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Rope, Tree, Criminal Immigrant (Some Assembly Required)

curi: I *told* you that you have to spend more than 20 minutes making a political platform!
Elliot: oh shut up
curi: You completely messed up immigration.
Elliot: Not because of the time spent though.
curi: oops *hides in corner*
Elliot: besides i can fix it now:

An anarchist approach to immigration has the following problems besides welfare issues:

- Enemy soldiers can claim to be immigrants.
- Some immigrant populations might aid invading enemy soldiers, by giving them shelter or food or whatever.
- Some immigrant populations would distort political debate in the country be giving a voice to bad ideas. For example, do we want to waste time debating what Allah says about invading Iraq?
- If immigrants can vote, unassimilated ones may mechanically vote for whatever candidate offers them more stuff.
- There are a lot of public government services besides welfare. Like roads and parks.
- Our prisons are a better place to live than many countries.

What's the answer? Unlimited immigration for rich white people :-) Immigration for more problematic groups can be increased slowly and carefully.

Also a solution to the prison problem is the death penalty. And don't tell me the death penalty is expensive. It's not if you use a rope (or gun). Also, eventually for-profit prisons could accommodate many people.

PS The title is stolen from inspired by Misha


Elliot Temple on April 5, 2004

Comments (9)

Upon reading your definition of 'good', I saw a meaning difference that you failed to acknowledge.



While everyone knows the meaning of the word 'good' (as you have pointed out), what people are trying to ask when they ask you for the definition is what YOUR definition of 'good' is. From what I've read of your articles, the benefits from the approaches you outlined are vague. No, it's not a matter of simplicity - it's a matter of being unclear. For example, yes, we are aware that you believe taxes should be cut because we are "all good people" and will pay the money "we can spare". Without defining what you mean by "good" and having made no examples, people do not know whether to agree because surely some people would pay money and others would not. Some would be more willing than others to spare money for other people in need. Thus what you propose the government should do does not mean anything to anybody.



So I suggest you to please consider what you are trying to say precisely before throwing in impressive words like 'existentialist' and impressive concepts like killing the poor pocket dictionary through rapid flipping in search of an infinite amount of words.


Shel at 9:34 AM on April 13, 2004 | #898

i didn't use the word existentialist. i mostly just use a dictionary to check spelling now and then. but if you're impressed by big words so much, i guess i could try to use more. hmm, so far the biggest words i've used that aren't out of your post are 'spelling' and 'biggest'. i guess i'm bad at this.



anyway, i didn't define 'good', so i don't see how my definition can be flawed. what's good does not depend on who you are; there shouldn't be personal definitions of good.



what i meant by we are all good people, as evident from the context (are evident and context big words?), is simply that we are not a country full of wicked, selfish, people who will see lower taxes as an opportunity to ummm, do whatever it is evil capitalists do. hoarde wealth? *shrug* i don't understand the complaint



anyway, i don't see what's confusing about what i proposed government do on the issue. i proposed government stay out of the way and not do anything. quite clear.



and it's true some people will choose to donate to charity, some won't. they will all be doing what they think is right. so, i would expect this to be a reasonable approximation of what *is* right, b/c we're pretty good (in this case, read 'moral') people. on the other hand, if central planners take over charity, well i just don't trust them to get every tiny detail right, b/c, of course, they don't know about all our lives in detail.


Elliot at 10:42 AM on April 13, 2004 | #899

Please correct me if I’m wrong, I’m not much good at philosophy; I’m just trying to see if I understand your theories right. So—if I have this right—you think that there’s an objective good, and different people looking for it can have different opinions on what it is (and no one can ever be 100% sure they’re right)? If it’s so, then maybe in this context, ”your definition of what ’good’ is” can mean ”your opinion of what ’good’ is”.

Anyway, even without thinking about such complicated philosophy, I think that in simple everyday usage, different people can mean different things by ”good”. So I’m curious about what _you_ mean by it.



”what i meant by we are all good people, as evident from the context (are evident and context big words?), is simply that we are not a country full of wicked, selfish, people who will see lower taxes as an opportunity to ummm, do whatever it is evil capitalists do. hoarde wealth?”



Or buy stuff for themselves that they like? I think _some_ people may take that opportunity. (Like me. Okay, I’m not from the USA 88-) ) I wouldn’t call them wicked, selfish, evil capitalists for that...though maybe, in _some_ cases, I’d use the words “human weakness”. (Like in my own case. No, actually, I know much worse words for my own case…) I’ll admit, I don’t really know what I’d call them, and I don’t find this too important for myself, anyway. But here’s something I do find important.



I think that today, your proposition has already been realized to _some_ degree. (But again, please correct me if I’m wrong. I hardly know such economic things about Hungary, let alone the USA with its fifty states.) There’s still state welfare now, but it has to be supplemented by private donations. If you became president, people would have more money to donate, but there’d also be more need for donations. So I think that there’s _some_ similarity between our present situation and your proposition, and this might help us make predictions. Sigh.



”and it's true some people will choose to donate to charity, some won't. they will all be doing what they think is right. so, i would expect this to be a reasonable approximation of what *is* right, b/c we're pretty good (in this case, read 'moral') people.”



Thanks for explaining “good” in this case. But there’s still something I don’t understand; it’s about your logic. So, you don’t yet know what people’s choices will be, but you expect them to be reasonably close to what’s right? Do you already have some expectation of what they’ll choose, and think _that_ is close to being right (I would understand that perfectly), or do you think that _whatever_ they choose will be close to being right? And how do you know that we (or you, if you only mean people from the U.S.) are pretty good people? Is this belief based on past experiences?



And I think charity is an institution whose goal is to help, and in relatively simple ways (compared to, say, emotional help). So I think it can be pretty helpful overall even without getting every tiny detail right.



Thanks in advance!


Kletta at 10:48 AM on April 14, 2004 | #900

One major difference seems to be lots of charity you see as "needed" I see as "unnecessary". How do you determine that some bit of charity is really needed?



As to my expecting people to make the (close to) right choice. This is not b/c I know what they will choose, and already figured out that's about right (what a central planner attitude!). It is because I know they are in a much better situation to make the right choice than I am. So whatever they choose, I'll know they had the most expertise on the subject and the most motivation too, and expect they probably did a good job with it.



How do I know the US is full of good people? Well because we act like it. The US is very concerned with personal freedom, has a political system designed to find the right answer through critical debate instead of worrying about who's in charge, understands a lot about the morality of using force especially in self-defense, has allied itself with the best other countries on the planet, is most hated (along with Israel) by the worst people on the planet, is the most successful country ever (through the hard work and creativity of it's people), etc Being the most successful country does not happen except through a wealth of very good institutions to create consent, knowledge, material wealth, etc Which aren't easy to set up. Other countries with less-good people have less success at setting them up, because the people can't work together as well, and aren't as good at solving problems. I could go on, like to mention every war in US history, but this will suffice for now.


Elliot at 11:02 AM on April 14, 2004 | #901

I don’t know how to tell whether some charity is necessary is or not. (Though I guess people not dying of hunger, or easily preventable diseases, is nice. And also people not being hungry or sick, when it can be easily helped.) In fact, I don’t know if this can be told at all, and if so, then how, and by whom…I don’t know much about this at all. I’m just scared of not giving something that _is_ necessary…I guess throughout this discussion, the reason why I’m so scared and heated is that this can be a life-or-death question.



“This is not b/c I know what they will choose, and already figured out that's about right (what a central planner attitude!).”



I don’t think one has to be a central planner in order to make some approximate guesses about the future. And once one has made such guesses, one can have opinions about them.



“So whatever they choose, I'll know they had the most expertise on the subject and the most motivation too, and expect they probably did a good job with it.”



I think that this makes a lot of sense, and that because of this, individuals (of all ages) should be in charge of their own lives. I’m not so sure that because of this, individuals are the absolute best people to decide if _others_ live or die; and like I said, that’s what your presidency would seem to mean. In the case of very rich people, one person’s decision would have a huge impact on others. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, just that it’s not the same thing as people deciding about their own lives only. (I know, decisions about one’s own life also affect the outside world, but I think there’s a great difference in degree.)



I think one factor that comes into people’s decisions about other people is their opinion on the hierarchy of various needs of their own and others. (I mean all the complex stuff related to this issue, which can be different in each individual case.) Do individual expertise and motivation, by themselves, make it likely people will do a good job with determining _this_ question of hierarchy? (I’ve been reading a few Peter Singer articles…)



I don’t know much about either politics or history, so I don’t want to babble much about it. I’d just like to say that from what I know, not everything in the U.S. is absolutely perfect. Just because nobody and nothing is perfect, right? For example, being the most successful country does not mean every person in it is successful, or even close. (I’ve read some things at http://www.1001.com/hunger/hunger.html , and if even half of that is true, it doesn’t make me happy.) So, if I understand you right, it’s good people and good institutions that have created the current state of affairs. But what if more of the same good thing could make some of the current imperfections worse, and perhaps create a risk of them costing lives? (Maybe this is a case of a small risk of a large problem; I don’t know.)



Thanks again,

Kletta


Kletta at 12:00 PM on April 14, 2004 | #902

"I don’t know how to tell whether some charity is necessary is or not. ... In fact, I don’t know if this can be told at all."



OK, then how have you determined there isn't enough charity? Or how could you ever say that under some plan there wouldn't be enough?



I understand being scared that some important charity will not be given out. But my understanding is either some people will know this charity is very important, and in that case the best bet is low taxes so whoever it is has money availible, or, case 2, no one knows about the situation that needs charity. In case 2, we could either throw charity everywhere and hope to fix a few of these, or we could just say "Darn, if no one knows this charity is needed, I guess something bad will happen, and there's nothing to be done about it." OK, there are things to be done about it to help this happen less in the future, like creating more jobs, making friends, creating social organisations or whatever (just generally making our society better). But anyway, giving out charity just in hopes of it happening to go to one of the few unknown important cases seems a bad idea to me. There's better things to be done with that wealth.





"I think that this makes a lot of sense, and that because of this, individuals (of all ages) should be in charge of their own lives."



Well, what does being in charge of your own life mean? I think it should include if I get a job and create some wealth, then I get to decide what is done with that wealth.



When a homeless man on the street freezes to death on a cold night, there are a million people who could have saved him. Is each one guilty of murder? Of spending time with their family? I see this as the homeless man was responsible for his own life, not anyone else. And he failed, but that's not my fault.





Of course I agree not everything in the US is perfect. We still have people who censor what books can be read in school! We have a voting age. And even a few of our citizens want to go join terrorist groups.



As to your worry about the flaws in the US getting to be a bigger problem. ok suppose the US gained pretty much total dominence over the world, and then banned children from seeing R-rated movies (and required all movies get a rating). This would be annoying and bad. But it's less bad than the bad things other cultures do on their own (like in Saudi Arabia where woman can't drive). And it's been getting better, not worse, over time in the US. So, I'm not too worried about that.


Elliot at 4:22 PM on April 14, 2004 | #903

True, I can never be 100% sure there’s not enough money for charity. But can someone be 100% sure that there’s _enough_? I don’t think that’s an argument in my own favor, though. I just guess that such things can be discussed even without an absolute certainty.



“But my understanding is either some people will know this charity is very important, and in that case the best bet is low taxes so whoever it is has money availible,”



If there are very few such people, is it still the best bet? Also, I think there’s a difference between “just” knowing a charity is very important, and giving a lot (considering your own resources) of money for it.

Does “creating more jobs, making friends, creating social organizations or whatever” refer to things done by the government, or individuals, or both? I’m just curious. BTW, I’m not too afraid that important charities will remain totally unknown to everyone; though they—or their importance—may not be fully known by those who are actually able to help.



“Well, what does being in charge of your own life mean? I think it should include if I get a job and create some wealth, then I get to decide what is done with that wealth.”



This, in itself, makes perfect sense to me. I just don’t think it guarantees that the resulting decisions are likely to be the best ones. I understand that freedom is worth many risks, even large risks of large problems—but that doesn’t make those risks any smaller. I think a good, necessary tradeoff is not the same as a win/win.



No, people who don’t give to charity are not murderers. (This situation has also been compared to not saving a drowning person when you can do so relatively easily.) Though now I’ll ask: are people who can’t help themselves responsible for their own lives? I know that one often can’t tell who can help themselves and who can’t; but what about newborns, or seriously handicapped people? Stephen Hawking is a genius, so it’s in society’s interest to support him, but not all people like him are geniuses.



I wasn’t really worried about small flaws spreading over the world, but rather about them becoming much bigger flaws (not in our current reality, but in case of your presidency). And, yes, I know there are much worse things elsewhere. Though again, I can imagine countries that are, overall, not much worse than the U.S., and that may have a few details worse and others better than the U.S. (Specifically, I’ve been thinking about Scandinavia—where there’s capitalism, too—but I’m not sure of the details, or the changes in the past few decades.)



Again, thanks for putting up with me.

Kletta


Kletta at 11:14 AM on April 15, 2004 | #904

I remember seeing the word 'existentialist' but I can't find it now... so I apologise if I misread.



"anyway, i didn't define 'good', so i don't see how my definition can be flawed. what's good does not depend on who you are; there shouldn't be personal definitions of good."



I didn't say that your definition is flawed. I just meant that without a solid idea of what 'good' means, it is impossible to judge whether what you propose is feasible.



"what i meant by we are all good people, as evident from the context (are evident and context big words?), is simply that we are not a country full of wicked, selfish, people who will see lower taxes as an opportunity to ummm, do whatever it is evil capitalists do. hoarde wealth? *shrug* i don't understand the complaint"



Context of what?

Lowering taxes that cut out funding to people in need means that there will be less funds for them. Sure, there will be people who are willing to pay it out of their own pockets, but the total money would significantly be decreased. Right now there are non-profit organisations to which people can donate and people do donate, but that isn't enough. Cutting off funding to the people in need means it's even less enough. I just don't think the government has the right to decide that for the poor people.



"anyway, i don't see what's confusing about what i proposed government do on the issue."



It's not confusing in concept - it's your sentence structure. But I'll stop nitpicking about that now. Also, what you proposed aren't backed up by reason and is not convincing, either.



"and it's true some people will choose to donate to charity, some won't. they will all be doing what they think is right. so, i would expect this to be a reasonable approximation of what *is* right, b/c we're pretty good (in this case, read 'moral') people. on the other hand, if central planners take over charity, well i just don't trust them to get every tiny detail right, b/c, of course, they don't know about all our lives in detail."



As I said earlier, letting people choose to donate would still significantly decrease the amount of money available to the poor people. A decrease is sealing many people's fate for the worse and I don't think it's right for the government to choose that for these people.



What do you mean by 'every detail'?


Shel at 6:39 AM on April 16, 2004 | #905

"One major difference seems to be lots of charity you see as "needed" I see as "unnecessary". How do you determine that some bit of charity is really needed?"



Yes, that line can vary with opinion. But helping abandoned babies etc are 'needed' in the sense that they would die if there is no charity. (Sorry if bringing 2 threads together is annoying, just tell me and I'll try to keep it apart.) Doing nothing is far from providing any form of 'necessary' charity at all, wherever 'necessary' stands.





"How do I know the US is full of good people? Well because we act like it. The US is very concerned with personal freedom, has a political system"



Congratulations to the political system, but that does not reflect its people. I think people worldwide are relatively similar in terms of being 'good' or 'bad'. A good political system is not influenced to become 'bad' if there are 'bad' people in the country.



"designed to find the right answer through critical debate instead of worrying about who's in charge"



Yes, America is good at that compared to many other countries. Although with the Bush administration I'm starting to wonder..



"understands a lot about the morality of using force especially in self-defense, has allied itself with the best other countries on the planet, is most hated (along with Israel) by the worst people on the planet,"



Minding another country's business and doing what that country's citizens don't want is not moral. Nor is it valuing freedom. And before you say that this is preventing terrorist attacks, I think that terrorist attacks are very unlikely and has been blown out of proportion by President Bush through the media. Terrorism has been a part of history and always will be, since 9/11 it has been no different. But it's understandable if you disagree.



What I find incredibly shallow is your categorisation of countries into being good or bad. Countries are made up of people. People have conflicting views. Doesn't matter _what_ country they're in.



"is the most successful country ever (through the hard work and creativity of it's people)"



There are many reasons why America is successful. And much of it is because it was in an advantageous position after WW2. Not because its people are harder working or more creative than other people. Please get your factual history right before making such claims.



"Well, what does being in charge of your own life mean? I think it should include if I get a job and create some wealth, then I get to decide what is done with that wealth."



Yes that is freedom. But would your life really be better in a meaningful way because you have just that much more money? You are doing this at the expense of other people's lives. I think it is unbalanced and rather self centred.



"When a homeless man on the street freezes to death on a cold night, there are a million people who could have saved him. Is each one guilty of murder? Of spending time with their family? I see this as the homeless man was responsible for his own life, not anyone else. And he failed, but that's not my fault."



It's not your _fault_. But there are many cases where things happen to people out of their control.


Shel at 7:09 AM on April 16, 2004 | #906

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)