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Friday, July 31, 2015
  • Wednesday, July 29, 2015 11:22 PM

    When taxation is part of government, wealth redistribution goes hand in hand with it. Taxation was what feudal systems used so as to pay rent to the monarchy. The monarch, after all, used to own the realm. All of it. So just as owners of apartment houses, monarchs collect rent from those living in there.

    The meaning of this is that members of the population got to live in the country by permission of the government, be that a tzar, king, pharaoh, caesar or some other ruler who had nearly absolute power to run the place. It is still so in many regions of the globe. The people aren’t deemed to have rights, including private property rights. That emerged late in the history of Western politics, mainly within the philosophy of the Englishman John Locke and his followers. They defended the idea of natural rights against those who championed the divine right of monarchs.

     
  • Wednesday, July 22, 2015 11:30 PM

    Over the years, especially since the Internet became prominent and widely used, my own ideas have received a lot of challenges. Some of these come from people with different positions on this or that but quite a few actually come from people who find advancing theories to be mistaken. They often just wish to pick and choose from among the innumerable ideas circulating and find fault with formulating a system or general position. They champion adopting the smorgasbord as the model for how one ought to think about the world. Rhyme or reason are shunned as somehow obsolete, old fashioned and instead a hodgepodge of ideas is favored, never mind internal contradictions, inconsistencies, etc.

     
  • Wednesday, July 15, 2015 9:06 PM

    So many people who try to justify coercing others to part with their lives, time, resources and so forth claim that the goals to be served justify the coercion. Indeed, one hears it said often that we must realize there are greater goals than our own ones that need to be served by us. Anything else is greedy or selfish or some such thing or other. So don’t fret about your liberty, you selfish monster you. (And by what moral right do slaves and serfs insist that they be set free? Go figure.)

     
  • Wednesday, July 08, 2015 9:26 PM

    At times libertarian or classical liberal – or, in yet other words, pure laissez faire capitalist – ideas are dismissed as part of a misguided modernity that’s lacking proper pedigree. But this is all wrong. Already back in circa 600 B.C.E. the Chinese sage Lao Tzu had weighed in with libertarian ideas, writing,

    “Why are people starving?

    Because the rulers eat up the money in taxes.

    Therefore the people are starving.

    “Why are the people rebellious?

    “Because the rulers interfere too much.

    Therefore they are rebellious . . . ”

     
  • Wednesday, July 01, 2015 7:39 PM

    Should aiding suicide be illegal? That is the question which faces legislators who are being urged to repeal statutes which state, basically, “Every person who deliberately aids, or advises, or encourages another to commit suicide is guilty of a felony.” I will argue, ever so briefly, that not all cases should aiding suicide be illegal, although the severest onus of proof of justification would be required in such cases.

     
  • Wednesday, June 24, 2015 8:44 PM

    No one should attempt to treat Ayn Rand and Murray N. Rothbard as uncomplicated and rather similar defenders of the free society although they have more in common than many believe. As just one example, neither was a hawk when it comes to deploying military power abroad. There is evidence, too, that both considered it imprudent for the US government to be entangled in international affairs, such as fighting dictators who were no threat to America. Even their lack of enthusiasm for entering WW II could be seen as quite similar.

     
  • Wednesday, June 10, 2015 8:03 PM

    Despite what Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio has reportedly believed throughout much of his political career, it seems that his parents didn’t flee Fidel Castro’s communist Cuba for political freedom in the US. What some media appear to have “revealed” is that they came to the US in 1956, prior to Castro’s rise to power, so as to improve their lives. And, as reports to tellingly make clear, this is a mere economic reason for emigrating, not the noble one of escaping oppression.

     
  • Wednesday, June 03, 2015 10:19 PM

    For most people taxation is a burden that’s accepted in large part because they know the alternative is worse. As a friend pointed out, it is like dealing with someone who holds you up in a back alley: “Your money or your life!” To put up a fight can be fatal and up to a point almost everyone can tolerate the loss. But as the economist Arthur Laffer observed, everyone has a point at which no further taxation can be lived with. Kind of like pain–we can all put up with some of it and will not succumb until the level is just too high. But it is never a good thing.

     
  • Wednesday, May 27, 2015 9:01 PM

    Katherine Rushton of The Daily Telegraph wrote a column trying to embarrass those in America, like Republican lawmaker Kieran Michael Lalor, who oppose bringing in Al Jazeera television on to the American television news market. Ms. Rushton feels such opposition is a kind of ethnic prejudice, not sound journalism. Dubbing Al Jazeera “Al Jihad,” such efforts may well be over the top but not necessarily.

     
  • Wednesday, May 20, 2015 8:51 PM

    There’s been a pretty impressive movement afoot for over a century or even more championing the idea that human beings are but complicated machines, nothing special at all in the world. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) folks tend to hold this view—machines, in time at least, will do whatever people can, maybe even much better than we do it, like thinking, feeling guilt, empathizing, regretting, apologizing, and the whole gamut of stuff many think is unique to human life. No, say the AI folks, it’s just a matter of handling some of the technicalities and then, voila, we will have machines just like us. After all, aren’t machines already doing many of the tasks most of us had once thought only people could do? Sure.

     

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