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Passions in Poetry

What If Atlas Shrugged

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Huan Yi
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0 posted 04-16-2009 08:42 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


What if all those talented
or at least hard working for a little better
said enough is enough and they too
decided to become wards of the state?
What then?


.
Bob K
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1 posted 04-17-2009 01:27 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Interesting thesis.  It was, of course, an interesting thesis when Ayn Rand came up with it, as well.

     Neither of you have considered that this may not have already been the case, though, because of your feelings for those at the bottom of the pile.  They are fairly evident.  They may, in some cases, even be justified.

     While I have never decided on what I would call the defining characteristic of the classic "The Good Man" meaning "The Good Person" in today's language I have become somewhat clear that neither money nor power are  very high on the list.  Nor has poverty been a disqualifier.

     I suspect that the problem with your thesis and Ayn Rand's is the notion that people who are creative go about creating things because it pays them money and makes them rich.  My impression is that business people may do that to some extent, though my observation is that their interest is in using their creativity in that particular direction, and that they are very good at it.  And that the creativity in people is something that they more of less have to do as an expression of their identity.  Money is nice too.

     Nobody is about to stop being creative simply because it doesn't pay as well as it used to.  Are you about to quit writing poetry because it doesn't pay well?  Are you about to pull up your stakes and move to a private enclave because you figure they'll pay you more for your poetry in that little unknown place in Canada?  

     I suspect most of us are in it for the sense of admiration and audience, and if the money comes we're thrilled.  If not, we may be focusing our creativity on money, in which case, the money becomes a way of keeping score because there are a limited number of things to buy and a limited amount of time to buy them in.

     Whatever.  
Local Rebel
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2 posted 04-17-2009 08:47 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Good points Bob... but I think it would be interesting to ask the 640,000 people who filed for unemployment last week why they 'decided' to become wards of the state.

I think it would also be an interesting question of an infant.  A veteran receiving benefits.  A retired person on Social Security.  Oh, it may be argued that the latter two 'earned' those benefits -- and the laid off worker is merely redeeming insurance paid.  So whom does that leave as the 'ward' of the State?

All patriotic Americans -- especially the ones who don't like paying taxes -- should read Thomas Paine's 'The Rights of Man'.

It's also my experience that the people who make the most money do it by creatively stealing the intellectual property of others -- or -- rather -- 'capitalizing' on it.   Whereas the actual 'producers' of wealth -- the people who turn sticks of wood into axe handles -- get paid only a fraction.

Try living without those producers!

Oh....

We did.

The Black Plague that wiped out nearly all the population of Europe left very little people to labor -- thus -- they were able to demand higher wages which is what created the middle class, the Magna Carta, power to the people.

Oh yeah --

And since there seems to be an element looking for Socialist and Communist plots -- remember when Khrushchev banged his shoe and said they would anhialate us without firing a shot?  What was that old Marxist mantra about Capitalism?  Give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves?  What if Rand was the biggest mole they ever sent?

nakdthoughts
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3 posted 04-17-2009 08:49 AM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

well John, I know of several who are unemployed at the moment and have stated the only jobs they can find will pay them less than unemployment...and so they wait until...

hmmm.. when I had more time to look up Atlas Shrugged...I found it very interesting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlas_Shrugged
M
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4 posted 04-17-2009 04:50 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Bob, you really must NOT have read Atlas Shrugged or else your mind was preoccupied when you did.

I promise to go into more detail when I feel a little better...promise.
Ringo
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5 posted 04-17-2009 07:26 PM       View Profile for Ringo   Email Ringo   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Ringo

John- You pose a very valid question... and one, were it not for that damned overblown pride of mine, I would very seriously consider discovering the answer to.

I live in a part of the country that deals with King Coal and factories. The factories are either shutting down, or automating to the point where they no longer need the help.

The restaurant that I was working at shut down (lack of business), and the ONLY jobs I could find were... well... not too much.
I had TWO different temp agencies tell me that they had nothing to offer. The local factory that hired ANYONE (including felons) that walked in the door and asked to make garbage bags, isn't hiring... and is, in fact, laying people off. I was hired by a sales company telling me that I would be required to travel the country, and another that told me I had to spend $400 to get licensed before they could hire me.
The area's largest contractor, who almost always had a few jobs sitting around for guys like me (family, not too much cash) that he could give them for a few extra dollars, just laid off half his force.

The moral of the story:
While I stand on a cement floor 8 hours a day for $1400/month (gross), and try to feed the kids and put my girlfriend through school (so she can provide a better life), a friend of mine (single mom) is making (with cash, food stamps, WIC, heating assistance, light assistance, and all the trimmings) nearly 2.5 times that amount.

Why shouldn't I get paid $40K a year to watch Oprah?

But this one goes to eleven...
http://www.hubpages.com/profile/RingoShort

Bob K
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6 posted 04-18-2009 01:40 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Ringo,

          If I understand your money picture, you are living well below the poverty line and could well qualify for some assistance as well.  These government programs are there as a safety net for times and circumstances like these, and if you qualify, it's be on the order of getting hit by a car and not not asking insurance to pay for your medical bills.  This is why you've paid various taxes and fees in the past, to help cover yourself in times like this and to feel that it's not a hand-out but an insurance payment.

     Perhaps your finances aren't the way I understand them and I am somehow missing the point, but surely you ought to be qualified for some sort of food stamp help at a minimum.  Why not check some of the government benefits sites on the computer and check this stuff out.  Being below the poverty level should also entitle you to help with heating as well.

     It's really there for exactly this sort of situation, and certainly as a hard-working guy who's in over his head through no fault of his own, you've helped to pay to set up the insurance back-up for situations exactly like this one.
You didn't hope to get caught up in it, guy, it happens even to hard-working heads-up people like you.  That's why you should do the research and use the program as a bridge to better times, as it's intended to be used.

     And I wish you all the good luck in the world with it, Ringo.

Bob Kaven
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7 posted 04-18-2009 09:45 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Ringo answered your question, Bob....that overblown pride of his...except I don't consider it overblown at all. Some people are just built that way and my hat is off to him.
Bob K
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8 posted 04-18-2009 04:58 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Why not let Ringo answer for himself, should he wish to?  He did pay for the insurance for exactly this sort of situation.  If he choses not to use it, then being angry at people who paid for it and do use it might require some explanation.  You more than paid for your insurance.  You choose to use some of it, some of it you choose not to use.

     In social work school, they taught us that vets have always paved the way in this as in so many other things, because the case is always so absolutely clear with vets.  The vets in this case the revolutionary and civil war vets paid in blood for our liberty.  This is the argument that vets still make, and with absolute justification, and this is the down-payment for their insurance benefits with the society.  Other segments of the society have been included in that package through monetary payments in the same way that insurance is paid for on the open market.  We try to limit the length of that coverage for various reasons; and we try to limit the number of people covered and the number of causes they're covered for.  This makes sense.  But coverage for economic disaster is one of the things that we have long been trying to cover, not simply to help out the individuals affected Ringo in this case but the society as a whole, which suffers when large numbers of folks are hit by such events through no fault of their own.  Katrina, for example.

     That doesn't mean that individuals haven't been paying for situations like this through taxes right along.  It's for the good of the society as a whole, to keep the bottom from dropping out of the whole society as opposed to smaller pieces of it at any one time; and it's for individuals, whom chance or some sort of disaster or some sort of personal flaw might take out of the picture.  It protects them, to some extent, and it tries to protect those around them from the effects of these large and small scale disasters.

     We like to think of pride as a plus, and in many ways it is.  A certain amount of reflection, especially religious reflection, will suggest that pride is not entirely an unmixed blessing.

     I have substantial amounts of it myself, of course.
Ron
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9 posted 04-18-2009 06:20 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

1. Insurance is evil. Erase it from history and half the problems in our society would suddenly disappear. Pure, socialist evil.

2. Helping people because they helped us is NOT insurance, Bob, and in my opinion, such a likening tarnishes the nobility of those most deserving our help. Surely, you don't honestly believe the people who fought for our liberty did so to "insure" they would get a few benefits from Congress? Does a man care for his ailing parents only because they once cared for him?

I think you're confusing two very different things.
Bob K
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10 posted 04-19-2009 02:06 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K




Dear Ron,


quote:
  Ron:

Insurance is evil. Erase it from history and half the problems in our society would suddenly disappear. Pure, socialist evil.




     As opinion, you have a perfect right to it.  As fact, you have not proved it.  I suspect that insurance, in the form of Lloyds of London at least, and other consortiums, was around long before anything called socialism.  Suggesting that a thing is defined by a thing that antedates it may be a bit difficult logically.  Even if it isn't, you are offering opinion as a fact, and the two are not the same thing.


[
quote:


     Helping people because they helped us is NOT insurance, Bob, and in my opinion, such a likening tarnishes the nobility of those most deserving our help. Surely, you don't honestly believe the people who fought for our liberty did so to "insure" they would get a few benefits from Congress? Does a man care for his ailing parents only because they once cared for him?




     I believe you are correct.  Helping people because they helped us is indeed not insurance.  If I gave you that impression, I am even a worse writer than I thought.

     The social security program and the other welfare programs were created as programs that people paid into when they had money and were able to pay income taxes.  If that situation changed, they were supposed to get money paid out in benefits.  This is a way of paying people that we believe we owe a debt that seems to be somewhat more secure than depending on the good will of whoever might be in power at the moment.  It's a way of making sure that we will do our best to live up to what we feel are our obligations.

     I would point out to you that not everybody takes care of their ailing parents.  And that not everybody, given a choice, would wish to take care of our vets.  I feel that these obligations are more important than allowing them to be left to the momentary whims of the electorate, and that the obligation is real and long term.  Steps must be taken to ensure that such obligations are met wholeheartedly by the country, not simply by you.  Nor simply by me.

     I believe that the current method of paying for them is pretty good.  I believe it's pretty efficient.

     I happen to believe that it has worked well when extended to other fields.  People pay for these benefits, and should use them when they are required for their well being.  

     You have not shown me that I have confused two separate things.  I am open to being shown the light, Ron, but I don't see opinion and fact as being the same thing.

     And I am uncertain which two things you see me as confusing.

All my best, Bob Kaven

Ron
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11 posted 04-19-2009 10:00 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Even if it isn't, you are offering opinion as a fact, and the two are not the same thing.

Is that your opinion, Bob? You seem to be presenting it as a fact?

Don't worry about it. As a careful reader, I can usually differentiate the two without you needing to write "in my opinion" for every sentence. I can tell which is which. Bet you can, too?

And, no, I don't accept your contention that insurance predates socialism. I think you're conflating socialism, the behavior, with Socialism, the formal theory of the much older behavior.

Spreading the risk and spreading the wealth are two sides of the same coin.

Doesn't matter. I wasn't making the point to incite a discussion of insurance so much as I was making it very clear that I'm not a proponent of insurance. My point number one was the backstory for my point number two. That's why I put the numbers there.

quote:
Helping people because they helped us is indeed not insurance. If I gave you that impression, I am even a worse writer than I thought.


quote:
You have not shown me that I have confused two separate things. I am open to being shown the light, Ron, but I don't see opinion and fact as being the same thing. And I am uncertain which two things you see me as confusing.

Which is it, Bob? First you agree and then you close by saying you don't?

Let me be clear. I think talking about veteran's benefits in the same breath as insurance benefits is demeaning to everyone who ever fought for their country. They are not the same things at all.

quote:
I would point out to you that not everybody takes care of their ailing parents. And that not everybody, given a choice, would wish to take care of our vets.

Right, Bob. And the obvious solution is to pass laws to make everyone do what you think they should?

Unemployment insurance, at least in every state I'm aware of, is not paid for by the individual. It's paid for by the employer, which in turn is a cost passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices. Since it's a cost mandated by law, it's a hidden tax, albeit one not spread uniformly. We pay to have people not work just as surely as we pay for all those roads we drive on every day. Let's not pretend it's something it isn't.

quote:
The social security program and the other welfare programs were created as programs that people paid into when they had money and were able to pay income taxes.

That's one way of putting it, Bob. From where I sit, it would be more accurate to say that we're going to force people to save for a rainy day because we don't think they're smart enough to do it on their own. Again, the obvious solution is to pass laws to make everyone do what you think they should?

Here's an interesting notion. How about we let people spend the money they've earned any way they want? Let's let them be responsible for their own life, for a change, and stop trying to protect them from themselves. Let's stop passing laws to force people to do what we think is best for them.

Let's get back to freedom.


Local Rebel
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12 posted 04-19-2009 02:42 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Freedom is a loaded word Ron.

Of course we've had all these discussions before.  Humans are a cooperative species -- it's part of our evolution.  We get right back to the prisoner's dilemma.

It is in our own self interest to act collectively.  All rainy day funds run out.  We've tried it that way -- several times.  Same results.  Happens everywhere it's been tried.

John Gault doesn't stand a chance without John Janitor.  

Brad
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13 posted 04-19-2009 05:18 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Read the Galt's Gulch part.

Then read Oscar Wilde's "Man Under Socialism".

Ron
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14 posted 04-19-2009 06:19 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Humans are a cooperative species -- it's part of our evolution. We get right back to the prisoner's dilemma.

That's one choice, Reb, and I suspect it's a good analogy for the way many people see our world; i.e., the individual is most motivated to make the wrong choices.

I prefer to choose the Stag Hunt as a more accurate representation of society. I prefer to trust individuals to make the right choices.

quote:
All rainy day funds run out.

Agreed!

And I'll also concede that when the individual rainy day fund runs out it can be devastating to the individual.

Remember, however, we agreed that all rainy day funds run out. That includes the collective funds, too, like Social Security and welfare? When those funds expire, as we agree they inevitably must, the devastation will not be limited to individuals. There won't be any friends or family or churches to cushion the individual's pain, because the pain will have been deferred until it could spread to the collective, to everyone all at once. The devastation, I believe, will be catastrophic.

Our sun will eventually run out of hydrogen and be forced to turn to the fusion of heavier elements to fuel its fires. It will expand into a red giant, it's corona pushing first past Mercury, then past Venus, until it inevitably consumes the Earth. I have no doubt, five billion years hence, that some legislative body will try to pass a new law to circumvent their destruction.

It probably won't work then, either.  
Local Rebel
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15 posted 04-19-2009 07:46 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

quote:

That's one choice, Reb, and I suspect it's a good analogy for the way many people see our world; i.e., the individual is most motivated to make the wrong choices.



I don't think that's it at all -- it's the blind individual that is most motivated to make the wrong choice.  Over time -- as the game is repeated -- the correct choice is made.  Humans learn.

We've just been winesses to one of the greatest ideological disasters (prisoner's dilemma) in history though -- and Greenspan even acknowledged that he was blinded by his ideology (in not pushing for regulating complex instruments like Credit Default Swaps -- believing instead that the individuals entering into the contracts were the best source of regulation in looking out for their own best interest).

quote:

Remember, however, we agreed that all rainy day funds run out. That includes the collective funds, too, like Social Security and welfare? When those funds expire, as we agree they inevitably must, the devastation will not be limited to individuals. There won't be any friends or family or churches to cushion the individual's pain, because the pain will have been deferred until it could spread to the collective, to everyone all at once. The devastation, I believe, will be catastrophic.



I'm completely against Social Security and Welfare.  And for the most part -- I'm against insurance -- especially health insurance.  Establishing a base standard of living is not a rainy day fund -- and doesn't need to run out.  It is the waste of human capital -- the waste of creativity and ideas -- that leads us through these bubble and bust cycles -- and evils of monetarism and artificial scarcity of jobs it creates and the equally artificial inflation of population (through denying birth control to the third world) that is created in the name of religion that make the poor seem to be with us always.

I think Brad's interjection of Wilde is apropos.  He needs to be read as does Thomas Paine.  Not only 'Rights of Man' but 'Agrarian Justice' as well.

We need only look at our nearest television, book shelf, movie theater, or music store to see that individual creativity hasn't been stifled by Democratic Socialism.  

Ever hear of J.K. Rowling?  The Beatles?  American Idol?  The Office?  The Stones? If anything the opposite is true.  What if we told J.K. she had to get a day job?  And if there wasn't one?

In Constraint Theory we assume in order for a business to succeed it has to do three things;

Satisfy customers, make money, and employ key individuals.

All three have to be realized -- but the primary goal can be any one of the three -- and it's paramount to the decisions made to understand what is the priority.

One example would be Walton's Mountain -- where the goal is to provide jobs (a standard of living) for the Walton family.  The decisions made go toward that end -- so they don't outsource John Boy's job.

On the other hand we have Wal Mart --

Any business should be free to have as it's objective whatever it wants -- but America Inc. needs to work on encouraging that system to keep John Boy able to be gainfully employed -- take the risk to work on that great novel -- without the consequense being that his life is at stake if he doesn't succeed.


[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (04-19-2009 09:07 PM).]

Balladeer
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16 posted 04-19-2009 10:26 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

John Gault doesn't stand a chance without John Janitor.

John Galt would be the first to acknowledge that. Actually, you will find nowhere in any of her writings where she does not recognize or disrespects any worker or their importance, down to the lowest minimum wage job there may be. She, and Galt, have admiration and respect for any worker who does whatever job he may do to the best of his ability, whichever level that may be.
Local Rebel
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17 posted 04-20-2009 12:40 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

That depends on what you call disrespect Mike.  On payday -- if John Janitor asks for a minimum standard of living -- she'd call him a looter.

If he falls ill and can't afford the doctor bills -- too bad -- that's the breaks.

But hey, no disrespect.  
Bob K
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18 posted 04-20-2009 01:19 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K




     Rainy day funds are an interesting concept.  I like it.

     However, when folks are at a point where they are always in the middle of a rainy day, it's almost impossible to save for a rainy day.  This is the problem with many of the Republican health care proposals wonderful if you have enough money to put money aside and take advantage of the tax savings and breaks provided folks with enough breathing room to do the saving, not so good for folks who can't.

     Myself, I grew up in a house where my health costs alone were more than the money my dad was bringing in on a weekly basis.  Exactly where he was supposed to get all this money to put into a health savings plan, if they'd had such a thing at the time, was a big mystery.  Eat, have a place to live, or have a son live at home this is not the sort of choice any family should have to face.

     The resources of an extended family take longer to run out.   The resources of a municipality, longer still.  The resources of a state, even better, and of a country, much better.  None of these are endless.

     Because the resources of the sun will eventually run out, the world will die and all human life will probably go with it, if it hasn't gone long before that, isn't reason to not help your neighbors now.  You can keep tacking longer and longer periods of time onto these pieces of logic.  You still either feel you have an obligation as a human being to help as best you can or you don't.  If you don't, I'm sorry.  Do what you can do the best you can and be as happy as you can with that.  You can't win 'em all.

     If you feel you have some sort of larger obligation, then your life is more complicated, isn't it?  I have to worry about things that a lot of other people don't have to worry about.  Perhaps that makes me a chump.  I know it ties me up in a lot of contradictions.  I know I can't do everything for everybody and that I have to do a lot for myself, and that sometimes these things end up in conflict.  I even end up asking a lot of other people that they don't like me asking.  I'm even wrong a lot of the time, and I know it.

     I think that I need to do the best I can with what I do know.  Rainy day funds and planning for difficulty seems a good idea.  This is why I think social security and unemployment are good ideas.  They seem to make tough times easier for a lot of folks in tough situations.  Are they ultimate solutions?  I don't think so.  But they've done fairly well so far in keeping off the worst of the worst stuff from happening.  

     I'm interested, by the way, in any plans you have to stave off the end of the Universe.  I simply suspect that more substantial expenditures than social security would be called for, and you may be too much of a fiscal conservative to give them a try.
Ron
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19 posted 04-20-2009 09:11 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
I'm completely against Social Security and Welfare. And for the most part -- I'm against insurance -- especially health insurance.

Wow, Reb.

This is the Alley. I'm not sure what to do next when people agree?  

Well, actually, I guess we're not exactly in perfect agreement. For example, though I agree with your conclusion, I probably wouldn't call J.K. Rowling or American Idol shining examples of creativity? Mostly, though, I suspect we'd disagree on this thing you call a base standard of living. I get the impression you want to work towards one? I'm willing to wait for one. Heck, I suspect we're already closer than some might think and getting closer every year.

quote:
One example would be Walton's Mountain -- where the goal is to provide jobs (a standard of living) for the Walton family. The decisions made go toward that end -- so they don't outsource John Boy's job.

This would be another minor quibble, I guess. From where I sit, you might be able to eliminate John Boy's job, but you can't outsource it. Not unless you're sending it to Mars? We live in a global economy and I think the sooner we start seeing it as a global economy, the sooner our vision will match our reality.

quote:
That depends on what you call disrespect Mike. On payday -- if John Janitor asks for a minimum standard of living -- she'd call him a looter.

If he falls ill and can't afford the doctor bills -- too bad -- that's the breaks.

That's not disrespect for John Janitor, Reb, because Rand would say exactly the same thing if it was John Galt suddenly demanding entitlements. It is the demand, not the person, with which she would disagree.

Since you brought up the Prisoner's Dilemma first, Reb, let's not forget that Phillip Pettit has pointed out that many-player PDs (typified by the Tragedy of the Commons) come in two flavors: free-rider problems and foul-dealer problems. People who choose to not cooperate do so for one of those two reasons. Both reasons hurt the society represented by the dilemma. I'm sure you would never want to advocate the foul-dealer, someone who intentionally hurts others. Why would you want to advocate the free-rider? The better answer, I think, is to advocate universal cooperation.

quote:
Eat, have a place to live, or have a son live at home this is not the sort of choice any family should have to face.

No, Bob, it's definitely not. Which is why the first choice to be faced is whether to have a child they apparently couldn't afford?

I'm not trying to be a jerk. I am trying to remind you that just as actions have consequences, consequences can inevitably be traced back to choice.

People want to make their own choices. That's why I always say this discussion falls back to one of freedom. But if you don't want other people making your choices for you, you can't expect other people to shoulder the cost of your choices either. You simply can't expect one without the other.

quote:
You still either feel you have an obligation as a human being to help as best you can or you don't.

Exactly so, Bob.

Obligation is something best imposed from within, not from without. You can't pass a law to make people care. Unfortunately, you can pass a law that makes people stop caring. You can effectively tell people they don't have to help the homeless or infirm, because hey, the state will do it for you.

You should certainly follow your own sense of obligation, and you will very much deserve any sense of satisfaction doing so brings. You would never expect to pass on that satisfaction to others, though. So why insist on trying to legally mandate your sense of obligation?

quote:
I'm interested, by the way, in any plans you have to stave off the end of the Universe. I simply suspect that more substantial expenditures than social security would be called for, and you may be too much of a fiscal conservative to give them a try.

Careful, Bob. You seem to be reinforcing the stereotype of the person who expects to solve every problem by throwing more and more money at it. And it's almost always someone else's money?  


Bob K
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20 posted 04-20-2009 04:32 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Well, Ron, Nobody can really afford a child who can't eat and trouble breathing, can they?  Folks don't plan for the unlikely; they mostly don't really foresee it happening to them, and put it into the realm of the "What do we do when the aliens land? business expansion plans."  They decide to wing it.  (How willl the Alien landings affect your business plans, Ron?  Will you be able to afford air?)   And thanks for the person shot the the folks, by the way.

quote:
    
I'm not trying to be a jerk. I am trying to remind you that just as actions have consequences, consequences can inevitably be traced back to choice.



     I don't agree with you entirely here, Ron.  You haven't filled in the details about whose actions lead to consequences for who, and whether or not all events fit into direct chains of cause and effect that have anything to do with people at all, let alone the people that you'd like to make responsible for things, whatever these particular things may be.  

     For that matter, cause and effect itself is an artifact of human convenience which may or may not be the way things actually work in the world.  It is a nice way to fix blame, but you'll notice that in scientific reasoning, the concept is not so popular as the notion of correlation, which is simpler to show.  It's to my mind, and I will willingly grant you the somewhat skewed nature of that beast, a more legalistic concept, and one more suited to the fixing of blame, though it does have some circumscribed utility.  You seem to think that it is more important than I do.  I'll go with you on such items as "Cause of Death," at least much of the time, but speaking about the "Cause of World War II," I'd wish to put the notion aside.

     Choice I agree is important, if only because of the amount of self definition that is accomplished in the making of choices.  I like to think of myself as being in many ways an existentialist, at least on Mondays.  And I like the notion of Freedom.  I also am aware of the number of accommodations that people make for me every day as part of the social network through which I navigate, and that I do not discharge my obligation to these people simply by paying a fee.  I have an obligation, for example, to treat the police I meet with a certain respect and courtesy, even knowing that I have some potential disagreements with them, because I know that they work to protect me with their lives if need be.  

     There are webs of obligation such as this extending throughout the world that I am born into.  If I die without money, somebody will bury me with at least an effort toward minimal dignity.  This is part of being a member of a social species that is capable of feeling love and grief.

     If you are very successful, at least in this country, then you are able to take advantage of tax breaks and tax shelters and shield a large amount of your income from the government.  The government and your own efforts at politicking the government do this for you.  T. Boone Pickens has mentioned a time or two that he pays proportionally less in income taxes that his secretary.  The folks at the other end of the scale are not quite as successful in their politicking, but they have managed to get something of a safety net.  I am not sure whether is is as large an amount of money as what the seriously rich folk get in corporate welfare, but it is something.  

     The "you" you speak about when you say, "you can't expect other people to shoulder the cost of your choices either[,]" is something of a mystery to me.  The Rich certainly seem to expect this; the poor certainly seem to expect this; and the middle class are complaining that they can't seem to expect it themselves.

     "I" expect that a society take care of its members as best it can, with the emphasis on the poor and the folks who can't for one reason or another take care of themselves.  I'm not a Christian, but that is, traditionally, "The Christian" thing to do.  It's traditionally the ethical thing to do.  

     Ayn Rand has written, however, of "The Virtue of Selfishness," and she seems to have turned away from these particular values, as is her right.  And folks who support her method of thought seem to follow her conclusions as well.  I was taught to bow twice when entering the dojo when I studied Aikido, an art I never learned.  This much, however, I did learn  We bow once to the O-sensei, who gave us our art, and once to the mat, which keeps us from breaking our backs.

     It is useful to remember the unbroken back, and the mat that keeps it that way.  It is useful to sweep the mats, to keep them clean, and to keep them in repair.  Even when the mats are working well, many of us still get injured despite our best efforts.

quote:


Obligation is something best imposed from within, not from without. You can't pass a law to make people care. Unfortunately, you can pass a law that makes people stop caring. You can effectively tell people they don't have to help the homeless or infirm, because hey, the state will do it for you.




     Nobody has passed a law saying that you need not support the homeless.

     Those who would not support the homeless are perfectly willing to fasten on any excuse.  That the government helps, is as good as any.  If you feel that is sufficient reason not to do charity, you will, I suspect, always have a ready reason not to do charity.  These folks have some guilt about it, or at least some reason to think they need to offer an explanation.  At some point they may change their minds.

     My notion about the usefulness of the safety net, however, is not solely because of the fact that it is charity.  It is charity, and it is good for all of that.  But it cushions the effects of economic downturns, and makes the cycle less damaging for the entire economy.  It mitigates to some extent the cycle of boom and bust, and makes sure that the lows are not quite so bad, and the the recoveries happen more quickly, thus providing a benefit for everybody. Not to supply this sort of cushion is not only uncharitable, but it prolongs recessions and undercuts everybody's stability.  

quote:

Careful, Bob. You seem to be reinforcing the stereotype of the person who expects to solve every problem by throwing more and more money at it. And it's almost always someone else's money?  



     I must beg your pardon again.  I was asking for targeted plans to stave off the end of all life as we know it in this universe, that wouldn't involve building up too much of a debt after the coming Heat Death of Everything.  Targeted.

serenity blaze
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21 posted 04-20-2009 06:32 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

To address you question, John,

quote:
What if all those talented
or at least hard working for a little better
said enough is enough and they too
decided to become wards of the state?
What then?


I just don't see that happening. Although I have not been on government assistance, I've been a stay-at-home mom for nearly twenty years now.

I have watched others try to do this, and I've also watched them go stir crazy. There are people who must work, and it's not about the money. I understand this too, because when I did have an employer, I worked hard the whole day long, simply because it makes the day go by faster.

So I think there will always be people who work, and in the absence of employment, they'll pretty much do anything. (Daytime tv IS that bad.)

It's ...growing pains, maybe? A technological revolution that foregoes the middleman--and if you browse the net? You'll see kids utilizing the apps on their comps that produce music via home studios and art that is breathtakingly unique and exciting.

I can offer no solutions as to how this will turn around economically.

I do think it is fantastic that an artist can self-promote now. I don't think I have the vaguest idea on how to make a buck.

If Atlas shrugs? Then perhaps we'll lose a little romance of mythology, and natural laws will keep us in orbit.

For a while.

I know. It's a dummy answer, but I'm learning the art of "hellidon'tknow"...and it's sooooooo less stressful.



Balladeer
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22 posted 04-20-2009 07:27 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Ayn Rand has written, however, of "The Virtue of Selfishness," and she seems to have turned away from these particular values

That comment is consistent with one who would say Atlas Shrugged was a book about some rich guys who didn't want to pay more taxes and hid from democracy. I wonder if you read past the title, Bob, to get your assessment?

The actions in Atlas Shrugged will come to pass one day, I believe, and when they do people will just scream louder at the intellectuals and industrialists who bow out until it all crashes down around them. It won't be a pretty sight....
Bob K
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23 posted 04-20-2009 07:58 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Please feel free to correct me, Mike.  Sputtering and suggesting that I am silly or stupid, however, by saying that I haven't read past the title as you have done on two occasions now doesn't actually refute my suggestion that Ms Rand doesn't particularly have a high regard for standard notions of charity.  Nor does it refute the notion that she seems somewhat set against the notion that we're in this together.

     If you would like to actually address those issues rather than my presumed character flaws, I'd be pleased to hear your version of what Ms. Rand has to say.  

     All actual critique with concrete examples and details will be happily looked at here, and discussed openly.  Where necessary, I will be happy to acknowledge errors.

     Criticism with concrete details to validate it, such as quotes from Ms. Rand's essays or speeches, or a thoughtful extract from her fiction with the understanding that characters are not the author, and all characters do not speak for the author, would be gratefully accepted.  
Comments such as this

quote:

That comment is consistent with one who would say Atlas Shrugged was a book about some rich guys who didn't want to pay more taxes and hid from democracy. I wonder if you read past the title, Bob, to get your assessment?



which reflect your assessment, and a nasty jab at me, are unwelcome.  They are a comment on my character; and they do nothing to prove your point.  I find them objectionable on both accounts.  

    


Balladeer
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24 posted 04-20-2009 08:47 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Sorry that you find them objectionable, Bob, but that is exactly what you claimed to have gotten from Atlas Shrugged and your referring to the title The Virtue of Selfishness as if that title is enough to validate your opinion that Rand turned her back on the other causes give validation to my comment.

You are right, though, about using Rand's own words to speak for her, which is what I will do, should I continue here. Obviously, with the aforementioned opinion you have of the second most widely read book behind the Bible, there is little common ground for any exchange of ideas so her quotes and ideologies will do my speaking for me and people will relate to them or not.

for the record, Bob, I have never considered you either silly or stupid and that's the part that confuses me more than anything else.
 
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