectic" means a literal stroke, and not anger?
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby markfiend » Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:02 am UTC

drazen wrote:From part of Wikipedia's definition, I view your ideology as: oppressive; intolerant (I have not heard you accept my separate-states proposal, from which I can only infer you seek dominion over the world for your own political philosophy), aggressive (government control), and dictatorial (a refusal to allow or even acknowledge alternatives). Just because YOU don't happen to think your preferred political system is oppressive or dictatorial does not disqualify me from stating otherwise.

OK, for what it's worth, for the sake of the argument, yes I'll accept your separate states proposal. I disagree with the way you characterise my position, but I haven't really got the energy to continue with this discussion.
drazen wrote:The usage I employed is extremely common in the USA. In the context in which I invoked it, it was in the sense that people called Bush Jr a fascist for, say, certain provisions of the Patriot Act (disclaimer: I did NOT vote for or support Bush, and this is not an invitation for a referendum on his policies). The left does not get to claim exclusive use of the term - but I'm not all that surprised that one of them would go apoplectic when confronted with a taste of their own medicine.

OK, I'll accept that. Like I say I disagree, but...
drazen wrote:Or are you now going to insist that "apoplectic" means a literal stroke, and not anger?

:lol: No.

Look, I really haven't the energy to carry on with this. I'm happy to "agree to disagree" if you are?
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby drazen » Mon Jul 27, 2009 11:47 pm UTC

Mark: I considered the discussion terminated before your post about the characterization of 'fascist,' and only replied to defend myself against the accusation.

So, yes, I can agree to disagree, and let it drop here (although I will point out that I do not agree with your characterization of my position, either). It's clearly not going to be productive, and I'm tired of it, too.

I'd characterize the problem as us working from entirely different axioms. If we can't even agree on the premises, there's little to no hope of mutual agreement about what the correct conclusions should be. Kind of like Euclidean vs. Riemann geometry: change the definition of parallel lines, and the world becomes very different indeed.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Deus » Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:22 am UTC

"I'd characterize the problem as us working from entirely different axioms."

Cartesian coordinates system are fun but for gods sake dont try to quantify politics and ideolgies to fit them.

No point in trying to argue against someone to tell him what HIS views ARE (based on him telling you what he belviives himsellf to be), beause you got some generalised understanding is allways gonna end ugly.

Its complicated, you just have to deal with it because people are complex.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Eikinkloster » Fri Jul 31, 2009 7:48 pm UTC

andrewclunn wrote:Sometimes you get what you pay for though, and software piracy is theft and morally wrong, and justifying it under an assumption that all information should be free is essentially saying that you need market forces to create the content you desire, but are unwilling to then support that market, and would rather leach off of it. If you don't pay for the things you like, then the market will stop making them. It's as simple as that.


And yet here we are reading xkcd comics and talking on a forum without paying for either.

If we deem that information is not a thing that can be possessed then the market will simply have to find a way to collect. Copy protection and attached online services are the ones that currently seem the most effective for gaming: I'm about to buy Warhammer 40K so I can patch it with no hassles and play online.

I once thought of a system of refundable pre-orders being used to fund development. When the company gets enough pre-orders, they release the software (once released it is a matter of time and interest to break the copy protection and distribute it freely). If they don't, they refund. As it is this systems feels awkward, but perhaps it could be reworked into something functional.
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Re: "Sheeple" Discussion

Postby Eikinkloster » Sat Aug 01, 2009 9:41 am UTC

wolfticket wrote:Off discussion but on topic:

Everyone reads xkcd these days, right?


Wow. I got dizzy for one second. Kinda plays like the THE HASSELHOFFIAN RECURSION. Only that The Recursion is definitely bad juju.
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