Saturday, June 21, 2003

Looks like the FCC's rule change was rejected. Needless to say, I'm really unhappy about it. Especially this:

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and other lawmakers say they also will try other methods to overturn the changes.

"The airwaves belong to the people," Dorgan said. "The FCC ignores that requirement and advances corporate interests at the expense of the public's interest." [Emphasis added]

That's a lie and he knows it. The airwaves belong to the people, yes. The people that payed for and run the airwaves. If no one had originally discovered the ability to broadcast things over radio frequencies, and these radio frequencies existed in a completely unlimited amount, then yes, I'd say they were open to the public. But if that were the case, there would be no debate about restrictions.

The fact still stands that the radio frequencies are owned by some people rather than others. These people are fully entitled to use their property as they please. If I bought a radio station, I wouldn't be morally obligated to serve the public. It's just in my best interest to do so. The idea that a "few big companies will control what kind of programming we get" is nothing but a load of crap. The customer is the one that ultimately controls what kind of programs he gets access to.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

It's always surprising to check old entries for comments and see that I actually got some. Since, (once again) no one would see my reply if I stuck to commenting in the comments box, I'll do it here. The comment comes from Dan Morris. Or, as cool people like me know him, Dan the Man.

Personally I think that the government should offer health care coverage not just for seniors but everyone else as well. Other democratic countries provide healthcare for their people. Why can't the US do that for their own? It's a sensible action that would help everyone. I think that we should have a greater degree of compassion towards our fellow man and a government healthcare system for all American citizens would help that.

The key point here seems to be that we should be compassionate towards each other. No problem there. I advocate egoism and individual rights, but it doesn't make me a cold-hearted bastard. I'm still friendly, and I still help plenty of people out, because I choose to. And that's the problem. Government officials taxing people with money to provide healthcare for those without it isn't compassion. Government officials donating a portion of their salaries to provide people with healthcare is. Government officials don't really have to do much, or care much about the people in question to pass a few laws that provide everyone with health care. In fact, I'm sure they don't care much. Free health care is something that a lot of people see as a good thing, so it would help them get re-elected. If I stole someone's money to give it to a homeless person, I'd just be a thief. If I give the homeless person a quarter of my own, then I'm compassionate.

Doesn't the Declaration say that we should be offered the persuit of life, liberty, and happiness three things that a free healthcare system would provide? It may be "socialist" but at least those don't have people who are dying simply because they can't afford a hospital visit.

Notice that the Declaration of Independence says that people have an inalienable right to the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. You're left free to pursue happiness if you want to, but it doesn't guarantee that you will get it. It definitely doesn't mean that anyone is obligated to make you happy, much less provide you with health care.

How free health care would help provide life and liberty, I do not know. What of the lives of those who are taxed mercilessly to provide this health care? Where is their liberty? Where is their inalienable right to their life? Individual rights can't violate other individual rights. It doesn't violate your right to life if I refuse to give you money for a hospital bill. You're free to find work to pay off your own bill, but not free to force others to do it for you. It would violate MY right to life if you had a thug take my money so you could pay your hospital bill.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Save the Humans is a hilarious site. I'm especially fond of their "Top _ Things" lists. Here are their top ten things to do to anyone who's happy about the breakup of Microsoft:

1. Open up a lemonade stand across the street from their house and run their kids out of business.

2. Send them a videotape of yourself wearing a Bill Gates mask and having sex with their spouse.

3. Force all the women in their family to get hysterectomies so their family doesn't get "too big and powerful".

4. Expel their children from school for getting high grades and being "anti-competitive".

5. Mandate that the wife of the family participate in voluntary acts of sexual gratification with other men of the neighborhood, so the woman's husband isn't allowed a sexual monopoly.

6. Agree with them that materialism is evil and give away all their money and material possessions to starving Ethiopians.

7. Nationalize their bathroom.

8. Subpoena their internal memos (e.g., their most embarrassing love letters) and circulate them around the Internet.

9. Break up their family into two distinct, competing families, one of which may have custody of little Johnny, and another which may develop and distribute little Mary Ann.

10. Delete every Microsoft application and document on their computer, leaving only a Microsoft version of the Linux operating system.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Just recently, I came across what seems to be one of the most convincing arguments for economic egalitarianism (By which I mean socialism, communism, etc.) around. Though, I've never seen it used by anyone before. Oddly enough, it came from me.

I forgot what I was doing at the time, but it just occurred to me that originally, no one owned property, or could logically establish ownership of it. At some point, everything existed, but it didn't belong to anyone, it just existed. So of course I wondered how I could advocate anyone's right to property these days, considering that it doesn't seem to have any rational base in the incredibly distant past. No, I didn't renounce my capitalist beliefs, but I was stumped for a while. To tell you the truth, I don't have an airtight, perfect solution; I just have a (in my mind) semi-plausible theory on it. Like I said, I've never seen anyone address the issue, so I figured I would.

First of all, I have to establish that property rights don't stem from people's need to dispose of property, such as food, water, shelter, etc. Instead, property rights stem from people's need to know what is in fact theirs to dispose of. Ownership by everyone doesn't work, as it leads to conflicts and contradictions if two people are diametrically opposed to each other regarding how the property should be used. Being able to say "This is mine" is necessary before anyone could rightfully dispose of anything.

The real issue, though, is how these rights could have been established in the first place, considering that the potential property was around before anyone was around to own it, especially in the case of land, which is what I'll deal with here. (If you own the land, then it logically follows that you probably own what's on the land, so I won't bother with getting wrapped up in complexities here.)

There were of course people who needed to live, and all of them wanted the property with which to do so. This, I will concede, is the one instance where equal distribution of property to everyone may have been acceptable. Assuming that there were originally ten people on earth, and one hundred acres of land, it would seem fairly appropriate to just agree that everyone gets ten acres each.

That explanation has a few problems though. First of all, the first ten people on earth most likely weren't that intelligent and reasonable, with measurements, language, and a reasoning capacity to lead them to that conclusion. Secondly, it doesn't take into account the fact that there was a lot more land to distribute than that, much of which would be discovered far, far later. Finally, new people would be born eventually, and what of them? Are their parents obligated to give them property, even if they choose not to? Equal distribution wouldn't have even worked back then. It's too riddled with problems and contradictions to ever be pulled off successfully, which leads to the next idea.

Perhaps the original right to property would be determined by who got there and established it as such first. Yes, it would lead to cutthroat competition, and could potentially lead to violence. However, I do believe it's how it actually happened. It seemed to work for various settlers and explorers, at least. Of course, no one could plausibly try to assert that all of the property in the world that wasn't owned yet was theirs- no one would take that claim seriously, much less respect it. The extent of their property would be initially established by what they claimed, and finalized by what they actually took care of and settled. If a man got there, claimed and settled two acres, properly established his property line, and actually made sure to take care of it, then there's no real reason not to consider it his property.

It's a somewhat sloppy system, and property rights as such probably weren't always respected (It's not like they ever have been.), but it's the best and most plausible defense I could think of. Since people didn't originally possess a reasoning capacity, they weren't any different than animals at some point. It would of course be only reasonable to expect them to deal with each other as such. Even after a reasoning capacity is established, it's about whom can earn the right to the property they want through hard work and competition. It was a demanding race for the prize, and whoever got there first was entitled to it.

Even if you could debate that claim, there's no going back. Given the current birth rate, among a host of other factors, it would not only be humanly impossible to equally distribute wealth, but it would be unjust as well. Some people do produce wealth while others don't. There's no debating that. Property rights already established, now everyone really does have to legitimately earn everything they own, through producing, and offering values for values. In other words, capitalism is still the only system that could be practiced consistently, and actually work these days, regardless of how the right of certain people to certain property was established.

Of course, I'd definitely like to hear what everyone else thinks about it, since it's an issue that only occurred to me a day or two ago, and hasn't really had enough thought put into it yet. I demand comments!

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