IamBalSimon

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About IamBalSimon

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    Bal Simon
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  1. My views exactly. The idiot was pond scum. But he has a First Am right to burn a flag. But private citizens have a First Am right to shun him and make his life a living hell (to the fullest extent of the law). - Bal
  2. Until we remove the most unpatriotic POTUS to ever serve, Americans' Constitutional rights will continue to be trampled. Even if the Supreme Court overturns this, I expect the march of soft tyranny to continue unabated. - Bal
  3. Of course, war is not the main thrust of my opener, but a consequence of what happens when rationality and/or good faith break down to the point that bullets form the medium of communication. And I would suggest that not all wars are equal; nor are the participants to wars to be automatically vilified, unless we are going to vilify men, since women have mainly been the victims and the spoils of war rather than direct participants. In terms of factors, is anyone suggesting we place the human Y chromosome on the major list of evolutionary villains, and perhaps the main components of irrationality? - Bal
  4. The word she used was "religious," not "civil." --Brant Mike and Brant - I don't know what Rand wrote. Googling didn't produce a quote that seems on point. But leaving Rand at the side of the road, let's look at this on it's merits. Questions: Was Hitler's war (12 million+ killed) a religious war? Was Stalin's reign of terror (23 million+ killed) based on religion? How about Mao's takeover of China (50 million+ killed)? Never mind Pol Pot or Kim Il Sung. I think religious conflicts pale by comparison, or am I missing something? - Bal
  5. Adam - thank you for your response. And thank you for the challenge. The problem is that your downstream could be my upstream. From what I remember in my history classes, the upstream people often didn't give a rip about the people downstream from them. While there may have been some contracts between towns, it took "government intrusion" to "fix" it on a large scale. This is one of the core functions of a democratic republic and civil society. Supposedly rational people, without the agreement to have government and courts take control of the commons tend to not care about what happens downstream from them. And downstream isn't limited to waterways. You have corporations willing to belch smoke and smog pollutants into the air. "Perfectly rational" if the only thing a business person cares about is making money. ("My only interest is making money" was a line said by Hank Rearden in the movie Atlas Shrugged. I don't recall offhand if he said that in the book.) The commons have historically not been of interest to people who want total laissez faire. For the record: I want a society/culture with robust laissez faire, moderated by core functions of a government consented to and overseen by the people who are moderated (governed). I will agree with you if a good faith, responsible, limited core government is included in your meaning of "culture." Indeed, you are correct. But I can't think of any organizational structure, private sector or public, that can make rational decisions if it is steeped with political correctness, anti-corporatism, and socialist/communist fools who can't process scientific data with any kind of intelligence. Modernly, large American corporations can - and are - riddled with PC fools and socialists too. I've seen this first hand from the inside of some corporations whose names you'd recognize if I mentioned them. I'm almost positive that all major American corporations suffer these idiots. Somehow, I was lucky and missed "diversity training" through all of my adventures in corporate America. But just the stench of it was enough to irritate me. Right - that's what I mean and should have looked up. But again - it is government that influenced and continues to influence the commons based on long term views; based on the kind of society we as a people want. I want a powerful, but limited government because it can be a force for good. Historically, it has been a force for good in America - especially taking the long view. BTW - that is a cool government web page you pointed me to. Thanks! I would modify what you say here. An armed citizenry in the context of a society already made safer by a good faith, sane, and robust police force is better than a citizenry that has been neutered. But that is different from an armed citizenry that does not have such a police force protecting the commons, which was typical of frontier towns in the 'Old West." In my view, as you reduce the good faith, the sanity and the power of a police force, you move closer to the Old West "feral" society, which wasn't all that safe. If "we" includes the government functions as I discuss here, I can't argue with this statement at all.
  6. Mike, William and Adam, I appreciate the thoughtful replies. Here are my responses. Mike - I can't disagree with anything you wrote. I am especially "shocked into recognition" for the umpteenth time by what you wrote here: "And think hard about the people you know here and on other Oist boards. Anyone who advocates nuking Teheran will have no problem justifying their defensive first strike against you for something you had no idea was so important to them." So true! There are many liberals and people who "believe things" that I do not, yet who I get on with wonderfully. And there are people who supposedly share my views, and I can't stand being within a hundred miles of them (and vice-versa). And you are also accurate about the need for inputs, although the bigger and more varied (I won't use the word diverse as it's been co-opted by the Left) the playing field, the more robust and self-sufficient a "community" can be, which is why it is easier for America to be self-sufficient than, say the much more geographically homogenous and insular Britain. (Of course, if this were all that counted, Russia and China would be even more self-sufficient than America; so politics, technology, culture, etc. figure into the game, too. And yet... I am not yet ready to give up on my idea. I put it up as a thought experiment to be explored. And attacked - as it should be attacked to show its weaknesses. As long as the conversation remains civil (so far it has), I welcome robust disagreements. Who knows? Maybe a workable idea could emerge. I tend toward optimism because I find pessimism all too boring. Very easy to just give up and say chuck it all. I would not be hanging out here if I felt that way. Also - thank you very much (you don't know how much I appreciate it) for pointing me to MacCallum's Art of the Community and Conway's Game of Life. I have them now on my reading list. If they help flesh out some of my "possibility-probability-allowability" thinking, that is a very good thing indeed. ------------------------- William - I think I made it pretty clear that I only really know America (and not nearly as well as I think I should). I don't know Canada; would not presume to say how Canadians view their society. I do know that one of the two times I was up there, I needed a little medical treatment, and promptly received it; covered by my American insurance. That was back in the late 1990s; I don't know if/how things have changed since then, though I do hear about people living in Canada coming to America for the purpose of getting medical care, just as I know people in America go to Canada to buy their pharmaceuticals a bit cheaper. BTW, sometime in the next 12-18 months, my wife and I will be trekking up your way. It would be good to meet you. ------------------------- Adam - I think that your comments would also benefit from some exploring if you're up for it. Paraphrasing, I think you said that I had presumed that the treatment of the Commons was a tragedy without making the case. Would that be an accurate interpretation? You then wrote: "Seems that society, industrialization and productive growth and individual freedom grew without a "commons" that required any judgmental determination as to success or failure." My reading of history is quite different. The Commons would be like the old wild west without the moderating force of Government and laws. Our Governments control the common areas of our society. In a democratic republic like America, we have delegated our personal sovereignty to the various governments for the benefit of the long view and the common good. People have viewed this mainly as being in their own best interests, and that continues today. We use the word "legitimacy" to mean that the Government is serving the long view and the common areas in a ways we don't find egregious enough to re-assert our personal sovereignty and take down the government. (Lots of feedback snarls in that, so the system is quite self-perpetuating, and this forms a major source of abuse by Government officials and bureaucrats who believe they can act with impunity. But there are limits. The Tea Parties in 2009 and 2010 were just the bare exposing of these limits.) Consider Government agencies like OSHA which was largely responsible for the very good thing of wiping out abusive child labor in the earlier part of America's history. Consider how Government serves as a counter to abusive businesses that grow so big that they begin to act like governments. Company towns were notorious for abusing the commons. Consider water laws that are now in place because private parties, who believed (wrongly, I'd say) that they had no personal stakes in the long view, and who couldn't be bothered with the ripple effects of their actions upon the Commons. They would drop poisonous sludge into rivers, leaving it for towns downstream to deal with. Sanitation laws arose in part because of the bad neighbors who acted as if the Commons meant nothing. This is why it's called a "tragedy." Not because the acts of people affect others adversely; though that's certainly true. We use words like abuse and atrocity when discussing negative impacts a person has on someone else. No - the word tragedy fits because so many people cannot see that the kind of society they create for themselves, their spouses, their kids, and their friends - for all who they care about - is itself something that they would not like. They are blind to their own "contribution" to the tragedy. I know I've been longish here. Apologies, but one more closing consideration: Why have police and not just arm everyone with guns? It's been tried in times past and found wanting. Too many people being shot (families being ruined) because the "easy" solution was a gunfight instead of a law suit. People these days, in most places, prefer to walk around without guns showing, and delegate the responsibility of maintaining the peace (of the Commons, as well as their persons and property), and accept that law suits are a necessary byproduct of this decision. - Bal
  7. Thank you Ba'al. I infer this to mean you enjoy our conversation; me too.

  8. I think a variety of small-town sized, planned pilot efforts (this goes beyond "studies") could move the ball forward, if just a little bit. They would form their own charters, have their own internal agreements, much like countries and states (at least in America) do now. I don't know how independent and "sovereign" states/provinces are in countries like Canada, Australia, etc. But I'd imagine the economies of scale would grant some degree of independence. If located within the USA, they would surely have to comport with United States laws, federal, state, local, etc., so the efforts could not be "pure." But perhaps there is still enough liberty within the American structure to allow ideas like this to be tried. If the enclaves did not incorporate (i.e., become legal cities within one of the 50 states, then there would be rules and contracts rather than laws. The rules would obviously be set by the founders and then modified as the membership changed and as these gated communities evolved. An interesting question would arise when children would be brought into the picture. Federal and state laws require them to be educated per approved curricula. There is room for experimentation as evidenced by home schools, but certainly the State would be penetrating into the community and people would have to live within the confines of the laws. I am not proposing a David Koresh, Waco TX compound, nut-job kind of system that's ready to go to war with the FBI, the ATF, or any of the other societal "white corpuscles." I am looking for as many win-win-win-...win plays as possible - for as many people as possible. I am not Pollyanna about this. I believe that more of the experiments will likely fail than succeed. But each failure could be evaluated for reasons why and lessons learned could be applied to new experiments and when something is found to truly work, then that could be voluntarily incorporated into the more successful gated communities. - Bal
  9. One Ba'al to another Bal. This is precisely what we have now. A Mixed Economy is a mutt economy. Ba'al Chatzaf And as one Bal to another Ba'al - Agreed. Unfortunately, for a long while the country is likely going to grow "muttlier," with intensified movement toward socialism. But at some point, there may be enough pain that people begin waking up. This happened to some extent with the rising up of Tea Party movement; it would nice to see it accelerate. I think there is a race on between the level of pain we feel and the speed at which we become a stupider society. At some point stupidity *can* make the pain permanent. This is what was at play in Atlas and is likely the reason that I feel like I'm reading a variation of Atlas when I read today's news stories. But I don't think we're there yet, and I have a romanticized and surprisingly strong faith in the American Pendulum created by the Founding Fathers with their Constitution and the checks and balances included in it. Nothing is inevitable. Pain or pleasure; socialism or capitalism. There will always be a mix. May the The Founders' Pendulum continue to swing. - Bal
  10. Hey Peter, I get the view that holds that America is doomed. As a nation, America has swung so far to the Left that we could establish a Left Pole, where any movement from it would be toward the right. And I think we'd agree that political correctness makes truthful public diagnosis difficult at best. Add to this the overbearing IRS, TSA, DHS, etc. and it would seem to require effort that is more than heroic to change society for the better in any significant way, which is why I thought of pilot projects. As I wrote the opening post I thought of communes, which seem more like socialist enclaves than Galts Gulch. But what if a semi-closed capitalist "gated community" based on Objectivist/Libertarian principles was established? What if, just to enter the community even as a visitor, you had to swear John Galt's oath: I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for the sake of mine. In such a community, I would think that the long view and ripple effects of one's actions that affect the community as a whole have bearing on each member's self-interest, and so social structures could be established and agreed upon without requiring highly granulated agreements for every little thing. A form of long-view "reasonableness" could be established. And if the principles were sound, then that community ought to be able to thrive. I'm not saying you're wrong or that I'm right. I am saying that if your view is the only way to see this, and that there are no more cards to be played; that America is truly doomed and all is lost, then in the coming apocalypse, none of this matters. It will be your elephant gun and "might makes right" that will result. A few days water won't be nearly enough. You'd need your own insular water supply or one protected by warlord who you'd either be or work for - at one or the other end of a gun. I can't go there with you yet. I see 2012 as a reason for hope. I see the Tea Party - if it continues as a movement and does not become a political party - as another reason for hope. And as bad as socialism is, I think it still is far superior to raw anarchy or warlordism. If we end up with a kind of hybrid socialist/capitalist mutt of a country, I think people will still be able to live relatively peaceable lives, have families, raise their kids, etc. It won't be good; it won't work well; and people will find their lives severely downgraded. But not as downgraded as we'd be under an apocalyptic end. - Bal
  11. You are a smart fellow.

  12. Hey David, It's on my list. Thanks. - Bal
  13. I begin with a couple of postulates: 1 - Most people don't understand liberty and contractual agreements. 2 - Most people don't rationally evaluate the phrase "self-interest" to include long-range and ripple effects that can lead to outcomes that they themselves would not choose. If the above postulates are valid, and I believe they are, then perhaps it would be helpful for Objectivists to explore Garrett Hardin's construct: Tragedy of the Commons (TOTC) (described at Wikipedia here). Searching the OL forum, I have seen this referred to a few times (mainly by Brant, and once by me), but so far, have not found an exploration in depth. It seems to me that if we are to ever have a "free society," we will have to go from where we are today (on the verge of a very nasty socialism) through one or more transitional societal configurations where eventually we are free in the O-ist/Libertrarian sense of the word. But that effort is fraught with hazard, in large part from the TOTC. Right now, government is the main (and somewhat dysfunctional) guarantor of the long term view. Publicly traded corporations are held hostage to the quarterly bottom line because investors correctly believe that anything else will subject their money to government mischief, if not outright malfeasance. People go to national parks and litter because cleaning up "isn't their problem," and then they wonder why the parks aren't as pristine as they may have once been. "Short term self-interest based logic" seems to be rampant, and makes things worse than they need to be. There are some people who seem to thrive on sticking it to others. There are others who do look at the long view, but then see the boors, bullies, and savages amongst us and wonder if it's all a lost cause. I personally have been in the latter camp. I sometimes have to struggle with great difficulty to not allow negativity to be my final word on a subject. Has anyone looked for, or even discovered/developed, ways to move our current society to one where liberty is truly valued, where the long view is seen as important as the short run, where where people acknowledge ripple effects and try to deal with them so as to keep the game going pleasantly and productively? Do you think such a transitional state might be able to begin as a kind of pilot project? A project where outsiders see the fruitful results and say, of their own accord, "Hey - that's what I also want! How do I participate?" - Bal
  14. Hey William, My participation was with a forum that was a listserve back in the 90s. Overall, I had an enjoyable time. The people in that forum ran the gamut. People who loved the exploration of ideas, implications and extensions more than any particular conclusion or line of thought. People who seemed to operate on the principle that Alfred Korzybski was THE AUTHORITY on GS. Well, technically speaking, he was; much the way that I am the authority of BalSimonism. It was his baby; his creation; who could know it better than him? But from the standpoint of one's own participation, having an authority figure in a field like GS seems kind of strange. You can certainly have teachers; you can have people you respect, love and venerate. But I don't see how you ever get to the point of letting anyone stand in for the responsibility of thinking for yourself. I find the same kind of dynamic here in Objectivist land; it would seem very odd to me for someone to say that Rand is an "authority" that has greater command over your life than your own responsibility to think for yourself. That's also the reason that some of the discussions here about people *wanting* to assume the mantle of being Rand's "intellectual heir" seem odd to me. If I recall, there was some of that in the G.S. world, too; with some people calling others the intellectual heir of Korzybski. But unlike in O-land, GSrs never made a big deal about it; and I don't recall anyone claiming such a status for himself or herself. It was always something suggested by others about someone deservedly well respected. GS does (or at least did) have it's orthodoxy defenders. I suspect this will be true in most human endeavors. I recall a college professor telling me over coffee that breakthroughs happened in science when the old scientists died away and made room for the new blood. If that's true in something like physics, where I would expect "objectivity" and "dispassion" to be strongest, I guess it's going to be true most everywhere. Typically, those most resistant to change also seem to be those with the greatest stakes in the organizational structures. And there's probably a legitimate reason of sorts for that; the promotion of the organization might well seem to need a defense of the "original doctrine." That's one of the reasons I find it nearly impossible to be a joiner. But it takes all kinds to make this world work. Without the orthodoxy-laden people, the organizations might cease to exist; and the engagement of new blood might very well flounder. Maybe orthodoxies - if they don't become overbearing hogties - serve a real purpose and provide real value. - Bal