What Are Your Rights?

by Simon 121 Replies latest jw friends

  • Spoletta


    I'm sorry to say, YOU are the liar! In your comment you've parroted one of the talking points that those who study history would never make. I wonder if this has to do with one of Sean Hannity's recent monologues, that puts out the same garbage.

    With that statement, you have just become one of the ignorant mass that the right delights in.

  • Spoletta


    You make some good points about divisiveness, we need less rancor, and more truth about what this country needs, but I think it needs more empathy, and less righteousness (in my opinion).

    You realize that Social Security was not meant to be enough to survive on with no other resources. My wife and I are retired and couldn't survive on Social Security alone, so made sure that we owned a home by the time we retired. We cou─║d never make it on S.S. alone, and never expected to. Unfortunately, many, by no fault of their own, are forced to, but that's a topic for another day.

    We've always been self employed, paying our own Social Security, property taxes, and living expenses. Being lucky, we live in a state that chose to embrace Medicaid, so we weren't bankrupted by my heart attack 10 years ago, though thankfully we're on Medicare now, and don't have to worry about medical costs.

    We were both in the Performing Arts, so like 90% of performers, we struggled at times, but still made our house payments, and though at times we qualified for food stamps, we always had enough money for food, and didn't feel right about taking advantage of the system, as we felt that others had more need of the help.

    I suppose that many here would consider us leeches for accepting Medicaid, and not getting well paying jobs with benefits, but I'm not ashamed of it. As a result of it, we have two sons, one of whom went to university, and now has an excellent job, pays taxes, and contributes to society. The other is studying the Performing Arts, and will probably struggle like we did, but we are proud of them both, because in their own way, they'll provide something of value to the world.

    I realize that there are some who take advantage of the system. But I'm not petty enough to deny the help that a wealthy nation should extend to the disadvantaged, just to prevent a few from cheating.

    I sympathize with many here who were always on the cusp, too much income to qualify for benefits, but too little to really make ends meet, but that's not the fault of those who qualify. Despite the naysayers here, a country that can spend trillions on ineffective wars, and give those who don't need it huge tax breaks, should easily pay for healthcare and education for all.

    So, despite the avalanche of dislikes from the conservatives that will likely appear, I'm proud to be among those who benefited from the humanity of leaders like Roosevelt, who, while advantaged, realized that we should take care of our own who are poor, uneducated, unlucky, and yes, even undeserving, because who knows when it might be them or their children and loved ones that might need the help.(speech accompanied by stirring fanfare!)

    Anyway, that's where I stand.

  • MeanMrMustard


    I'll start at the end. You said:

    You are very articulate, obviously intelligent, probably well educated, either through schooling or private study, so you should be able to answer the question without the use of other's words.
    I look forward to your reply.

    Do you think my previous responses were written by someone else? I spent a great deal of time explaining the distinctions (so that we can be very clear thinkers) around the topic of rights and obligations. I did this because you asked, and because you said that you were "sincere". Quoting a source is not answering with the "use of other's words", especially if the very topic in question was the viewpoint of the individuals quoted. These responses are my own, and I will draw on facts. Facts matter. They will be cited.

    You do realize, that in the United States, people have been lifted out of poverty in a large measure due to the activities of liberals?

    I disagree. I think you have it exactly backwards. Brace for impact because here comes some charts. Here is a common povery rate chart, from census.gov:

    This chart seems to bolster your view. Before the Great Society, there was the New Deal, and look at that drop! Now zoom out a bit (chart from the World Bank)

    See the problem? The free market was bringing down poverty rapidly long before any of the interventions you reference. From this viewpoint, it seems to level off right around the mid 1930s, right around the time New Deal came into view. The historical decline in poverty didn't happen because of "liberal" policies. It happened in spite of "liberal" policies.

    In the early 20th century, at a time when philanthropy by private individuals, family, churches and charities (the libertarian idea of the best way to help the poor) were the only options for aid, the rates of extreme poverty were magnitudes higher than today.

    Yes, they were higher than today - because it has been coming down since then. But please reference the chart above. It takes time for capital accumulation and production to improve the standard of living. You can't compare the poverty level 100 years ago to today in absolute terms and conclude your statement above. Also, the poverty level of the 20th century wasn't due to a lack of charity. Charity was alive and well before the government took it over.

    At the end of the 19th century, we were much closer to a libertarian society than we are today. At one time, before we had entitlements, there were large numbers of people living on the streets of New York's Bowery. Were they too lazy to better themselves, could they all, by dint of hard work and entrepreneurial savvy, become wealthy?

    There are people living in the streets today. Have you seen San Francisco lately? There are actual phone apps for San Francisco that tell you where the drugs needles and human feces are located. Do you think San Francisco is a bastion of Libertarian policy?

    In the end, the problem with your line of reasoning is you are giving the market's credit to government entitlements. This is a myth. The market works, always has, always will - as long as rights and freedom are preserved. It is not uncommon for the government to swoop in at the end, enact a government program (and usually not by public demand, usually by small statist activists that "sell" it), and then take credit for it. I mean, look at your statement above. You think the government is responsible for the market's success.

    I never see libertarians like Ron Paul advocate everyone starting from scratch, each with the same resources, property, and education. It's more like, "let's live under Libertarian principles starting right now!" while retaining all the property and advantages they've accrued up till this moment.

    Why do you think a Libertarian should advocate for 1) confiscating everyone's resources and then 2) reallocated them to then 3) start over? You don't think that if you confiscated the capital of even local businesses, you would .. you know... perhaps destroy the business entirely?

    You point out the many failures of Socialism, while never giving any examples of the successes of pure Libertarian societies. And why is that?

    "Pure" Libertarianism would require you to define what "Pure" Libertarianism means, and we already went over the fact that it is a spectrum. What I'm talking about here is having a functioning market. One of the things that underpins a market is private property rights. Private property rights are derived from natural rights.

    If you remember, from the first post that started our exchange, the paper Mises wrote was to logically demonstrate why a total Socialist society (public ownership of the means of production) would fail, even granting the crazy assertion that human nature can change. He concluded there would be no way to objectively allocate resources. It would be arbitrary, and the economy would quickly fall apart. This has been demonstrably true. Some attempts last a while because, **and only because**, the socialist regime decides to keep aspects of the market economy, or they can reference prices from neighboring countries. In other words, they can "play market".

    The closer you get to a market economy, the more prosperous. The farther away, the more extreme the resource mis-allocation will be. As you say, this country was much more "Libertarian" near its inception. Now, please reference the previous chart.

    Whereas Socialism seems appealing in many ways, most would agree that it requires a mix of some socialist ideas with capitalism, to achieve a fair balance. Despite your declarations of doom, countries with such socialist ideas as free healthcare and education, haven't fallen into ruin. You proclaiming they're on the slippery slope to total collapse doesn't make it so.

    I have outlined objective reasons why Socialism fails. Each and every country in history to try a largely socialistic economy has failed, and the failure was never pretty. It many cases it was slow decline into starvation and death, enforced by people not so different than our current "leftist" party. It doesn't matter what "most would agree" upon. This, too, is a logical fallacy. Mises also wrote about the nature of socialism to "creep" along. Once you introduce it into an industry, even in small amounts, it will inevitably cause resource mis-allocation problems (per his previous treatise). This will cause a measure of pain and suffering, suffering that the government will gladly attribute to the market and proudly answer with a new government program. But of course, this causes more problems. More unforeseen, unintended consequences. This has been the pattern throughout history. Admittedly those "balanced" societies will maintain their current standard of living as long as they don't let socialism creep any further. Of course, they would do much better if they rolled it back. The US is NOT going the right way. We have crazy socialists (actual declared socialists) pushing a "Green New Deal". All the while, the social Marxists are attempting to undermine/conflate fundamental rights with entitlements, topping it off with a creamy helping of attempted hate speech laws.

    Without making me wade through hours of tedious, biased videos, and hundreds of pages of charts, diagrams and theoretical opinions. can you, in your own words, explain why no one has attempted setting up a pure Libertarian society, or, if they have, what was the result?

    I am a "minarchist" Libertarian. The US was, at one time, pretty close to this. (See chart above)

  • Spoletta


    Sorry, your arguments only show that capitalism is a part of what has decreased poverty, but ignores the elements of socialism that provide services that help to elevate some out of poverty. Your ideas, like those of the numerous sects of libertarians, are merely theories, with no real world examples to demonstrate their success or failure. The minarchist ideal of a state with only military, police, and courts to keep order and protect personal and property rights, could only work in a world where people can't be bribed or corrupted. Good luck with that.

    I've watched the Libertarian Presidential debates, where people such as the Libertarian Governor of New Mexico was booed for suggesting driving licenses were a good idea, and the eternal "who will build the roads?" dilemma was solved by giving everybody jet packs.

    I'm not one to recommend YouTube channels, but you might find the Majority Report with Sam Seder interesting. He challenges any Libertarian to debate, and never fails to entertain with his questions that Libertarians can't or won't try to answer. He even debates Walter Block in two short (50 minutes or less) segments, where I feel Block doesn't come off too well. Of course, you'll probably find him the epitome of eloquent logic.

    I still feel a combination of socialist and capitalist ideas work best, so we'll just have to disagree. Still, thanks for the opportunity to debate. You're a very fine writer.

  • LoveUniHateExams

    but ignores the elements of socialism that provide services that help to elevate some out of poverty - but these services that are socialist projects are paid for thanks to the profits of capitalism, the free market.

    We in Britain have the NHS. This service is only paid for because we are a rich capitalist country.

    Sweden have similar socialist projects that benefit their society. And, like in the UK, the profits that Sweden has made as a capitalist country pays for social services.

    I still feel a combination of socialist and capitalist ideas work best - socialist ideas work best when the country implementing those ideas is a capitalist one.

    Socialist projects work thanks to capitalist money that pays for them.

  • Simon

    I think some people have trouble separating socialized programmes, where funding is shared through taxation, with socialism where people's work is demanded by the government.

    Just because a capitalist society funds roads and other infrastructure through shared taxation doesn't make them socialist. Same for healthcare, welfare and defence spending. They provide social benefit and payment into them is typically based on ability to pay (income) rather than usage.

    But these are not examples socialism. They are what can be done with a capitalist democracy that creates wealth and the environment for people to become wealthy so there are taxes to pay for these things. All with accountability the ability for the people to decide the balance of what they want their money spent on.

    Socialism can never provide good equivalents because it destroys the incentives for people who are willing to work and contribute to do so. The focus is usually on the holders of power to take money and reward those who keep them in power, not provide equal access to services to all.

    Forced labour is never as productive as volunteer labour.

  • Finkelstein

    Public socialized programs work and are beneficial for a given population but they need the monetary strength of capitalism to support those established programs.

    If one looks in comparison to some of the countries around the world that dont have supportive socialized programs such as health and welfare, the living conditions and value for the greater population is much less. ie. life expectancy, living conditions .

  • Spoletta


    Thanks for your real world answer to the theories of capitalist libertarians.

    Capitalism had it's chance at the turn of the 20th century, when factory workers were paid the bare minimum to work long hours, in terrible conditions. Libertarians say that workers had the right to go elsewhere, but who would choose to transfer from the Titanic to the Lusitania?

    There was no elsewhere, and when workers dared to strike for better pay and conditions, they were met with violence and murder (coal miners, for example).

    A fast food worker today, cannot provide health care, food, clothing, and housing on $7 to $8 an hour. To those who claim that this is a "training" wage, and will result in an experienced worker moving up the ladder to better pay, the average fast food worker is 29 years old, with 40% being over 24. How do you provide health care to people that cannot pay the premiums, but have no opportunity to find a job that will eoffer health care, or pay enough to afford it?

    Ron Paul suggested that charities, churches, and families can take care of this. This was available to everyone at the turn of the 20th century, and yet tens of thousands died because there was more demand than supply.

    When capitalism was combined with elements of socialism, life improved. It had no link to the largesse of industry.

    Simon. You gave a list of things that you believe aren't socialism. Sorry, but a lot of conservatives would disagree with you. Nice try. You can't cherry pick programs that seem to work, and say that they can't be Socialist because they work.

    When you can give examples of societies that succeeded for everyone because they were totally run on capitalist ideals, then you'll have a chance of swaying me. Till then, your ideas are untested theory.

  • Anony Mous
    Anony Mous

    @Spoletta: I think you misunderstand the role of government in a free society.

    Here is what a government is good at: pooling a lot of money (from taxes) to kickstart things that are otherwise unfeasible to start off commercially (high risk), often to benefit the ruled immediately (eg. defence is a good driver) then, if it turns out to be a commercially viable thing it can hand those things over to businesses to provide added value and by finding a way of maximizing a profit, they create jobs and keep money circulating.

    One example is going to space - not a great investment for any business, until the government does it first (for military reasons). A highway program, in the US also primarily floated for military reasons, a really good way of kickstarting a massive investment and then handing off maintenance to local companies along the way that are willing to take the risk to either make a really great company or fail. The US train system, the POTS (Ma Bell) and various utilities are a great example of what goes wrong when the government decides what the market should do - you socialize the investments (you do all the work) but then have to legislate an entire company both in and out of existence.

    Government is good at really large, "simple" projects that benefit everyone (eg. building a road or going to space) but it's very inefficient, yet we let them do that because the alternative (having everyone build their own) is that nobody would do it without a clear benefit to 'them'. Putting the government in charge of 'everything' (socialism) down to the individual level leads to various conflicts, because someone has to be in charge and that someone has their own agenda.

    Socialism is based on the failed philosophy that everyone can be chunked into large homogenous groups (intersectionality which goes back to French philosophers of the 19th century) and then those groups can have declarations made about or for them by someone within their own group. The idea is that the proletariat knows what they need based on their group identities and will vote to maximize their benefits under the system. This turned out to be a really bad idea for everything from healthcare to religion to investments because you reward the group identity, not the individual and when that happens, people tend to conform to the lowest common denominator in the group. At very small levels, you can see that in unions - you work and get paid according to the least productive amongst you, scaled up, you have places like the USSR, Venezuela and Cuba where nobody is incentivized to take risk, economies stall and fail.

    Is the free democratic market a great way, no, it's similar to natural evolution, a lot of entities try random things and lots of it fails and some of it works but in the end you get very robust (although sometimes quirky) systems. Socialism is basically market and social engineering, it's all great ideas when you build it, but then (and if you're an engineer you know this) you find out you have built an enormously straight and rigid structure but you left massive gaps somewhere else and have no flexibility to fix it.

    Oh: societies that have succeeded when run on totally capitalist ideas: the US of A. It's founders didn't want any government involvement, they knew the system wasn't perfect but they did it anyway. Initially the US didn't even want to include taxes because it was either Adams or Franklin that wondered 'a government shouldn't need to be that big'. They wouldn't even trust the state to defend your rights, property or life, hence the second and other amendments, which is basically telling the government, you can't take away the only tools we have to defend against you. Sure the US has social programs, but it isn't socialist by any stretch of the imagination. I can point to more failed socialist states than failed capitalist states.

  • Spoletta

    Anony mous,

    I guess the problem I'm having with these conversations, is the intense strawmanning going on.

    No one here, including myself, has advocated a wholly socialist society, yet when democratic socialism is brought up, you ignore the democratic part, and simply point out the pitfalls of an all socialist society. Strawmanning at it's finest.

    When we point out the many socialist institutions in the United States, your only answer is, "but those aren't really socialist!" By whose definition?

    As far as your idea that it's fine for government to begin programs, and then hand them off to private industry, I'm great with that, as long as the industry pays back to the government all of the people's money that was spent establishing the infrastructure. Otherwise, there's nothing to stop them from using their own money to compete with the government programs. Isn't that how capitalism works?

    Here's my summation of your arguments

    1. Pure socialism doesn't work (We all agree).

    2. Any socialist element in a capitalist society isn't socialist, because socialism doesn't work, and since that society works, those elements aren't socialist. (is that about right?)

    3. Government is fine for getting things going, but private industry will manage things better. (sure, after all the hard work is done! I'll remember that when I ask someone to give me their business because I can run it better.)

    I'll stick to empirical evidence rather than quasi-libertarian theory.

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