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The way to show government should intervene into personal lives

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  1. #1

    Default The way to show government should intervene into personal lives

    The fundamental assumption of economics is that people want more happiness. The fundamental question is, "how can resources that affect happiness be most efficiently allocated?"

    I argue that if somebody has an idea about how to improve the human world, it needs to be a proposal that more efficiently allocates resources that affect happiness.
  2. #2
    spoonitnow's Avatar
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    People would be happier if they didn't blow all of their fucking money on microtransactions. Therefore, the government should make microtransactions illegal.
  3. #3
    But that doesn't really mean anything.
  4. #4
    Savy, are you talking to me? If so, could you clarify what doesn't mean anything?
  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by spoonitnow
    People would be happier if they didn't blow all of their fucking money on microtransactions. Therefore, the government should make microtransactions illegal.
    I'm responding to something related to this.

    When people think of an activity they don't like and what they think the government should do with it, they frame the activity as not providing happiness and that if the government intervened then happiness would be provided. Well, the first step is to acknowledge that the activity they don't like is providing happiness. To show that the the government intervening into microtransactions would be a good idea, one needs to show how the government could more efficiently produce happiness by regulating behavior in ways that the people themselves don't. The case might not be impossible to make, though I haven't found a way to make it.
  6. #6
    That opens a can of worms since in order for a democratic government to more efficiently tell YOU what to do, YOU have to elect it. Or you have to accept that OTHERS are better at electing and running your life than you are. As far as I can tell, the concept of government intervention is a mess when you attempt to de-compartmentalize it.
  7. #7
    spoonitnow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    That opens a can of worms since in order for a democratic government to more efficiently tell YOU what to do, YOU have to elect it. Or you have to accept that OTHERS are better at electing and running your life than you are. As far as I can tell, the concept of government intervention is a mess when you attempt to de-compartmentalize it.
    Yep.

    My original response was satire, fwiw, in case that wasn't obvious. That's exactly the kind of thinking that non-thinking people have.
  8. #8
    Any y'all have an opinion on what might cause anti-market bias?
  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Savy, are you talking to me? If so, could you clarify what doesn't mean anything?
    Your method of measuring if change is good or bad is unmeasurable so it's pointless.
  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Savy
    Your method of measuring if change is good or bad is unmeasurable so it's pointless.
    I'm not sure I'd say it's my method. "Good or bad" in this context is "utility" as described in economics. It is essentially that when you prefer more of something, it provides you more utility, and vice versa. So, the fundamental question then is, "how can resources most efficiently be allocated regarding what people want?"
  11. #11
    spoonitnow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Any y'all have an opinion on what might cause anti-market bias?
    I think a part of it is that, generally speaking, people have no clue what the fuck they're talking about.
  12. #12
    Let's say there are two things people want: to eat tasty food and to be healthy. The former can negatively impact the latter and you can end up with a lot of people who eat lots of tasty food and are unhealthy. Those people are choosing what they want the most by eating tasty food and being unhealthy; however, there is asymmetric information, meaning that it could be the case that people would be even happier if they chose to not eat tasty food and instead chose to be healthy even though that is not what they choose/want given the information they have.

    The freer market explanation is that even though peoples' preferences are not perfect and results are not perfect, when people are allowed to choose without coercion they most efficiently choose what they want. But that does not mean that if things were different they wouldn't choose differently. It could be the case that an environment/policy change could change what people choose/want and make them better off than without that environment/policy change. Demonstrating that government can do that is a requirement regarding proposing government intervention. I am trying to find explanations for how government can more efficiently change incentives to better peoples' lives that people themselves don't do.
  13. #13
    I am trying to find explanations for how government can more efficiently change incentives to better peoples' lives that people themselves don't do.
    *than people themselves don't do.
  14. #14
    actually both ways work. whatever
  15. #15
    spoonitnow's Avatar
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    I don't think that the government has the right to do that. It's not the government's place to decide what's best for you. That's how communism happens.
  16. #16
    CoccoBill's Avatar
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    Spoon, what is the government's purpose?
    Our brains have just one scale, and we resize our experiences to fit.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by spoonitnow View Post
    I think a part of it is that, generally speaking, people have no clue what the fuck they're talking about.
    Winner. Someone should put this in a fortune cookie.
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    ongies gonna ong
  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by CoccoBill View Post
    what is the government's purpose?
    That's gonna depend on your own opinion. The government has no "set" purpose... I could say it has a responsibility to provide healthcare, the next person can say get a job and provide your own healthcare. Most people would say the government should build and maintain roads, however some might say that should be a job for private enterprise.

    In my opinion, the government has a responsibility to provide the best environment in which their citizens can thrive. Making people thrive isn't the government's job.

    As for happiness... well that's a crock of shit at the best of times. I've been skint most of my life, and happy for most of it. Right now I'm not very happy, because I've falled out with my closest friend. Haven't seen her for months. If given the choice between £50k and my friendship back, it's an easy choice.

    So how can the government provide happiness when happiness is something that happens as a consequence of persosal relations?
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    ongies gonna ong
  19. #19
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    Hah, busted! I knew you were spoon's alt.

    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    The government has no "set" purpose... I could say it has a responsibility to provide healthcare, the next person can say get a job and provide your own healthcare. Most people would say the government should build and maintain roads, however some might say that should be a job for private enterprise.
    I'd put safety and security of it's citizens high on that list. Some people think it should be their only job.

    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    In my opinion, the government has a responsibility to provide the best environment in which their citizens can thrive. Making people thrive isn't the government's job.
    Yet it would be easy to extrapolate from that that their job is to stop people from doing things that hinder someone's ability to thrive.

    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    As for happiness... well that's a crock of shit at the best of times. I've been skint most of my life, and happy for most of it. Right now I'm not very happy, because I've falled out with my closest friend. Haven't seen her for months. If given the choice between £50k and my friendship back, it's an easy choice.

    So how can the government provide happiness when happiness is something that happens as a consequence of persosal relations?
    Yeah, personally I wouldn't even go there, happiness is too subjective. People value things differently and trying to make everyone happy would just be a huge conflicting clusterfuck. I definitely don't think the government should tell me what should make me happy. Sorry to hear about your friend.
    Our brains have just one scale, and we resize our experiences to fit.

  20. #20
    Hah, busted! I knew you were spoon's alt.
    If answering questions addressed to others is an indication I'm an alt, check out the physics thread. I'd also be an alt of mojo, which means mojo is an alt of spoon.

    I'd put safety and security of it's citizens high on that list. Some people think it should be their only job.
    Security is an essential part of such an environment. So yes, I agree security is part of the government's remit.

    Yet it would be easy to extrapolate from that that their job is to stop people from doing things that hinder someone's ability to thrive.
    Hmm, not quite. Someone's ability to thrive? The government cannot be concerned with individuals. The government's resposibility is to the people as a whole. The government should create the conditions for an individual to thrive, but it's up to the individual to actually thrive.

    The thing is, if I'm successful at say, poker, someone else is unsuccessful. By thriving, I'm hindering someone else's ability to thrive. There are many things this analogy can be applied to in the real world of economics. One person's success comes at someone else's expense. Simply securing a job where there is competition is hindering someone else's ability to thrive.

    The government should stop people from effecting the conditions which make it possible to thrive.

    Sorry to hear about your friend.
    Cheers, I appreciate the sentiment. I think we'll get our shit resolved in time, sometimes intense friendships need space. If not, well life goes on. I've got stuff going on and plans for the future.
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    ongies gonna ong
  21. #21
    spoonitnow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CoccoBill View Post
    Spoon, what is the government's purpose?
    To protect the rights of its citizens, which are rights they already have as human beings.

    One of those rights is making their own choices about what will make them happy.
  22. #22
    Government's purpose:

    1) Protection for its citizens from those who would do them harm. This covers the military and the enforcement of the border.

    2) Basic social services like police, fire, and a K thru 12 education. This also includes safety nets like welfare and medicaid for the underprivileged and those suffering hardships.

    3) A fair market. The government needs to protects its citizens from unfair market practices that rob them of opportunities like fraud and discrimination

    That's it

    If you think the government owes you anything else.....get a job.

    So if I'm understanding the premise of this thread correctly, I disagree with it. It's not the government's job to provide "happiness" or "utility" or whatever you want to call it.
    Last edited by BananaStand; 12-18-2017 at 10:04 AM.
  23. #23
    Basic social services, you commie fuck.
  24. #24
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    There is no objective purpose for governments. There are only subjective reasons. These reasons vary as populations vary in size and culture. The purpose of a gov't is whatever its citizens decide its purpose is. I'm in favor of letting people make the mistakes that define them. It blows up with stuff like Upton Sinclair's work, where the mistakes people are making have widespread impact on other people. Thing is, I can easily imagine a vocal crowd who would've argued that if you don't want to eat tainted meat, then don't buy it. The problem with that is the presumption that consumers can know the background of every product they buy. That's simply not reasonable in modern societies. Sure, with meat it seems pretty easy, but a cell phone has obscene patents in it, and it's not reasonable to expect anyone who owns a cellphone to understand the deeper complications of mining rare minerals to create them.
  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    There is no objective purpose for governments. There are only subjective reasons. These reasons vary as populations vary in size and culture. The purpose of a gov't is whatever its citizens decide its purpose is
    FALSE!

    The idea that the government is a fluid and dynamic entity that can morph according to the whims of popular will, is horrendously dangerous thinking. The government has an objective purpose, and it's defined by the three points I listed in my post above. If you want confirmation, there is a document that spells out exactly what the government can and can't do. It's called, The Constitution. At least that's how it works in America. In Britain, it looks like the government's only purpose is to generate celebrity babies.

    The purpose of a gov't is whatever its citizens decide its purpose is
    Don't confuse the purpose of a government with how a government functions.

    For example, if citizens in a particular municipality want some of their land preserved and turned into a public park, then it doesn't suddenly become the government's purpose to create and maintain that park. The government's "purpose" is still an unchanging and objective set of powers set forth by the Constitution. One of those powers is to levy taxes. And there is an objective and unchanging set of rules that define how a tax can be levied, how the money is spent, and what accountability measures are in place. It's called 'democracy'.

    If people want a park, it doesn't suddenly become the government's obligation to provide that park.

    If people want a park, the responsibility falls on those people to work within the government system and exercise the democratic process in order to utilize the government as a tool to fulfill their goal.

    The differences may seem subtle, but getting it wrong leads down a slippery slope.
  26. #26
    If you want to say "subjective value" instead of "happiness," that is perfectly fine. They both mean the same thing as "utility" in the economic sense.

    I agree with you guys that the government shouldn't have any business in telling a person what he or she subjectively values.
  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand
    Basic social services like police, fire, and a K thru 12 education. This also includes safety nets like welfare and medicaid for the underprivileged and those suffering hardships.
    Do you believe that the government is the best at educating children?
  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Do you believe that the government is the best at educating children?
    Providing an education actually straddles #2 and #3 on my list.

    I believe every citizen is entitled to the opportunity to learn a set of skills that allows them to compete in a fair market. Whether that entitlement is delivered directly by the government, or subsidized by the government is a topic for another thread.
  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand
    I believe every citizen is entitled to the opportunity to learn a set of skills that allows them to compete in a fair market.
    Sure. I probably believe that too. The question is does government involvement in education produce that effect? There is a lot of research that suggests formal education is not resulting in intelligence/knowledge/skill increases, and you also have to weigh the cost and opportunity cost of formal education.* Should the government be involved in doing something that has unknown effects and unknown costs? Are people better off by not making their own choices?


    *An irony is that, per Bryan Caplan, the benefit of higher education goes to those who complete degrees and the costs go to everybody else while there is little to no net benefit for society. And the more people are incentivized into higher education through government subsidization, the less benefit those with degrees get.
  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Sure. I probably believe that too. The question is does government involvement in education produce that effect?
    Well, there's a simple way to test this....

    Try getting a job without a high school diploma
  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand
    Try getting a job without a high school diploma
    The question is why is that?

    The going explanation is that it sends a signal that you are smart, hard working, can see things through, can conform, etc., yet we do not know if the education causes any of this. Indeed it looks like those who already have the necessary attributes to graduate are the ones that do, not that those who don't have the attributes gain them through education.
  32. #32
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    @Bananastand: Strawman, much?
    My point was that the purpose of a gov't varies by culture and population, and your point was, "Look at 'Murica!" while ignoring all the interesting points about the varieties of State governance.
    You're not wrong about America's Federal government, but you're not on the same topic as the thing you called FALSE. You haven't compared it to anything to show identical purpose.

    If you want to bring it back to a non-strawman argument, then you need to cite how other world governments (not only the federal gov'ts of the world, all gov'ts at all scales) meet the same purpose as America's government, and keep in mind that plenty of those governments are governing small populations with very different international and societal pressures to contend with.



    I have not confused purpose with function. The function of a government is 100% objective. The function is what it actually does, not what it SHOULD do.
    The purpose is what it SHOULD do, which is perfectly subjective.

    You're pigeon-holing this conversation into one about "American" and "Federal" government, which is trivial.
    Of course any single government at a snapshot in time has an objective purpose. It's erroneous to assert that said purpose is unchanging.


    ***
    @wuf:
    The point is conflict resolution. How that manifests depends on what conflicts we're talking about and the historical context of past reactions to past conflicts.

    Go back to your example of the world of 2 people and one grows an apple tree, but the other comes along and picks all the apples. Who rightfully owns the apples?
    Clearly the one who grew the apples says, "Those apples would not exist if not for my effort, that effort is my claim to the apples."
    Just as clearly, the other one says, "Your effort is nil. The tree and grew the apples without your effort. I had to walk over to the tree and reach up real high over my head to pick some of those apples, anyway. IF effort matters (and I'm not saying it does), then my effort is greater than yours."

    etc.

    There is no objectively "rightful owner" of the apples, only 2 people with a dispute. They can cite any moral or ethical arguments they like, but that's not likely to sway the other party, who has different morals and ethics. In the absence of a majority to coerce one of the apple guys into acquiescence, there is only an argument. It doesn't matter who the majority awards the apples, of if it can force a compromise where apples are shared. All that matters is that a precedent is set, around which other conflicts will be resolved. The next time there is a dispute about apples, the standard is now set and the dispute is more quickly resolved. However, this is only possible because there was unequal disagreement in the addition of an outside party to resolve the conflict. If 2 parties disagree, but are equally strong (politically), then there is no morally right course of action. Moral rightness is simply a trivial artifact of tyranny of the majority.
  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand
    Try getting a job without a high school diploma
    Also note that it is possibly because of k-12 government involvement that k-12 completion has become the baseline standard for success in employment. This is because virtually everybody does k-12 because the government pays for it and mostly mandates it, which results in people who don't complete it being sorted into low intelligence/ethic category. The way it is now, people don't bear much of the cost of education directly, so education is chosen more and it is expected by employers to be chosen more. But that would change if the costs were returned to directly being on those who consume the service.
  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey
    @wuf:
    The point is conflict resolution. How that manifests depends on what conflicts we're talking about and the historical context of past reactions to past conflicts.

    Go back to your example of the world of 2 people and one grows an apple tree, but the other comes along and picks all the apples. Who rightfully owns the apples?
    Clearly the one who grew the apples says, "Those apples would not exist if not for my effort, that effort is my claim to the apples."
    Just as clearly, the other one says, "Your effort is nil. The tree and grew the apples without your effort. I had to walk over to the tree and reach up real high over my head to pick some of those apples, anyway. IF effort matters (and I'm not saying it does), then my effort is greater than yours."

    etc.

    There is no objectively "rightful owner" of the apples, only 2 people with a dispute. They can cite any moral or ethical arguments they like, but that's not likely to sway the other party, who has different morals and ethics. In the absence of a majority to coerce one of the apple guys into acquiescence, there is only an argument. It doesn't matter who the majority awards the apples, of if it can force a compromise where apples are shared. All that matters is that a precedent is set, around which other conflicts will be resolved. The next time there is a dispute about apples, the standard is now set and the dispute is more quickly resolved. However, this is only possible because there was unequal disagreement in the addition of an outside party to resolve the conflict. If 2 parties disagree, but are equally strong (politically), then there is no morally right course of action. Moral rightness is simply a trivial artifact of tyranny of the majority.
    Bonds held in escrow by agreed upon arbitration could be one powerful tool for conflict resolution. There are variations on that theme that could work for different situations.
  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    The purpose of a gov't is whatever its citizens decide its purpose is
    Did North Korea's citizens decide that it's government's purpose should be to starve and oppress the people?


    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    The purpose is what it SHOULD do, which is perfectly subjective.
    False. Especially when you combine it with the first quote. You're saying that the government is SHOULD do whatever it's citizens decide it should do.

    Maybe you've heard this one lately......"The government should make it illegal for nazi's to say nazi things around non-nazi's"

    ^That's a totally subjective statement about what the government should do. The vast majority of people in this country agree with the underlying sentiment of distaste for nazi's. But that doesn't mean that the government SHOULD make a law, no matter how hard you wish for it to happen. Now lets say there was 1 nazi left in the whole country, and all 325 million other people decided that they wanted a law banning nazi rhetoric.

    Let's say hypothetically that the vote is literally 325 million to 1 in favor of the law. LEt's say that all but one citizen has "decided the gov't's purpose" is to squash nazi speech. Let's say that all but one citizen in the entire country feel that there SHOULD be a law stopping nazi talk.

    The OBJECTIVE reality remains....

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

    To a degree, you're right. Some people in the late 1700's got together and decided what the government's purpose is. It was based on their philosophies, opinions, and experiences at the time. I guess you can call that a 'subjective decision'. But after it was ratified into a constitution....it's no longer open for edits.

    Sorry if that's all too America-centric for you. But knowing what I know about wuf's posts, I think its safe to assume that America is a central discussion point. But if you prefer the international flair....then please explain how North Korea can oppress and starve people if those same people are responsible for dictating the government's purpose?
  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Savy
    Basic social services, you commie fuck.
    I want basic social services too. The question is if government can most efficiently provide them.
  37. #37
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    @banana re. N. Korea: Your assumption of democracy is not relevant. I never stipulated all of the citizens have to agree, only that it is the choice of the people who live there. Whether the choice is popular is not relevant, only that it is the N. Korean people who govern N. Korea, and it is their choices which define that gov't. If history is any guide, those oppressed N Korean citizens will one day rise up and prove that it was their choices to remain under the thumb of said dictator all along. You're mistaken about "should" and may consider substituting "is expected to" to clean it up a bit. Should is a value statement and not objective, by definition. The fact that America has laws does not imply that Americans should follow those laws, only that there will be consequences if they do not follow the laws. If someone chooses to not follow the laws, it doesn't mean they should go to prison, but it means they probably will go to prison (assuming guilt of a prison-worthy offense). These are different statements. Whether or not 325 million people choose to be thwarted by what is written on some old piece of parchment is up to each of them to decide, and not an objective or provable fact. I'm sure you're aware of Article 5 of the Constitution, anyway.
  38. #38
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    Fucking formatting is gone all haywire, now, too?! What is going on with FTR, gmml?
  39. #39
    I'm a big fan of Thomas Sowell's three questions to ask of any proposal:

    (1) At what cost?
    (2) As opposed to what?
    (3) Where is the evidence?
  40. #40
    banana-

    You are objectively an inferior interlocutor.


    MMM-

    I mostly agree/am intrigued by the directions you've headed with this. One thing I disagree on is what seems to be an assumption that morals are ultimately subjective. In the given scenario, if there is not apple scarcity, the apple grower's efforts are moot, as keeping track of ownership is a needless burden and worsens both men's lives-- the in the case of scarcity, the apple picker's merits are moot, as disincentivizing the apple grower from growing apples makes both men's lives worse. We needn't consider whether one man is stubborn and beyond reason, as this doesn't have any bearing on an objective morality.
  41. #41
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boost View Post
    One thing I disagree on is what seems to be an assumption that morals are ultimately subjective. In the given scenario, if there is not apple scarcity, the apple grower's efforts are moot, as keeping track of ownership is a needless burden and worsens both men's lives-- the in the case of scarcity, the apple picker's merits are moot, as disincentivizing the apple grower from growing apples makes both men's lives worse. We needn't consider whether one man is stubborn and beyond reason, as this doesn't have any bearing on an objective morality.
    We all hold certain values as inalienable by presumption. Among them in your above critique is the presumption that there is any value in either or both apple-guy's lives, or specifically that "worsening" their lives is either objective or immoral. Sure, they're humans in the story, and as humans, we want to assign value to humans' lives, but that is not objective value. (To be clear, I don't disagree that there is value in human lives, but only that it is objective value.)

    What if we replace the humans with brain parasites, and the argument between them is over which one gets to parasite your brain? Is the inherent value in their lives of any concern to you at this point?

    Maybe not the best example, but I think it makes the point, in a passable way.

    How about this, then: The "obvious" objective morality I hold is not identical to the "obvious" objective morality you hold, which is a problem for both the obviousness and the objectivity.
  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    @Bananastand: Strawman, much?
    LOL
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  43. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    If history is any guide, those oppressed N Korean citizens will one day rise up and prove that it was their choices to remain under the thumb of said dictator all along.
    Are you on meth right now??

    Using history as a guide.....lol......how many times has a brainwashed, unarmed, starved, and oppressed people risen up against the 3rd largest military on earth?

    Even if you can find and example, I'm sure you would have to go WAAAAYYYY back. So then you have to consider all of the technological advances that have been made since the last time the 3rd largest military in the world was overthrown. They don't fight with swords and muskets anymore dude.

    Using your logic then, by not resisting, the Jews CHOSE to be exterminated by the germans.

    There is such a thing as evil. And identifying it is not really a matter of opinion.
  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand View Post
    Using your logic then, by not resisting, the Jews CHOSE to be exterminated by the germans.
    SMH. No.
    This is the same misunderstanding I just corrected. I wont do it again. You're not following my points, which means these questions are non-sequitur.

    The flaw in your analysis is, again, that you're assuming something about democracy or popularity. I didn't say the Jews chose to be exterminated. I said the Germans chose to exterminate Germans (and to conquer other nations, making them Germans to potentially be exterminated, too).
    For the record, Hitler was democratically elected, so your point about popularity and democracy is not well-made in this specific example.

    Your injection of religious identity, while certainly correct as a motivation for whom was exterminated, has nothing to do with governance.

    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand View Post
    There is such a thing as evil. And identifying it is not really a matter of opinion.
    I'm not saying you're wrong that there is evil, I'm saying that it's subjective what is evil. What is evil to you and me is not identical and there is no proof or test which can be made to show which of us is correct (or if either of us is).

    Identifying it is absolutely a matter of opinion, or else everyone in the world would agree, or have a simple test/demonstration which would make it clear that they were in error.

    It's easy to get caught up in group-think when you and many people near you agree about what is "obviously evil," but popularity doesn't make for a lack of moral evil, as your point about nazi's demonstrates.
    I'd wager that the average nazi would argue that the obvious evil was the Jewish people, and the obvious good was to exterminate them. So again, what is good and evil is in the mind of the thinker, and while you and I agree that genocide (of humans) is evil, that doesn't make it so.
  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    You're not following my points,
    Ok...to be honest, I'm not sure how we got here.

    I think the topic in the OP is asking how and when the gov't should meddle in people's personal lives. Your answer seems to be "Whenever people want them to, cuz governments purpose can change whenever people decide that it changes". That's bogus.

    Maybe you could be right if you're strictly talking about the decisions made when forming a new government. Like "do we wanna be a democracy or dictatorship?". You would also be right if by "change" you mean "revolution".

    However, I think the OP was asking about things in a more realistic and practical sense. Like, "Is it ok for the government to require you to wear a seatbelt?" And when it comes to those questions, we're talking about existing and established governments whose purpose has already been set out by an objective set of rules.
  46. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand View Post
    However, I think the OP was asking about things in a more realistic and practical sense. Like, "Is it ok for the government to require you to wear a seatbelt?"
    Asking about when government requiring seatbelt use is right. It would be when the government setting this policy more efficiently addresses your safety than you do, which means that government setting the policy results in you being safer at the same cost or as safe as normal at a lower cost. A deeper way of saying this is that government setting the policy results in you having more of your preferences met than otherwise.
  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    Asking about when government requiring seatbelt use is right. It would be when the government setting this policy more efficiently addresses your safety than you do, which means that government setting the policy results in you being safer at the same cost or as safe as normal at a lower cost. A deeper way of saying this is that government setting the policy results in you having more of your preferences met than otherwise.
    I'm not sure I follow this, but if you're arguing FOR seatbelt laws...I disagree.

    While it's true, a seatbelt law probably makes the population safer....so what? Why does that mean that the government is obligated to create and enforce that law? If the government outlawed driving altogether, then everyone would be even safer.....so why not do that? Do you see now how this could be dangerous when we start applying the same logic to issues more significant that seatbelts?

    And what if I just find the seatbelt uncomfortable? Why can't I be free to weigh the risks of not wearing it vs. the discomfort of wearing it? Why would we let a government make those *subjective* decisions?

    If we're making seat belt laws....why not laws about motorcycle helmets? But maybe I like riding without a helmet, and I consciously accept the risks.

    The only reason seat belt laws exist is because lobbyists for various healthcare entities got into bed with lawmakers. The HC industry saves money because people get hurt less, and some of the savings finds its way into campaign contributions. Also, the gov't increases its revenue by creating another ticket-able offense. Sadly, that's how a lot of stuff gets done in government.

    In the case of seatbelts, the logic of using them is so universally accepted, that a law requiring it goes easily unnoticed. Many people just think "oh, I wear my seatbelt anyway, so I don't care about the law". But what they don't realize is that their government has over-stepped it's bounds and been exploited by a special interest. That's bad. That's really really really really bad.

    I'm somewhat proud to live in a state that has resisted this practice. We don't have seatbelt laws cause we don't need seatbelt laws. Our state motto is "Live Free or Die" and we mean it. We'd rather be dead than let a government decide what's best for us.
  48. #48
    I'm not arguing for seatbelt laws. I am presenting the conditions that would need to be met in order for a seatbelt law to be a better option than no seatbelt law. That condition is that if the law more efficiently provided for each individual's preferences on average than if the law didn't exist. The way to find this is by answering the question of whether people are better off according to their own subjective valuation of all relevant components if the law exists than if the law does not exist.

    Here's an example:

    If every $100 the government spends on safety measures provides 10 points of value to people on average, yet that same $100 would provide 12 points of value to the people on average if people were free to do with it as they see fit, then that would mean that the seatbelt law makes people worse off than if it did not exist in the first place and the law should not be implemented. "Value" encapsulates the net of every possible held preference.

    Does this make sense?
  49. #49
    Banana-- you seem to often presume where an idea is going, and then carry on and build arguments based on the presumption. I think this is what often leads you to strawmanning people's arguments.

    Wuf's point was not "if government is better at making you safe, they should be able to whatever whatever.." his point is "if government is better able to fulfil your preferences, on balance, they are justified in doing government shit to see to it." This means, if you don't wear your seat belt because it ruffles your clothes, but you actually value the reduction in the damages seen in a low probability catastrophic event more than you value your daily unruffled clothes, but because you're bad at probability you pass up value and keep your clothes unruffled by not wearing your seat belt, this likely is a place for government to intervene.

    Now I'm not sure I agree with the assertion that this is the base justification for government's legislation and enforcement of said legislation-- but being for or against the assertion doesn't matter if you aren't actually considering the assertion when deciding whether you are for or against. This is what happens when you unintentionally strawman an argument.


    As for your response to MMM-- you seem fixated on this idea that the constitution is set in stone. It is not. The founding fathers knew it was a starting point and knew there would be amendments-- the first 10 of which were added within two years of the constitution coming into effect. So, already we have it that this is a living document that not only will change with the society, but it was in fact designed to. Now you or I or whoever may feel that certain changes go against the spirit of the constitution, however being designed to adapt, there are clear paths to edit the constitution, and so long as the rules of the current constitution are followed at the time of each amendment, we can end up with a constitution that says anything. And this is why the broader, non-americentric question of "what is the purpose of government" is relevant and always will be.
  50. #50
    Ah, I think your point was slightly different than I assumed, wuf. I think both of us were missing a variable, wouldn't you agree?
  51. #51
    Quote Originally Posted by boost View Post
    This means, if you don't wear your seat belt because it ruffles your clothes, but you actually value the reduction in the damages seen in a low probability catastrophic event more than you value your daily unruffled clothes, but because you're bad at probability you pass up value and keep your clothes unruffled by not wearing your seat belt, this likely is a place for government to intervene.
    That's a good way of putting it.

    Here's a wrench in the cogs: the going theory says that if somebody chooses to keep his clothes unruffled by not wearing the seat belt, it's because he indeed valued that more than he valued his assessment of the value of the safety the seat belt provides. In this case, wearing the seat belt would make him less happy. But that doesn't mean that his value judgments couldn't change for the better such that he would be happier wearing the seat belt than he currently is not wearing the seat belt. In this dichotomy, there are several ways to make him happier by wearing the seat belt. You can pay him enough money to want to wear it. A way governments can do this is subsidization. Or you can punish him for not wearing it. A way governments can do this is fines or jail time. Or you can change his beliefs in a more fundamental way. A way governments can do this is with ad campaigns.

    Yet here's the kicker. The dichotomy is not the real world. Anything somebody does to try to change the person's behavior comes with a cost and an opportunity cost. These costs are exogenous to the dichotomy and mean that the net benefit of trying to change the person's behavior can be negative. So, if the government decides to subsidize seat belt wearing, sure more people will wear seat belts and will (maybe) be safer in that regard and they will be happier in that regard too since they prefer getting the subsidy for wearing the seat belt instead of getting no subsidy and wearing no seat belt. But the funds from which the subsidy derives has to come from other places. And if those other places would otherwise use the funds in ways that create even more happiness than the subsidized seat belt scenario, then it means the subsidized seat belt scenario is a net negative on happiness.

    Now I'm not sure I agree with the assertion that this is the base justification for government's legislation
    What are your thoughts?
  52. #52
    Yeah, that all makes perfect sense, so there's the potential benefit of those subject to the government's actions being happier, and there are three distinct potential drawbacks: the opportunity cost is too great, in feeling coerced any benefits are made moot by the subjects negative response to coercion, the benefits, while real, are canceled out by (or worse outweighed) by creating another greater harm (ruffled clothing.)

    Even though you and I probably will disagree on whether the government should act in a broad spectrum of instances where the government could act-- I find comfort in having this equation (as it stands above, or amended to better reflect reality) and not being stuck in a "the government should/should never do X because [ultimately baseless ideology]" bog of argumentative despair. Even if we never agree on real world policy, we can have fruitful discussions on this topic.

    As for what I do think is the base justification for a government's existence/action-- well I didn't mean to say that I think you are wrong, just that I haven't thought through the question to conclusion, and while your claim sounds good, I simply don't think I've given the topic adequate consideration to endorse the claim. Further, I was trying to make clear that I was not arguing to your point, I was trying to restate it and contrast it with what I think was a gross mischaracterization of your point by banana.

    That being said, a critique of your claim did just pop into my head-- essentially the Repugnant Conclusion can be applied to this equation. If you keep successively applying the prescriptions of the equation to the current state, eventually we could end up with some form of communism in which the average life is better, but every individual is just barely floating above a lethargic melancholy. I'm not sure that would happen, but I think there are some reasonable assumptions you could work with that would have the equation churn out such an outcome.
  53. #53
    Thanks for bringing up Repugnant Conclusion. I'd never heard of it before. It seems to assume a zero-sum game. Is that correct?

    Regarding how it applies to my equation, I may be confused. The goal of my equation is to increase the average net benefit for the given population (or for a changing one), while the Repugnant Conclusion is about an increase in total benefit due to population increase even as average benefit is declining.
  54. #54
    Average might be the wrong frame here. Median might be better. Though I'm not sure, and if it is better it might not be good enough. It could be that baseline rising is the better frame. I'm not sure yet.

    The kind of thing I'm getting at is that if average is the frame, skew can hypothetically change things, which could mean in some case that "people" wouldn't exactly be better off even if the average increases. The reason I used average is because I'm thinking in terms of how effective each individual and organizing groups of individuals are at improving their lives compared to when the government tries to improve their lives instead. In the former kind of scenario, we'd probably get most people improving but some improve more than others. In the latter kind of scenario, I argue that that can still happen, just at a slower rate or lower magnitude. And those are gonna be on average.
  55. #55
    Quote Originally Posted by boost View Post
    Yeah, that all makes perfect sense, so there's the potential benefit of those subject to the government's actions being happier,
    Why is it the government's job to make people happy?

    and there are three distinct potential drawbacks: the opportunity cost is too great,
    I thought the question was not whether the government should do action A at the expense of action B (opportunity cost). I thought the question here is should the government do action A, or nothing? Opportunity cost is never an issue when the alternative is null.

    in feeling coerced any benefits are made moot by the subjects negative response to coercion,
    This feels like you've built a safety net into your equation in order to avoid oppressive controlling regimes. However, such regimes do exist. Furthermore, how do you measure the intensity, validity, or respectability of the negative response? No one likes paying taxes, so are the benefits are taxes moot?

    the benefits, while real, are canceled out by (or worse outweighed) by creating another greater harm (ruffled clothing.)
    Again, WHO decides which outweighs which?

    Even though you and I probably will disagree on whether the government should act in a broad spectrum of instances where the government could act
    Who decides when the government acts, and when it doesn't? Why do seatbelt laws exist? Did citizens really petition their lawmakers to undermine individual freedom? Does someone else driving seat-beltless bother anyone THAT much? I feel like seatbelt laws exist because special interests perverted the political process and justified using the exact equation you've laid out here. They say "well, less injuries makes medical care cheaper for everybody, so gov't action is required"

    -- I find comfort in having this equation (as it stands above, or amended to better reflect reality) and not being stuck in a "the government should/should never do X because [ultimately baseless ideology]"
    I've shown you how your 'comfortable' equation has been exploited in the case of seatbelt laws. So where does it stop?

    I'm much more comfortable with an ideology of commitment to freedom. I would much rather just draw a line in the sand that says "hey gov't, mind your own fucking business". If that line has to be moved as times change, that's fine. Yeah, I know the constitution can be changed. But it's no easy task, by design.

    And if you start letting the government tiptoe over that line, like in the case of seatbelt laws, then who knows where it ends. who knows how m uch they will creep into your daily life, and make decisions for you. The more that happens, the more a country loses it's conviction in an ideology of freedom. A seat belt law isn't going to turn the US into North Korea. But it's one step closer, and it didn't need to happen.
  56. #56
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    "Why is it the government's job to make people happy?"
    We've been over this.
    It's because governed people say it is. It's because when people are unhappy (think Great Depression), they will demand the gov't step in. It's because when people are happy, they will make the easiest choice and re-elect whoever is in office.
    I wish it was just issues as severe as the Great Depression, but we all know that people will insist the government intervene on behalf of their happiness over video game loot boxes.

    "Opportunity cost is never an issue when the alternative is null."
    There is never a null alternative when it comes to existing wealth. If the money is not used for A, it will be used for B. "non-using" the money is a valid logical use, despite the apparent contradiction in language.

    "No one likes paying taxes, so are the benefits are taxes moot?"
    I am an American patriot and I am proud to pay taxes.
    If you don't like paying American taxes, there are ~200 other countries in the world for you to move to. I hear a couple of them don't require their citizens to pay taxes. What's that? You don't want to move from your homeland, despite the taxes? Then how about you suck up your pride and admit that the choice to live anywhere involves compromises, and on the whole, you're pretty happy with paying taxes in America.
  57. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    "Why is it the government's job to make people happy?"
    We've been over this. It's because governed people say it is.
    No...that's just something you said. That doesn't make it true. I know of at least one country where citizens are only promised an opportunity to engage in "the pursuit of happiness". The happiness itself is not a guaranteed function of government.

    It's because when people are unhappy (think Great Depression), they will demand the gov't step in.
    Really? They demand it? No one demands more of themselves? Unhappy people should just turn to the government rather than try to improve their situation through their own efforts?? Get educated, get a better job, save more, spend less, advance, grow, improve.....

    Where does the citizen's obligation end and the government's begin??

    It's because when people are happy, they will make the easiest choice and re-elect whoever is in office.
    Way oversimplified. Hillary promised to be mostly an extension of Obama. Their policies and ideology aligned alot. Hillary got more votes than Trump. But Trump won.

    So were the people happy? I think you've oversimplified this in a way that just doesn't apply to modern governments where populations number in the double-digit millions or more. Even a minority opinion still represents a shit load of people.

    I wish it was just issues as severe as the Great Depression, but we all know that people will insist the government intervene on behalf of their happiness over video game loot boxes.
    So why then...is a government just "whatever people want"? Shouldn't' there be limits?

    "Opportunity cost is never an issue when the alternative is null."
    There is never a null alternative when it comes to existing wealth. If the money is not used for A, it will be used for B. "non-using" the money is a valid logical use, despite the apparent contradiction in language.
    What about things that have no cost at all?? Like seatbelt laws. Lawmakers and legislators are going to be working and getting paid whether they spend the time passing laws, or spend the time shoving their own thumbs up their butt-holes. Enacting the law costs nothing.

    Furthermore traffic is already regulated in all sorts of ways. So cops are already out on patrol anyway. They're out there pulling over violators and writing citations anyway. There is no cost to enforcing a seatbelt law.

    So what's the opportunity cost of not having a seatbelt law?

    "No one likes paying taxes, so are the benefits are taxes moot?"
    I am an American patriot and I am proud to pay taxes.
    This paragraph was a little eyebrow raising MMM. I'm not sure what you're getting at.

    But there are plenty of people who feel "Hey gov't, instead of paying you income tax...I'm just gonna keep the money. I'm gonna spend it on ammunition and supplies while you try and run this country off of sales, import, and property taxes. And if you can't do that....well then come on over here and try to take your income tax"

    That's obviously a little bit of hyperbole, but I sympathize with those sentiments ALOT more than I do with "I'm a patriot, and I'm proud to pay taxes".
  58. #58
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    I want basic social services too. The question is if government can most efficiently provide them.

    To the individual, no. To the population as a whole, yes.
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    ongies gonna ong
  59. #59
    What is the government's role when it comes to eduaction? To educate an individual as best as possible? Or to provide the most efficient education system that gives everyone as good an education as circumstances allow?

    If you have a remit to edcucate one person, then you can educate that person to a very high standard. If your remit is to educate a population, those standards will drop due a number of factors, such as budget, teacher availability and skill, demand etc.

    So the government won't be very efficient at educating an individual, but the population? It's not going to be an easy job and they succeed, so yeah I guess so.
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    ongies gonna ong
  60. #60
    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    What is the government's role when it comes to eduaction? To educate an individual as best as possible? Or to provide the most efficient education system that gives everyone as good an education as circumstances allow?
    Neither is even close.

    The government's obligation is to offer an opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge required to be a viable member of the marketplace.

    That's it....just the opportunity. And only the skills required to be viable in the marketplace.
  61. #61
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    @banana: It doesn't matter what I've said. What matters is the truth that laws come from people... from fallible people who have a strong tendency to not create laws restricting their own behavior, but only restricting behaviors of others. The open door for tyranny and confirmation bias, echo-chamber thinking, etc. is nearly impossible to avoid when people are involved.

    What a government is and should be also comes from people. If your assertion is that there is an objective purpose for government, and if you want to convince anyone to agree with you, then you need to provide a compelling, non-subjective argument for your case. In lieu of that, you're making arguments based on your own feelings, and nothing objectively verifiable. I'm pretty sure you don't want the government to be based on my feelings, so the argument it should be based on your feelings doesn't hold to scrutiny.

    Neither of us can verify that the other is being honest about his feelings. I'm not suggesting you're lying about your feelings, only that I have to take your word for it. There is no measurement or test I can run to determine whether you're legit. And vise versa, of course. As such, we have a problem. That is, my feelings are different than yours, and there's no way to tell which of our feelings is more right, if either is. (Which doesn't even acknowledge the transience of feelings or that many people constantly lie to themselves about how they feel.)

    This is the conundrum of governance that you seem to deny. That people must invent the purpose of government, then convince others to agree with them. A really good persuader may have more impact on the gov't than a really insightful governor who is not good at persuasion. As such, the current state of any governing body is not some deep truth about governance, but a snapshot in a history of governance.


    "No one likes paying taxes, so are the benefits are taxes moot?"
    I am an American patriot and I am proud to pay taxes.
    "This paragraph was a little eyebrow raising MMM. I'm not sure what you're getting at."

    It's a specific example which contradicts your premise, thus nullifying any conclusions you drew from that premise.

    Note: My point was that paying taxes is a compromise, and your assertion that some people would rather break the law than compromise does not refute my assertion.

    Given all the logical fallacies you use and that you cannot recognize a logical refutation of your own claims when you see it, I strongly suggest you study formal logic. You are passionate about convincing other of your ideas, but your inattention to logic makes it easy to discredit your thoughts. (Which is still a dick move, but you gotta acknowledge that you aren't projecting the personality which will command the respect you feel is appropriate.)
  62. #62
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    What a government is and should be also comes from people. If your assertion is that there is an objective purpose for government, and if you want to convince anyone to agree with you, then you need to provide a compelling, non-subjective argument for your case. In lieu of that, you're making arguments based on your own feelings, and nothing objectively verifiable. I'm pretty sure you don't want the government to be based on my feelings, so the argument it should be based on your feelings doesn't hold to scrutiny.
    This is a gross mischaracterization of my argument. If we're talking about America, then it is not just "my feeling" that the country was founded on a set of principles that value individual freedom, opportunity, and equality. I don't think that's an opinion. I think its a fair and widely agreed upon conclusion based the evidence from the time, and since.

    If that's the case, then isn't the government obligated to maintain unwavering conviction in those principles?

    It sounds like you're saying that it's ok for the government to compromise those principles when doing so is "popular enough".

    That's not what conviction means.

    Neither of us can verify that the other is being honest about his feelings.
    Again, this is not a matter of feelings. It's a matter of stated, defined, principles that you are trying to insist are merely 'feelings'. There's clearly a difference.

    [the tax thing is] a specific example which contradicts your premise, thus nullifying any conclusions you drew from that premise.
    I presented no premise. I presented a specific example which contradicts a premise presented by boost in post #52, thus nullifying any conclusions he drew from that premise.

    I used quotes and everything, so I'm not really sure why you're confused. Tilt much?

    I strongly suggest you study formal logic.
    I strongly suggest you practice reading comprehension
    Last edited by BananaStand; 12-20-2017 at 01:43 PM.
  63. #63
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand View Post
    This is a gross mischaracterization of my argument. If we're talking about America, then it is not just "my feeling" that the country was founded on a set of principles that value individual freedom, opportunity, and equality. I don't think that's an opinion. I think its a fair and widely agreed upon conclusion based the evidence from the time, and since.
    I have never stated otherwise. I don't know what you've read that indicates to you that I would disagree with this statement.

    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand View Post
    If that's the case, then isn't the government obligated to maintain unwavering conviction in those principles?
    No.

    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand View Post
    It sounds like you're saying that it's ok for the government to compromise those principles when doing so is "popular enough".
    Yes. As outlined in Article 5 of the Constitution you claim to hold in such high esteem. The process to amend - that means change - the constitution is described within that document. It clearly defines what constitutes a necessary majority therein.
    You may bother to read the document, before you insist you know what it is.

    Even still. Look up Madison vs. the courts. Madison literally wrote a section of the Constitution, then ended up losing an appeal to the SCOTUS, despite his argument, "Look, I wrote that passage, and this is what it means!" The court basically responded, "Yeah, but you did technically give us the power to interpret that how we wish, and we're overturning your interpretation."

    The constitution was changed right at the beginning by a process NOT in line with Article 5. That was hardly the last time.
    Judicial activism is a phrase that comes up every couple of years. It's this kind of thing it refers to.

    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand View Post
    That's not what conviction means.
    How is this word and/or its definition relevant to anything we're talking about?
    Are you implicitly stating that every conviction is an unnuanced moral good?
    Doesn't that really put blinders on the learning process?

    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand View Post
    Again, this is not a matter of feelings. It's a matter of stated, defined, principles that you are trying to insist are merely 'feelings'. There's clearly a difference.
    You still aren't listening to my points. Read above to see that I'm not arguing the existence of the Constitution is subjective. I'm arguing the impetus to follow it is subjective. I'm arguing that there is no inherent good in the Constitution beyond the framework it lays out for this particular society. I'm saying that while it is a working document to the task, there is no test to show it is the best document for the task. I'm saying that even if it is the best document for the task, people will choose whether or not to follow the document for their own moral reasons, even if they agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand View Post
    I presented no premise. I presented a specific example which contradicts a premise presented by boost in post #52, thus nullifying any conclusions he drew from that premise.
    You're claimed refutation was based on a logical fallacy and you have therefore contradicted only yourself.
    If your goal is to disprove Boost, then you need to take another shot at it.

    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand View Post
    I used quotes and everything, so I'm not really sure why you're confused.
    As I said, you're inventing straw man arguments which are not logically relevant to the discussion. You keep changing the topic from whatever person you're responding to. You keep trying to refute points no one has made.

    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand View Post
    Tilt much?
    From you? No.
    I am an educator, and I deal with far more petulant and stubborn students on a daily basis.

    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand View Post
    I strongly suggest you practice reading comprehension
    Thank you. I practice reading comprehension daily, and it's both fruitful and enjoyable.

    Your reading comprehension, on the other hand...
    You have yet to sensibly understand anything I'm saying, as evidenced by your repeated changing of the subject and insisting that I've said things I have not said. Just scroll up the page and see that I have had to clarify my points to you multiple times, often explaining the same point repeatedly.

    If you can't even acknowledge that the constitution has Article 5 after it's been clearly stated that this is the amendment process and that the Bill of Rights was amended to the Constitution with a couple years of ratification, then your own reading comprehension is in need of service. Not only did you seem to miss this important section of the document you're discussing, but you also seem to have missed the part where it was directly explained in this thread.

    ***
    I'm not being a dick by saying you don't follow the rules of formal logic when you make your points. That is objectively true.
    You use strawman and non-sequitur fallacies relatively constantly.
    I'm trying to help you project the image of yourself you clearly espouse. You see yourself as an intelligent person who is politically aware and who has important ideas to share with other intelligent people. Your lack of formal logic when making your points undermines this image.
  64. #64
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    I have never stated otherwise. I don't know what you've read that indicates to you that I would disagree with this statement.
    Are you joking?? How about this..
    There is no objective purpose for governments.
    Or this..
    The purpose is what it SHOULD do, which is perfectly subjective
    No [the gov't doesn't need to have conviction in it's founding principles]]
    Wrong. Just.....wrong.

    When America declared itself a country...we didn't do so by saying "these opinions are pretty popular". We said "these truths are self-evident....."

    "Truth" is not a noun that describes something subjective. That word was used on purpose, for a reason. It's important.

    The process to amend - that means change - the constitution is described within that document. You may bother to read the document, before you insist you know what it is.
    I'm well aware of that process, as I stated in post #55. However, just because the constitution can be changed, doesn't mean that it's defining principles need to be compromised. We amended the constitution to end slavery, because it is consistent with our values of equality. We amended the constitution to allow women to vote, because it is consistent with our values of equality. We amended the constitution to outlaw booze, then changed our minds because we realized the mistake. Outlawing booze is NOT consistent with our values of individual freedom.

    If you were good at reading comprehension, you'd see that in the past I've argued in favor of changes to the 2nd amendment. The intent of the second amendment was to facilitate an uprising in the case of an oppressive government. That was ok when wars were fought with slingshots. Now, the US military can shoot you dead from outer space. So it's not unreasonable to think that the principles behind the second amendment are obsolete.

    I get that the constitution can be changed. But there are hard and fast rules in there that prevent it from being changed in ways that undermine the values on which the country was founded.

    If that's NOT the case.....then why bother changing the constitution at all? That would mean it's not worth the paper it's written on.

    Now I realize there are examples of government actions that defy the principles of individual freedom. Maybe you've heard me railing against seatbelt laws. I also mentioned prohibition a few minutes ago. The individual mandate contained in Affordable Care Act was presented as "not a tax". But when subjected to constitutional scrutiny, it was decided that the mandate, as presented, was not legal. The government telling you how and when to spend your money is not in line with America's values emphasizing individual freedom.

    However, the mandate was ultimately allowed because the judges chose to do some logical somersaults that resulted in the mandate being described as a "tax". And levying taxes is completely within the powers of the government.

    So yes, I can definitely see how governments can sometimes act in ways that seem to defy their guiding principles.

    Such defiances can be categorized as...

    Judicial activism
    And it's really really really bad. I think this is where we disagree. You seem to be saying that judicial activism is ok. It's not.

    How is this word and/or its definition relevant to anything we're talking about?
    Hmmm...maybe look up the definition and then decide if you want to re-ask this question.

    Are you implicitly stating that every conviction is an unnuanced moral good?
    I'm saying that a government can't be effective if it doesn't have conviction in a guiding set of principles. I'm saying that compromising those convictions is always going to be wrong. Individual freedom was undermined with the passing of the ACA. The justification was 'popularity'. The SCOTUS held that the election of 2008 was a referendum on universal healthcare, and universal healthcare won. So the court took it upon themselves to find a way to justify the law. I'm not using quotes on that because I dont' have the exact source. But I didn't make that up, that's the message that was conveyed by SCOTUS at the time.

    That's BAD governmenting. That's a government using it's power for something OTHER than it's objective purpose.

    If you think that's ok, I really don't know what to say. You must just really like having the government think for you. Keep voting democrat.

    Doesn't that really put blinders on the learning process?
    NO!! Not at all. If that were the case, then we wouldn't have civil rights, or women's suffrage. "learning" doesn't mean compromising your values.

    I'm becoming more than a little concerned at the fact that you're an educator

    You still aren't listening to my points. Read above to see that I'm not arguing the existence of the Constitution is subjective. I'm arguing the impetus to follow it is subjective.
    What you're describing is a poor execution of government.

    You're claimed refutation was based on a logical fallacy and you have therefore contradicted only yourself.
    If your goal is to disprove Boost, then you need to take another shot at it.
    Boost said that distaste for a government action should prevent the government from taking that action. I said "what about taxes"?

    What's complicated about that?

    I suggest you stick to your own statements. There's enough garbage in there to argue about. If Boost has a question, he knows how to find me.

    You keep trying to refute points no one has made.
    False. Again, it's my understanding that your only point is that it's ok for governments to compromise it's stated values when doing so is popular enough. I refute that. If you're gonna do that, then you don't really have values. And I don't see how a government can function without a fundamental set of guiding principles.

    The only exception to that would be if the values can be rendered obsolete. An example is the case of the 2nd amendment protecting the rights of citizens to facilitate and armed uprising. But those examples should be extraordinarily rare.

    And yes, popular will can and should dictate the day to day functions of government and the overall direction of policy. But none of that means that we ever have to compromise or lose conviction in our core values of individual freedom, equality, and opportunity.

    I am an educator, and I deal with far more petulant and stubborn students on a daily basis.
    Ugh....massive eye-roll. This is probably a topic for another thread, but I've had it up to HERE with teachers bitching about how hard their job is. What's wrong, 185 days a year isn't enough time off? Full time salary and benefits for a part time job is stressing you out??

    You have yet to sensibly understand anything I'm saying
    I think you're confusing a lack of understanding with a refusal to agree with what you're saying. I totally understand what you're saying. You're saying that people, subjectively, can change the functional aspects of government to suit the needs of their society. Obviously, that's true, cuz democracy is a thing. I can't imagine why you would think that I think otherwise. And if you really believe that I'm sitting here, making an argument so insane as to deny the existence of democracy.....then joke's on you for arguing with me. What would you be hoping to accomplish in that situation???

    What you're failing to sensibly understand is that subjective changes to government need to be guided by objective core principles. Seat belt laws fail to follow this guidance. As such, they are a perversion of government. At best lawmakers were negligent in respecting core principles, at worst lawmakers were corrupted by special interest.

    It doesn't matter that seat belt laws are popular. It doesn't matter that seat belt laws keep people safer, healthier, and therefore cheaper to keep alive. Those cost savings for society, no matter how much they amount to, don't matter. It has already been objectively decided that individual freedom is a core principle of America's government. Having conviction in that core principle means its priceless. Which means in terms of value, it will ALWAYS be greater than something quantifiable. That's why Boost's equation fails. It doesn't account for things that are priceless.

    your repeated changing of the subject and insisting that I've said things I have not said. Just scroll up the page and see that I have had to clarify my points to you multiple times, often explaining the same point repeatedly.
    Disagree. But I do feel I could say the same about you.

    If you can't even acknowledge that the constitution has Article 5
    Post #55

    I'm trying to help you project the image of yourself you clearly espouse.
    Stop.....please........my sides!!!!!
    Last edited by BananaStand; 12-20-2017 at 03:49 PM.
  65. #65
    Quote Originally Posted by MadMojoMonkey View Post
    You have yet to sensibly understand anything I'm saying
    I'm quite sure that on multiple occasions I've summed up my understanding of your points by using qualifying phrasing like...

    "If I understand you correctly....."
    "your answer seems to be......"
    "It sounds like you're saying......"

    Yet rather than quote and respond to those statements, you've cherry picked points you disagree on in an effort to extend this argument. And you've stated that your purpose in doing so, is to help me with my image.

    So I've stated clearly what I believe your argument to be. If I'm mistaken, if I misunderstand what you're saying....then you have yet to point that out in ways that are not vague and derogatory. So, as far as I'm concerned, I fully understand what you're saying....it's just wrong.

    Tell you what....we can shorten this whole debate. Consider the following premise...

    Seat belt laws cost exactly $0. All of the costs needed to enact and enforce that law are already sunk. Seatbelt laws, in the aggregate, reduce injuries, keep people healthier, and reduce the health care costs for everyone. Also, tickets increase gov't revenue. There is a measurable, quantifiable, financial upside to society if these laws are enacted. And there is absolutely no measurable, quantifiable, financial downside or tangible cost to society. Every single citizen within that municipality has written to their lawmaker, signed a petition, posted on facebook, or otherwise done something to voice their unqualified support for the seat belt measure.

    Should the government enact the law?


    The objectively correct answer is "No, because it defies the objective guiding principles on which our government was founded"

    I realize that i'm in the minority on that since some 45+ states have seat belt laws. But that kind of proves my point. Just because an idea is popular, doesn't mean that the government is obligated to act if it means compromising it's core principles. Government corruption and perversion happens. But that doesn't mean it's ok. That doesn't' mean its right. That doesn't mean that it objectively conforms to the objective and priceless guiding principles of government.

    Seat belts is a relatively minor infraction. But who says it stops there. Every time the government compromises its convictions...it becomes weaker and less effective at governing. If it compromises enough....it can no longer govern as it will not have the respect of the people.

    An example is the NFL. There has been a lot of outcry over inconsistencies in discipline meted out by the league commissioner over player misbehavior. People believe that the commissioner is compromising on core values in order to give preferential treatment to certain players or teams. As a result....there are players and coaches actively speaking out against the commissioner's authority.

    Patriots defensive coordinator returned from last year's super bowl win and stepped off the plane wearing a shirt showing Goodell's face with a clown nose. How can he effectively govern???

    I know Goodell just got a lucrative extension.....but I'll bet anything he doesn't make it all 5 years. Plus, I kind of feel that there is at least a chance that Goodell kept his job by force. Jerry Jones tried to take him down....then a day later a video comes out showing Jerry Jones making racially charged comments. After that...Jerry Jones shut up. Coincidence??
  66. #66
    Sadly I don't have time to read Mojo's diatribe and Banana's riposte, but I would like to say that having a government tell you to wear a seatbelt doesn't exactly strike me as over the top controlling. Are you really better off having the 'freedom' to be an idiot and end up with your face going through the windshield? Maybe to you it's a good trade-off, maybe not to the guy who has to clean it up.

    Next you'll say the gov't shouldn't make them put warning labels on poison. After all if you want to drink anti-freeze, who are they to tell you not to?
  67. #67
    Quote Originally Posted by Poopadoop View Post
    I would like to say that having a government tell you to wear a seatbelt doesn't exactly strike me as over the top controlling.
    Sounds like you're saying that it's 'somewhat controlling'. Which should be enough to disqualify it as a law in a country that values individual freedom above all else. It's not about the specific act of seatbelts and how invasive or non-invasive such a regulation would be.

    It's about the principle, and compromising on convictions means opening pandoras box.

    Are you really better off having the 'freedom' to be an idiot and end up with your face going through the windshield? Maybe to you it's a good trade-off, maybe not to the guy who has to clean it up.
    Clean up guy has a job as a clean up guy because he chose to work as a clean up guy. He doesn't get to complain about messes. He's just paid to clean them up. So he's no worse off since all he's being asked to do...is his job.

    And yes, if you're a person who values individual freedom, then you are absolutely better off if that is preserved completely, rather than compromised for money.

    Next you'll say the gov't shouldn't make them put warning labels on poison. After all if you want to drink anti-freeze, who are they to tell you not to?
    Not a relevant comparison. A warning label on poison is merely there to inform you of the risks, so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to drink it. It's there to enhance individual freedoms. You're still very much free to drink anti-freeze, but now you know the risks.

    If the government were to outlaw the drinking of anti-freeze, then that would be a perversion or corruption of the governments purpose.

    A relavant comparison is if the government not only required seat belts, but also told you that you couldn't drink coffee while driving because there's a chance you could spill it on yourself and crash into a tree. While that's a real risk, and it probably happens every day, do you really want the government telling you what's too risky and what isn't??
  68. #68
    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand View Post
    Why is it the government's job to make people happy?
    To be clear, an allocation of a resource that affects humans impacts happiness. If government could do that more efficiently than the private sector, I'm not sure I would disagree with the idea that government "should" do it. I personally haven't found a way government can do that though.


    I thought the question was not whether the government should do action A at the expense of action B (opportunity cost). I thought the question here is should the government do action A, or nothing? Opportunity cost is never an issue when the alternative is null.
    It depends on what you mean by null. Regardless, opportunity cost is relevant in the case of government doing something or nothing. In the case of seat belts laws. The opportunity cost of making the law would be the next option the money would go to, and the opportunity cost of not making the law would be the lives doing the law could potentially save.
  69. #69
    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    To the individual, no. To the population as a whole, yes.
    How is that possible?
  70. #70
    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand View Post
    The government's obligation is to offer an opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge required to be a viable member of the marketplace
    That's when we ask ourselves whether the government actually does this more efficiently.

    If it is the government's responsibility to make sure citizens get good enough education, if it is the case that the free market better provides that education than the government's system, that means it is the government's responsibility to NOT intervene.
  71. #71
    Quote Originally Posted by Poopadoop View Post
    Sadly I don't have time to read Mojo's diatribe and Banana's riposte, but I would like to say that having a government tell you to wear a seatbelt doesn't exactly strike me as over the top controlling. Are you really better off having the 'freedom' to be an idiot and end up with your face going through the windshield? Maybe to you it's a good trade-off, maybe not to the guy who has to clean it up.

    Next you'll say the gov't shouldn't make them put warning labels on poison. After all if you want to drink anti-freeze, who are they to tell you not to?
    This assumes the benefit of seat belt laws outweighs the costs. We don't know that.

    Indeed, one of the reasons for why free markets are effective is that they are the most reliable way to find out when benefits outweigh costs.
  72. #72
    Quote Originally Posted by BananaStand View Post
    do you really want the government telling you what's too risky and what isn't??
    No, I want the government to tell everyone what's risky, because the idiot drinking his coffee and talking on the phone while driving is not only putting himself at risk, he's putting me at risk. Moreover, even if he misses me and hits a tree, my taxes still go to cleaning up his corpse and putting his seven kids in foster homes. Fuck him and his freedoms; someone has to make rules and enforce them or idiots like this guy will just screw things up for the rest of us.

    As for America valuing individual freedom above all else, that's patently false. Although they do value individual freedom, they don't just let people run amok doing wtf they want. There has to be a balance between freedom and responsibility and having some reasonable law and order.
  73. #73
    Quote Originally Posted by Poopadoop View Post
    No, I want the government to tell everyone what's risky, because the idiot drinking his coffee and talking on the phone while driving is not only putting himself at risk, he's putting me at risk. Moreover, even if he misses me and hits a tree, my taxes still go to cleaning up his corpse and putting his seven kids in foster homes. Fuck him and his freedoms; someone has to make rules and enforce them or idiots like this guy will just screw things up for the rest of us.

    As for America valuing individual freedom above all else, that's patently false. Although they do value individual freedom, they don't just let people run amok doing wtf they want. There has to be a balance between freedom and responsibility and having some reasonable law and order.
    If every time he spoke on the phone and drank coffee while driving it caused a child to be saved from a kidnapping, his behavior would reduce risk.

    The point is that to say that something is beneficial, it has to actually be beneficial by net while accounting for all other relevant variables. People voting and bureaucrats making policy is an attempt to do that and its effectiveness is varied. The price system in a free market is believed by many very smart people to be more effective.
  74. #74
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poopadoop View Post
    Sadly I don't have time to read Mojo's diatribe and Banana's riposte
    It's not worth your time. Don't bother.
  75. #75
    Banana-- how do you remain so very belligerent in the face of such patience? Or let's try another approach: If MMM isn't taking up Mother Therese's work in her absence by patiently pointing out how you are employing logical fallacies in an effort to help you become the interlocutor you clearly want to be and seemingly think you are, what would that effort look like?

    As at least one other person has kindly pointed out that the confident assertion that America (the government? the constitution? the population as a whole?) values personal freedom above all else is problematic, and I'd say it's emblematic of your performance ITT. Time and again you're making these sorts of egregious errors which make your posts time consuming to reply to with little value to be gained-- instead I, MMM, and others have tried to help you understand that there's a rule set for effective dialogue and that you're violating it. This isn't an insult. We're all willingly here to chat about this stuff, but it's a lot more fun if people have some idea of how to play the game and at least attempt to keep it in bounds.

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