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Offline Mr. Consideration

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Objectivism
« on: June 19, 2008, 04:25:52 pm »
It's becoming clear that we have quite a few 'Objectivists' on our Forum; or at least, a lot of people who adore Bioshock and quote Ayn Rand.

So here is the golden debating thread. Axelgear, remember that people occasionally do need to go to sleep. ;)

For me, Objectivism has always been a philosophy I've disliked, if not been outright terrified by.

The basic core principles of Objectivist Morality is 'Rational Self-Interest'. Which is to say, doings things which benefit you. People seldom seem to recognise these are the same ideas that most left-hand path religions adhere to, such as Satanism. The difference is that Objectivists reject 'Hedonism' as they believe is a threat to self-esteem and simply giving in to animal impulses, which is not what a sapient being should do, whereas Satanists assert that we too are animals and should behave only as such. Most Objectivist ideas are espoused in Ayn Rand's novel 'Atlas Shrugged', and her later works.

Now, the society in Atlas Shrugged collapses due to the immediates withdrawal of all leaders of industry.

This scares me. Objectivist ideas, built upon the principles of self-interest worry me. The idea that 'Society owes us' seems arrogant to me, and utterly flawed. It speaks of class superiority and dull almost-feudal classism, which isn't particularly revolutionary. The assertion that the majority of humanity buzzed away achieving nothing; whilst these god-like entrepreneurs created everything seemed intensely offensive. My second reaction was ridicule; I hold the diametrically-opposed view that all progress and growth in society is directly the responsibility of the working class; who produce everything in all societies. The 'boss' who 'manages' seems unnecessary to me; and at worst, a parasite. He directly contributes nothing but the initial funding to purchase tools and the ilk to produce goods to sell; which he pays for using the profits from sold goods. All in all, even such a man were not leeching off a working class, the workers in his factory would themselves collectively be capable of purchasing tools, materials etc and running the factory. 

Secondly, the endorsement of laissez-faire Capitalism, which was prevalent in 1920's America. The idea that no Government should intervene in trading. This, again, baffles me. Whilst I am myself about as Liberal as it is possible to be socially, I see no reason that vast corporations should be able to act as they should; I utterly believe that without Government intervention they would be even more unethical than they are presently. The idea that laissez-faire capitalism makes anyone 'free' also bewilders me. Whilst 1% of the population may live in comfort and happiness, the 99% left over work for that 1% and without Union protection and entirely acquiesced to their will. No doubt this will lead to wage-cuts, longer hours and the ilk so as to allow the Company to compete with other companies, unless of course the company in question achieves a monopoly. Whilst currently governments take stands against monopolies under Objectivist philosophy they should not; allowing the company in question to deliver sub-standard service at extortionate prices. Complaining that such a situation is in any way outdated is foolish, because with the advent of globalisation the salve-workers simply live in India or China. Whilst you may enjoy a cushy Tertiary Industry job, they still slave away.

It may, initially, stop any measures detrimental to the success of business but will eventually lead to Monopolisation, and thus control on industry by other members of industry itself; choking new businesses and the entrepreneur with unassailable competition. Thus, I believe state or collective influence is necessary, either to protect ethical interests or safeguard the nature of a capitalist economy.

My third fear, is the hatred of Welfare, or any form of State or Anarchic Socialism. The belief is essentially that all inequality is the product of statism; which holds a monopoly on force and serves the interest of a ruling class. Giving the power of equality to the state is useless, as political inequality in the form of Dictatorship will soon arise. This is similar to many anarchist doctrines.

This is another thing that worries me; the assertion that anyone who does not have a job or cannot afford decent housing deserves it for not being quite as incredible as Ayn Rand and her followers. Needless to say, a lack of job opportunities cannot be corrected by any individual, so he must search for a job as much as he can and hope. In this period, I believe it essential that he receive welfare form a central authority or collective to keep him alive during this time. The Objectivist Policy of letting him hang is accentuated by their beliefs in a predator economy wherein businesses commonly go bust and thus jobs are commonly lost. Coupled with this is the assertion of the one Titan 'holding up the world' and him being only truly free by letting it fall. I would love to see the 'leaders of industry' survive without a working class to produce.

The idea that the working class is somehow dull, stoic and unimaginative is also rather offensive, but thats just plain old-fashioned classism.

Another major tenet of Objectivism is that the 'right to property' guarantees all other rights. I do not take that as truth. Not only do those with property ('leaders of industry') have to first remove property from a working class (and thus their freedom, according to Marx) to attain property, Fascists regimes like those of Mussolini and Hitler were incredibly repressive, and owning property did not make you exempt from death. Whilst it is insurance as it gives you a great deal of power, it is far from insurance of your freedoms, and requires you to take another man's.

I'll add to this when I have time. G'night.

Oh, would you look at that nice Can? What is that inside? OMFG WORMS.






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Offline Krakow Sam

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Re: Objectivism
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2008, 05:10:33 pm »
I think objectivism is about on a par with communism as a viable way to run a society. Its dandy in theory, but it makes assumptions about human nature which just don' hold true.
With communism its the assumption that people can be totally selfless with minimal motivation, with Objectivism its that people can be relied upon to direct their selfishness in a constructive manner, rather than an exploitative or destructive way.
Human nature doesn't conform to either extreme, neither docile selflessness, nor dispassionate selfishness.
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Offline Josasa

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Re: Objectivism
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2008, 05:40:44 pm »
Well said Krakow, and very interesting points Mr. C.

I must say that i agree with the Objectivist philosophy or at least prefer it over socialism or communism.

I believe that society does owe us, but i cannot see how you get class superiority from this. In reality both the working class and the upper classes need each other, and there is really no getting around that. There needs to be money from somewhere to actually supply the jobs and then there needs to be the people to fill the jobs. I think that calling the boss unnecessary isn't very true because, as you said, he does supply the money. And in the fairness of the business, it is his investment and therefore his right to take a larger sum of the profit.

I think that laissez-faire capitalism does make the people free. They have the right to choose where to apply for work and whether or not to accept the job offers they acquire. They also have the right to choose where they take their money and which companies to support. Through this system the company that provides the better service will, in most cases, triumph over the company that provides a weaker service. And while there are ways to go around this system, there is always the possibility of a new company being formed. Laissez-faire capitalism allows for growth and expansion as well as a strong ground from which to run a business.

I truly think that there will always be classes no matter what and there is really no way to put an end to that. Instead of trying to make the classes more fair, the ability to jump from class to class should be made easier, but this is just another dream that can never be achieved. The closest thing to it is to have a capitalistic economic system.

Also, those people that don't have jobs, don't have them for a reason. And that could be any number of reasons, but in most cases it is their own fault. But i also know that there are many cases where it is not a persons fault. In those cases, such as when a business goes under or is downsizing, or any of those reasons, there is nothing actually stopping that person from attaining a new job. Things should not be given to the people that don't deserve them (harsh i know, but it's something that i believe in).


Even after making all these statements, i do not support the full philosophy of Objectivism (same goes for communism). I think that the
'perfect' system lies somewhere in the middle, just a little closer to the Objectivist side... ;)

Offline Axelgear

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Re: Objectivism
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2008, 05:53:06 pm »
Actually, it might surprise you that I don't suggest objectivism as viable. I'm more Libertarian, which is a few steps away from that depending on how you push it. An objectivist might push for anarchy, a libertarian is willing to accept some government.

Now, on to the fun part of this: The debate  :)

You start by saying that "Rational Self-Interest". Well, personally, I agree that the concept is rather silly. I see hedonism as something acceptable, actually. Everyone who has the resources to be a hedonist has every right to be so, so long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others. If someone agrees to let you shoot them in the nads with a paintball and they get paid 100 dollars a shot, well... As long as you have the money, pull the trigger until it bores you. As long as it's your life, your property, and anyone else involved gives consent, I say oo-de-lally; go with it; get your share of satisfaction. Some may consider this use of money frivolous but if you earned it... Why not? Get the joy out of life that you can.

You might find that odd for someone like me to say but, what can I say, I like Oscar Wilde.

Now, on to the idea that "society owes us". Well, society, the world, and the people around you owe you bu**er all more than you pay into it. How interesting, though, that you say the things you do because there is a careful balance to be maintained. Everyone has a role to play, and the person at the top as much as anyone below. Society might move to the direction of those in power, but the cogs that keep it moving are just as vital, and any cog can easily shift the direction if it tries, or cause others to screech to a halt.

On to the idea of capitalism. Well, capitalism goes both ways, Consideration. You see, for every corporation allowed to do as it will, there is a labour union willing to oppose them. That is a key element people seem to forget. Governments may intervene on things that affect a great many people (I.E. Environmental regulation), but it's a key element to capitalism that workers and businesses maintain a balance of power. Capitalism is necessary for the formation of unions. Capitalism also makes everyone free to rise up or fall to the bottom based on luck and merit. As for monopolies, a company achieves a monopoly because, quite simply, they're the best. If someone makes a better, cheaper version, let them compete. If people like them more, they'll use them and create competition. That's how the world works and how capitalism works. Any other system is an artificial and poor one, as it enhances worse competitors and hinders better ones. And, for the record, the jobs companies provide in those countries (India especially) may pay less or have lower standards than ones in the Western world, but they pay much more than the local standard and far beat subsistence farming. Why do you think as soon as child labour was banned in places you hear of mass child starvation? It isn't pretty, but it keeps people alive.

Next is the hate of Welfare and Socialism. Well, to be honest, they have a point. Governments taking money by force from their citizens (As an anarchist has pointed out to me constantly, "At gunpoint") and redistributing it to other people who they deem more in need of it is something that is, quite arguably, wrong. As for states having a monopoly on force and giving them things to regulate equality, the former is true without equal (Honestly. Don't pay taxes, watch what happens. Or try and secede). The latter has been proven by things like affirmative action (Which leads to reverse racism), "speech codes" at Universities, and countless other measures that just turn into exercises in inanity. Governments trying to make people equal is generally a bad thing.

Next is the all-too-common assertion that those who cannot afford homes or get a job don't deserve it. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. The amount of people on welfare in my building alone is staggering, considering more than a few don't exist and are committing fraud but I digress. The truth of the matter is, if they don't have a job, there are charities to help. Want to help them? Help them. It doesn't make it right to force other people to do so. If I trip and fall, it's good and admirable to help me up, even if it was my fault. It's wrong to force someone else to do it with a threat of violence if they don't. That's a big part of the point Rand was making. The "leaders" need the working class and the working class need those who can organize them. It's how society works. I've not disagreed with that point.

The idea that the working class person is somehow lacking in initiative, though, is more a case of Rand's idea that, for any person to be truly free, they must ascend to the top of society. The person who is not indentured to their boss, living from paycheck to paycheck, is the true ruler of their domain. That's what Rand was trying to say. It's stupid but it's more clear a point, I would think.

Now, onto your disagreement to right to property. Here is where I agree greatly with Rand and disagree greatly with you. You own things. What you own is the products of your labour and yourself. Little else can truly be declared yours. You have the right to defend your property and therefore yourself, which is a key point Rand was making. Still, though, your assertion that those who are in power have to remove it from those below is flawed. If I buy a warehouse, some machines, and pay people to make things for me, they agreed to work for me for that salary and I make the profit by selling things. They agreed to labour for me for a wage that I provide and in exchange I get the products which I sell. Sure, if they got the money to buy their own warehouse, did it themselves, shared the profits, etc. they could make more money, but they didn't. They ARE free to do so, though, which is a part of capitalism. As for property ownership ensuring your freedoms, a key point is that you have to defend it, not just let them be taken. Hitler took away property, so did Stalin, both disarming their people as a key point to ensure that no-one could fight back should they start to realize just what he was planning (Warsaw uprising, anyone?). For the record, though, owning property doesn't mean TAKING someone else's in a capitalist system, it means buying it. You trade your wealth for something they have and use it to gain more wealth later. They agreed to it.

Lastly, I don't get it. Why a can of worms? Open a can of worms and you've got, what, a few worms here and there? What you really don't wanna do is open a can of bees...  ;)
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Offline Andrew Ryan

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Re: Objectivism
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2008, 05:56:33 pm »
I think objectivism is about on a par with communism as a viable way to run a society.
First off, the philosophy of Objectism hasn't yet been tested yet in a working governmental atmosphere so really this is premature judgement. Until this form of government has been tested like other philosophies (I.E. Communism in Russia) I safely think that it's anyones guess how such a society would turn out.

Its dandy in theory, but it makes assumptions about human nature which just don' hold true.
What assumptions? The assumptions that human beings won't be selfish or want to work for someone else's dream instead of their own? I'll tell you one thing, it's alot more practical than believing that human beings will be selfless and work for someone else's dreams. In it's morals and the way it treats the world, I believe objectivism is way more practical and fair than some of the other philosophies that have been cranked out over the years. But then again, it hasn't been tested yet in a society so really it's all just theory. So I reiterate, until someone creates an objectivist society that fails miserably I will believe in this way of thinking.  

Human nature doesn't conform to either extreme, neither docile selflessness, nor dispassionate selfishness.
Well while this maybe true, human nature also doesn't conform to any middle ground either. Really any philosophy is going to have it's flaws including objectivism. Objectivists flaws are that it assumes people will be rationally selfish and that people will not let themselves be run by their emotions or other people which we can plainly see is not always the case. But if run properly and taken loosely, any society can flourish under objectivism alot easier and longer than under other philosophies such as Fascism and Communism.  

P.S. HA! The editor doesn't even have the world "Objectivism" and "Objectivist" on it's spell checker! Such a shame.

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Offline Serdun

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Re: Objectivism
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2008, 07:36:51 pm »
The basic core principles of Objectivist Morality is 'Rational Self-Interest'. Which is to say, doings things which benefit you. People seldom seem to recognise these are the same ideas that most left-hand path religions adhere to, such as Satanism. The difference is that Objectivists reject 'Hedonism' as they believe is a threat to self-esteem and simply giving in to animal impulses, which is not what a sapient being should do, whereas Satanists assert that we too are animals and should behave only as such. Most Objectivist ideas are espoused in Ayn Rand's novel 'Atlas Shrugged', and her later works.

The idea is that in doing things that benefit oneself, one benefits society as a whole.

Quote from: Adam Smith
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

This doesn't always work out as hoped; the butcher, brewer, and baker aren't always small-town working types, but Oscar Meyer, Sam Adams, and Mr. Entenman. As Axelgear said, that's where worker's unions come in.

This scares me. Objectivist ideas, built upon the principles of self-interest worry me. The idea that 'Society owes us' seems arrogant to me, and utterly flawed. It speaks of class superiority and dull almost-feudal classism, which isn't particularly revolutionary. The assertion that the majority of humanity buzzed away achieving nothing; whilst these god-like entrepreneurs created everything seemed intensely offensive. My second reaction was ridicule; I hold the diametrically-opposed view that all progress and growth in society is directly the responsibility of the working class; who produce everything in all societies. The 'boss' who 'manages' seems unnecessary to me; and at worst, a parasite. He directly contributes nothing but the initial funding to purchase tools and the ilk to produce goods to sell; which he pays for using the profits from sold goods. All in all, even such a man were not leeching off a working class, the workers in his factory would themselves collectively be capable of purchasing tools, materials etc and running the factory. 

The modern-day stereotype of the 'boss' is harmful and parasitic, yes. However, Rand isn't espousing this; she's praising the people who create, inventors and artists. She even thinks favorably of workers who are talented and motivated, like the electrician Mike in The Fountainhead. Just because the workers produce things doesn't mean they create them.

Secondly, the endorsement of laissez-faire Capitalism, which was prevalent in 1920's America. The idea that no Government should intervene in trading. This, again, baffles me. Whilst I am myself about as Liberal as it is possible to be socially, I see no reason that vast corporations should be able to act as they should; I utterly believe that without Government intervention they would be even more unethical than they are presently. The idea that laissez-faire capitalism makes anyone 'free' also bewilders me. Whilst 1% of the population may live in comfort and happiness, the 99% left over work for that 1% and without Union protection and entirely acquiesced to their will. No doubt this will lead to wage-cuts, longer hours and the ilk so as to allow the Company to compete with other companies, unless of course the company in question achieves a monopoly. Whilst currently governments take stands against monopolies under Objectivist philosophy they should not; allowing the company in question to deliver sub-standard service at extortionate prices. Complaining that such a situation is in any way outdated is foolish, because with the advent of globalisation the salve-workers simply live in India or China. Whilst you may enjoy a cushy Tertiary Industry job, they still slave away.
Much of this I agree with. There's both strong logic and strong evidence behind the contention the government should regulate the economy- to what extent is more of a gray area. A society cannot allow a private enterprise to become more powerful than its government, which companies are prone to do if left to grow unchecked. Monopolies can exert an incredible amount of control over a chosen segment of a society, or even society as a whole. Another is that for capitalism to be successful, there must be competition. Entrepreneurs and  businessmen must always be striving to top one another, to offer a better service at a lower price so as to steal business from their competitors. Take away this constant struggle, and the economy and society will stagnate. This happens both with a culture with deeply embedded monopolies, or under a system of government like communism. Monopolies control economies completely, taking away the need for competition. As for communism, one refers back to Adam Smith; it's not from the benevolence of the inventor or entrepreneur that we are constantly provided with new goods and services, but from their own self-interest.


Thus, I believe state or collective influence is necessary, either to protect ethical interests or safeguard the nature of a capitalist economy.
Once again, I agree with your principle but not with the extent of regulation you often propose.


This is another thing that worries me; the assertion that anyone who does not have a job or cannot afford decent housing deserves it for not being quite as incredible as Ayn Rand and her followers. Needless to say, a lack of job opportunities cannot be corrected by any individual, so he must search for a job as much as he can and hope. In this period, I believe it essential that he receive welfare form a central authority or collective to keep him alive during this time.
Why must the welfare come from the state? Private citizens, if they are truly altruistic, should donate their own money voluntarily. And for all you anti-altruism Objectivists, think of it as donating in your own self-interest; you won't be able to produce your new shiny green metal or build your super-cool modernist building if all the people making these things have starved to death.


Coupled with this is the assertion of the one Titan 'holding up the world' and him being only truly free by letting it fall. I would love to see the 'leaders of industry' survive without a working class to produce.
Just as creators can't survive without workers to produce their creations, producers cannot survive without people creating things to produce. Of course, the two aren't mutually exclusive, as a working man can create and (though less often) a creator can produce, like the composer/orchestral violist Antonin Dvorak.

I pretty much agree with the rest of your post, so I'll stop here.  :)
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Offline Axelgear

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Re: Objectivism
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2008, 05:21:11 am »
Much of this I agree with. There's both strong logic and strong evidence behind the contention the government should regulate the economy- to what extent is more of a gray area. A society cannot allow a private enterprise to become more powerful than its government, which companies are prone to do if left to grow unchecked. Monopolies can exert an incredible amount of control over a chosen segment of a society, or even society as a whole. Another is that for capitalism to be successful, there must be competition. Entrepreneurs and  businessmen must always be striving to top one another, to offer a better service at a lower price so as to steal business from their competitors. Take away this constant struggle, and the economy and society will stagnate. This happens both with a culture with deeply embedded monopolies, or under a system of government like communism. Monopolies control economies completely, taking away the need for competition. As for communism, one refers back to Adam Smith; it's not from the benevolence of the inventor or entrepreneur that we are constantly provided with new goods and services, but from their own self-interest.

I agreed with you riiiight up until this point... The problem with this is, you're not specific in where a company would be more powerful. Still, if a company is, it's so because it has done so through the will of the people. Large numbers of people like it, large numbers of people buy from it, and so they grow in power. If an alternative is viable, they will succeed. If the alternative's owners are happy to sell to the more powerful company, it's their business and their right to sell, right? Competition is ensured if an alternative is able to be brought up. Capitalism is the enemy of monopolies as much as it is their friend. Microsoft gained a monopoly, or so it seemed, because it provided a good service efficiently and cheaply. Now, Apple has appeared. Apple isn't as savvy and is therefore only about 1-5% of the market share depending on who you ask, since it's more expensive and less compatible, so they're not doing as well. However, there IS an alternative. Apple would've appeared even if anti-trust law hadn't hampered Microsoft. Look at Coca Cola, most popular soft drink in the world, but there's an incredible amount of competitors.
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Offline Mr. Consideration

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Re: Objectivism
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2008, 11:08:49 am »
I'll respond to this thread in a while. Today hasn't been kind to me and I don't really feel it.....don't think I've forgotten.
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Offline Axelgear

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Re: Objectivism
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2008, 12:15:59 pm »
It's okay, take your time. We all have bad days. If I can help in any way, just PM me.
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Offline Werechicken

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Re: Objectivism
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2008, 02:00:07 pm »
I think objectivism would be alright if it wasn't for the nepotism and the generally favorable start in life for the children that comes from the success of the parent. If every child in every generation had the same starting point then yes, objectivism may work. However as this doesn't happen it would just be a way to further the class divide and remove the burden of actually having to begrudgingly support those of lower social class from the parasitic rich. (I'm no communist but I think at the very least you should work for your own damned money and not just leech from your families fortune).

Sure there are many self made people who started out in the gutter and became millionaires, but there's also many more idiotic rich brats who have, and will never, work a day in their lives thanks to mummy or daddy's (or maybe even great grandpa's) achievements.
What have you got against intellectual midgets? They're quite smart little guys as far as i can tell.

Offline Axelgear

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Re: Objectivism
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2008, 02:42:57 pm »
How are the rich parasites, though? If you accumulate wealth, it's yours to do with what you wish and that includes giving them to your children, whether they deserve it or not. It's not parasitic to use wealth you and your family have accumulated for whatever you choose, since you're only taking what people will give willingly in exchange for some or all of that wealth.

As for begrudgingly supporting those of the "lower class", I'm fine with charity. Give what you can, when you can. However, things like welfare ARE charity by force and it's certainly understandable WHY someone would begrudge that. It's amazing that you call taking from your family's fortune leeching, though, and say that welfare is somehow acceptable when it is, in fact, leeching from society as a whole. At the very least, your family gave you their fortune to take from and can stop if they don't feel like it.

As for the idiot brats, I don't like the Paris Hiltons of the world any more than you do but it doesn't mean you can take what's theirs by rights (If their parents choose to give them the money, it IS theirs because it is their parents who earned it and their parents to give it away) and give it to someone else just because you think they are (And they quite possibly might be) more deserving of it.
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Offline Werechicken

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Re: Objectivism
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2008, 01:27:42 am »
Then that's not really the spirit of objectivism then is it?

Those born to a poorer family could work their arses off for their entire lives and still be poor while someone who was born to rich parents doesn't have to work at all.

I thought objectivism was all about getting out exactly what you put in?
What have you got against intellectual midgets? They're quite smart little guys as far as i can tell.

Offline Axelgear

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Re: Objectivism
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2008, 05:26:10 am »
Actually, it's objectivist pretty clearly. A parent working, succeeding, and passing on their money to their children in no way contradicts objectivism. Some people get a better start in life, simply put, and some get a bad one. It's just how the world works. Still, objectivism would state that no matter how hard you work, you have to be intelligent and/or talented to rise to the top, just to clarify.

You get out what you put in, some people are just lucky to have parents who do so and love them..
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Offline Werechicken

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Re: Objectivism
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2008, 01:00:38 pm »
Then how would it be different from the system in use with the exception of a lack of well-fare system?

If that's the case then objectivism is just an excuse to create an even bigger class divide.
What have you got against intellectual midgets? They're quite smart little guys as far as i can tell.

Offline Axelgear

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Re: Objectivism
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2008, 01:22:00 pm »
I'm curious, what do you think would cause a larger class divide?

As for welfare, welfare can be solved by simply allowing an opt-out. You pay into the system, a record is kept, and if you lose your job, you get back what you put in. If you opt out, you don't pay into it and, if you lose your job... You're ****ed royally. The amount you pay into welfare is minimal, so it'd really just be a convenience. In terms of helping the mentally challenged and physically unable, it's... Well, a stickier issue. They're going to become a ward of the state eventually (They can't be left on the street, they're a threat to themselves and others there), and hence it's just a preemptive measure to prevent that from being necessary.
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