Socialism and Secularism Suck Vitality Out of Society

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    Quote Originally Posted by HardTrainer View Post
    I see what you're saying, and I think there's more than a grain of truth and reason to it. And I agree that they are very valid questions for any society to repeatedly ask itself. But there is a reason why countries like Norway, Denmark and Sweden repeatedly top quality of life/poverty indexes and so on. I would never call socialism perfect, it has lot's of potential flaws, excess beaurocracy being a big one. But in general I would say that excess beaurocracy is prefereable to excess poverty. As always, there is a balance to be struck.
    Don't they also top the suicide rates?

    And you also believe that it is not the individual that is the basic unit of human life - but rather the society, and therefore individuals should then be chained and sacrificed in order to redirect wealth?

    What's wrong with private charities to accomplish this? Can you not give just as much, without forcing your fellow citizens at the point of a gun to acquiesce to your "vision"?
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardTrainer View Post
    But there is a reason why countries like Norway, Denmark and Sweden repeatedly top quality of life/poverty indexes and so on.
    I wouldn't argue your broader point, but one of the main reasons they come out on top in those surveys is because, as with the recent WHO report, it's rigged. I mean it was blatant in that report, they gave higher marks to health care systems for being single payer and then said those higher marks proved single payer was better. Also they assigned higher marks to a more even distribution of services regardless of quality, so you get a situation where equal distributed but ****ty service can be graded 'better' than unequally distributed but almost universally stellar service. You get similar question begging and convenient number juggling in reports on quality of life. Food for thought.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsade View Post
    Don't they also top the suicide rates?
    Yeah, but people who kill themselves are more pathological than just plain miserable. As such that's more a point against their mental health care systems than a statement on life in general.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsade View Post
    Don't they also top the suicide rates
    Actually no that's a myth. Alot of Scandinavians beleive that to be true, which they cite as an example of how depressing the northern weather is. Last time I checked I think it was actually Japan and Switzerland that top the suicide rate lists.

    Quote Originally Posted by dsade View Post
    And you also believe that it is not the individual that is the basic unit of human life - but rather the society, and therefore individuals should then be chained and sacrificed in order to redirect wealth? What's wrong with private charities to accomplish this? Can you not give just as much, without forcing your fellow citizens at the point of a gun to acquiesce to your "vision"?
    The chains and guns motif is a bit over the top, but I take your point. I'll give you a nice long explaining how and why I disagree with you, but not for the sake of trying to convince to change your opinion. We could debate socialism endlessly and still never come to a reasonable conclusion, so I'll try to sum up my way of thinking in a nice long post and then you take it or leave it at your leasure.


    The rights of individuals of course take precedence. But what is society if not an idea in the minds of individuals? Society is not the enemy of the individual, the two are mutually dependent. If you do something for good of society, ultimately your doing something for the good of the individuals that make up that society.

    I would argue that being a member of society is not an option. You can't live in a country and not be a member of the society that surrounds you. It's physically impossible. The hospital you were born in, the roads you drive on and the multitude of other small things that you make use of everyday endebt you to the people around you. And at a more fundimental level: Doesn't every individual have a basic responsibility to his fellow individual?

    Let's say you work 9-5 to buy food for your family, like most other individuals. Does that mean you've payed your debt to the other individuals in your society? I would argue: No, it doesn't.

    I think you're implying that the 'redirection of wealth' is a effectively stealing. But what makes wealth 'yours' just because it was directed to you the first time round? It's a fact that one man can work twice as long and twice as hard as another man and still only end up with half as much wealth. Why is that distribution of wealth just? Is all wealth that gets directed your way automatically yours?

    Consider this thought experiment: One day, you find a wallet on the side-walk with $100 in. Does that $100 belong to you or the man who lost the wallet? Probably neither. If you pocket the money you haven't really stolen it, and it's entirely possible that guy's fault that he lost the wallet. And yet somehow finding the guy and giving him his wallet back seems like the honourable thing to do.

    Similarly, a guy who earns $100 more than another guy for doing half as much work can't really be said to be stealing the money from the other guy. But it's hard to justify how and why that money really is his, just because it was 'directed' his way. Does that guy with more money has no responsibility to the poorer guy? I would say that he does.

    If I were the guy with $100 more then I would want to help the other guy. Give him $50? Not really. I don't think that would help much on a social scale. But would I want to give a certain % of my wages at least to make sure the guy had access to health care and higher education for his kids. And that will only work if everybody else does the same. If everybody else accepts the same responsibility to their fellow individuals in their society.

    With regard to independent charities, I think if they could have fixed poverty then they would have by now. Charities can't be expected to act in the interest of the people because they are not answerable to the people, only a democratically government is. Consequently, only a democratically elected government can be expected to act in the interest of the people.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardTrainer View Post

    If you feel you know all there is to know on the subject then I'm sure reading my posts won't change your mind.

    But I will finish by saying that I disagree with your assessment of what living in a more socialist society means. I don't vote the way I do because I think the government owes me something. Quite the opposite, I think that I'm the one that owes something to the rest of society. I think that the children of the man that cleans the toilets I use, have just as much right to go to college or receive medical care as I do. To that end I'm willing make sacrifices: Higher taxes etc.

    The thought of a member of my society dying unnecessarily or living in poverty distresses me, and I feel honour bound to try and do something about it.
    Why would that man's job, or your job, have anything to do with his children or your children's "right" to go to college? Shouldn't that be up to the ambition of the child? If they want to go to college, they can work for it.

    And you keep saying you're "willing" to make sacrifices; that's great! In a free society you'd have the ability to GIVE that money or DONATE that money to the family as you so choose...Giving is not when the government comes and snatches a large portion of your paycheck.

    There is also a very different mindset currently in the United States from people that do want a more socialist government; it's all due to their own jealousy, greed, and hatred toward the "evil" rich. - The poor want what they can't have, and if they can't have it, then nobody else should either. Unlike your perception, there is no honor to it.

    I'm a generous person and really enjoy helping people that truly need the help...but when they start to feel that I owe it to them, that's when I get a sour taste in my mouth. I'm sure you can understand that.

    Why should I pay for their medical care when 70% of their income (which is often given to them by the government, me, anyways) is being spent on street drugs?
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    HT, just some logical inconsistencies and faults I find...

    Quote Originally Posted by HardTrainer View Post
    The rights of individuals of course take precedence. But what is society if not an idea in the minds of individuals? Society is not the enemy of the individual, the two are mutually dependent. If you do something for good of society, ultimately your doing something for the good of the individuals that make up that society.
    What is 'for the good' of society? Unless this can be defined in a way that doesn't inherently harm the good of some individuals for the betterment of others, then what is for the good of society is not necessarily the same as what is good for the individuals that make up society.

    "Since the 19th century, critics of the ever-growing state called themselves liberal individualists, a misnomer which ignored the obvious truth that most forms of creative human activity are collective. A Cornish lifeboat crew and an Oberland fire brigade refute dogmatic individualism and 'vulgar-Thatcherism': there is such a thing as society. The real distinction isn't between individual and collective, but between the voluntary and the coercive." - Geoffrey Wheatcroft

    I would argue that being a member of society is not an option. You can't live in a country and not be a member of the society that surrounds you. It's physically impossible. The hospital you were born in, the roads you drive on and the multitude of other small things that you make use of everyday endebt you to the people around you.
    Why? Assuming all exchanges are voluntary, why do I or anyone else owe anything to anybody other than the agreed prices we pay each other for services rendered? This inherrent indebtedness strikes me as more than a little shaky as it puts me in debt to people I never met for services I never asked for nor agreed to pay for, and possibly don't now or didn't ever want, and does so on mere imlicit 'agreement' based on an accident of geography and birth. The person who paved those roads has already been paid, as has been the hospital staff, etc. Why is anything still owed to them, and if it is, how is my or anyone else's chance birth at a certain place and time enough to entangle us in a web of implied indebtedness for supposed services rendered and, as noted previously already paid for, that we had absolutely no say in?

    And at a more fundimental level: Doesn't every individual have a basic responsibility to his fellow individual?
    Perhaps. But even assuming this, that's a far cry from proving that the best way to meet that is through a state apparatus.

    Let's say you work 9-5 to buy food for your family, like most other individuals. Does that mean you've payed your debt to the other individuals in your society? I would argue: No, it doesn't.
    Why? What else is owed, why, and when did the person in question agree to the service and take on the debt/responsibility of payment?

    I think you're implying that the 'redirection of wealth' is a effectively stealing. But what makes wealth 'yours' just because it was directed to you the first time round?
    Because I worked for it, and upon completion of that work it was voluntarily rendered by its previous owner. It is therefore mine.

    It's a fact that one man can work twice as long and twice as hard as another man and still only end up with half as much wealth.
    So what? If his job is valued at one quarter the other person's, that's why. There is no inherrent value to his laboring just for the sake of doing so, he and all other people labor because what we do is worth something to other people. And as with any other price system, some things/labor wil be valued more highly than others. Otherwise you run into a situation where someone doing something completely useless to himself and to others is somehow 'owed' an income. By that logic we should pay a guy who takes it upon himself to dig and refill the same hole repeatedly, even though it serves no productive end for anyone else or even himself.

    Why is that distribution of wealth just? Is all wealth that gets directed your way automatically yours?
    If it is gotten voluntarily, then yes. Why would it be otherwise?

    Consider this thought experiment: One day, you find a wallet on the side-walk with $100 in. Does that $100 belong to you or the man who lost the wallet? Probably neither.
    No, it belongs to him. The ethical and moral thing to do would be to track him down and give it back. Suffice to say many would not follow that path. It is still his. He worked for it. He may have lost it, and may have put some inadequate effort into finding it. Should he find it in the possession of someone else, he has every right to try and take it back. If he doesn't, the person who found it may indeed spend it, it is still no more than an extremely opportunistic form of theft. Then again the original owner may abdicate ownership, calling his search quits. Either way in this case it's obvious the money had another owner who, given the chance would likely assert such rights over the hundred bucks. Chance and happenstance might make that hard to do, it's still properly his so long as he wants it. That it is an imperfect world and as such he may have trouble laying claim to it is incidental.

    If you pocket the money you haven't really stolen it, and it's entirely possible that guy's fault that he lost the wallet. And yet somehow finding the guy and giving him his wallet back seems like the honourable thing to do.
    Yes, you have stolen it. You're just not likely to get caught is all.

    Similarly, a guy who earns $100 more than another guy for doing half as much work can't really be said to be stealing the money from the other guy. But it's hard to justify how and why that money really is his, just because it was 'directed' his way.
    No it isn't. The fact that it was voluntarily directed his way is proof positive the people paying him for his labor valued it above any other alternatives they were considering. As such, it is his for that very reason. The difference in value assigned to different types of labor is no different than the difference in value between a notebook and a diamond necklace. The relative value people place on each and the given circumstances of supply dictate the price.

    Does that guy with more money has no responsibility to the poorer guy? I would say that he does.
    I believe he does on a moral level. But what is morally correct and what is legally enforcable through the state are two different things you need to connect rather than assuming they are one in the same.

    If I were the guy with $100 more then I would want to help the other guy. Give him $50? Not really. I don't think that would help much on a social scale. But would I want to give a certain % of my wages at least to make sure the guy had access to health care and higher education for his kids. And that will only work if everybody else does the same. If everybody else accepts the same responsibility to their fellow individuals in their society.
    Why? What is stopping you and like minded individuals from doing this so long as a percentage of the population doesn't agree? That's not the case with anything else on the planet of which a supply is deemed worthy, only the people who want it and those who think they'll benefit from producing it need be involved. Charity is no different so far as I can see, as such there's no need to force everyone to give to ensure its existence anymore than everyone must donate to a toothbrush fund or otherwise be toothbrushless for life.

    With regard to independent charities, I think if they could have fixed poverty then they would have by now.
    Assuming poverty is fixable, perhaps.

    Charities can't be expected to act in the interest of the people because they are not answerable to the people, only a democratically government is. Consequently, only a democratically elected government can be expected to act in the interest of the people.
    Experience and study actually tells us that a democratically elected government is actually more responsive to narrow special interests due to concentrated benefits and difuse costs. The general public are rationally ignorant of most policy decisions except those they are most passionate about, a massive ideological movement is therefore necessary to achieve even minor changes in policy on behalf of the majority of voters that a special interest could lobby for and accomplish much more often and efficiently to their narrow benefit.
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    That's a very thorough answer CDB. But I think the basic difference in our point of view can be summarized as: You beleive that the law of supply of demand is essentially just, whereas I don't, and I feel that it is the role of a democratic government to correct that injustice. Correct me if you think I've summed it up inaccurately.

    I'm not saying that I don't think supply and demand doesn't work economically, obviously it does. But I don't think that it can be relied upon to produce the fairest or happiest society possible. Alot of the time supply and demand does work, after all doctors earn more than paperboys, but not always. I don't beleive that the wage a man receives is automatically a measure of his value to society. A man who works his ass off his whole life, doing something that society needs, can still be made redundant and end up on the street through no fault of his own. Whose job is it then to help that guy? I think the answer is: It's everyone's job. Why is it not optional? Because I beleive that every member of society has a basic responsibility to everyone else. Whether you asked for it or not.

    Which leads me to the next point:
    This inherrent indebtedness strikes me as more than a little shaky as it puts me in debt to people I never met for services I never asked for nor agreed to pay for, and possibly don't now or didn't ever want, and does so on mere imlicit 'agreement' based on an accident of geography and birth.
    There are lots of things I never asked for that I'm now stuck with. I didn't ask to be born and I've never asked to die. I didn't ask my parents to raise me the way they did. I didn't ask to be dependant on food, water and oxygen for sustenance (frankly life would be much easier if I wasn't). But I can't avoid these facts simply because I don't like them.

    The 'agreement' of society lies not so much in where you were born but in the fact that you choose to live in your society and thus you are indebted to it. If you want to live as a hermit at the top of a mountain then I think you'll have very reasonable grounds not to pay taxes. The moment you start interacting with society however, you become bound to other people in a very complex and far reaching way.

    You feel that you don't owe anything to the people who built the road you drive on because they were paid according to the laws of supply and demand. I think this essentially where our points of view differ. I think you (or I or anyone else) do owe something to them, at a very fundemental level. I don't think the economic fact of supply and demand removes the responsibility any individual has for the welfare of another individual.

    But what is morally correct and what is legally enforcable through the state are two different things you need to connect rather than assuming they are one in the same.
    What is the role of government? Everyone loves to quote Mill's harm principle (ie the state only has the right to intervine in an individuals affairs if he/she is harming another individual). Looks awesome on paper, no one can disagree with that. The problem lies in the definition of harm.

    Is a stoned guy harming anyone else by smoking a joint? Probably not. What if such a percentage of the population is so stoned all the time that it negatively affects the economy and people actually start losing jobs. Is smoking a joint harming anyone then? Suddenly the nice clean line has turned into a messy grey area.

    Similarly, if a large enough percentage of the population refuse to accept their inherant social responsibility, that people start dying from curable diseases and children end up on the street because their parents were made redundant and the state didn't have enough money to support them; is that enough harm that the government can justify intervention? Obviously, I think the answer is yes.

    I would argue that anyone who wishes to enjoy the benefits of living in society, without paying their dues to society, is a harm to every other individual in that society and thus government intervention is entirely justifiable. In practice this takes the form of income tax.

    Experience and study actually tells us that a democratically elected government is actually more responsive to narrow special interests due to concentrated benefits and difuse costs. The general public are rationally ignorant of most policy decisions except those they are most passionate about, a massive ideological movement is therefore necessary to achieve even minor changes in policy on behalf of the majority of voters that a special interest could lobby for and accomplish much more often and efficiently to their narrow benefit.
    As people often say: Democracy doesn't really work, it just happens to be the least worst system. It'll have to suffice untill somebody comes up with a better system. I think that holds true regardless of your standing on socialism and capitalism.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardTrainer View Post
    That's a very thorough answer CDB. But I think the basic difference in our point of view can be summarized as: You beleive that the law of supply of demand is essentially just, whereas I don't, and I feel that it is the role of a democratic government to correct that injustice. Correct me if you think I've summed it up inaccurately.
    You've summed it up inaccurately. The law of supply and demand is neutral, it is neither just nor unjust, ethical nor unethical, etc., it is merely a description of how individuals assign value to things. It has and allows for no normative claims. For a judgement of justice you either have an issue with the way people value things, specifically labor, or you think voluntary mutual exchange is some how unjust. The price system is just what pops into existence in an advanced economy as a result of people A, assigning value and B, engaging in voluntary exchanges where both parties see a benefit to doing so. It is by nature a system of cardinal, socially relevant numbers that springs into existence through the interaction of subjective ordinal values on the market. A collection of relative information made somewhat understandable by a common denominator of money, nothing more. To say what produces it is unjust you have to show why a subjective judgement of value has a justice aspect to it, and/or how a voluntary trade is somehow unjust or exploitative on some level. In other words you have to show how or why something, namely this extra debt you write of, hasn't been already included in the price, and/or how a voluntary trade can be unjust.

    I'm not saying that I don't think supply and demand doesn't work economically, obviously it does. But I don't think that it can be relied upon to produce the fairest or happiest society possible.
    This is certainly arguable. What's fair and happy is completely subjective. However to argue for a state solution means all the possible unfair actions it has to take to produce the fair result are somehow subsumed in the end. For example, if your house is burning down and I kick your door in to rescue you, technically I'm trespassing. The act is subsumed in the large action of saving your life though. Any such acts the state takes to achieve the result of a fair society must be equally subsumed pretty much at all times, or you have the classic example of doing a little evil to do a greater good which never seems to work in the end.

    I don't beleive that the wage a man receives is automatically a measure of his value to society.
    It isn't. His value to society is a philosophical, moral, and ethical matter than can't be resolved I'd say. But that's a separate issue than what the market value of his labor is and that's what you are arguing about. If you disagree with that market value you are not simply saying you think he his being undervalued in some philosopical sense, you are in essence disagreeing with society as that price, his wage, is the collective judgement of society of the worth of his labor. He can't be worth more to society than that vis a vi his labor all else being equal, because that price is the judgement of society. Market prices, be they for corn, beef, cars, or labor, are a social phenomena, the sum total of all society is willing to forego in order thing. In fact if you want to you can posit a hypothetical society and assign each person in that society a random price for which they'd be willing to pay for good X, and have it fall randomly for another unit of good X, etc., all the way down the line, and when you complex those values you get a locus of points which, if you connect them, would look basically like the classic demand curve. It's a fun experiment and illustrative of the fact that while it is individuals making decisions about values in the market, the price system transends any one person's input.

    A man who works his ass off his whole life, doing something that society needs, can still be made redundant and end up on the street through no fault of his own. Whose job is it then to help that guy? I think the answer is: It's everyone's job. Why is it not optional? Because I beleive that every member of society has a basic responsibility to everyone else. Whether you asked for it or not.
    In part I agree, but you're assuming a lot here. You're assuming that labor can't be reemployed for one. Labor sitting stagnant never to be reemployed means the well of human wants has been satisfied. We can all kick back, there is no more scarcity at that point. Since that's not the case, and since for all practical purposes there is always a job to do somewhere, the relevant question is what is stopping that man's reemployment by the system? I'm not denying his basic humanity when I say the laws that cause him to be used or not used and at what price are no different than those laws which apply to steel, copper, chlorine, or typewriters. In fact as labor he enjoys the status as the ultimate nonspecific input into the production process. You can't retrain steel to be copper should the need for one over the other arise, but a man can learn to work both however different the technique. So why is the most versatile, important, and indisposable nonspecific input into the system, namely productive labor, standing idle to begin with since we haven't yet gotten to post scarcity Eden? You have to answer that question before posing a viable solution.

    Why is it our job to take care of him only when he is out of work as well? And even granting your assertion, what are the limits of our responsibilities? We can't be expected to pour our efforts down a black hole, so at what point is our reponsibility to this person over and their responsibility for themselves to begin? Are they always to have some form of housing, food, clothing, etc., at our expense no matter what? And if so, and if that's enough for them, what stops them from simply becoming a leech on society? Do we have the right to force him to work then, and if so how is that substantively different to slavery? How is his imposition on us to pay for his basic well being also, substantively different than slavery? Because in the end that is what you are saying, that none of us owns the whole of our productive output. We are, in your view, required to work for the benefit of others.

    There are lots of things I never asked for that I'm now stuck with. I didn't ask to be born and I've never asked to die. I didn't ask my parents to raise me the way they did. I didn't ask to be dependant on food, water and oxygen for sustenance (frankly life would be much easier if I wasn't). But I can't avoid these facts simply because I don't like them.
    But none of those facts place any burdens on anyone else. Key difference. Being born as an air breather means you need air, not that it's someone else's responsibility to give it to you. Taking your argument to a logical extreme, should some break off sect of people decide we were really better off before leaving the oceans evolution-wise and they decide to head back, 'society' is responsible for providing them with scuba gear and a suitable underwater habitat. Or we let them drown themselves. Again, at what point does our responsibility begin and end? At what point do we justly stop outfitting them for their aquatic adventure and let them waddle off into the waves to face their fate alone?

    The 'agreement' of society lies not so much in where you were born but in the fact that you choose to live in your society and thus you are indebted to it. If you want to live as a hermit at the top of a mountain then I think you'll have very reasonable grounds not to pay taxes.
    Ideally, but name one government that would allow this to happen. They second they found out you were in borders they claim or on a spot no one claimed yet, they'd claim it, demand taxes of you, and generally pester the living **** out of you. You can't get implicit agreement to stick just because some theoretical alternative might exist under ideal conditions, that's essentially the rapists choice; spread your legs or die. Sure, it is a choice, but it's one no one should be forced to make because their is coersion involved. Same here; either submit to universal indebtedness of 'society' or live on a mountain making moonshine in a shack. The choice is not realistic or practical to the person you're offerring it to. You are first saying an accident of birth indebts them to everyone else, and then saying if they don't want to pay that debt no problem, the same accident of birth gives the rest of the people present a right to essentially excommunicate them. Both beg the question as to whether or not where and when you were born implicitly indebts you or gives you the right to indebt others or expell them from the same said place and time. I see no justification for either argument.

    The moment you start interacting with society however, you become bound to other people in a very complex and far reaching way.
    But again, how and why? Let us say I wasn't born within society but outside somehow. I live as the hermit you suggested and manage to do so without a problem. Let us then say I am aware of a nearby society and a guy who sells peaches there. Are you honestly suggesting that to buy peaches from him, pay him a voluntary price that he sets and I can meet that we both agree on, that somehow in doing so I now owe some amprphous amount more to a multitude of people? How? For what reason? I came, I bought peaches, I left. I have robbed no one, I have contracted with no one else, yet by your argument 'society' now has some right to reach out, grab me, and essentially force me to work and 'give' a portion of my product to society. In any other circumstances that would be called indentured servitude at least and slavery at worst.

    You feel that you don't owe anything to the people who built the road you drive on because they were paid according to the laws of supply and demand. I think this essentially where our points of view differ. I think you (or I or anyone else) do owe something to them, at a very fundemental level. I don't think the economic fact of supply and demand removes the responsibility any individual has for the welfare of another individual.
    Assuming you are correct, what do I owe them? How is this extra premium calculated and arrived at? How much? And again, why? When presented with the job of building the road, they could just as easily said, "Screw it, this isn't worth it, I'd rather..." any number of things. What is this debt that hangs over everyone and never goes away despite the fact that we all interact voluntarily and take or leave any transaction in front of us on mutual terms?

    Is a stoned guy harming anyone else by smoking a joint? Probably not. What if such a percentage of the population is so stoned all the time that it negatively affects the economy and people actually start losing jobs. Is smoking a joint harming anyone then? Suddenly the nice clean line has turned into a messy grey area.
    Not to me. Illustrate the stituation, show me how it's harming anyone.

    Similarly, if a large enough percentage of the population refuse to accept their inherant social responsibility, that people start dying from curable diseases and children end up on the street because their parents were made redundant and the state didn't have enough money to support them; is that enough harm that the government can justify intervention? Obviously, I think the answer is yes.
    This goes back to the question of labor though and why it is not being used when, quite obviously, the well of human want and need has certainly not run dry. A more to point and practical question is this: what if the government is creating the very situation you're now asking it to solve? Is that then a more fair society or did it just loop itself into something more akin to a protection racket?

    As people often say: Democracy doesn't really work, it just happens to be the least worst system. It'll have to suffice untill somebody comes up with a better system. I think that holds true regardless of your standing on socialism and capitalism.
    What if the better system is inherently tied to your judgement of those two economic approaches?
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    Quote Originally Posted by bpmartyr View Post
    Dennis Prager
    Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    Outside of politics, sports, and popular entertainment, how many living Germans, or French, or Austrians, or even Brits can you name?

    Even well-informed people who love art and literature and who follow developments in science and medicine would be hard pressed to come up with many, more often any, names. In terms of greatness in literature, art, music, the sciences, philosophy, and medical breakthroughs, Europe has virtually fallen off the radar screen.

    This is particularly meaningful given how different the answer would have been had you asked anyone the same question between just 80 and 120 years ago -- and certainly before that. A plethora of world-renowned names would have flowed.

    Obvious examples would include (in alphabetical order): Brecht, Buber, Cezanne, Chekhov, Curie, Debussy, Eiffel, Einstein, Freud, Hesse, Kafka, Mahler, Mann, Marconi, Pasteur, Porsche, Proust, Somerset Maugham, Strauss, Stravinsky, Tolstoy, Zeppelin, Zola.

    Not to mention the European immortals who lived within the century before them: Mozart, Beethoven, Dostoevsky, Darwin, Kierkegaard, Manet, Monet, Hugo and Van Gogh, to name only a few.

    What has happened?

    What has happened is that Europe, with a few exceptions, has lost its creativity, intellectual excitement, industrial innovation, and risk taking. Europe’s creative energy has been sapped. There are many lovely Europeans; but there aren’t many creative, dynamic, or entrepreneurial ones.

    The issues that preoccupy most Europeans are overwhelmingly material ones: How many hours per week will I have to work? How much annual vacation time will I have? How many social benefits can I preserve (or increase)? How can my country avoid fighting against anyone or for anyone?

    Why has this happened?

    There are two reasons: secularism and socialism (aka the welfare state).

    Either one alone sucks much of the life out of society. Together they are likely to be lethal.

    Even if one holds that religion is false, only a dogmatic and irrational secularist can deny that it was religion in the Western world that provided the impetus or backdrop for nearly all the uniquely great art, literature, economic and even scientific advances of the West. Even the irreligious were forced to deal with religious themes -- if only in expressing rebellion against them.

    Religion in the West raised all the great questions of life: Why are we here? Is there purpose to existence? Were we deliberately made? Is there something after death? Are morals objective or only a matter of personal preference? Do rights come from the state or from the Creator?

    And religion gave positive responses: We are here because a benevolent God made us. There is, therefore, ultimate purpose to life. Good and evil are real. Death is not the end. Human rights are inherent since they come from God. And so on.

    Secularism drains all this out of life. No one made us. Death is the end. We are no more significant than any other creatures. We are all the results of mere coincidence. Make up your own meaning (existentialism) because life has none. Good and evil are merely euphemisms for “I like” and “I dislike.”

    Thus, when religion dies in a country, creativity wanes. For example, while Christian Russia was backward in many ways, it still gave the world Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Tolstoy, and Tchaikovsky. Once Christianity was suppressed, if not killed, in Russia, that country became a cultural wasteland (with a few exceptions like Shostakovich and Solzhenitsyn, the latter a devout Christian). It is true that this was largely the result of Lenin, Stalin and Communism; but even where Communism did not take over, the decline of religion in Europe meant a decline in human creativity -- except for nihilistic and/or absurd isms, which have greatly increased. As G. K. Chesterton noted at the end of the 19th century, when people stop believing in God they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything. One not only thinks of the violent isms: Marxism, Marxism-Leninism, Fascism, Maoism, and Nazism, but of all the non-violent isms that have become substitute religions – e.g., feminism, environmentalism, and socialism.

    The state sucks out creativity and dynamism just as much as secularism does. Why do anything for yourself when the state will do it for you? Why take care of others when the state will do it for you? Why have ambition when the state is there to ensure that few or no individuals are rewarded more than others?

    America has been the center of energy and creativity in almost every area of life because it has remained far more religious than any other industrialized Western democracy and because it has rejected the welfare state social model.

    Which is why so many are so worried about President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party’s desire to transform -- in their apt wording -- America into a secular welfare state. The greatest engine of moral, religious, economic, scientific, and industrial dynamism is being starved of its fuel. The bigger the state, the smaller its people.



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    When ever I read things like this...Liberals ruining this country !!!

    I first think to myself...Did God make us either liberal or conservative???
    I don't remember reading about this in the Holy Bible???? Hummmm

    The second thought I have is.... Jesus Christ....You know, God's only son?

    Now I distinctively remember that Jesus was tried, persecuted and killed for his "LIBERAL" and "SECULAR" beliefs of his time....

    Now if Jesus was here today in person...you think he would have been a Republican...or a Democrat?
    Yup he would have been strung up by all them Republicans cause Jesus advocates loving your fellow man..and sharing your wealth with others (socialism?) and forgiving and ..well I think you have read the Bible or maybe not. In any case ask your self this...If God is against Gays,Abortion, Drugs ect... ect. then how can something exist if God is against it?

    Well they say: God give us free will....OOOHHHH
    So let me get this straight. Gods idea of free will is: "do what I say or spend eternity in hell"...not only in Hell but also suffering and tortured beyond description...

    wouldn't it suffice to just get rid of those who don't obey????
    Must God also cause pain beyond comprehension..wouldn't simply elimination be enough?
    But god loves everyone?
    Something just don't add up....and what that is is what the Bible teaches about who God really is.
    The three major religions have caused more separation, more hatred, more killing in the name of God than any Liberal or mass of secular beliefs ever have or will.
    No the problems of this world are not the Liberals fault if you really believe that then you must include the most powerful liberal to ever walk this planet..
    JESUS himself !!!
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    Is there any correlation to the fact Americas founding fathers were almost all Free Masons and all Masons believe in God and the BIBLE ,all were protestants and the constitution and are legal system all have there foundational beliefs in Protestant Christianity.

    Fast foward 200 years in this short time we have saved Europe and other Jealous American hating countries from total annihilation I.E. WW1 and WW2 not to mention we are the ONLY SUPER POWER in the world The rest of the world can do what they want and talk trash about my country , in the end I dont care because I know the truth and yes I have been to France , England , Lived in spain when I was a child and Franco was in power and many Latin american countries like Costa Rica. Many non American people like americans and I like them but dont expect me to sit here and listen to a bunch of crap about the country I am from, if you are jealous or an american hater I have no time for you. Get a life or work on building up your country so you wont be jealous of mine , instead of crying about how bad the Americans are. Ok I am not such a bad guy ill give you a free crying towel
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    Quote Originally Posted by samva777 View Post
    Is there any correlation to the fact Americas founding fathers were almost all Free Masons and all Masons believe in God and the BIBLE ,all were protestants and the constitution and are legal system all have there foundational beliefs in Protestant Christianity.

    Fast foward 200 years in this short time we have saved Europe and other Jealous American hating countries from total annihilation I.E. WW1 and WW2 not to mention we are the ONLY SUPER POWER in the world The rest of the world can do what they want and talk trash about my country , in the end I dont care because I know the truth and yes I have been to France , England , Lived in spain when I was a child and Franco was in power and many Latin american countries like Costa Rica. Many non American people like americans and I like them but dont expect me to sit here and listen to a bunch of crap about the country I am from, if you are jealous or an american hater I have no time for you. Get a life or work on building up your country so you wont be jealous of mine , instead of crying about how bad the Americans are. Ok I am not such a bad guy ill give you a free crying towel
    All were Protestants? INCORRECT sir...you fail US History.
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    Depends on which version of the US History you're reading from...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayhawkk View Post
    Depends on which version of the US History you're reading from...
    In my version, we all stood around singing "Onward Christian Soldiers" while shooting rainbows from our bums at the British.
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    PFFTTT you again


    Quote Originally Posted by dsade View Post
    All were Protestants? INCORRECT sir...you fail US History.
    I said almost all.
    You fail again pffft
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    Quote Originally Posted by samva777 View Post
    I said almost all.
    You fail again pffft
    Seriously? I quoted your freaking post where you wrote "all were protestants".

    You said almost all were FreeMasons.

    A large portion of the founding fathers were Deists, which is not so much christian at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsade View Post
    Seriously? I quoted your freaking post where you wrote "all were protestants".

    You said almost all were FreeMasons.

    A large portion of the founding fathers were Deists, which is not so much christian at all.
    All FreeMasons in that area of that time period were protestants. Understand now Sonny?
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    Quote Originally Posted by samva777 View Post
    All FreeMasons in that area of that time period were protestants. Understand now Sonny?
    Again, you are incorrect. You fail US History.
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    PFFT


    Quote Originally Posted by dsade View Post
    Again, you are incorrect. You fail US History.
    You keep saying I am incorrect but you dont say how. Would you care to be more specific or do you just troll the boards for anyone that is a christian so you can jump on them with no supporting commentary LOL
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    Quote Originally Posted by samva777 View Post
    You keep saying I am incorrect but you dont say how. Would you care to be more specific or do you just troll the boards for anyone that is a christian so you can jump on them with no supporting commentary LOL
    YEah, you caught me.
    Try using wikipedia and searching for free mamasons as well as deists, mr. scholar.
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    Good enough for you but not good enough for me?


    Quote Originally Posted by dsade View Post
    YEah, you caught me.
    Try using wikipedia and searching for free mamasons as well as deists, mr. scholar.
    Hows this for a double standard and I quote you from the last post you trolled.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by samva777
    You mean like your name on these Forums is this part of your principles DESADE = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marquis_de_Sade

    Your name says it all the sexual gratification from causing pain and suffering to others , you calling me a monster is a joke.

    I see your logic skills show your viewpoint well...when you fail at alll arguments, bring back the Argumentum Ad Hominem.

    And I see your knowledge of the Marquis extends all the way to Wiki - that's some fine scholarship there, Lou.

    So now you want me to use wiki to prove your point but when I use wiki to prove my point you scoff at it?

    How about YOU use any proof you have to prove you point and post it here. If you dont have supporting proof I am sorry your word just isnt good enough.
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    I have an even better idea how about we try to get along and if we disagree we say why and quit the the tone of putting the other down. Its gaining nothing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by samva777 View Post
    I have an even better idea how about we try to get along and if we disagree we say why and quit the the tone of putting the other down. Its gaining nothing.
    dude....you made an incorrect assertion. If you have studied the people associated with the American Revolution, you would know that many of the fathers were deist freemasons.

    You are really quite impossible to converse with....and you post irelevant garbage that you know nothing about.
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    Sigh well I tried


    Quote Originally Posted by dsade View Post
    dude....you made an incorrect assertion. If you have studied the people associated with the American Revolution, you would know that many of the fathers were deist freemasons.

    You are really quite impossible to converse with....and you post irelevant garbage that you know nothing about.
    Lets see Dsade you are an avowed Atheist how does Deism correlate to Atheism please give me more light on this subject or is Wikipedia ok http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism


    Deism is a religious and philosophical belief that a supreme god created the universe, and that this and other religious truth can be determined using reason and observation of the natural world alone, without the need for faith. Deists generally reject the notion of divine interventions in human affairs - such as by miracles and revelations. These views contrast with a dependence on revelations, miracles, and faith found in many Judeo-Christian,[1][2] Islamic and other theistic teachings.

    How does belief in a SUPREME GOD correlate to Atheism. Furthermore with out going in depth I can tell you Freemasons are not Deist, its only wishful thinking of antireligious zealots.
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    Quote Originally Posted by samva777 View Post
    Lets see Dsade you are an avowed Atheist how does Deism correlate to Atheism please give me more light on this subject or is Wikipedia ok http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism


    Deism is a religious and philosophical belief that a supreme god created the universe, and that this and other religious truth can be determined using reason and observation of the natural world alone, without the need for faith. Deists generally reject the notion of divine interventions in human affairs - such as by miracles and revelations. These views contrast with a dependence on revelations, miracles, and faith found in many Judeo-Christian,[1][2] Islamic and other theistic teachings.

    How does belief in a SUPREME GOD correlate to Atheism. Furthermore with out going in depth I can tell you Freemasons are not Deist, its only wishful thinking of antireligious zealots.
    Now...I know you can do this...search for Founding Fathers and Deists and see what comes up. Doesn't sound much like Protestant to me, since they reject prophets, the bible, and other revelations.

    For a Christian, you are getting a lot of glee out of being a prick.
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    Quote Originally Posted by samva777 View Post
    Lets see Dsade you are an avowed Atheist how does Deism correlate to Atheism please give me more light on this subject or is Wikipedia ok http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism


    Deism is a religious and philosophical belief that a supreme god created the universe, and that this and other religious truth can be determined using reason and observation of the natural world alone, without the need for faith. Deists generally reject the notion of divine interventions in human affairs - such as by miracles and revelations. These views contrast with a dependence on revelations, miracles, and faith found in many Judeo-Christian,[1][2] Islamic and other theistic teachings.

    How does belief in a SUPREME GOD correlate to Atheism. Furthermore with out going in depth I can tell you Freemasons are not Deist, its only wishful thinking of antireligious zealots.
    No, the founding fathers of the United States were by and large Deists. In fact, Thomas Jefferson removed all claims of Jesus' divinity from the bible, truncated the canonical works he felt most relevant, and removed all supernatural goings on. The book was titled, "Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth", IIRC. Jefferson did so as he saw the doctrine, religion, and church structure of his day as a path of oppression, and a means of subjugation. Really, Jefferson and the other founding fathers saw the supernatural tint of of bible as frivolous - and this is especially prevalent in that none of Jesus' miracles, neither his prophecy or resurrection are mentioned in this book. Why, though? Because the moral take-home from the bible is valid as a code of ethic sans sanctification; it is nothing more-or-less than common sense: "be nice, don't lie, don't steal". In reality, these are all things more or less imperative to the proper functioning of any group of pack animals, and are valid as nothing more than that. Aside from dominance displays, you really do not see animals in the same pack thieving food from each other and/or killing each other unnecessarily. These are things necessary to the survival of a pack. Over time, silly books and god-heads have been accredited for their creation.
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    Deism is better defined as a belief in a supreme "being" that set the universe in motion and has been hands off ever since. That "being" may or may not have any resemblance to the Judeo-Christian "God" as we know it, depending on the view holder. Rather, it simply acknowledges a higher power made the universe and said higher power does not give a rat's ass about either Jesus or Brittany Spears.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bioman View Post
    Deism is better defined as a belief in a supreme "being" that set the universe in motion and has been hands off ever since. That "being" may or may not have any resemblance to the Judeo-Christian "God" as we know it, depending on the view holder. Rather, it simply acknowledges a higher power made the universe and said higher power does not give a rat's ass about either Jesus or Brittany Spears.
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    I have to love the supposed experts who some how in there mind make all facts bend to there ideas no matter how far fetched but they have no actual first hand knowledge of what they are talking about. Is even one of you who commented saying Masons are Deist an actual Mason , I already know the answer but I am going to make a point so if you are please chime in.
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    Quote Originally Posted by samva777 View Post
    I have to love the supposed experts who some how in there mind make all facts bend to there ideas no matter how far fetched but they have no actual first hand knowledge of what they are talking about. Is even one of you who commented saying Masons are Deist an actual Mason , I already know the answer but I am going to make a point so if you are please chime in.
    Not an expert on Deism, but I can certainly discern one. dsade made the comment many of the founding fathers were deist, and I gave evidence for that claim. Have you given evidence against it?
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    dsade made the statement that the Freemasons were Deist in the context that FreeMasons Believe in a supreme being this is correct but I fear that dsade tends to think of FreeMasons as believing in a God that doesnt have any relation to a Judeo Christian God and this is incorrect. I did look up the different definitions of Deist on the internet and some of definitions are correct when speaking of Masons some are incorrect and I know from the authors they are not Masons as I know dsade is not a Mason , how do I know because I am a FreeMason 32 degree so I tend to think I know more about the Guild than the Profane. Will I go into anyother details I think not but here are some numbers I dug up on the internet for you concerning FreeMasons and the Founding Fathers of America 1. Generals in the Continental Army 33 were FreeMasons.
    2. signers of the Constitution 13
    3. signers of the Declaration of independence 9
    Let me add that the movers and shakers of that time period were FreeMasons i.E. George Washington
    Benjamin Franklin
    John Hancock
    many of the early and late presidents were FreeMasons

    The Bottom line is Masons are deeply religious men and set the foundation for the country I am from, America and not one of them is an atheist and all of them believe in the principles and ethics of the bible. If you dont like the truth or the foundational principles my country was based on you can always move to some communist country or some semi communist state like california just joking for those that dont have sense of humor anyway I am finished here I leave you with the moral compass of desade who I find amusing at times but I dont take seriously. Tips hat
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