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Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Re: Self Sacrifice on 03/08/2011 12:28:24 MST Print View

Nick, you'd make a great PR man!

I don't mean to be anal ... well, perhaps in this instance, I do.....

If it would be immoral for you to let your wife die, even if it meant sacrificing yourself, then self sacrifice can't be "the most immoral concept of all." No matter how much spin you put on it, those two statements of yours quite simply and pretty completely contradict each other.

As it stands, what you really seem to be saying is "self sacrifice is immoral and terrible and causes bad breath, unless it makes you happy! Then it's okay!"

And that is one of the problems with blanket statements. Their threads start to fray upon questioning/closer examination.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
re on 03/08/2011 13:00:25 MST Print View

That's the problem with philosophy, it doesn't take you anywhere

If I am taxed, and some of that money goes to helping someone that lost their job, it's good for everyone

It helps that person to get back on their feet and eventually become productive

I feel good because I'm helping someone out who needs it

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Self Sacrifice on 03/08/2011 13:35:37 MST Print View

"I don't mean to be anal ... well, perhaps in this instance, I do....."

Doug,

I enjoy the conversation.

Lets start at the beginning, or shall I say a ranking of what is important.

#1 is the highest moral purpose of a man's life, the pursuit of his own happiness. This happiness must be rational.

To save my wife's life would not be an act of charity, it would be my own selfish reason... or for my own self-interest. Keep in mind that I am not sacricing my life, I am risking it. I maybe successful and we both live.

To intentionally sacrifice your life, when its highest noble purpose is self-interest (pursuit of happiness) would be immoral.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
self-doubting monkeys on 03/08/2011 13:48:35 MST Print View

Here’s more evidence that monkeys can be rational actors just like us: a new study reports that monkeys can feel self-doubt and uncertainty, and then make a rational decision based on that information.

Knowing when you don't know

http://www.freakonomicsmedia.com/2011/03/08/self-doubting-monkeys/


THE STUDY

http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_9401000/9401945.stm

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: re on 03/08/2011 14:35:13 MST Print View

Jerry,

Don't take this personally, but helping someone does not make me feel good. My self-esteem does not require the extending of charity.

If I am taxed to help someone, then the efforts of my work were taken away without my consent. If I deny myself material things, so I can be financially independent, then why should I help support someone who did not save enough money to get through difficult times?

So let me ask a question...

Does anyone think it is appropriate for a poor person to live in an apartment or house that only has cement floors? Is it too much to ask that they have carpet or some other flooring material?

11 years ago, a tenant completely destroyed my house in Palm Springs to the tune of 10's of thousands of dollars. The house was totally uninhabitable, and the cost to make it minimally inhabitable was probably at least $20,000. Now, who's fault was this? Mine, for not finding a good tenant. Even more interesting is the fact that the tenant, a drunken idiot, was not renting legally. His daughter and ex son-in-law were the legal tenants. Unknown to me (because I was living in another state), they got divorced and could not pay the rent, so she sub-letted it to the drunk. I had 3 courses of action:

1. Sue the drunk, who had no money, no job, and no future.

2. Sue the now struggling single mom, who could not pay her bills as it was.

3. Learn my lesson and move on.

I chose the latter. And completely gutted the house in May of 2000. The 'gutting' included one year of trash that had been stored in the garage, because the disposal company suspended service for non-payment.

Now fast forward to today. My wife and I make pretty good money. And the first thing we do each payday is pay ourselves; that is we invest as much money as possible, so we do not have to rely on the charity of others in case of hardship. The amount we invest is based on a budget, that meets our financial goals. I will tell you that the yearly investment exceeds the medium income in the US.

After we pay ourselves, and all the taxes, there is not a ton of money left over. But enough to live well and enjoy our lives.

No, we are not lucky to have well paying jobs. Both of us have known poverty. And neither of us has ever accepted charity or government benefits. But we were willing to work harder, longer, and smarter than most people so we could get to the place where we are.

Now back to the house... We have been remodeling and repairing it over the years. Most the work we do ourselves, because we stick to a budget. And for the past 11 years I have been living on a cement floor. Not because we can't afford better, but because it is more important to so secure our future. We pay cash for everything as we go forward, even though we can take money out of our future security and pay cash for the best floor available today. And to us it would be fiscally irresponsible to borrow money to complete our project. We do not like paying interest to anyone, we would rather get paid interest on our investments. But that is our choice.

So what do I think about paying my taxes to someone who has not provided for their future? What do I think about someone in the grocery store purchasing food using welfare coupons and their vehicle is newer than mine, and they have nicer clothes? I think you know the answer.

BTW, in most states our taxes do not fund unemployment benefits. They are paid by employers. The recent exception is the Federal EUC act.

Oh... and this is what it looks like to live on a cement floor. I just took the picture a few minutes ago :)

cement floor

Kevin Tjaden
(ktjaden) - F

Locale: West
Never accepted government benefits? on 03/08/2011 16:03:16 MST Print View

You said:

And neither of us has ever accepted charity or government benefits.

Did you drive to work on a road that you were not paying your fair share of? Do you invest your money in a system that is regulated by a Federal government? Did you sleep at night without a fear this country would be invaded? Has your money grown because the economy and government of this country is stable?

I am always amazed when people rant about having money taken from them that they only see what the other guy is getting.

I deal with a large corporation that works diligently to avoid paying any taxes, and actually sees it as a seizure of their property. Yet, when it comes to enforcing their intellectual property rights on the world stage, securing an interstate highway system to transport their goods for free, or enforcing contracts through a fair and impartial judicial system, these are seen as their right.

We all benefit from a stable government. Do you think Bill Gates would be as rich as he is if he had started Microsoft in China? How about Guatemala?

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: re on 03/08/2011 16:15:25 MST Print View

Nick,

Good discussion

"Don't take this personally, but helping someone does not make me feel good. My self-esteem does not require the extending of charity."

My self esteem does not require extending of charity.

Biologically, when we do things for other people, it releases hormones that make us feel good, reduce high blood pressure, reduce obesity,...

There was a good story about this on that communist TV network, PBS - "Killer Stress" or something like that.

And regarding the amount of taxes you pay

I assume you and I are similar - pay about 50% of our income in taxes.

We get a lot in return - a stable society, highways, courts, police, an educated population that can provide us with goods and services, etc. If it wasn't for that stable society we wouldn't be making the income we're making.

The only thing that bugs me about taxes is that some groups - big corporations and super wealthy people, pay half as much or less. Since they aren't paying their fair share (and since we're spending so much on special programs for these same groups) their isn't enough left to pay for basic services.

You complain about someone using food stamps driving a nicer car than you. That is anecdotal propoganda. You remember Reagan complaining about the Cadilac driving lady who got welfare? That was just made up. The New York Times tried to verify it but the Reagan people were unable to.

Chill out - there are no poor people that can afford to drive Mercedes using food stamps paid for with your tax money.

Okay, I'm sure you could find an occasional rare case of an undeserving person getting food stamps.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: re on 03/08/2011 17:06:08 MST Print View

"Biologically, when we do things for other people, it releases hormones that make us feel good, reduce high blood pressure, reduce obesity,..."

It is encoded in our genes and originates in the limbic system beyond the purview of calculated, rational thought. Those who study the brain claim that the trait, altruism, promotes the survival of the group and thus the individual members of the group. That it persists to this day, embedded so deeply in our brains, is a clear indicator that the trait selects for survival. It has worked for millenia, and those who originally exercised the trait were the ones who got to pass on their genes. It is worth pondering how that feeds into the design of a moral/ethical system, IMO. But I am proceeding from the premise that man's highest duty is to conduct his life in ways that promote the survival of the human race. Those who proceed from the premise that man's highest duty is to promote his individual happiness will doubtless disagree. Time will tell which trait prevails in the gene pool.

Edited by ouzel on 03/08/2011 19:41:53 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Never accepted government benefits? on 03/08/2011 17:11:05 MST Print View

Did you drive to work on a road that you were not paying your fair share of?

As a matter of fact, I live in the state with the highest tax on gasoline in the nation. Road construction is mainly funded by gasoline taxes. We pay more for our roads than other state. And next to New York, we spend more money on public transportation than any state in the union. Most of this is funded by gasoline taxes. Additionally we spend huge amounts of money on transportation bonds, which must be paid back with interest. Transit systems are required to recover 20% of funds in urban areas by fare receipts, and non-urban areas by 10%. I rode a bus once in 1971. I have purchased $79,439.47 in gasoline since 1991 - aren't computers wonderful? I drive a lot for business. I don't think I have worn out any roads by driving on them.


Do you invest your money in a system that is regulated by a Federal government?

The regulation costs money, which decreases my ROI. I can figure out the safest places to invest my money without assistance.



Did you sleep at night without a fear this country would be invaded?

Yes, at a cost that is more than what most citizens pay. Same protection, but it costs me more than the majority of people.



Has your money grown because the economy and government of this country is stable?

Actually I lost a ton of money over the past 3 years because the government has been interfering with the economy.


:)

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: @ Roger on 03/08/2011 17:11:51 MST Print View

"The 'rulers' bit is where it sticks in my craw. They are ALL meant to be 'public servants', including the pollies."

It sticks in my craw as well, Roger. But the reality has diverged quite radically from what was originally intended, IMO, at least in my country; it has not yet progressed beyond the point of no return, but we are getting there, again, IMO.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Never accepted government benefits? on 03/08/2011 17:40:29 MST Print View

"Do you invest your money in a system that is regulated by a Federal government?

The regulation costs money, which decreases my ROI. I can figure out the safest places to invest my money without assistance."

Before the Financial collapse in 2008, Alan Greenspan was against regulation, saying that sophisticated investors were better able to judge risk than the government.

After the collapse he acknowledged that government regulation was required to protect investors.

The regulation costs are more than offset by increases in returns because people trust the market.

And the lack of regulation that led to the financial collapse which precipitated the poor economy we're still suffering had a huge cost way more than any regulation would have cost - back to the point about corporations internalizing profits and externalizing costs

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: @ Tom on 03/08/2011 18:08:24 MST Print View

"A better question might be, “What they have overlooked, that I know?”

It's hard to argue with a man who holds the opinions of such a large number of people who have designed very successful socioeconmomic systems in such contempt, so I'll take a pass on this one.

"For most of human history, men have been ruled by two evils either individually or in collusion; the Genghis Khan’s or the Shamans. Both seek one goal – power. The power to rule men. Then in human history there was a spark; the Renaissance, which culminated in a star burst called the American Revolution. Those intellectuals of the time, Jefferson et al, laid it out – freedom of the individual.
But beginning in the late 18th century, and moving forward, the American experiment started its decline. The intellectuals telling us that the Founding Fathers’ philosophy was immoral, and that collectivism or socialism was superior. They tell us that the wealth we produce should be given away to the far corners of the earth, because we are guilty for being able to produce it, while the others cannot."

Much as I admire Jefferson, the proof of his ideas is in the pudding. By your own admission the American experiment is in decline. My question for you is: If it hasn't worked here, then where? It seems the people are not up to the system. Is that the fault of the people, or the system. If it is the fault of the people, where do you propose to find a worthy people? A people who will make such a system work as designed and leave you in peace to pursue your individual happiness, free of such immoral obligations as altruism and taxes that benefit society at large?

"They are willing to die for freedom. Patrick Henry said it best, “Give me liberty, or give me death.”

Freeedom is heady stuff but the devil, as always, is in the details. Hanging onto freedom is easier said than done, and the places that seem to be most successful are those who have struck a balance between individual freedom and the welfare of the group. Think taxes and altrism for openers.

"Contradictions cannot exist. Either the theory is defective, or the application is defective. The proper theory coupled with the right philosophy works. Jefferson had it right. The Altruists dismantled it."

It's a democracy, Nick. The people appear to have spoken, and the altuists have carried the day, as they have in the countries I mentioned in my previous post. Perhaps the theory/philosophy is defectve?

But the essence of our disagreement lies in a fundamental disagreement over the highest purpose of man. You proceed from the premise that man's highest duty is his own happiness; I proceed from the premise that man's highest purpose is the perpetuation of the human race, what I call a biological imperative, that requires occasional acts of altruism or even taxes, be it in the form of money in modern times or a hunter sharing his kill with other members of his tribe in prehistoric times. This behavior is so critical to our survival that it has been encoded in our genes and expressed as an emotion originating in our limbic system. It hard to argue with something that has endured so long that it obviously has been selected as a trait that contributes to survival. IMO, any philophical system that argues otherwise is questionable, at best, and more likely a recipe for disaster. The failure of the system you espouse, by your own admission above, makes the point pretty definitively, IMO.

peter vacco
(fluff@inreach.com) - M

Locale: no. california
ohhh, somebody lit vacco's fuse now ... on 03/08/2011 18:10:11 MST Print View

"If it would be immoral for you to let your wife die, even if it meant sacrificing yourself, then self sacrifice can't be "the most immoral concept of all." No matter how much spin you put on it, those two statements of yours quite simply and pretty completely contradict each other."

Doug, that is because (all this in peter spin) that you may be taking the wordage a bit excessively literally. and that's fine, but it's not quite cricket.
it looks to me, jumping in late man in the game as it is here, that "self sacrifice" is being taken as the one and only meaning of Nick loses value (life in this case)(and what kind of life can it be anyway .. that sorry putz hasn't even a wood floor)
peter looks at this (as a Rand'ian, in total agreement with the "the most immoral concept of all." thing) as if it cost Nick (we are talking about N's most excellent wife i am assuming) to keep his lady going nets him a loss, and is thusly "a sacrifice".

this is, Not Quite So. for N to "sacrifice" himself for the continuation of his friend, to embrace whatever it costs, may very well be a great and wonderful honor for N to pay. so what he dies. so .. bfd. she's ok, that's the important thing.

but peter, you contend .. look, N's eff'n DEAD. where's the payback in that? eh ??

i'll tell you where the payback, the value, the benefit is. even though it costs N his last remaining years.
it goes like so:
(peter will try to get the words right. it has been a very long time since i set one of these off)

-- N has a picture of himself, and like D is part of a family unit/tribe/group/platoon. N/D have a picture of himself as father/dad/husband/friend/reliable/neverfailsneverfalls man. IF to keep that picture viable, to maintain it, to support it, the body gets thrown into the breach ... piffle, this is really not a problem.

that in a poorly phrased nutshell, is the game. N's supporting the picture of himself as his lady's friend. we assume that at this task, he will not fail. N, naturally assumes this as well.

for it to be a "sacrifice", N would have to end up with less at the end than if he had not acted.

being last man standing is not N's cup of tea. N's loss of life is a cost of business, but the return is worth more. so, given that in our scenario there is going to be some loss, N's will minimize his losses by paying up front.

it is ALL about the picture. its' ALL ABOUT the PICTURE.
----
(works with boots too i am here to tell you)
for more information about how some people react when others don't buy the pictures of themselves, see historys of great men like stalin and saddam,
really, i mean why do you think people ague on the forums. is ALL about your picture of yourself.

i hope that helps. N and D are both fine individuals. peter .. not so much.

v.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Never accepted government benefits? on 03/08/2011 18:33:21 MST Print View

Before the Financial collapse in 2008, Alan Greenspan was against regulation, saying that sophisticated investors were better able to judge risk than the government.

After the collapse he acknowledged that government regulation was required to protect investors.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Let's see...

One the main reasons for the crisis was the collapse of the housing market. We need to look at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae for some help on figuring out what happened. Both of these entities were created by the Federal Government to increase the money supply... not a function of government at all. Money supply should be determined by the free market.

Then, thanks to the Clinton Administration, which pushed for relaxed standards so people who could NOT afford homes, would now magically be ABLE to afford them; started the ball rolling (oops... another contraction - giving credit to someone who has crappy credit). To this, add the abuses by unethical people, afforded by government intervention into the market place, boom.... melt-down.

I can figure out where to put my money by reading financial statements, balance sheets, and using a little common sense. That is where I put my trust - in my brain. If anyone does not understand how to analyze a potential investment, they should not be putting their money into the market unless they are willing and able to lose all of it. As John Wayne supposedly said, "Life is tough, and it is really tough if you are stupid."

- Cheers

peter vacco
(fluff@inreach.com) - M

Locale: no. california
If it hasn't worked here, then where? on 03/08/2011 18:51:58 MST Print View

"My question for you is: If it hasn't worked here, then where?"

well, someplace without a central bank for one.

their tentacles seem to be traceable right back to nearly everything wrong with this country.
toss into the atlantic the central bank and it's associates, and the country would improve considerably.
note that our decline, starts with their ascendency. (many in the working class think it's related)

as i understand it, the founding fathers expected a blood-to-be-spilled revolution every few generations.
fine with my to lynch the greedy. sure, greed's a grey area. but there are to may people anyway.
let's call it "betrayal of public trust" ... then ... go find a rope.
--
i suspect Nick has "not taken any gov't benefits a man could reasonably be able to avoid." is a clearer way to state his position.
---
i recall Ayn handled that self happiness vs that need-to-breed/feed the tribe thing, by openly looking at it and coming to the conclusion that (in her time) civilized nations had enough to eat and raw survival was not a day to day problem.
something about a "lifeboat" situation. in that people do not live their lives on the cusp of disaster. it can occur, but it is not where one gets guidance for his morality from.

i gott'a go sew some nets.

v.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: ohhh, somebody lit vacco's fuse now ... on 03/08/2011 18:56:10 MST Print View

"N and D are both fine individuals. peter .. not so much."

Eh, Peter is a fine individual as well. But his wine, not so much.....

And I'm not sure I was taking the wording excessively literally, I was simply pointing out either:

A contradiction

or

A poor choice of words.

Either way, I've got a nice picture of myself now. I may just sleep with it......

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Re: Never accepted government benefits? on 03/08/2011 18:58:27 MST Print View

Ahhhh

Now I get it

Clinton administration actions

8 years elapse

bang!

Right, it's Clinton's fault

That doesn't make any sense

I don't understand why you sympathize with the Republicans

They are only out for the big corporations and super wealthy, of which you probably aren't

Actually, I do understand, they are excellent propogandists and know what to say to get you to go along with them

Hopefully, enough people are wiseing up and things will change here, but as happened in the most recent election, it isn't clear

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Never accepted government benefits? on 03/08/2011 19:00:33 MST Print View

So Nick.....de-regulation is a good thing????????????? Forgive me if I am jumping to conclusions, but that is how your post just came across. Enlighten me please if I am correct.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Never accepted government benefits? on 03/08/2011 19:02:07 MST Print View

Jerry Adams....everything is Cliton's fault...(wink)

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: re on 03/08/2011 19:05:59 MST Print View

"Oh... and this is what it looks like to live on a cement floor."

Ya know, cement structures were all the rage not too long ago. Even included folks having cement countertops and such. Sand that floor down a bit and apply a nice coating and you'd be fashionable!

"So what do I think about paying my taxes to someone who has not provided for their future?"

I struggle with this. Like you, I believe in personal responsibility. I don't think my taxes should pay for those who refuse to accept responsibility for their actions and expect others to assist. And there are far, far too many people who fall in this category.

But I also realize that there are many, many people who find themselves in difficult circumstances due to an unfortunate roll of the karmic dice, and really no fault of their own, or limited fault. They deserve a helping hand to get them 'back on their feet.'

The difficulty for me, of course, is where to draw the line. And yes, I know where you'd draw it..... ;-)

I guess, the core of all of this, to me (and I'll apologize up front if you think I'm unfairly painting an inaccurate picture of you), from what you've written Nick, it seems like you want to remove the humanity from the human, and I couldn't imagine living in that manner.