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No.

Quite so.. Whatever one is forced to pay for, one is entitled to have.

I have no problem depositing my social security check.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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But suppose that one receives from the state more than one pays? For example, a student in a public university that plans to move to another country.

Does he have a right for that?

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But suppose that one receives from the state more than one pays? For example, a student in a public university that plans to move to another country.

Does he have a right for that?

No.

How are you using the word "right?"

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Samr,

I suggest that you focus on the replies in your first two threads before you initiate any more new threads. You may be perfectly legit, but the proliferation of new threads by a newbie is a common characteristic of trolls. If you are seriously interested in the two issues that you raised earlier, they should keep you busy for a while.

In addition, your profile page gives no personal information at all, not even a last name. I am getting suspicious....

Ghs

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I dodged the military draft in Israel, and am reconsidering it now.

I do depend on the military protection, it seems to be a fact. Nevertheless, I don't think that a military draft is right.

I am a bit stuck in the dilemma - on one hand, I wouldn't want me, or anyone to be recruited to the army against his wishes. On the other hand, dismissing it in a day would be disasterous.

So I cannot see how can I (1) avoid being a free rider (2) apply Kant's categorical imperative in any meaningful way to this situation. It leads to a contradiction.

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I dodged the military draft in Israel, and am reconsidering it now. I do depend on the military protection, it seems to be a fact. Nevertheless, I don't think that a military draft is right. I am a bit stuck in the dilemma - on one hand, I wouldn't want me, or anyone to be recruited to the army against his wishes. On the other hand, dismissing it in a day would be disasterous. So I cannot see how can I (1) avoid being a free rider (2) apply Kant's categorical imperative in any meaningful way to this situation. It leads to a contradiction.

samr,

I don't think the draft is right, either. It is completely immoral - but, I will invoke good old Objectivist context, and point out what you already know: Israel would not survive long without a large standing army, confronted by potentially far superior numbers of enemies. You have a difficult decision, with two high values at stake, and I don't envy you the choice.

(My maternal family is Israeli, and I know that some of my cousins opted to leave after basic training, for the US, mainly. I can't blame them.)

It may be that your moral dilemma is resolved by intersection - that your life, and the survival of Israel, come down to the same thing. But that 's only one possibility.

Tony

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... So I cannot see how can I (1) avoid being a free rider (2) apply Kant's categorical imperative in any meaningful way to this situation. It leads to a contradiction.

1. If you cannot avoid being a free rider, then you cannot. Case in point, back about 1987 or so, to launch a new public transportation system here in Austin, a city sales tax generated revenue, and the buses were free. You could not avoid being a free rider if you took the bus. Neither can you avoid sales tax. You are not responsible for your circumstances in those case. (A contrary case could be made. See How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne. You are always free to choose, if you are willing to pay the price.)

2. The problem with Kant's categorical imperative is that it is contrary to reality, both against reason and experience. Absolutism is not objectivism. And while Objectivism recognizes the existence of metaphysical absolutes, Objectivism is not an absolutist philosophy. You cannot choose a proper course of action based on Kant's ethics.

Do you think that an anarchist has an obligation not to use any of the government's services?

I agree with Adam Selene above, simply. That said, though, it depends on many considerations. I am not sure what you mean by "anarchist." Like "God" it is the kind of label you need to define in order to let other people what you mean by what you say. A "minarchist" could face many of the same dilemmas: use the public streets? use the post office? use the parks?

A case can be made that you are better off avoiding negative situations.

  1. Here in the USA, a credit union is usually a better choice than a bank. As a depositor with a credit union, you are a voting member. You do not get that with a bank, for instance. Banks are heavily regulated and deeply enmeshed in the regulated investment markets. Credit unions are more constrained and so engage in less of that and more in direct loans at interest to individuals (cars and homes, typically).
  2. The same arguments apply to public education versus private. You are generally better off - cost versus benefit - at a private school. It could be said that you are being taxed for the public schools, so you might as well go. But, on the other hand, you get what you pay for.
  3. If you were an accountant (engineer, teacher, etc.), you could work for the government, or go into the private sector. Government employment offers guarantees, but which has the better opportunities?

So, the private option is usually the better investment. There is a unity than cannot be avoided and which can be capitalized upon. So, if you value your freedom, you will take the options that reflect that. You may not avoid all government, but avoiding as much as possible is generally a good strategy.

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Well, thanks Michael, and whyNOT. Though I am unsure that it is just, I am not going to reenlist. Unfortunate choice, and perhaps in some way evading from my own mind, but the best I can do right now. I am not going to serve in a country in which some population was against the release of Gilad Shalit for the price of releasing terrorists. (This reasoning, by them, seems to me extremely selfish. They ARE going to send him to fight for them, but not going to pay a risk for releasing them. That's just horrible. Rand or not Rand, selfish it is. Call it another name if you want, I don't care.). Michael, what do you mean by a metaphysical absolute without an absolutist philosophy?

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Well, thanks Michael, and whyNOT. Though I am unsure that it is just, I am not going to reenlist. Unfortunate choice, and perhaps in some way evading from my own mind, but the best I can do right now. I am not going to serve in a country in which some population was against the release of Gilad Shalit for the price of releasing terrorists. (This reasoning, by them, seems to me extremely selfish. They ARE going to send him to fight for them, but not going to pay a risk for releasing them. That's just horrible. Rand or not Rand, selfish it is. Call it another name if you want, I don't care.). Michael, what do you mean by a metaphysical absolute without an absolutist philosophy?

Great decision, I think, in your context. Apparently though, there is reluctance (guilt?) on your part, in making a life-affirming moral choice. Once made, I believe you should carry it with self-esteem, if you don't mind me advising.

That you justify this with the attitude of "some of the population" against buying Shalit's freedom rings a little hollow, however, and may be rationalizing. After all, the majority are for the deal, and the government is definitely going ahead.

I heard recently that there are moves afoot (in the Knesset?) to allow conscientious objectors not to be conscripted in the IDF - which is rational and sensible.

Tony

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I heard recently that there are moves afoot (in the Knesset?) to allow conscientious objectors not to be conscripted in the IDF - which is rational and sensible. Tony

I am opposed to conscription on the basis of its being involuntary servitude. That said, you have to ask: What grounds are vaiid?

I confess to playing Dungeons and Dragons at my local fantasy/comics bookstore. So, can I claim that I need not serve in the Armies of Israel because I serve in the Armies of Gondor? What makes Jewish mysticism more valid than Tolkein?

My point is that conscription is wrong on objective grounds. To grant moral validity to mysticism is to open the floodgates. The US Supreme Court declared that polygamy was unlawful. They said that you can believe whatever you want; you cannot act on whatever your happen to believe. The Supreme Court found in Reynolds vs. US that if we allow religious excemptions for marriage laws, utlimately we might have to allow human sacrifice.

Thus, the proper opposition to conscripion is based on objective law, not on traditiionalist superstition.

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I heard recently that there are moves afoot (in the Knesset?) to allow conscientious objectors not to be conscripted in the IDF - which is rational and sensible. Tony
I am opposed to conscription on the basis of its being involuntary servitude. That said, you have to ask: What grounds are vaiid? I confess to playing Dungeons and Dragons at my local fantasy/comics bookstore. So, can I claim that I need not serve in the Armies of Israel because I serve in the Armies of Gondor? What makes Jewish mysticism more valid than Tolkein? My point is that conscription is wrong on objective grounds. To grant moral validity to mysticism is to open the floodgates. The US Supreme Court declared that polygamy was unlawful. They said that you can believe whatever you want; you cannot act on whatever your happen to believe. The Supreme Court found in Reynolds vs. US that if we allow religious excemptions for marriage laws, utlimately we might have to allow human sacrifice. Thus, the proper opposition to conscripion is based on objective law, not on traditiionalist superstition.

Michael,

As a long-standing member of the choir, what can I say? I agree - of course - on conscription.

Now to context, and I think there are special circumstances in the case of Israel.

The threat: Israel has been attacked on multiple fronts, simultaneously, in the past, and realistically has to assume the same in future. (Now with Turkey and its navy providing an added potential threat at sea...) One is never more than 20-30 miles away from a border wherever one is in the country.

The population: Before a fully effective professional military can be attained, I think the population of a country must have reached a certain critical mass. ie, in a nation of 7.8 million (1.6 million of whom are Muslim Israelis, and not required to fight) the number of voluntary, career soldiers would be insufficient. Add the fact of 60 sapping years of being on varying levels of war alert, with no end in sight, and that number would deplete further.

You lose me on your argument against "mysticism" and "superstition". Unless I misunderstand, what makes you think that Israel's purpose is defending and sustaining a religion - predominantly? Actually, a large proportion of Israelis are secular - 'cultural Jews', who have no confidence in their longevity and security living in other nations. As with other tyrannized religious groups in history, their main purpose was to survive and to flourish as individuals, first and foremost.

If I may introduce a personal example: I - with Christian father and Jewish mother; and who had no upbringing in Judaism; and have been an atheist from far back - am still seen as a Jew, by people who may, or may not presently be, well-disposed to that 'race.' I've accepted this, and am always open about my racial background, so am just as vulnerable as any Jew living in an uncertain world. Israel offers the only haven from anti-Semitism for those like me, as it does for the religious.

In return, nothing to do with mysticism, but it is a nation I would fight for if it came to that - though I'd not expect all others to agree.

Conscription remains immoral, but complex situations cannot be washed away by principles.

Tony

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Conscription remains immoral, but complex situations cannot be washed away by principles.

Tony

So much for principles then. Principles and $3.67 cents will get me a coffee and two donuts at the local shop.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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You lose me on your argument against "mysticism" and "superstition".

My point was that objecting to conscription on objective moral grounds is appropriate, but religious arguments are irrelevant. If you do not want to serve, you should not be forced to. It is that simple. You said that the Knesset is considering allowing exemptions on religious grounds. So, I replied to that point.

... what makes you think that Israel's purpose is defending and sustaining a religion - predominantly? Actually, a large proportion of Israelis are secular - 'cultural Jews', who have no confidence in their longevity and security living in other nations. As with other tyrannized religious groups in history, their main purpose was to survive and to flourish as individuals, first and foremost.

You use the word "religion" while denying its importance. What defines Jews except their belief that they are God's Chosen People. You refer to "cultural Jews." No one refers to "cultural Catholics" Absent God, much becomes irrelevant.

Do you know the Broadway play Exodus? The opening song goes, "This land is mine. God gave this land to me."

After I spoke in defense of Israel, one of my professors - a Lebanese Catholic, by family, but, like you, perhaps likely to declare herself "secular" - asked me: "If the Europeans felt so guilty about the Holocaust, why didn't they give the Jews Liechtenstein instead of Palestine?" I have to ask now (as I did not think to then): "If they had been offered Liechtenstein, would they have taken it?"

All four of my grandparents came from the lands of occupied minorities: Hungary, Croatia, Corsica, Sicily. They left the old country behind and came to the new world. My mother's family, when they learned about the separation of church and state, stopped going to church. No one called them "secular Catholics."

... in a nation of 7.8 million (1.6 million of whom are Muslim Israelis, and not required to fight)...

Well, yes, that is one of the arguments in favor of Israel: their native Arab population has rights that are unavailable in most of the Arab/Muslim world. I keep tabs on the communist Arab parties in the Knesset expressely because they often have women seated, but we would be hard pressed to find an Arab/Islamic parliament where a Zionist woman holds a seat...

... I - with Christian father and Jewish mother; and who had no upbringing in Judaism; and have been an atheist from far back - am still seen as a Jew, by people who may, or may not presently be, well-disposed to that 'race.' ...

Well, as one of my Jewish friends quipped, it always follows the distaff side because we know who the mother was... But, that aside, the funny and tragic thing about race is that it is (as the sociologists say) ascribed, not attained. Finishing my master's in 2010, I went to a guest lecture on race by an anthropologist from the University of Chicago. He showed a picture of the President and asked, "What is his race?... Does he have any choice in that? .... " His mother is white. He is not hated for being white. There is no standard for race because race is an irrational social construct. But we do accept ascribed status.

Last night, at a gathering of numismatists specializing in the ancient world, one asked me if "Marotta" is an Italian name. I said, "No. It is Sicilian." He attempted to pass that off with "... same thing." I set him straight. (I hope.) In fact, I went on to explain, we only ate pizza and spaghetti because they were American foods. Once, I dated this girl who took me home to meet her parents and her mother made lasagna and she was shocked when I said it was the first time I had it.

What do you tell people who mistakenly think tthat you are a Jew?

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Conscription remains immoral, but complex situations cannot be washed away by principles.

Tony

So much for principles then. Principles and $3.67 cents will get me a coffee and two donuts at the local shop.

Ba'al Chatzaf

In principle, I could not pay that much money.

--Brant

you use principles to help deal with situations, not wash them away--they aren't soap

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There is no standard for race because race is an irrational social construct. But we do accept ascribed status. Last night, at a gathering of numismatists specializing in the ancient world, one asked me if "Marotta" is an Italian name. I said, "No. It is Sicilian." He attempted to pass that off with "... same thing." I set him straight. (I hope.) In fact, I went on to explain, we only ate pizza and spaghetti because they were American foods. Once, I dated this girl who took me home to meet her parents and her mother made lasagna and she was shocked when I said it was the first time I had it.

What do you tell people who mistakenly think tthat you are a Jew?

Michael,

Quick reply to any who have no need to know - is yes, I am. (Theoretically true.)

To anyone, and this is quite rare, who displays any sign of prejudice - I suddenly become a quite emphatic Jew!

The long reply to people I like, or who show genuine interest, can get me into interesting spots.

This elderly Jewish lady I met said "You're Jewish, aren't you?!"

So - because she seemed a bright old dear - I gave her the whole shtik: Parents, yadda yadda, upbringing, blah blah, superstition etc, agnosticism, atheism etc etc rationality, volition, and so on.

When I finally finished, she nodded contentedly, and said "Yes, I knew you were Jewish."(!!)

You can't win.

On the racial mix thing, it is something I take some elemental pleasure in, to be what I call a mongrel.

I enjoy the personality traits I inherited - dour, dark Scotland and England from Dad, and Spanish Jewish volatility from my Mother. Not that I always did, though.

A little deterministic for Objectivism - and obviously It is not something I take seriously: but people of mixed race, like my favorite dogs and cats, have always appealed to me more.

Tony

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Tony:

Is "Jewish" a race? News to me.

Every so often I get this question. Usually, I am asked simply whether Judaism is an ethnicity or a race. One person phrased it to me this way:
I am under the impression that "being Jewish" relates both to ethnicity (as in, someone is born Jewish), as well as a religion (as in, I converted to Judaism and therefore I am a Jew). Which is correct?
What I cannot understand is: who cares? Why do people want to know? Of what relevance is this issue to being Jewish?
The
Mesilas Yesharim
, a seminal work in Jewish philosophy, has a chapter called "The Obligations of the Human in This World." He does not mention race or ethnicity even once in the entire chapter.
The fact is that as Jews, whether one is descended by maternal lineage from those who stood at Mount Sinai and accepted the Torah from Hashem, or whether one is a proper, full convert, or whether one is maternally descended from a proper, full convert, we are required to fulfill the Commandments of the Torah to the best of our abilities, and thus achieve self-actualization, holiness, and closeness to Hashem.
Words like "ethnicity," "religion," or even "race" are completely irrelevant to our obligations in this life. That's not the path to pursue. What is important is each individual's personal relationship with Hashem, and our relationship with Hashem as a People, as well as our relationships with our communities (roughly in that order).
http://www.beingjewish.com/

Adam

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  • 3 weeks later...

What about the claim that "Insted of me, other people die"? What would I answer to that? I do understand, according to objectivism, it is because of a social concept that you have this collective army that protects all, and you have to be part of the collecttive, and if you do not want, you have no choice, or you will be blamed for letting others down. And the sense of blame I feel is ultimate - you let other people die for you! I agree that this is not a desirbable concept, and it would be best not to have a socialist army, but an army that whoever would want, would pay for. That would be fair. But AS LONG AS I am here, can I really benefit from it? It is not that I can avoid help from the IDF. I guess that fairness is a rotten concept. If "fairness" is true, then SOMEBODY necessarily is being treated against his will. But as long as it exists, and I cannot help relying on the army, what can I do?

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But as long as it exists, and I cannot help relying on the army, what can I do?

My stance is: Don't enlist unless you really want to - don't enlist out of a sense of duty or guilt.

People who shove you a "Insted of me, other people die" are collectivists, they do not mean it well with you or anyone else, they merely want to elevate their own sacrifice to something it's not.

Concentrate on financial an intellectual independence - on what *you* want to do with your life. It belongs to you, not to them or your country.

There's also the practical side of getting along with your countrymen of course - that might be a reason to enlist unless you want to leave the country.

That said, I'm pro-Israel of course, and I do know the peril she's in.

But it's unlikely that it's your job to save her.

And here's another thing: Look at the biographies and abilities of people who try to make you feel guilty - you very often find that they want to force their own standards on to you for the simple reason that they themselves have nothing else. I'm pretty sure that goes for the leftist hippie as much as the IDF veteran. That doesn't mean that those standards are wrong or worthless. But it does mean that you should be distrustful about people's motives when they approach you with moral righteousness.

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Essentially good advice, John.

I admit it's not so simple for many, but I believe the overlap between individualism and patriotism should be constantly examined.

It was simpler for me, coming from multi- nationalities, to happily embrace individualism above patriotism. (Then again, I believe I would have, in any case). Similarly with the religion one is born into, should it be a lifelong authority over one? Not always easy, for everybody.

It's all about values, in the end. Out of the three countries I've ever felt some patriotism towards, I now value just one - and that's not where I presently live. Does this strike me as contradictory, or disloyal? Feel duty-bound to "love it' or leave it"? Not for a moment. I 'owe' the income tax I pay and observance of others' rights, nothing more.

It is when your individualist values, and your value in a country's moral integrity 'intersect', that your moral decision becomes self-apparent.

Tony

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Again, this has nothing to do with "anarchism." Ayn Rand's personal legal counsel, Henry Mark Holzer offered Constitutional arguments against conscriiption in defense of young Objectivists who chose not to serve. Involuntary military service is wrong because slavery is wrong. Moreover, the resistance to war is a proper check on the power of the government. If people will not serve voluntarily, then the war (if not the government itself) is perceived as contrary to their interests.

What about the claim that "Insted of me, other people die"? What would I answer to that? I do understand, according to objectivism, it is because of a social concept that you have this collective army that protects all, and you have to be part of the collecttive, and if you do not want, you have no choice, or you will be blamed for letting others down.

That is not Objectivism. According to Objectivism, living in society about the only obligations you accept as part of the social contract are to wear clothing while in public, and to let those on the bus or elevator get off before you attempt to board. In other words, you do not have an obligation to become a sacrificial victim. That others fail to think through difficult questions about morality and rights and poilitics does not mean that you have to take up the burden they hand you.

I agree that you are free to leave Israel, rather than serve in the IDF. Checking your biography, I see that you are old enough to make your own choices. You are not a teenager facing conscription for the first time. If you do not want to leave - for whatever reasons of your own - then, there is no reason to place yourself in worse circumstances in prison, etc. You served five enlistments already. Take the next one, or else take the next boat. America beckons you.

That said, I often wish that I had enlisted, wars or not. I regret now granting too much moral high ground to those on the left and right who found fault with America. Over the years, I have attempted at least in my own mind to redress that by taking on federal work. My best service was on a DoD contract, where with a perceived (though unreal) threat of terrorism (from rightwing patriots), my DoD comrades called in sick and it was we contractors who carried on. The building was so empty that the elevators rattled it and with every tremor, I thought the building was coming down, but I stood my post - actually, sat at my keyboard. Later, when the US invaded Iraq for the second time, working as a security guard, I patrolled some infrastructure. Looking back on my life now, actual military service would have been the better choice.

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It's all good advice, and I think you are right.

But I still don't understand what can I do, given that I actually do rely on people protecting me (my ass), and I would be in trouble if not for them.

Fairness.

I guess fairness is not really a concept. I'd say that there is no such thing as fairness, it is an anti-concept in some sense. (Fairness negates the concept of causality). And also, it is collective-thinking, subtly. Fairness cannot exist among individuals.

Well, I'm just too afraid to maintain that position publically.

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It's all good advice, and I think you are right.

But I still don't understand what can I do, given that I actually do rely on people protecting me (my ass), and I would be in trouble if not for them.

Fairness.

I guess fairness is not really a concept. I'd say that there is no such thing as fairness, it is an anti-concept in some sense. (Fairness negates the concept of causality). And also, it is collective-thinking, subtly. Fairness cannot exist among individuals.

Well, I'm just too afraid to maintain that position publically.

I think I know what you mean, it's what I called Kantian idealism in my earlier post.

Fairness exists: In situations where you have to pick sides between friends who are fighting, when you're an employer and have to pick the right candidate.

You do not enlist *because otherwise you rely on others*. That's the wrong reason, it's a collectivist reason, as you correctly say.

If you do it for that reason, you'll become one of those who resent those who evade the service. If you do it because it means something to you, you won't mind the "free riders".

Every people defending their freedom, as Israel does today, has naturally a strong collectivist component striving to intimidate the fence-sitters.

It doesn't invalidate the cause, but it invalidates the intimidation. Israel will not stand and fall with military force alone. There are many other battles to fight.

Chose one you care about, and if you think your dreams have nothing to do with the freedom of Israel, you are likely to be wrong. Observe how all the entrepreneurs who brought about the internet were interested in their selfish ends, yet the internet is Israels greatest hope: It turns the Zeitgeist aways from the scewed picture the leftist media painted.

Altruism is evil, always.

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