Happy New Year! The January Philosophy Book of the Month is The Runaway Species. Discuss it now.

The February Philosophy Book of the Month is The Fourth Age by Byron Reese (Nominated by RJG.)

Discussion of Liberty and Tyranny by Mark R. Levin

We choose one philosophical book per month to read. Then we discuss it as a group.

January 2019 Philosophy Book of the Month: The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World by David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt
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whitetrshsoldier
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Post by whitetrshsoldier » June 9th, 2009, 1:08 am

p.s. Scott and everyone else - I'll post my response to the book questions tomorrow - sorry for my delinquency, but I had a nice long weekend and a busy day today, so I'm trying to catch up. Thanks for the insights, though! I'm excited to get back to you all ...
"I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings! I'm obviously just insecure with the ineptitudes of my logic and rational faculties. Forgive me - I'm a "lost soul", blinded by my "ignorant belief" that there's such a thing as reality and truth in the world"

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Post by Nick_A » June 9th, 2009, 2:02 pm

Hi Scott
Nick_A, thanks for posting that interesting passage. I do see how a religious person could support freedom or other political policies based on the religious person's beliefs. But I do think a person can support freedom or other political policies without religion. In fact, I am a little worried about the person who only opposes infringing on my freedom because he believes a god says so; would he be willing to violate my freedom if he suddenly disbelieved in any gods and in his religion?


A person can support anything but we all must deal with our own hypocrisy. Water seeks its own level. What creates the societal mindset that produces what it does: its qualitiative level? Since we are as we are, everything is as it is. What it collectively is reveals what we are.

Simone is not referring to what any God said but rather the objective influence of "grace" on our potential for a greater human perspective that is able to live by a balance between obligations and rights. Without this influence, she asserts that society will be dominated by power and force rather than the balance between obligations and rights that is essential for a healthy free society. I believe she is right.
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace

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Post by Juice » June 9th, 2009, 2:41 pm

What Levin is trying to impress upon readers is that the premises which contributed to the ideas expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution are founded upon Judeo-Christian principles. That other religious doctrines echo or disregard those principles is not relevant. The founders attempted to create a lasting formula to protect individual rights and freedoms based on Judeo-Christian ethics and in part through the writings of John Locke (property rights), Plato, and Aristotle (democracy). I know that many will argue that the Constitution leans heavily in favor of the rich or business class but has in its contract provisions to expand or compliment the basic principles and ideologies of unalienable rights, endowed by a creator, to freedom and the pursuit of happiness. See chapters 3 & 4.

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Post by whitetrshsoldier » June 9th, 2009, 9:16 pm

Thanks again for selecting this book, Scott. I have some comments about the final few chapters as well, but I wanted to respond to your questions for me first.
Scott wrote:Regarding the financial bankruptcy of social security, it is a problem that needs to be fixed; and it is a horrible scam insofar as people are forced to pay into it when young and do not receive their benefits when old. But what can be done to repair social security and stop it from going bankrupt--or will it balance out once the baby boomers stop collecting? If we wish to denounce the entire social security system even if we can stop it from going bankrupt, what other way can we ensure that the elderly do not go poor? And the same goes to medicare and medicaid.
Privitization, but not in the commonly defined sense. I agree with you that we can't trust individuals to plan for themselves, although I'm sad to admit/concede this. The reality is that we must 'encourage' people to invest their money by offering tax-free incentives, almost like FSAs. Not sure if you're familiar with these, but it's basically a way you can deduct money from your paycheck each month prior to taxation for application towards medical care only. I think the same thing would be practical to replace SS if applied towards savings. Instead, though, I would prefer long-term savings accounts or investments only [i.e. no stocks or short term CDs]. Those who choose not to invest? I hate to sound unconcerned, or 'uncompassionate', but I'm sorry. If you don't take care of yourself, like feed yourself or house yourself, I can't help you. You can turn to your family, friends, or local community and hopefully they can help. But it's not my fault, and I can't afford to fix everybody's problems. Contrary to what many believe, I'm not a rich man :(
Scott wrote:In regards to medicaid, I also cannot support allowing somebody to "break and enter" and to get the benefits of the coverage without paying the dues; that's stealing the dues. I support treating these people as thieves, making them repay what they stole and perhaps charging them criminally which can result in incarceration or fines. But I do not think that is not a flaw of medicaid as much as it is a flaw of immigration policy, tax policy and the enforcement thereof. I do not think we need to abolish or drastically reform medicaid for this reason anymore than we would close a grocery store for the reason that someone broke the law and stole products from the grocery store.
I agree that it is a major flaw of immigration policy, but it is definitely an issue that medicaid needs to iron out as well. As far as the medicaid system itself, I once again disagree with my obligation to provide health care for others. I believe that those who need health care and cannot personally afford it can voluntarily participate in a health care program. When a large number of people engage in this program, the premiums taken in [while not a large amount from each individual] can offset the amount spent on care. Insurance companies exist because they make money, and premiums (I've come to find) are affordable if you're willing to find a plan that fits. Just because they're poor doesn't mean they're less healthy, although this is the fear tactic that the statist [or proponent] will use.

Once again, I just can't bring myself to fathom how I can be responsible for the care of others when they refuse to care for themselves. I'd imagine that there are situations which would call for some help; but why couldn't that help be provided in a manner other than taking money from me, or with more discretion than just handing out healthcare to most who apply, for all reasons, including non-emergency services?

Here's where I the frustration that brings me to verge of a breakdown, Scott; last year I earned X [don't you all wish I would tell you what X was?]. S=Social Security (6%), M=Medicare (1.5%), F=Federal Income (16.71%), I=State Income (9.3%).

X - (S+M+F+I) = Y. Now keep in mind, I made much, much, much less than $100,000 last year. Doesn't sound too bad, right? I "get" to keep Y - 66.49% of my money. Here's the problem. Then I had to pay property taxes on my house. There goes another 1.2%. Then sales tax on everything I bought. Tack on another 8.75% on each purchase. Add gas taxes (federal 18c/g + state 18c/g = 36c/g total for me in CA) on and I'll make a low-ball estimate of 2%, easily. Now add additional taxes on services [gas & electric, phone, trash, etc], and taxes on your car, and so-called "Green Taxes" on electronics for 'recycling fees', etc, etc, etc ..........

I can keep going, but you get my point. I understand that these percentages aren't all proportionately representative of my income; in fact, some [like sales tax] are worse, because they are deducted directly from the raw purchase price and not my reduced Adjusted Gross Income [or net income]. By the time the government's done with me, I barely have money to afford my living expenses, let alone my own health care. And what happens if I can't? Then I'm driven to medicare/medicaid myself, which completes the cycle, further bankrupting the system.

This is what Levin means when he says that we can't further enable the dependent mentality of the statist-brainwashed individual. We simply can't afford it. I know I can't, and I'm guessing that some of you might be able to sympathize.
Scott wrote:Regarding your comments on the environment, whitetrshsoldier, I again think we agree fundamentally. I think Levin, you and I all would all support using force to stop one person or group of people from polluting the environment in a way that causes harm to other people (or their property), right? As for particular, specific issues such as whether or not one specific corporation's activities are hurting our environment or exactly how much we need to limit one person or group's pollution requires a specific analysis of that specific case, as I outlined in my article Public Health - A Gray Issue in Political Philosophy, which for that matter can apply to issues of public health, public safety, the environment, national security threats, terrorism, etc.
I agree in a extended sense. One would have to prove the harm first, and environmentally, that is difficult to do. Would you agree that environmentalists have attempted to, and have, prosecuted others too quickly and with too little scientific data to support their claims in the past? Consider DDT or CFC, when environmental activists have outlawed chemicals because of their 'damaging' potential. If, instead of just banning these substances, had we used force against the people using them, how much damage could we have caused? Outlawing DDT alone killed millions. But how much worse could it have been if we destroyed the factories and/or applied force to the individuals making the chemical? It would have been looked at in retrospect, with our current knowledge, as an atrocity.

So yes, I think we could all agree on that, if environmental damage could be proven beyond an absolute doubt. But as I said, that would probably take an extended study, and most likely by the time the studies were done to prove the cause of the damage, liability and civil force would most likely be more applicable. Just an assumption, though; force could still be theoretically applied if necessary.
Scott wrote:As for the scientific issue of whether mankind's activity is causing our climate to warm, I think it is but that is a factual disagreement and one that I do not think we need to sort out at this time. To me, this is analogous to agreeing to oppose murder but disagreeing about whether or not the defendant in a single murder case is guilty.

I hate to say it, and I mean this with all due respect, but analogies suck, Scott ;). I don't think we can equate 'opposing global warming' to 'opposing murder'. Murder requires a transgressor to commit the act, and global warming does not. It is a natural, cyclical event that will occur regardless of man's activities. Our contributions to the atmosphere are miniscule to the Earth, and do not impact the climate significantly enough to affect global temperatures in any way. I will end my pitch here [I'll push myself off the soap-box], but I do encourage all interested to check out the debate on the issue of Global Warming, The New Tyranny.
"I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings! I'm obviously just insecure with the ineptitudes of my logic and rational faculties. Forgive me - I'm a "lost soul", blinded by my "ignorant belief" that there's such a thing as reality and truth in the world"

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Post by Dewey » June 10th, 2009, 2:32 am

Whitetrshsoldier, your bitterness toward the Social Security Program is understandable. I and the other oldsters paid in at yesterday’s low rates and are drawing out at today’s high rates – making out like bandits. You youngsters are paying in at those high rates and are not even sure you will be able to recover your invest
ment – “victims of statism”.

Nevertheless, I think, you overreact when you urge us to throw SS out. As one supporter has said: “There’s nothing inherently wrong with it. Everyone pays a payroll tax which earns them the right to get benefits when they retire (or are disabled). Those with higher wages who’ve paid more tax get higher benefits.“ And it’s a low-cost system. Administration costs are only 1% of expenditures.

The projected Trust Funds deficit, serious as it is, can be resolved. A broad array of adjustment methods are available, including some that could redress your particular problems.

You dislike welfare programs, and I'm not crazy about them either.. If we want to prevent them from doubling or tripling in size, we had better support the continuence of SS.

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Post by whitetrshsoldier » June 10th, 2009, 4:12 am

Dewey,

I contend that we should free ourselves from the lackadaisical standards applied to any and all social welfare programs. The reason may be a personal one; I am qualified to pull from SS on disability right now, but I cannot see how that is at all justified. In fact, it terrifies me.

I also qualify for such a large number of other benefits as a disabled vet that I am disgusted and horrified. If people were aware of how badly I could abuse the system if I wanted to, they might feel the same.

I understand the argument for the need of certain programs, but I disagree with the liberal dispersion of benefits that these programs allow for. If the programs were more conservative in their application, I think I may feel more confident; but the statist, and the natural human tendency for empathy, will constantly have us moving further towards leniency.

This is where I have to draw the line. Unfortunately, I don't see a program existing where it's guidelines are firmly drawn for us. Until they are, I can't agree with their existence.
"I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings! I'm obviously just insecure with the ineptitudes of my logic and rational faculties. Forgive me - I'm a "lost soul", blinded by my "ignorant belief" that there's such a thing as reality and truth in the world"

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Post by Juice » June 10th, 2009, 10:38 pm

Whitetrshsoldier- Thank You for your service. God Bless You.

The fundamental premise here is what exactly is the role of government? There are several approaches from which this can be debated, but seeing as this is a discussion concerning Levin’s book and what he sees as a drastic change in the ideological principles of the founding fathers as set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution then I feel free to suggest that any intrusion into the lives of every free American by the government does not serve the individual but serves the machinations of government. And, all its elected cronies who believe that the Constitution is set of negative principles and policy, meant to give control to government at the expense of its people.

In so far as SS and any other government imposed “social” program is concerned, which gives the impression of serving the people, can be seen as an infringement of my rights. As with SS I have no say in how that money will serve me best or when it will serve me best. As we can see the legal retirement age continues to advance on the pretext that people are living longer. It is obvious that the government employs actuaries, just like insurance companies and advertisers, in order to serve its own best interest when I should be the sole decider of what is in my best interest, as long as those decisions do not infringe on anyone else’s interests or rights.

The current irrational concept under consideration is the need for government imposed health care. I don’t know if anyone is aware of the fact that there currently exist clinics on the American side of the Canadian border which provide services, on a cash basis, which are either hard to get or non-existent in the Canadian social health care system. How are we to assess a US system which will impose further governmental levies on wages and the products of individual labor which will, in all likelihood, cause the same drastic depletion of services that exist across our border and across the pond, and stifle innovation and concerns over life or death? England is nearly bankrupt as a result of its radical socialization although their ideologies are not as draconian as some other places. In the state of Oregon, which has a social health care system, people are being denied care in lieu of assisted suicide, which is sadly allowed. The once great state of California is bankrupt as a result of socialization and is currently considering eliminating all its social welfare programs. Recent elections in Europe have resulted in more conservative candidates being elected.

Currently 58% of Americans consider their Health Care Policies adequate.

As far as “fixing” the health care system may I suggest that when I need to see my doctor on a routine visit that he just give me the bill? Notice that there is no discussion concerning dentists. I have dental insurance which, according to my dentist, is never adequate enough to cover some procedures for which I pay the difference out of pocket. I happen to think dentists are the rip-off artist and my dentist agrees laughingly as I hand over the money. I believe that some sort of catastrophic insurance is necessary if I should ever find myself in need of some major surgery or hospitalization, but please give me a break when I have a hang nail or some other non life threatening boo-boo.
I am going to put it out there but I firmly believe Obama has got to go before he turns this country into Zimbabwe. I have children whom I fully expect to do better than me. I don’t think that will be possible in Obamaland.

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