Total Pageviews

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We need to pay for personal property damage from Hurricane Irene

I've heard a lot of bickering about who is supposed to be getting bailed out of what tragedy. Many people are claiming if the other guy gets assistance it is being take from the assistance they should be getting.

What I don't understand is how they can be fighting over money that is extorted from me (and you) (and the other guy).

Davy Crockett had to be reminded of this fact.

From "The Life of Colonel David Crockett", by Edward S. Ellis
(Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1884):

CROCKETT was then the lion of Washington. I was a great admirer of his character, and, having several friends who were intimate with him, I found no difficulty in making his acquaintance. I was fascinated with him, and he seemed to take a fancy to me.

I was one day in the lobby of the House of Representatives when a bill was taken up appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in its support—rather, as I thought, because it afforded the speakers a fine opportunity for display than from the necessity of convincing anybody, for it seemed to me that everybody favored it. The Speaker was just about to put the question when Crockett arose. Everybody expected, of course, that he was going to make one of his characteristic speeches in support of the bill. He commenced:
"Mr. Speaker—I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the sufferings of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it.

We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him. This government can owe no debts but for services rendered, and at a stipulated price. If it is a debt, how much is it? Has it been audited, and the amount due ascertained? If it is a debt, this is not the place to present it for payment, or to have its merits examined. If it is a debt, we owe more than we can ever hope to pay, for we owe the widow of every soldier who fought in the War of 1812 precisely the same amount.

There is a woman in my neighborhood, the widow of as gallant a man as ever shouldered a musket. He fell in battle. She is as good in every respect as this lady, and is as poor. She is earning her daily bread by her daily labor; but if I were to introduce a bill to appropriate five or ten thousand dollars for her benefit, I should be laughed at, and my bill would not get five votes in this House. There are thousands of widows in the country just such as the one I have spoken of, but we never hear of any of these large debts to them. Sir, this is no debt.

The government did not owe it to the deceased when he was alive; it could not contract it after he died. I do not wish to be rude, but I must be plain. Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity.

Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much of our own money as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks."

He took his seat. Nobody replied. The bill was put upon its passage, and, instead of passing unanimously, as was generally supposed, and as, no doubt, it would, but for that speech, it received but few votes, and, of course, was lost.

Like many other young men, and old ones, too, for that matter, who had not thought upon the subject, I desired the passage of the bill, and felt outraged at its defeat. I determined that I would persuade my friend Crockett to move a reconsideration the next day.

Previous engagements preventing me from seeing Crockett that night, I went early to his room the next morning and found him engaged in addressing and franking letters, a large pile of which lay upon his table.

I broke in upon him rather abruptly, by asking him what devil had possessed him to make that speech and defeat that bill yesterday. Without turning his head or looking up from his work, he replied:

"You see that I am very busy now; take a seat and cool yourself. I will be through in a few minutes, and then I will tell you all about it."

He continued his employment for about ten minutes, and when he had finished he turned to me and said: "Now, sir, I will answer your question. But thereby hangs a tale, and one of considerable length, to which you will have to listen."

I listened, and this is the tale which I heard:

SEVERAL YEARS AGO I was one evening standing on the steps of the Capitol with some other members of Congress, when our attention was attracted by a great light over in Georgetown. It was evidently a large fire. We jumped into a hack and drove over as fast as we could. When we got there, I went to work, and I never worked as hard in my life as I did there for several hours. But, in spite of all that could be done, many houses were burned and many families made homeless, and, besides, some of them had lost all but the clothes they had on. The weather was very cold, and when I saw so many women and children suffering, I felt that something ought to be done for them, and everybody else seemed to feel the same way.

The next morning a bill was introduced appropriating $20,000 for their relief. We put aside all other business and rushed it through as soon as it could be done. I said everybody felt as I did. That was not quite so; for, though they perhaps sympathized as deeply with the sufferers as I did, there were a few of the members who did not think we had the right to indulge our sympathy or excite our charity at the expense of anybody but ourselves. They opposed the bill, and upon its passage demanded the yeas and nays. There were not enough of them to sustain the call, but many of us wanted our names to appear in favor of what we considered a praiseworthy measure, and we voted with them to sustain it. So the yeas and nays were recorded, and my name appeared on the journals in favor of the bill.

The next summer, when it began to be time to think about the election, I concluded I would take a scout around among the boys of my district. I had no opposition there, but, as the election was some time off, I did not know what might turn up, and I thought it was best to let the boys know that I had not forgot them, and that going to Congress had not made me too proud to go to see them.

So I put a couple of shirts and a few twists of tobacco into my saddlebags, and put out. I had been out about a week and had found things going very smoothly, when, riding one day in a part of my district in which I was more of a stranger than any other, I saw a man in a field plowing and coming toward the road. I gauged my gait so that we should meet as he came to the fence. As he came up I spoke to the man. He replied politely, but, as I thought, rather coldly, and was about turning his horse for another furrow when I said to him: "Don’t be in such a hurry, my friend; I want to have a little talk with you, and get better acquainted."

He replied: "I am very busy, and have but little time to talk, but if it does not take too long, I will listen to what you have to say."

I began: "Well, friend, I am one of those unfortunate beings called candidates, and…"

"’Yes, I know you; you are Colonel Crockett. I have seen you once before, and voted for you the last time you were elected. I suppose you are out electioneering now, but you had better not waste your time or mine. I shall not vote for you again.’

This was a sockdolager… I begged him to tell me what was the matter.

"Well, Colonel, it is hardly worthwhile to waste time or words upon it. I do not see how it can be mended, but you gave a vote last winter which shows that either you have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you are wanting in honesty and firmness to be guided by it. In either case you are not the man to represent me. But I beg your pardon for expressing it in that way. I did not intend to avail myself of the privilege of the Constitution to speak plainly to a candidate for the purpose of insulting or wounding you. I intend by it only to say that your understanding of the Constitution is very different from mine; and I will say to you what, but for my rudeness, I should not have said, that I believe you to be honest. But an understanding of the Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook, because the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the more honest he is."

"I admit the truth of all you say, but there must be some mistake about it, for I do not remember that I gave any vote last winter upon any constitutional question."

"No, Colonel, there’s no mistake. Though I live here in the backwoods and seldom go from home, I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the proceedings of Congress. My papers say that last winter you voted for a bill to appropriate $20,000 to some sufferers by a fire in Georgetown. Is that true?"

"Certainly it is, and I thought that was the last vote which anybody in the world would have found fault with."

"Well, Colonel, where do you find in the Constitution any authority to give away the public money in charity?"

Here was another sockdolager; for, when I began to think about it, I could not remember a thing in the Constitution that authorized it. I found I must take another tack, so I said:
"Well, my friend; I may as well own up. You have got me there. But certainly nobody will complain that a great and rich country like ours should give the insignificant sum of $20,000 to relieve its suffering women and children, particularly with a full and overflowing Treasury, and I am sure, if you had been there, you would have done just as I did."

"It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means. What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the government.

So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other.

No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose. If twice as many houses had been burned in this county as in Georgetown, neither you nor any other member of Congress would have thought of appropriating a dollar for our relief. There are about two hundred and forty members of Congress. If they had shown their sympathy for the sufferers by contributing each one week’s pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of wealthy men in and around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life. The Congressmen chose to keep their own money, which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditably; and the people about Washington, no doubt, applauded you for relieving them from the necessity of giving by giving what was not yours to give.

The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution."

I have given you an imperfect account of what he said. Long before he was through, I was convinced that I had done wrong. He wound up by saying:

"So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people. I have no doubt you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better, except as far as you are personally concerned, and you see that I cannot vote for you."

I tell you I felt streaked. I saw if I should have opposition, and this man should go talking, he would set others to talking, and in that district I was a gone fawn-skin. I could not answer him, and the fact is, I did not want to. But I must satisfy him, and I said to him:

"Well, my friend, you hit the nail upon the head when you said I had not sense enough to understand the Constitution. I intended to be guided by it, and thought I had studied it full. I have heard many speeches in Congress about the powers of Congress, but what you have said there at your plow has got more hard, sound sense in it than all the fine speeches I ever heard. If I had ever taken the view of it that you have, I would have put my head into the fire before I would have given that vote; and if you will forgive me and vote for me again, if I ever vote for another unconstitutional law I wish I may be shot."

He laughingly replied:

"Yes, Colonel, you have sworn to that once before, but I will trust you again upon one condition. You say that you are convinced that your vote was wrong. Your acknowledgment of it will do more good than beating you for it. If, as you go around the district, you will tell people about this vote, and that you are satisfied it was wrong, I will not only vote for you, but will do what I can to keep down opposition, and, perhaps, I may exert some little influence in that way."

"If I don’t," said I, "I wish I may be shot; and to convince you that I am in earnest in what I say, I will come back this way in a week or ten days, and if you will get up a gathering of the people, I will make a speech to them. Get up a barbecue, and I will pay for it."

"No, Colonel, we are not rich people in this section, but we have plenty of provisions to contribute for a barbecue, and some to spare for those who have none. The push of crops will be over in a few days, and we can then afford a day for a barbecue. This is Thursday; I will see to getting it up on Saturday a week. Come to my house on Friday, and we will go together, and I promise you a very respectable crowd to see and hear you."

"Well, I will be here. But one thing more before I say good-bye… I must know your name."

"My name is Bunce."

"Not Horatio Bunce?"


"Well, Mr. Bunce, I never saw you before, though you say you have seen me; but I know you very well. I am glad I have met you, and very proud that I may hope to have you for my friend. You must let me shake your hand before I go."

We shook hands and parted.

It was one of the luckiest hits of my life that I met him. He mingled but little with the public, but was widely known for his remarkable intelligence and incorruptible integrity, and for a heart brimful and running over with kindness and benevolence, which showed themselves not only in words but in acts. He was the oracle of the whole country around him, and his fame had extended far beyond the circle of his immediate acquaintance. Though I had never met him before, I had heard much of him, and but for this meeting it is very likely I should have had opposition, and had been beaten. One thing is very certain, no man could now stand up in that district under such a vote.

At the appointed time I was at his house, having told our conversation to every crowd I had met, and to every man I stayed all night with, and I found that it gave the people an interest and a confidence in me stronger than I had ever seen manifested before.

Though I was considerably fatigued when I reached his house, and, under ordinary circumstances, should have gone early to bed, I kept him up until midnight, talking about the principles and affairs of government, and got more real, true knowledge of them than I had got all my life before.

I have told you Mr. Bunce converted me politically. He came nearer converting me religiously than I had ever been before. He did not make a very good Christian of me, as you know; but he has wrought upon my mind a conviction of the truth of Christianity, and upon my feelings a reverence for its purifying and elevating power such as I had never felt before.

I have known and seen much of him since, for I respect him—no, that is not the word—I reverence and love him more than any living man, and I go to see him two or three times every year; and I will tell you, sir, if everyone who professes to be a Christian lived and acted and enjoyed it as he does, the religion of Christ would take the world by storm.

But to return to my story: The next morning we went to the barbecue, and, to my surprise, found about a thousand men there. I met a good many whom I had not known before, and they and my friend introduced me around until I had got pretty well acquainted—at least, they all knew me.

In due time notice was given that I would speak to them. They gathered around a stand that had been erected. I opened my speech by saying:

"Fellow citizens—I present myself before you today feeling like a new man. My eyes have lately been opened to truths which ignorance or prejudice, or both, had heretofore hidden from my view. I feel that I can today offer you the ability to render you more valuable service than I have ever been able to render before. I am here today more for the purpose of acknowledging my error than to seek your votes. That I should make this acknowledgment is due to myself as well as to you. Whether you will vote for me is a matter for your consideration only."

I went on to tell them about the fire and my vote for the appropriation as I have told it to you, and then told them why I was satisfied it was wrong. I closed by saying:

"And now, fellow citizens, it remains only for me to tell you that the most of the speech you have listened to with so much interest was simply a repetition of the arguments by which your neighbor, Mr. Bunce, convinced me of my error.

"It is the best speech I ever made in my life, but he is entitled to the credit of it. And now I hope he is satisfied with his convert and that he will get up here and tell you so."

He came upon the stand and said:

"Fellow citizens—It affords me great pleasure to comply with the request of Colonel Crockett. I have always considered him a thoroughly honest man, and I am satisfied that he will faithfully perform all that he has promised you today."

He went down, and there went up from the crowd such a shout for Davy Crockett as his name never called forth before.

I am not much given to tears, but I was taken with a choking then and felt some big drops rolling down my cheeks. And I tell you now that the remembrance of those few words spoken by such a man, and the honest, hearty shout they produced, is worth more to me than all the honors I have received and all the reputation I have ever made, or ever shall make, as a member of Congress.

"NOW, SIR," concluded Crockett, "you know why I made that speech yesterday. I have had several thousand copies of it printed and was directing them to my constituents when you came in.

"There is one thing now to which I will call your attention. You remember that I proposed to give a week’s pay. There are in that House many very wealthy men—men who think nothing of spending a week’s pay, or a dozen of them for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to accomplish by it. Some of those same men made beautiful speeches upon the great debt of gratitude which the country owed the deceased—a debt which could not be paid by money, particularly so insignificant a sum as $10,000, when weighed against the honor of the nation. Yet not one of them responded to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

rights don't exist.

What do people mean when they say there's no such thing as rights?
I don't mean anything when I say it. I'm just quoting other people.
I was working on this a while ago. I haven't had the time to finish it, but I have wanted to get it posted here and I have a lot on my plate. So, I'll just paste it here as is. I don't even think I'll proof read it. I do want to get back to this later.

I'll see if I can track down the cites. I started this a long time ago, so it might take a while.

Here it is.

I've been reading about and discussing the view that rights are not inherent in the nature of humans. This point of view has been expressed by a few of the people I know who, if labels express anything, would be libertarians or voluntaryists. I have also been examining the rigor of my understanding of rights mostly with my brother David who would most likely be, if labels express anything, a liberal of the left wing type, not classical liberal.

[Column by new Root Striker Dabooda.

I question the usefulness of the idea that people have natural, god-given, inalienable human rights. It's been given a fair trial over the last several centuries, and it doesn't work.


"Rights" do not exist. The power of choice does. Men are free to act with respect for the individual liberties of others, or to act without respect. There is no such force as a natural right that will reward virtuous action, or punish evil. There is only one force in human affairs. That is the force of individual will. Freedom is a choice, not a right.]

"Rights" defines a concept. "Rights" is not an object that exists in concrete form. And, yes, "rights" has no agency. "Rights" in and of itself was never meant to protect you.

Why is it any different in kind to say, "Men are free to act with respect for the rights of others, or to act without respect." than to say, "Men are free to act with respect for the individual liberties of others, or to act without respect"? "Rights" and "individual liberties" have the same root.

The way I see it "rights" defines a relationship between any 2 individual people. It's a reciprocal relationship. Basically, it could be defined as don't force yourself on the other person. Or respect other people's individual liberties. Including their liberties to make their own choices about their own stuff.

[Column by new Root Striker Dabooda.

The worst feature of the fable of "rights" is the belief that we are entitled to receive them --
Your "right" not to be mugged is of no use to you, in the face of any random thug who doesn't believe in such nonsense. (Which makes him smarter than you.) So if you prefer not to be mugged, it is not useful to count on your "rights;" better to examine your choices. Your choice to carry a gun or to avoid dark alleys will be of infinitely more use to you than your "right" not to be mugged.]

I wonder how it makes him smarter? Because you both know you could use force on the other to get his stuff, but you choose not to? It makes him a thug. Is it smarter to want to live in a society where you always have to watch your back?

Again, rights cannot act. You are not counting on rights to do anything to protect you. The choice you are making is to exercise your rights or protect your rights. You carry a gun and don't walk down dark alleys in order to protect your right not to be mugged.

[Column by new Root Striker Dabooda.

Make the choice to defend those freedoms you value. And if someone tries to stomp on your freedom, you will have to choose what to do about it. You can accept the stomping, and lose your freedom, by default. Or you can fight back. If you do so impulsively, stupidly, ineffectively, you can still lose and get stomped. But with planning, ingenuity and perseverance, you can win. Especially if you have help from like-minded friends and allies.

What is the difference between defending the freedoms you value and defending your rights? Do most people understand "freedoms" better than they understand "rights"? They are each words that define certain concepts.

If you are asking your like-minded friends for help, what are you asking them to help you with? How do you justify it?

You certainly don't have to use the concept of rights, but neither do you have to discard it.

The problem isn't that the word has no utility, it is that people do not use more precision in the definition of their words. My choice is to try to get people to understand a more precise definition or use of the concept.

If you understand that the right to your property does not allow for a special class of people with a free pass to violate your property rights you will understand most of what you have to say above about your individual liberties. If you don't understand it, you won't understand all your efforts to say the same thing without using the word "rights".

One of the things I have discovered by discussing this with David is the rigor of my understanding of "rights". I took it for granted before he challenged me to ask the question that the concept of rights was self-evident.
Through thinking, which is no more than the art of finding and resolving contradictions by asking and answering questions, I discovered that "rights" are not self-evident.

Does that negate the value of "rights" as a concept?

David claims they have no validity because they have no agency. So, I asked him to coin a word that has all the attributes of "rights" except the attribute of agency. I don't think agency is a valid attribute of "rights". Rights do not act. They would only require agency if they were to act. "Rights" defines a concept. The concept can be true or false. But it does not cease to exist because it cannot protect the bearer of the right from alienation. It does not cease to exist because it is violated. Because your property is taken from you does not negate the right to your property. If it did, what would that mean? As soon as it is taken, you cannot legitimately go get it back and ask for assistance in getting it back, because you lost your right to it when it was taken. Your right to it defines WHY you can legitimately go get it back, ask for help getting it back and protect it from being taken in the first place.

[From a reply to MamaLiberty posting the above by
Jefferson Scott Davis
Well, that's the problem and this article highlights that point. According to the values that I adhere to, I have no right to make people believe anything and I have no right to force people to do the "right" thing. However, even voluntaryists seem to fall victim to the compulsion to fix the world and make it "better." Well, according to whose standards?

Exactly. And you used the word "right" in that statement. And people knew pretty close to what you meant when you used it in "no right to...", didn't they? "Rights" has to do with not using force. So, no, you don't have a right to force your beliefs on others. Neither does anyone else. But you can't exercise the right to your property because there are people with a veneer of a free pass to violate your rights without repercussion.
There is no wiggle room for that in the definition of "rights". Those people have no more a claim to violate your rights than do the people they claim they are protecting you from. How do they resolve that contradiction? What answer to questions about that contradiction are they able to state that does not lead to another contradiction?

[From a reply to MamaLiberty posting the above by
Jefferson Scott Davis
...The notion of rights is all a part of statist hegemony.]

I don't see why it is necessarily a part of statist hegemony. If so, it is like any other tool being misused. If one understands that a part of "rights" is its reciprocity they would know that they don't have a right to health care or the definition of "rights" would involve a contradiction. How does the concept "right to health care" not involve a contradiction to the word "right"? Who provides the health care? Does he have no rights to decide what to do with his time and talent? If so, there is a contradiction. What questions might be asked to resolve it? What statements made? What changes to the definition of rights?

[By Paul Bonneau

Exclusive to STR
For example, no longer believing this phantasm "right to life" is out there somehow protecting you, you might take a little more responsibility to defend your life on your own. You might actually go out and buy that gun, rather than just thinking about it.

Here again we see the fallacy that rights somehow are able to act. Why is it that even libertarians have this misunderstanding about "rights"?
What is the purpose of the concept of "right to life"?
How do people reach the conclusion that "right to life" should somehow embody invulnerability and if it doesn't it is not a valid word?
Your right to life is WHY you go out and buy the gun, if you do. Your right to life only defines a reciprocal relationship between you and any other human being. You don't take his life, he doesn't take yours. That is your right to life. You buy the gun because you know there are some who won't respect your right to life. If you defend yourself from another person and take his life in the process, if you don't have a right to life then you don't have a valid defense for why you took his life. If you don't have a right to life and another person takes your life it's tuff noogies. Big deal. Life goes on for others.

[By Paul Bonneau

Exclusive to STR
If you examine the previous list, it looks like these effects, by and large, are positive things. Thus, giving up on the "right to life" meme has a positive result on one's life!

The effects mentioned were all related to taking responsibility for one's self and one's actions, especially in the area of defending one's right to life. There is quite a bit at the article. How does giving up on the meme have anything to do with the effects?

[By Paul Bonneau

Exclusive to STR
The less credit people give to this notion of rights, the less credibility there will be for memes that mimic the supposed "real" rights (negative rights)--the positive ones. That is, if the expression of a "right to life" draws guffaws, then how far will other people get expressing a "right to health care" or a "right to free schooling"? Positive rights are clearly supported by the notion of rights in general. Withdraw that support, and they fall also. How wonderful could our world be if the majority of people doubted there was any right at all to rob their neighbor for some supposed social good? If it was considered robbery, plain and simple, with no justification?

Again, it seems to me that the problem lies not with the use of the concept of rights but with the lack of a precise definition.
Why would you want to draw guffaws at the expression of a "right to life"?
How could that help you in understanding whether or not a "right to health care" or a "right to free schooling" was a valid claim?
If you don't have a right to life and by extension a right to your property, how do you deny others the right to health care at your expense? Why shouldn't they have it? How do you define robbery plain and simple if you don't have a right to life and property?
No one has a "right to health care" nor a "right to free schooling" by definition of the word right. If someone does, then "right" has no meaning and you can't claim they have no claim on you to fund their schooling.

[By Paul Bonneau

Exclusive to STR
When you dig into this, you begin to realize that the meme of "rights" is much beloved by the state and its minions. That should give pause to anarchists, I would think. Fighting for rights is doing battle on the enemy's favored ground. Jeff Snyder has commented on this: " fight for the establishment of rights or for recognition of rights by one's government involves tacit subordination to the state."

No, what one needs to do is clarify rights. Your rights define a relationship between you and other people. Governments have nothing to do with it. Governments do claim their legitimacy by claiming to protect people from those who intend to violate their rights. If governments truly recognized and respected individual rights they would be benign. But governments are a contradiction. They violate the very rights the protection of which they claim is their sole reason for existing in order to protect them.
You're not fighting for their establishment or recognition. You're simply stating a fact. In many less words than it takes to state it while trying to avoid using the word "rights" you could state it as "a right".

[By Paul Bonneau

Exclusive to STR
But notice, these are not independent variables. I alluded to it earlier; if someone stops believing in a right to life, one naturally compensates by buying a gun. The removal of a "right to life" may in fact decrease the overall murder rate due to these other compensating factors.

I skipped, from Paul's article, all the factoring of what impact the lack of a "right to life" would have on the murder rate. Why don't you just buy a gun to protect your right to life? What is it you are doing with the gun? What are you protecting yourself from if you don't have a right to life? How do you defend yourself from charges of murder if you kill someone who is trying to kill you? How many words do you use instead of "right to life" to say the same thing?

[By Paul Bonneau

Exclusive to STR
What if the gun ownership rate doubled in this country, and everybody carried? Would not this make crime untenable? Would government, the most murderous agency in history, be even less inclined to impose on us or kill us?

No, although they might be more inclined. The last thing they want is for people to realize they not only don't need them, but they are the primary rights violators. Why do they get a free pass to violate rights, anyway?
Why is it easier to ask that question using a lot more words, because you don't want to use the word rights?

[By Paul Bonneau

Exclusive to STR
I have to laugh at libertarians and anarchists depending on the murderous state to defend their life via the "right to life," and even more so depending on the "right to property" as they dutifully pay their taxes (surrender their property). I guess that means there is only a "right to a state-determined amount of property," eh?

No, it means the state violates rights to property. They should not get a free pass. If there is no such thing as rights, why can't they take your stuff and push you around? Sure, you can push back, but what are you pushing for? you have no rights.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

torture is not torture

I was wondering why many people choose to make simple things so complex.

For instance "torture" has come under the spotlight of definitions and made up phrases (enhanced interrogation techniques). I don't see it as much more complex than this, "if it was done to me, would I think I was being tortured?"

Can someone explain to me how it needs to be more complex? Besides so "torture" can be justified via being "not torture".

Sunday, January 16, 2011

you have a right to

This is from a discussion on Facebook with my brother about rights.
within the quoted block:
>> is my initial statement or question
** is his response
following the blocked quote is my reply to his response

David wrote: "Hey, Matthew -- Point by point:
>> A right defines a reciprocal relationship between any 2 individual people. Person A cannot do anything to person B that person B cannot do to person A.

** It’s a very nice idea, Matthew, and fairly nearly the epitome of moral philosophy, except for the word ‘cannot.’ When you say “Person A cannot do anything to person B,” do you mean that person A lacks the power or ability. (I assume not.) Do you mean that person C is going to step in and prevent person A from doing something to person B? (Again, on my understanding of your views, I think not. I’m willing to be wrong.) Do you really mean that person A *ought* not to do anything to person B, et cetera? I would agree to that, but I don’t think you’re satisfied with “ought.” >>

It is not a matter of "being satisified". I think I said it was the Reader's Digest version of the much lengthier post I made and linked to explaining that I did not want to include the whole thing. "Cannot" was not the sole attribute. I do not mean either person lacks the power or ability. Aaron lackng the power or ability to kick me does not define a right I have to not be kicked by Aaron. I do not mean person C will intervene. Person B might be of the religious opinion he is to turn the other cheek. If person C presumed to intervene to protect person B from an attack by person A, person B's rights would have been violated. He has every right to choose not to defend himself or his property. That is what defines it as his. I suppose you could say "ought" but that really doesn't get at what I am saying. Let's look at it this way. What is it you don't want other people to do to you?
Do you want other people to kill you?
So, what do you think they want of you? (Rather than my normal redundancy, I invite you to add or skip the redundacy for yourself. If you'd like to add it, just repeat the foregoing question after each of my questions).
Do you want other people to take your stuff from you?
Do you want other people to hit you?
Do you want other people to trick you into giving them some of your stuff?
Do you want other people to move onto your property when you are at work or on vacation?
Do you want other people to tell you what you can and can't do?
Do you expect people to treat you the same way as you would treat them?
I see a contradiction when people want to be treated a certain way, treat other people the way they would like to be treated, don't see much evidence
on an individual basis that other people would treat them differently, yet they act as if a majority of the world is out to get them so they have to be proactive at preventing it. Those things are rights. There are inductive and deductive ways to get to "rights". People accuse me of living in a fantasy world as if I think that every single person on the face of the earth would respect my rights if I respected his rights. I am not that naive. But I don't see where that is even relevant. It is a principle. It is practically axiomatic.

>>Is that not a valid definition of right?

** Well, with limitations, yes. The limitation is its usefulness. How, exactly, do those two people determine what they can and cannot do “to” each other? And hell, Matthew, there are an awful lot of people in the world: working everything out two individuals at a time, we’ll all be dead before we get anything established.

Not sure how we get at the "usefulness" of the principle. What would it have to be useful for? Or are you saying it is not useful because it is hard to define for every permutation and combination of pairs of people in the world before we get up and get going in the morning? I did not mean acts that would be specific to individual pairs of people. I meant general acts between any random two people.The absurdity should help define it. What acts between specific pairs can you think of that would require prior establishment of can and cannot?

>> Do you see any contradictions in the definition itself? If so, please point them out to me so we might work to refine a definition of right in the sense it is used to mean "have a right to".

** No contradiction, just the inoperability of the term.

I do not see how the level of operability is actually an attribute of the principle. It can be an attribute if that is how you choose to define it. All we are doing is trying to understand what we are talking about. I think I remember you saying you wish we had another word we could use. Why? Why go to all that trouble? If you leave out the operability attribute the definition works fine. So why work so hard to put it in when all that does is cause you more work to look for a word that means "right" (as you choose to define it) without the operability attribute?
That's fine with me. If you want to define rights with an operability attribute and then work to create another word that means your definition of right without the operability attribute, I will accept that but leave the work up to you. In the mean time I will use "right" without the operability attribute.

>> How do you define rights, if you don't agree with my definition?

* I do not find the word useful, and so step aside from it.

Does step aside from it mean you have no definition for it? How do you decide if it is useful if you have no definition for it? Isn't there some concept or principle carrying the label "right" you don't find useful?

>> Can you make a statement about the truth value of a word if you do not have a precise definition of the word?

** I don’t think I questioned the word’s “truth value,” Matthew: I did say, and would re-affirm, that the idea of a human’s ‘rights’ has been and is still dependent upon time and place.

I'm not talking about it as an idea. I'm talking about it as a principle. A principle that is not dependent on time or place. "An idea" does not adequately define the process of "principle". "Understand" or even more specifically, "discover" is how I would define the process of "principle". It has always been a principle that in the same way that you should not kill me I should not kill you. It took a while to discover even the most basic understanding of the principle, and many are still far from it. As in, "all men are created equal" Which means "all men" not "all men born within certain imaginary lines on the globe." Do you prefer that "right" be an idea? Then do we have to make up a word for the concept as a principle?

>> What is the truth value of my definition of right?

** The unmodified word “cannot” makes your definition inadequate. False, if you will.

As I said above, there was much more to what I defined.

>> What does the fact that people choose not to recognize rights have to do with the truth value of the definition?

** Since you say that “a right defines a reciprocal relationship,” then the occasion of person A’s refusal to recognize the ‘right’ of person B nullifies your definition. Or simply clarifies that the relationship between A and B is *not* reciprocal, so tough beans for B.

[Definition of RECIPROCAL
1 a : inversely related : opposite
b : of, constituting, or resulting from paired crosses in which the kind that supplies the male parent of the first cross supplies the female parent of the second cross and vice versa
2 : shared, felt, or shown by both sides
3 : serving to reciprocate : consisting of or functioning as a return in kind
4 a : mutually corresponding
b : marked by or based on reciprocity ]

I would say I was using definition 2 which has no component of agreement to or acceptance of...

How does person A's refusal nullify the definition?
It's not tough beans for B. The concept of a right contains the attribute of being justified in using defensive force to keep it. Or to get it back. Or if it is not possible to get it back to get compensation. Again, the fact that it is not always possible to identify or locate person A is irrelevant to the fact that one attribute of a right is that of defensive force. That attribute is also independent of A's ignorance, acceptance or understanding of it.

>> If people choose not to recognize the earth is not flat, will they fall off the edge if they go far enough?

** Ah, at last we reach the solid point. Since the reality is that the earth is round-ish, it doesn’t matter whether people recognize it or not. On another hand, if a person drinks a really strong dose of arsenic, a person is likely to die of that, whether that person believes arsenic is poisonous or not.

Exactly. Are principles different somehow from from other facts in that they do not hold their meaning simply because people are ignorant of them or choose not to act in accordance with them? Why?

>> By the very nature of the definition of the concept "have a right to" either everyone has rights or no one has rights.

** Everyone? But you’re only talking about reciptrocal relationships between two individual persons, face to face. You’ve pretty much left out the entire world except for you and Aaron. Or you and Sherry. Or you and Alyssa. Or you and Amber.

As I said above, I'm talking about general principles, not specific actions. When I say two individual persons, I mean that the way I am defining "right" any meaning it has between an individual person and a group or between two or more groups it has to inherit from the meaning it has between two individual persons. Again, I think you're attempt at using the absurd helps to define it.

>> It has been claimed that the government of the USofA and all the more localized governmnents exist to protect rights of those within their claimed jurisdiction. If there is no such thing as rights, what can governments then claim is their purpose?

** I didn’t make the claim. It’s not mine to defend. Sorry."

I wasn't asking you to defend any claim. It is an interesting question, though, in many ways. People do seem to have some rough understanding of what is meant by right when it comes to governments and defending rights. The founders of the USofA identified some rights the government was to protect. You can get a bit of the definition of right out of the context of the Declaration, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Constitution and the first ten amendments.

"Let me see if I can clarify the kind of ideas I need to understand your point of view. If we were talking about equilateral triangles, I'd probably assume that we were talking about triangles with three angles of sixty degrees each. But you, being smarter than me, would know that if you laid out an equilateral triangle on a sphere, you could get the angles up to ninety degrees each (depending on the ratio between the size of the triangle and the size of the sphere). You could probably get them much larger, but I think the limit would be 179 degrees.

It would all depend upon what we were discussing. In almost anything we would be discussing the definition in a plane would be sufficient. If we were in a discussion where a more obtuse definition (pun intended) was required it would need to be made clear at the time it was needed.

Hm. I wonder. You talk a lot about your rights, Matthew, but I don't know the following things:
1) What is a 'right'?

That is what I am working on establishing. A definition where we can at least understand what we are talking about. All the above plus that other post are attempts at communicating what I mean when I say "have a right to...)

2) Who determines what we will consider a 'right'?

The definition might help. I don't know that anybody in particular determines what we will consider a right.
Rights are what they are. They are based on ownership of one's person. Either you own your own person or some number of people other than you owns your person. It can't be everybody but you, so what would be the boundaries of the claim on your person? Would it be a numerical limit? A geographic limit? A familial limit? Who defines it? If you define it, then you are the one who actually has the ownership. So that is a contradiction. How does someone else get a claim of ownership over your person?
If one owns his own person, that is a source of the concept of "right". "Right" derives from self ownership. From ownership of one's self is derived the right to life. So, if one does not own one's self, one does not have a right to life. Again, the principle is a principle regardless of anyone's knowledge or acceptance of it.

3) How do they determine what is (or isn't) a 'right'?

Ask questions?
Do you have a right to your own life?
Why or why not?
What is implied by your answer?
Are there any contradictions?

4) Can anybody determine that something is a 'right'?

Why shouldn't anybody be able to?
If the definition is not clear or is misunderstood they might get it wrong. Then the definition needs some work. But one should be able to apply the principle to the something and determine if it is a right.
I can determine if something is a right. Can you?

4a) If not, why not? If you can explain those things to me, then maybe I'll understand better.

Why not would be they don't understand the concept or they do not understand how to apply principles to actions.

Like I said above, I can determine if something is a right. Then I still have to defend that either logically or by defensive force. But I cannot initiate force to get you to comply with something I think is a right. That would violate your rights.

You posited a motive for some questions I asked recently.
Here is my sole motivation for all the questions I ask and statements I make about rights.
I want to live in a society based on reason, not violence. (Rights are based on reason.) It would be a contradiction to try to force such a society upon others by violence. The only way available to me is by reason. By communicating with people about rights.
It took a long time after I got a Facebook account to start talking about politics. Most of my liberal or conservative friends would make political statements. I finally decided I would start asking questions about things they said and use different words when describing what they are stating to bring the actions closer to their association to rights.