Wednesday, July 28, 2010


HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT RITZY CITIES?---Like Palm Springs, Telluride, Aspen, Park City, Malibu? I have ambivalent feelings--They're pretty---but I always feel like an alien in them---a bit contemptous of its citizens--thinking of them like Dr. Seuss's snooty star-bellied sneeches. I guess I resent clustered wealth---like the N.Y. Hamptons---Tiburon in S.F. Nicole, however, loves this town---having once lived here. She navigates our rig to its very heart---and there we find a camping place---if we dare to use it---and we do--for two days--can you see it?---parked just a block from the chair lift and 4 blocks fron the center of town. Turns out--no one objected. I taped deflector notes on its door that explained our presence. I'll show you several of them in a future blog.
The famous antler arches---all neatly bolted together---one arch on each corner of the square.

Impressive things--that occasionally have to be redone. Do antlers decay?

Statues and art galleries by the dozen. Free for the looking---what's not to love? One high dollar shop named Nature's Art sells fossils. A dinosaur skull was priced at $250,000.

We took the chairlift to the top of the mountain.

Nice view---of the Tetons.

And the city below.----funny story: On a late night walk together, we got separated by a fluke of circumstance and shadows. I got concerned enough to call the cops after 30 minutes . A city wide alert went out for a tall, beautiful lady.---They found her--walking "home" she wasn't lost.

Nicole, without her costco card--testing my theory that ladies get special service---don't need a card. SURE ENOUGH the guy bent the rule and filled us up with cheaper gas. (I stayed out of the way to give the process full effect)
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: It's hypocritical of me to resent clustered wealth---when I live in America---the world's foremost example of clustered wealth---and I certainly support the idea of "gated nations"; protecting the comforts we have created for ourselves from dilution by hordes of illegal immigrants who want to come share the good life. The axial question is this: Which is a better world--one where all our well being is LINKED or UNLINKED. ARE WE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER--OR NOT. And if so--exactly how? Needs more thought!


Tadeusz Deregowski said...

Interesting piece.

In Brazil even greater concentration of clustered wealth than in the USA. I think the UK is fairly similar to the USA.

One of the the dangers of clustered wealth socially, in a democracy, is that the ruling classes (lawyers, professors, doctors, lawmakers etc) will typically come from this group, and yet because of "clustered wealth" they will have had very little direct experience of how life is for ordinary people- they'll have been educated in private schools, they'll never have used public transport or services.

The UK once had a Minister of Transport who had never travelled on the London Underground.

Randy said...

I think you're right Tad. Do you have a "fix" in mind? Here's mine off the top of my head: Sustainable affluence for a nation can be had by 1. Stern gate control to prevent illegal immigration.
2. Incentives and disincentives to control population size.
3. A carefully calibrated safety net like the British Dole to prevent destructive insecurity felt by the poor.
4. Two tier health care--socialized for the masses and private for those willing to pay for it.
5. Carefully calibrated taxation--enough to support services without killing entrepeneural incentive.
6. Let those who gain wealth--legitimately---keep and enjoy it.
7. But upon their death---society gets an appropriate "cut" as inheritance taxes. We should not allow dynastic wealth.

Tadeusz Deregowski said...

I tend to think the solution lies in improving public (state education) and in ending private schooling, so that the society becomes more meritocratic, and the wealthy are thereby have a vested interest in the provison of education by the state. I also think young people should recieve government assistance for University Education, so it isnt the preserve of the wealthy. Here in Brazil it's quite hard for poorer people to get qualifications.

They have a two tier system in the UK and to me there is something morally offensive about wealth being a factor in deciding the urgency with which one might recieves medical attention. I don't think its good that wealthy people lead seperate lives from the poor, especially when those wealthy people are often decision makers.

I am not really bothered about immigration, to be honest. Usually people who come to a country to work offer essential services- whether they are paid well (such as those working on Wall St) or badly (such as the army of hispanic nannies and cleaners that keeps the US middle classes in comfort).

I agree with no. 7 too.

Great blog, by the way!

Rob said...

Education is the answer, education for anyone who wants it and can deal with it.

After the second world war Congress passed the "GI Bill", it was (IMO) a way to deal with the millions of mostly men coming back from war, there had been problems before with smaller numbers of returning soldiers, sailors and airmen.

As part of the GI Bill they could go to school, lot of the men went to college, a lot of them.

Engineering was a big choice and after they were turned out into the world they built our modern America.
They built the interstates we all drive on, the trucks that bring our food to the stores come on those interstates. They built the Boeing 707 and all the commercial jets came after that, they went to the moon, they built the electronics that allowed the computers that have changed so much to be built.

The "free" education that was given to millions (to keep them off the streets) paid off, the modern America was built.
We all live the good life today because of the education.

Fences are not the answer, education is the answer.

Anonymous said...

Immigration BOOSTS the economy, rather than harming it as you suppose. Look to Ireland (ignoring the long history of immigration boosting the US economy during its heyday) where they were alone in Europe in welcoming the slavic people, resulting in a booming economy not only recovering from centuries of war, but surpassing the governments which prohibited immigration.

As for control of the poor, ask when the failures of the "war on poverty" prove a failure of the governmental control model, particularly given the enormous success of the alternative: liberty.

On healthcare, liberty and responsibility are again the answer, not theft and dictatorial control over the private choices of individuals.

"Carefully calibrated taxation--enough to support services without killing entrepeneural incentive."
AKA the square circle. In other words, you are requiring a violation of the law of non-contradiction.

"Let those who gain wealth--legitimately---keep and enjoy it." Definitely, but in direct contradiction with your other suggestions, such as government controlled health choices.

As for taxing death, this is a cruel and hateful suggestion. When a family is at their lowest point, seizing their property is nothing short of kicking someone when they are down, simply to fuel the greed of bureaucrats and politicians.

Steve said...

-100 for anonymous.

Rob said...

Steve said:
-100 for anonymous.

I have to agree with Steve.

I've never been a fan of the 'let poor people die' medical plan.
Medical care is what you get when you are sick, just like calling the cops when someone is breaking in or the fire department when you have a fire.
This is not a belief held by all as we can see.

I'm also not a fan of someone's kids, grand kids, great grand kids and on thru time never having to work because you were a success.
Live a good life, live a comfortable life, take care of your immediate family but let future generations take care of themselves.
I don't believe in building dynasties.
Again we can see this is not a belief held by all.

Storm said...

Rob, Is anyone actually arguing for dynasties or "letting the poor die" or any other part of your straw man argument?

Rob said...

40,000 Americans die every year because they cannot afford medical care, that sounds like "letting the poor die".

Dynasties? What do you think happens when really large fortunes are passed down thru the ages?

It looks like the poor dieing for a lack of $$ are the norm for our society & dynasties are hoped for.
"Death Tax"? There is a spin phrase bought and paid for on Madison Ave buy someone with a lot to lose & hopes for dynasties.

I only mention these things to remind folks of how it is. I do not expect anyone to change their view.
If you believe that the strong rule and are there to take advantage of the weak I do not expect you be bothered by a few deaths of eaters who cannot afford the gold demanded by the medical industry in our nation.

Mexico is an example of a nation where the well off are allowed to do what they want.
From a GDP parity purchasing view Mexico is the thirteenth RICHEST country in the world.
Yes. Thirteenth. AHEAD of Canada, Australia, Holland, Austria, Switzerland.

Storm said...

Rob, no one has ever died because of lack of health insurance. If that situation were fatal, as you claim, then I would be dead. This is at best an intellectually dishonest tactic which pretends that a political ideology should replace causation.

Dynasties are only possible through the use of governmental force. You cannot decrease the governmental force by increasing the governmental force. If you allow liberty, then the poorest amongst us need not fear that they will be arrested for seeking to improve their lives by selling various goods and services.

As for allowing a person to transfer their property to another, upon what basis do you claim the authority to steal from someone while at the same time preventing the transfer of property? In answering remember that we cannot simply decree that one person or one group is less morally worthwhile than others.

"If you believe that the strong rule and are there to take advantage of the weak I do not expect you be bothered by" the suggestion that governments or privileged few ought to have the ability and right to "legally" steal from innocents, and to deny the rights of all peoples as they see fit, as you are suggesting.

The solution is not MORE consolidation of power into the hands of government and decreased liberty, but rather the solution is to first off have basic respect for others, recognizing that all people are worthy of basic respect for persons. Then we must recognize that liberty not governmental control has been responsible for all progress and all improvement in the human condition.

Storm said...


And you did not answer the question..You might ask yourself why you avoided it.

Rob said...

Steve said :"And you did not answer the question..You might ask yourself why you avoided it."

I thought I did answer the questions?
You folks who argue for the power of the corporations to do what they will.

My world is shades of grey. My world needs some rules to keep the rich from enslaving the people, traffic lights so we can avoid gridlock, the police to help enforce the laws, the fire brigades to protect lives and property.
Anarchy does not work except for the anarchist.

To say the government is "stealing" by collecting taxes is BS. We all benefit from the taxes, I'm sickened by what happened over the last 10 years, taxes went down for the wealthy and spending went up. The spending money was borrowed and it was spent on things major corporations had to spend.

No one dies for lack of insurance?
45,000 American deaths associated with lack of insurance.

I just realized you are a troll! From time to time I get suckered in... That remark about taxes being 'stolen' should have tipped me off.

The taxes being stolen remark and unpaid medical care on one hand THEN the ability to argue against society taking a hand in keeping the playing field level and making medical care available to all on the other.

In our society some take more than others. Greed, leaches and bankers are all part of modern life & I suspect the human condition.

Storm said...


It is this sort of straw man which I mentioned before, which helps your responses to fail. No one has suggested any support for corporations, but rather than honestly and reasonably address what has been said, you choose to create these false positions and stipulate that they are the positions of others.

I oppose corporations, for they are legal fictions created to protect some from the consequences of their actions. They are a government, not market, creation and can only exist through the use of governmental force, that same force you celebrate and want to increase at the expense of justice, prosperity, and practicality.

Stipulating that respecting others does not work, in no way makes the claim true, nor does it justify your desire to harm others.

Theft is the taking of the property of another against their will. Taxation is the taking of the property of another against their will (even if you personally like it, you have no choice thus the taking is necessarily and logically against your will). Reality trumps your stipulations.

If you believed in justice, in fairness, then you would be throwing your tantrums about the unfair treatment of one group who is forced to pay extraordinary amounts of money while other pay little or nothing. Either we are morally worthwhile or not, and you are arguing that we are not morally worthwhile in exactly the same fashion as blacks were not considered morally worthwhile in the beginnings of the US, or that gypsies, jews, homosexuals etc. were not considered morally worthwhile in Nazi Germany.

Trying to dismiss honest, reasonable, logical arguments by stipulating that the person must be a troll is intellectually dishonest and cowardly. Such tactics will never make reality change to suit your claims and desires.

I do agree that there exist people like you, who are greedy and demand the life and livelihood of others, but that statement of yours is a clear example of the is/ought fallacy. Just because you desire to take the earnings of others, just because you want to harm innocent others for your own benefit, is no reason to claim that this belief or action is justified.

Start with respect for others. Even so basic a respect for others that you try to get their name correct. Recognize then that your desires can never trump the moral worth of others. Someone's skin tone, sex, occupation, or belief system does not make them less morally worthwhile than you, and certainly does not justify you or anyone stealing from them, or treating them as less than a person.

Simply respect the value of other people Rob. Stop demonizing whatever groups you choose to envy or hate. Using coercion, theft, and slavery against innocents is simply not justifiable.

Storm said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Storm said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Storm said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Storm said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Randy said...

Storm/Rob---thank you both for very thoughtful insights--I feel the passion---and like it. Somehow Storm, one of your essays got sent several times so I deleted the surplus.
Here's my position----I mostly agree with Rob. I think that without a strong--rule enforcing--and yes, taxing government, a handfull would controll about everything---as in Mexico, which has a weak government. Great wealth disparities eventually spark revolutions---(a la France 1889)-where the holders of dynanstic wealth were dragged to the gillotine) Storm does not grasp her own naivete in WISHING for respect for private property. Only law and government can protect private property on the national scale and this protection cost something.--
Storm: Wealth is earned in a CONTEXT---that means all of us--do not the wealthy owe the context something? How much? I think your hostility to government is just unthinking petulance. And I do understand the incentive killing nature of pure socialism--hate it myself. I think there is a viable
middle ground between the two---requiring vigilance lest society tip too far left or right. The trend is left --a thinking, creative left where the social safety net forestalls the anxieties that tear apart societies and preserves entrepeneural incentive. In the end we will have super abundance which will make greed a pathological emotion. Sufficiency will let us focus on humanity's true profession---creative expression. (like on the Starship enterprise--nobody thinks about money or hoarding--life is about joyful dynamic living)

Storm said...


I've no idea what the comment would have posted more than once. I assumed the deletions were more of Rob's incivility.

"I think your hostility to government is just unthinking petulance. "

Wow... What a profoundly arrogant and insulting proclamation.

So years of careful formal and informal study of morality, logic, economics, history, and political philosophy are "unthinking petulance" in your eyes merely because I do not condemn any group for per se traits that harm no other person?

Mexico's government is not weak. So your argument there begins with a fallacy. In fact it is stronger than the US government if for no other reason than it openly claims to own all land, and does not allow for private property (the key reason why other countries excelled). This is true of all of the spanish colonial nations, and it is the single distinguishing characteristic which has led to those countries not being economically successful. The more the US moves towards that model, as you and Rob have suggested would be a good idea, the worse of the poor will be.

I oppose all harm to innocents. This is not a mindless hatred of failed ideologies, or any knee jerk reaction. It comes from careful study of morality, what it means to be a moral agent, logic, and of course the nature and history of government. So please do not adopt Rob's dishonest straw man tactics to attribute to me positions and beliefs I do not hold and for which there is no evidence. Basic respect for persons..

As for your assumptions about the necessity and supposed positive consequences of totalitarianism, well read some history. Look to Zomia, Iceland, Ireland, the first 11 years of the US, and countless other examples where all of your claims are proved false, both your condemnation of the respect for others as well as your praise for leg irons.

Storm said...


Sorry I had a misstatement. Your argument began with a false premise, not a fallacy. The straw man arguments were fallacies of course, but in that reference I was specifically referring to the false premise that Mexico has a weak government.

Randy said...

Thank you again Storm for your articulate advocacy---I presume for the anarchist position. Also thaks for the Zomia reference--I looked it up--interesting. I feel we are deeply divided and cannot put my mind on precisely what. The issue seems crucially important and I hope to tackle it headon in a separate blog when my thoughts become clear.

Tadeusz Deregowski said...

If it's any consoloaltion, Mobile, I have been following this and find myself equally baffled both by the actual arguments and the belligerant tone.

All the best,


Storm said...

The difference is a simple one Randy: respect for others. If you respect others you cannot seek to control any innocent others. As soon as you adopt the position that you (or anyone) has the right to control the peaceful actions of innocent others, then you have abandoned any hint of any respect for the moral worth of innocents.

I assume that you are going to take the position that it is good to harm others, as long as it is for their own good, or for the good of others. Sadly this approach has been taken countless times in the past, with the same results every time. The blacks in the US were demonized exactly this way, as were jews, gypsies, and others under Nazi Germany. The problem is not who is the slave master, but the institution of slavery itself. And denying that the active controlling of the peaceful lives of others is not slavery "this time" won't wash.

Let's assume that you actually want to help others. I am willing to accept this assumption despite your explicitly stated desires to harm others. If we want to help we must first do no harm. Surely we can agree on this simple point. After all if we are going to begin (and end) with harm to innocents then we are the problem and in no way a solution.

So we begin with refraining from harming others. This means abandoning all that you have advocated of course. So thus we see that if we can agree that helping others is good, then necessarily all that you have advocated must be abandoned.

We can and should VOLUNTARILY help others. I do. I never and will never call for harm to any innocent, and then use doublespeak to claim that I am helping anyone. Neither should you or any of us.

Therein lay the difference. We can either choose to help others, and in doing so necessarily refrain from harming anyone (because all innocents are morally worthwhile) or we can adopt a dehumanizing attitude and exclude some from moral considerations, thus becoming the problem no matter what our excuses are.

We can either choose to act voluntarily to help others, else we can act so as to harm others (no matter our excuses for doing so.)

Either we are each morally worthwhile, or if we adopt your approach, then none of us are morally worthwhile.

This is not childish or petulant, it is reasonable, and respectful, and the only solution which can be morally justified. Lashing out at those who are different or who you don't like because they have toys you like, well that would be childish and petulant... right?

Respect for others.. as I note, that is the difference.

Storm said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Storm said...

The point of these approaches is that both focus upon the fact that reality, not ideology determines what is true. By allowing that reality is superior to your own person, we can recognize that truth is outside and superior to any mere ideology. Gert, unlike every moral theorist, offers up evidence and a description of morality rather than decreeing what morality ought to be (ala Mill, Kant, and other supposed moral theorists). McElroy simply explains in layperson's terms the basics of sound reasoning, the method by which we can accurately communicate and by which we can know what is true.

All of which is a lengthy explanation of the basic difference: respect for persons. Either moral worth matters, and your suggested approaches are without merit or moral justification, else none of us have any moral worth and literally anything goes so any harm to any innocent is a good thing.

I embrace the former, and deny the contrary to reality ideology of the latter. I suspect that there is a secondary difference as well, but hopefully I am mistaken.. that would be that I am perfectly willing to allow that reality determines what is true. This means that if/when reality contradicts anything I have said or believe, then the belief, not reality, is mistaken.

As to your reference to "the anarchist position" I would note that there is no single "anarchist position" and further note that I have simply opposed harm or assumptions of a right to control the peaceful actions of innocents. Does this need a label? Would you also label me as a "non-rapist" because I oppose that particular harm to innocents as well?

Randy said...

Storm: Again I,ve received multiple entries of your comment and have deleted the surplus. I detect a touch of paranoia in your suspicion that Rob may have removed them. Don't think anyone but myself can do that. I sense, with Taz the anger in your manner--doesn't invalidate your point--just inteferes with rational discourse. How I wish I had you in front of me with a stern referee to assure that we fairly receive and answer each others points. I'm convinced we have a clash of visions. Your technique of arguing from principle--even the principle of respect is inadequate to deal intelligently with the complex human situation in front of us. Consider how Quakers, feeling super strong about non violence, tried in Pennsylvania to build a society on it. IT PROVED INADEQUATE AND SO WILL THE PRINCIPLE OF "RESPECT". The principles you so strongly believe in will not adequately cope with a living dynamic situation. As the ancient Icelantic fathers discovered--read the story how they finally invited intervention by Denmark. And re: Ethics: I'm recommending a healthy dose of Sanger. We are not making progress here--I'd like to try another approach--give me a bit of time to succinctly state my vision in an upcoming blog--then hit me with your best shot. I am not afraid--not even of being wrong.

Storm said...


I mentioned only that it was peculiar that the post appeared then disappeared. I did not, as you imply, offer up any conspiracy theory.

You keep on introducing ad hominems, preemptively, which certainly serves no purpose.

As for anger, I have offered none, nor any reason to assume this. As I noted, this is naught but an ad hominem, akin to your accusation that holding any rational viewpoint must be childish.

"even the principle of respect is inadequate to deal intelligently with the complex human situation in front of us."

Wow.. This does explain your use of personal attack, but it does not justify it. Respect for persons is necessary for any situation involving moral agents. As soon as you assume that you or your designated power, is of infinitely greater worth than any other, then you have abandoned reason and morality.

As for Quakers failing to build a state, I take it you don't see the inherent problem with trying to use that as a counter-example. Their goal was not to build a state at all! Thus trying to use this as an objection to the respect for others, would be akin to condemning the moon landing as failing to create a colony under the sea..

Then too you might consider your tactic here. If you really believe that the 1000 year run of Ireland, or the many centuries of Iceland as failures of basic respect for others without the totalitarian hand of the state, then of course logically you must condemn ever instance of the state on the planet as evidence of the failure of the totalitarian hand of the state since none of these has lasted but a small fraction of this time..

On ethics, do you perhaps mean Peter Singer, the discredited self proclaimed "ethicist" whose theories lead to inherent contradictions and self-defeating conclusions? If not, then could you spell out who you mean?

As a final note, I will ask that you at least humor the very notion of honest, civil, intellectual discussion to the point of refraining from ad homimens and dishonesty. These tactics in no way benefit anyone, nor do they move us towards truth. Rather than accuse me of things not said, positions not taken, emotions not felt, and the other characteristics you have relied upon, could you please just take the posts as written, again as is the norm in honest mature, civil, intellectual discussions?
If your position is backed by reason and evidence, then there is no need for such tactics. If it is not, such tactics won't save it anyway.