Should the GOP Give In to Obama to Avoid the “Fiscal Cliff”? Sweden Allows Private Market for Health Care and more today at 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET)

NOTE THE NEW TIME FOR THE WEEKLY PODCAST! 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET)

Topics for today’s “Don’t Let It Go…Unheard”: Should the GOP compromise, in order to avoid being smeared by Obama in the coming weeks? Or are you glad that the better Republicans and Tea Party members have at least held out for a plan to avoid the “fiscal cliff” that includes real (or at least semi-real) spending cuts? Sweden, known as a socialist nirvana, allows a private market for health care services. Why Christmas Should Be More Commercial. And more.

Join in the discussion by phone or in the chatroom!

Today’s live show and, afterwards, the archived podcast, can be accessed here.

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33 Comments

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33 responses to “Should the GOP Give In to Obama to Avoid the “Fiscal Cliff”? Sweden Allows Private Market for Health Care and more today at 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET)

  1. I am glad you are discussing sweden which liberals in the US want to emulate. It s not possible, it is smal and homogeneous and the culture differs so much from ours. But the desire to pay ones own way for improved or faster medical care, that is real.

  2. Craig

    My recollection, from 25 years ago, is that Binswanger advocated gun control. He argued that only government should be allowed to possess weapons..

  3. John Shepard

    It’s not so incredible or surprising, but with respect to whether anyone is calling for a ban on all guns, Michael Moore recently tweeted, on 12/21/12: “I favor repealing the 2nd amendment. We repealed the Prohibition amendment. The 2nd amendment is not relevant today unless u use a musket.”: https://twitter.com/MMFlint/status/282341081100738560

    With respect to this issue, I recommend George Reisman’s “Gun Control: Controlling the Government’s Guns”: http://georgereismansblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/gun-control-controlling-governments-guns.html

    I would certainly be interested in reading what Dr. Binswanger had to say with respect to gun control. Any source?

    • Craig

      “I would certainly be interested in reading what Dr. Binswanger had to say with respect to gun control. Any source?”
      His remarks advocating gun prohibition were in conversation with a casual group at one of the Reisman Objectivist conferences at UCSD. That would have been in the late 80s. I could not believe my ears. I have never seen him put such thoughts in writing. I wonder if he still holds those views.

  4. Mel McGuire

    This thread seems to have been hijacked for the gun control debate, so….

    Rand on gun control:

    In 2001, and updated several times as new material became available, a guy named Richard Lawrence, writing for a site named “Objectivism Reference Center,” searched through Ayn Rand’s writings for her position on gun control. I started looking around because, although I’ve supported gun ownership for years (I don’t have one, but I can see situations where I might want one), I recalled that Rand was undecided on the issue. I don’t know Lawrence or the website I mentioned and I only found the report two days ago. However, the report Lawrence wrote seems thorough and complete. I was impressed with how meticulous he was about not drawing conclusions from too little evidence. The “Conclusions” section at the end of the report was updated again in 2006. The entire report is fairly short and worth the read although the conclusion section contains the critical information.

    She, in an off-hand way, supported gun ownership, but didn’t think the issue was of primary importance and seems to have put little or no thought into resolving the problem.

    But, here’s a quote from the report’s conclusion section which is claimed to be quoting Rand:

    “It’s a complex, technical issue in the philosophy of law. Handguns are instruments for killing people — they are not carried for hunting animals — and you have no right to kill people. You do have the right to self-defense, however. I don’t know how the issue is to be resolved to protect you without giving you the privilege to kill people at whim.”

    (There are a couple of statements in this quote that seem weird. How could we have the right of self-defense without the right to kill people? Killing people is a matter of the use of guns (which is already dealt with in law) and not of the ownership of guns which, I believe should be seen as distinct.)

    So, if the above report is accurate, she did not have a fully worked out position — just as I recalled. If someone else has done this work subsequently, I’ve not seen anything about it. Thinking that now is a good time to revisit the issue from scratch, that’s what I want to do. I’ve not gotten far, but I think the problem is how to reconcile two goals: one is to allow the government its proper role of objective control of the retaliatory use of force and the other of allowing at least some kinds of guns for personal protection. My current piece of speculation is that gun ownership has to be regarded as some type of police deputy function and regulated to some degree – large or small, I have no idea.

    If anyone knows that the report sited is suspect, I really would like to know. Also, I think that a better formulation, than mine, of the basic problem is possible. If someone has such a formulation, it would be great to see it. If someone thinks Rand’s unresolved issue cannot be resolved at this time, I’d welcome (not really) hearing that too.

    Another point here is that people are trying their best to get the general gun control debate completely tied up with the debate about school security. I don’t agree with this because (even if guns were generally banned) any qualified member of school staff could be deputized if that’s needed (We do that for air crews now). When it comes to public school security, I would arm the goddam classroom goldfish if I thought it would stop another monster from murdering a bunch of beautiful and talented 1st graders (Six year old Jessica Rekos, for example. Her parents said: “she had an answer for everything, she didn’t miss a trick, and she outsmarted us every time” and they called her their “little CEO” because “she carefully thought things out and planed everything.”)

  5. Craig

    The Founding Fathers considered the right to bear arms important not only, or even mainly, for (personal) self-defense, It is included in the Bill of Rights to ensure that people have the means to overthrow the government. Not only the Declaration of Independence speaks to this but many state constitutions (eg. Oregon) explicitly declare the right to abolish the government. Such a right is null without the means to carry it out.

    Now, one might argue that this right has already been nullified by technology, in that the weaponry it is possible for individuals to possess (even assault rifles) are no longer sufficient to overcome the weaponry available to governments. The current situation is much like the Middle Ages before the invention of guns, when ordinary people could not possibly overcome an armored knight or afford to buy such armor. If this is the case, then the right to bear arms may now be pointless.

    Certainly, the rest of the Bill of Rights is a dead letter.

    • Mel McGuire

      On another blog, someone said I should look at the McDonald v. Chicago decision to find out a lot about the status of the 2nd amendment. I haven’t done it yet but I did find this on Wikipedia: it’s a page titled “Firearm case law in the United States.” If and when a rational debate starts, I think it would be handy to know some essentials about the 2nd Amendment.

      I don’t think the Bill of Rights is dead letter. Atheist groups are doing well bring lawsuits against the religious right fanatics. If it weren’t for these lawsuits, the R.R. would already have creationism, with its 6,000 year old Earth, being taught in a great many public schools. Every year, there’s a batch of anti-evolution bills brought up in state legislatures — almost always by Republicans. Also, with all the attacks on the media saying they’re part of the cause of the Sandy Hook shootings, the 1st Amendment can still be counted upon, I believe, to stop an onslaught of attacks on our freedom of speech.

      So far as guns and dictatorships, it should be recalled that dictatorships can be very popular–at least for awhile. For most of human history, people have loved their tyrants and didn’t want freedom. Taking down such a dictatorship in the U.S. would be hard if guns were the only means. The gov has vast communication systems and even armed drones. In the gun control debate, I can’t see being concerned with dictators. Should that happen, we’d need the defection of whole military units (which depends on ideas) and we’d need smuggled weapons.

    • jayeldee

      Given even the most dire circumstances, even a small sidearm will never be “pointless.” Even our own bloated military would have their hands full, if most, or even many, of the citizens were armed with nothing more than .22 caliber pistols. A tyrannical government can’t simply eliminate the population, via carpet bombing, chemicals, or nuclear missiles. While I suppose it’s technically possible, doing so would leave the tyrants with little left to rule. Instead, what they require is an intact—and disarmed—population. And controlling it would require face-to-face visitations by security personnel, make no mistake. If every home, then, carried the threat of death upon entry, the tyrants would be hard-pressed finding enough obedient underlings to do their dirty work. (Think of an armed Anne Frank, willing to defend herself [and think of the result, since she wasn’t—in both respects]. She’d still have been murdered; but she’d at least have had some opportunity to take a brownshirt or two with her, somewhat to the detriment of the Fuhrer, and his massive military machine.)

      Keep your powder dry.

  6. Mel McGuire

    Here is a link to the article I mentioned earlier. The article is titled “Ayn Rand on Gun Control: An Investigation”
    http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/essays/guns.html
    There’s much of interest in the article. Some will be surprised.

    Dictatorships corrupt a large part of the population. Our neighbors or some POS in the apartment building would be spying on us. How do they get people like that? It’s easy; nobody will refuse (unless they’re willing to have their loyalty doubted and take the consequences for themselves and their families). Also, tyrannies are popular and that implies corruption too. We would be a minority and likely be “legally” disarmed very soon. The gov wouldn’t care anything about a right to own weapons or it could be restricted to those who’re loyal — really loyal. There would be plenty of obedient underlings to do the job and a heavily armed squad knocking on doors would most likely result in people standing by and quietly watching the search or, otherwise seeing one’s family harmed immediately or later. The best thing to do about a tyranny is to get out of it as soon as possible.

    Trying to look at the gun control issue from basics, I’ll put every weapon there is on the table for consideration for a decision. In any case, hand guns are not going to be banned at this time.

    I’m considering the idea that any right to own and use a gun for protection is a limited right to the use of retaliatory force and needs controls. After all, one might use a gun for personal protection, protection of one’s family or guests, protection of neighbors, or even of people in a movie theater or mall food-court. Cops wouldn’t hire a felon cop and give him a gun — same for a mentally unstable person; background checks are made. If background checks are used for private ownership of guns, then there would have to be rules for transfer of guns: one couldn’t just sell a gun to a neighbor without, at least, reporting it. This approach sees a gun owner as a sort of regulated deputy as a consequence of being given a limited right to the retaliatory use of force. I’ve got no proofs here; I’m just chewing things over while trying to stay focused on the fundamentals.

    • jayeldee

      Just a few points I want to reply to, amongst the helter-skelter welter you’ve dispensed:

      “Dictatorships corrupt a large part of the population. Our neighbors … would be spying on us. How do they get people like that? It’s easy; nobody will refuse….” Well: I would refuse. (Although I’d lie about my refusal.)

      “The best thing to do about a tyranny is to get out of it as soon as possible.” That may well be the case. But alas, tyrannical regimes don’t usually let the populace come and go at their, the populace’s, leisure. You might well need a bit of armament to effect an escape, or to try to.

      And thank you for the link to the Ayn Rand database article. However, I see nothing in it of any particular interest, and none of what I do see surprises me.

      …. I do recall a Q&A, after one of her speeches, where Miss Rand was queried about the right to self-defense. And her answer amounted to (those who’ve heard her speak can easily imagine the accent and emphasis!): “If someone is coming at you with a gun, you will answer them BY—FORCE! … IF—you have self-esteem.” (The portion following the comma is, I am quite sure, a direct quote; I am less certain about that preceding the comma. And sorry, I can’t finger the exact speech, just now.)

      • Mel McGuire

        If a government of rights and of law is gone, I’d use any weapon I could lay my hands on or invent — especially to get out.

        It’s true that the article seems to be of no particular interest to people; I’m surprised.

        • John Shepard

          No, I found the article to be of interest. I read it a few days ago having seen it referred to then. Plus I’ve looked into the Objectivist position on gun ownership/control before. Thank you for posting the link.

  7. John Shepard

    “This approach sees a gun owner as a sort of regulated deputy as a consequence of being given a limited right to the retaliatory use of force.”

    We are not given any rights by the government. With respect to a proper government, we delegate to the government our right of self-defense, an inalienable right, our only right to the use of force, the only right to the use of force that we can delegate to the government and the only source of the government’s proper use of force.

    By delegating our right of self-defense to the government, the government then acts as our agent of self-defense on the basis of our inalienable right of self-defense. Delegating our right of self-defense is not a surrender of our right to self-defense. We surrender nothing. We delegate the right in order to place the use of force under objective control, as Miss Rand pointed out.

    Still, as the saying goes, the police are at best minutes away, and that’s not too helpful when the threat is imminent.

    Plus there’s this: “Justices Rule Police Do Not Have a Constitutional Duty to Protect Someone”: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/28/politics/28scotus.html?_r=0

    • Mel McGuire

      So substitute “retaining” for “being given.” There are limitations involved in the delegation: one can’t put someone on trial or put them in jail; we can’t accuse someone of fraud and lock them up. What (to my knowledge) Rand had not worked out was how to put the retaliatory use of force under objective control and, at the same time, allow guns for self-defense without giving people the privilege to kill on a whim.

      • John Shepard

        I would not use “retaining” either (instead of “being given”) because it implies that although I’m retaining some portion of my right of self-defense, I’m not retaining some other portion of my right of self-defense when I delegate my right of self-defense to the government.

        That’s what I mean by saying that you do not surrender your right of self-defense, not in part or in whole, to the government when you delegate to the government your right of self-defense – the right to act as your agent of self-defense. You do not surrender your right of self-defense to the government, in part or in whole, any more than you would surrender your right of self-defense, in part or in whole, were you to simply hire a bodyguard to protect you.

        The agent of your self-defense, the government or a bodyguard, is acting on your behalf, acting by right of your right of self-defense to protect you from someone else’s initiation of the use of force. They can use force to protect you, protecting your rights, acting on the basis of your right to self-defense, but they cannot go beyond that. You don’t have a right to initiate the use of force against others, the right to violate their rights, and so your cannot delegate any such “right” to them. Your agent can only act on your behalf by virtue of your right of self-defense, a right that you retain in whole.

        I’d also make a distinction between the use of force in self-defense and the use of force in retaliation, especially in the context of having a proper government. (If there’s no government, you’d have to do all that is needed to defend yourself as well as seek justice for losses or damages, etc.) Within the context of a proper government you can properly act in self-defense to directly neutralize an immediate threat, using even deadly force if necessary, but you can’t go beyond that without the risk that your use of force becomes indistinguishable from initiated force, at least to any other observers besides yourself.

        It seems to me that there’s a basic problem with how many people in this current newly generated, wide-spread debate on gun control, etc., approach the issue of gun control and the right to own and use guns in self-defense. The question seems to be: who and in what context should the government allow to own guns and use them in self-defense? (No one is arguing that anyone has the right to use guns to violate the rights of others, at least not explicitly.)

        That approach is backwards in my view. The question is: who has the right to stop you from owning a gun and using it in self-defense? In order for someone to stop you from owning a gun or using it in self-defense, then they – some individual or the government – have to use a gun (force) against you. Unless you’re violating someone’s rights, that use of force against you is a violation of your rights, it is force initiated against you. But no one has the right to violate the rights of others.

        So, unless there’s an argument that by owning a gun or carrying a gun you are violating someone’s rights, then that’s all there is to the issue in my view, at least fundamentally. No one has the right to violate the rights others. If you’re not violating anyone’s rights, then no one has the right to force you to stop whatever you are doing.

        I actually still have the issue of The Intellectual Activist (Vol II, No. 3; November 15, 1980) with “Guns and Knee-jerkism,” and I’ll be rereading it soon.

        • jayeldee

          All of that, John Shepard–and precisely so. (I was headed in that direction, but though the spirit was willing, the body was weak–and I could not anyway have phrased it more eloquently or completely.) Hat tip.

          • John Shepard

            Thank you, jayeldee. I tried to go to sleep last night, but I kept thinking about this issue, so I got back up to write that a bit weak in body. And I woke up with a bit more that I wanted to add (below).

        • Craig

          “In order for someone to stop you from owning a gun or using it in self-defense, then they – some individual or the government – have to use a gun (force) against you. Unless you’re violating someone’s rights, that use of force against you is a violation of your rights, it is force initiated against you. But no one has the right to violate the rights of others.”

          My recollection is that Binswanger argued that your possession of a weapon was a threat to him, which he equated to the initiation of force. And that, therefore, he had a right to disarm you by force to remove the threat.

          I consider that hooey.

          • John Shepard

            I have great admiration for Dr. Harry Binswanger (and other Objectivist intellectuals, and certainly first Miss Rand), an amazing thinker and educator!

            It would be helpful to actually read what he said in context, but short of that, in his lecture “The Objective vs the Intrinsic and the Subjective” (http://tinyurl.com/bvws8g5), he was asked (in the 3rd question of the Q&A following the second of the two-part lecture):

            (I’ve transcribe his answer, more or less faithfully, cutting a few comments which I thought to be irrelevant to this discussino, and I assume that it’s appropriate for me to post it here. If not, will the moderator (Miss Peikoff?), please let me know and not post this comment, informing me how I might use Dr. Binswanger’s response appropriately. Thank you.)

            Begin transcript:

            Question: Why is libertarian anarchism inherently a subjectivist ideology?

            HB: This is an issue of objectivity that I didn’t go into….Part of objectivity is objective communication, objectivity in relation to the consciousness of another person. […]

            How does that apply to libertarian anarchism?

            Well the libertarian anarchist have this one argument: “I don’t like a monopoly government because it prevents competition. If someone is welding retaliatory force, then who is the government to stop them? If there’s a defense agency that wants to set itself up to protect rights, to weld force only in retaliation, how can the government stop them from doing it, and if they can’t stop them from doing it, that’s competing governments.”

            And the whole thing collapses when you ask yourself: “Retaliatory force as judged by whom?”

            So, I see a guy walking down Atlantic Avenue out here with a submachine gun in his hand, and I get scared, right?

            He says, “Don’t worry. As long as you’re just, you have nothing to fear from me. I’m only going to do what’s right with my gun….”

            The ability of another person to use force against you is a threat to you if you can’t regulate it. The fact – it’s like Rearden or Francisco – let’s say he’s absolutely right, say it’s John Galt or Ragnar Danneskjold walking down the street, and he is only going to use force in the proper way.

            How do I know that?

            In my context of knowledge, just as in Rearden’s context of knowledge Francisco was worthless, in my context of knowledge, a defense agency or a guy walking down the street with a machine gun is a threat, is initiating force against me. If he’s got this huge collection of force, you know, tanks and guns and so forth, and he’s around patrolling. What he’s going to do with it? And I don’t know that because…there’s no constitution, there’s no check, it’s just a market agency – not that there would be any market. That’s an objective threat to my rights. He has violated my rights by walking down the street holding a submachine gun. That is an objective initiation of physical force. Objective, not intrinsic, because maybe he is Ragnar Danneskjold, you see?

            In his mind he may know that he’s not going to use force in initiation, but in my mind I have no way of knowing that. And that’s why, in the government’s context of knowledge, any private, unsupervised competing welder of force is an objective threat.

            But they miss this entirely, which is not a hard point….They miss this entirely because they are subjectivists….one of their formulations is, “We have the right to do our own thing.”…They want to be able to use force on whim. But at minimum, what you can say is [that] they don’t grasp that something that you know inside your head is going to be legitimate, a stranger may objectively take as a threat.

            End Transcript.

            Context and knowledge, evidence, is always relevant.

      • John Shepard

        “What (to my knowledge) Rand had not worked out was how to put the retaliatory use of force under objective control and, at the same time, allow guns for self-defense without giving people the privilege to kill on a whim.”

        I meant to say something about this but forgot to previously.

        When a person uses force, even deadly force, perhaps most importantly deadly force in self-defense, the issue of keeping force under objective control requires that their actions be investigated by the government, that their action be seen and shown to be justified self-defense. Killing in self-defense requires proof that it was in self-defense. The right of self-defense is not a license to kill or a “privilege to kill on a whim” even though it might make it easier for some individual to kill on a whim, and I don’t see how guns can “give” people “the privilege to kill on a whim” any more so than can any other object that can be used as a weapon of death – a baseball bat, a length of chain, a tire iron, etc. used to beat someone to death, for instance.

        I’ll toss a grenade into this whole gun control debate and say that I think it is simply altruism rearing it’s head, the calls for gun control and even licensing requirements for concealed carry, and as we can see in current events, altruism is deadly, literally. Requiring a license (a permission) from the government to act on one’s right is a contradiction.

        George Reisman wrote an essay entitled “The Real Right to Medical Care Versus Socialized Medicine” (http://tinyurl.com/lvr4l5) in which he wrote, concerning medical licensing:

        “It [medical licensing] is an expression of the mentality that underlies most government intervention into the economic system, namely, the mistaken belief that it is possible to serve one’s self-interest by means of the initiation of physical force against others, coupled with a willingness to serve it by such means. Such a policy is irrational and ultimately self-destructive.”

        Apparently Dr. Binswanger challenged Dr. Reisman’s argument (http://tinyurl.com/d64jxts):

        “I have to restrain my bewilderment and anger as I point out that the truth is precisely the opposite: it is the mistaken belief that it is possible and necessary to serve other’s interests that is the fundamental cause of interventionism. Licensing is a good example. Yes, the immediate motive of those particular individuals who sponsored licensing was, in part, the idea that they could gain financially from it. But what permitted them to get away with it? The doctrine of altruism. Medical licensing was put over and is maintained today by nothing but the alleged “needs” of those so stupid, lazy and irrational that they would not be able to distinguish a qualified doctor from a quack.”

        Interestingly adding:

        “Incidentally, I believe that ARI should refuse, on principle, to promote any pamphlet in favor of medical freedom that does not explicitly denounce altruism.”

        • jayeldee

          It’s not immediately obvious (to me) how gun control can be prompted by altruism. But after brief reflection, I suppose you must mean that such control is tantamount to restricting the individual’s right to an efficient means of self-defense, purely in the interest of preserving the safety (that is, the alleged safety) of one’s fellow men (“for the greater good”)…. If pressed, I suppose that many of the aspiring controllers would admit that to be their aim–thinking it safe from criticism and indeed praiseworthy.

          But of course, whatever the admitted motives, another is undoubtedly often at work: disarmament of the populace, to facilitate control by the tyrants. And this motive is, in its own perverse way, “selfish,” and not altruistic–altruism being only the surefire means of advertising and selling the policy to a lobotomized populace.

          • John Shepard

            Re your first paragraph, jayeldee, yes, that’s the connection of altruism to collectivism that I alluded to, the necessary opposition of altruism to individualism, to individual rights (including obviously the right to self-defense).

            “Gun free zones” are a shrine to altruism. Horrible and terribly sad. I think it was Louie Gommert who said that he wished that Dawn Hochsprung, who rushed what’s-his-name and was killed had had a gun and blown his head off.

            Thomas Bowden’s 2010, 8 minute, interview with Brad Davis discussing Hugo Chavez’s socialism points out the connection between altruism and socialism (collectivism) well, I think: http://arc-tv.com/hugo-chavez/

            Excellent interview: Chavez: “Socialism or death! I swear it….I swear by Christ, the greatest socialist in history!”

            Re your second paragraph, I don’t think that dictators or their motives or their supporters are selfish at all, even in a “perverse way.”

            “Men were taught to regard second-handers—tyrants, emperors, dictators—as exponents of egoism. By this fraud they were made to destroy the ego, themselves and others. The purpose of the fraud was to destroy the creators. Or to harness them. Which is a synonym.” — Ayn Rand, “The Soul of an Individualist” (http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/second-handers.html)

            In another of Dr. Binswanger’s excellent lectures, “Consciousness as Identification” (http://tinyurl.com/cp4p58k), in the Q&A following the third (of three parts) lecture, starting at about 01:30, he repeats the question that he’s just been asked, basically: Does the Objectivist theory of concepts, which necessarily leads to a rejection of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy, also lead to a complete rejection of the distinction between the analytic and the synthetic, which can seem to still have some value as a distinction as it’s commonly used?

            Dr. Binswanger answers, in part:

            One tends to go through a stage where one, in rejecting any false view, where one says, well it’s false, but there’s still something there, we can still make the distinction, or we can informally use it, but we don’t want to baptize it – like people who say, he’s conceited or…he’s too selfish in the conventional sense of selfishness, meaning about someone who brags, you know, or he has a too great a view of himself, and then they add in because they’re, you know, trying to integrate Objectivism, you know, in the conventional sense of that.

            […]

            Every true statement is an instance of the law of identity. Every true statement is saying A is A. Every false statement is saying A isn’t A…. And when you get totally against it, you’ll have the same clarification as you do when, in discussing this braggart, you say, he has a very low opinion of himself, here’s a guy without a self.

            Now see how much more clarifying that is? If you, rather than saying, he’s selfish, but I mean in the conventional sense, he’s not selfish in a rational manner; you say, he’s unselfish, a criminal. […]

            That’s one stage you go through…integrating Objectivism, and the other is where you see a criminal and you say, boy, he is really unselfish; he is really a Mother Teresa type, cause he is. Then you’ve got something.”

          • jayeldee

            “…. I don’t think that dictators or their motives or their supporters are selfish at all, even in a ‘perverse way.’ ”

            Yes, quite right: that’s why I not only qualified my use of “selfish” with “perverse”, but also used scare quotes around the attribute itself. (For similar reasons, Ayn Rand was careful to specify the proper type [as opposed to the improper type] of “self-interest” as being “rational” [as opposed to irrational].) So I could, and probably should, have preceded my use of the word, “selfish”, with the qualifier, “irrationally”. Bottom line, I’m simply making a distinction between the benevolent altruists (who think–mistakenly–that sacrificing the self, one’s own self, is beneficial to others: e.g., Mother Teresa–and those advocating gun control because they think it will make others safe) and the malevolent altruists (who think–also mistakenly–that sacrificing others is beneficial to the self; e.g., Adolf Hitler–and those advocating gun control because they think it will make them safe from future reprisal).

          • jayeldee

            …. And I can’t resist adding that, for most modern politicians, the motive for “gun control” consists in the latter of the two I’ve described, and not the former.

    • jayeldee

      “Delegating our right of self-defense is not a surrender of our right to self-defense.”

      Very well put–and bears repeating. (So I did.)

  8. John Shepard

    “Police have no duty to protect” (YouTube): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lb3rAglRsqU

    Do a Google search for something like, “police have no legal obligation to protect you.”

  9. jayeldee

    I think this “hijacked thread” (with apologies to Amy, as required!) has clarified the gun control matter to an enormous extent (thanks in no small part to Mr. Shepard). There still remains, though, the question of “gradation.” To what sort of firepower, specifically, should a population be “entitled”? (“Entitled,” in the moral sense; I can’t say “legally,” owing to the actual and potential deterioration of the legal system. To clarify: one is morally entitled to ingest whatever substances one wishes, into one’s own body; legally, though, the case is otherwise.) I think the answer depends upon the nature of the prevailing threat(s), and the source(s) thereof.

    In the current U.S. (for example), is any private citizen entitled to own nuclear weapons? No. Why not? Because, currently, the government alone is properly entrusted with those armaments, for use against the infrastructure and populations of foreign aggressors. But could there ever come a time when the “average U.S. citizen” has a moral right to nuclear weapons? Yes, there could: when and if the U.S. government—our monopolist of nuclear firepower—becomes an immediate threat to the physical welfare of the populace as a whole, and neutralization of that threat requires nothing less than equivalent firepower, directed at government infrastructure and personnel; OR—when the government becomes clearly incapable of defending, or unwilling to defend, against foreign aggressors that pose an immediate threat to the broader population.

    At the opposite end of the scale, in the current U.S., is any private citizen morally entitled to own a small sidearm? Absolutely. Why? In order to efficiently and safely exercise the right to defend against an immediate “small” threat, such as that posed by a lone intruder (including, say, a stray wild animal) to one’s own physical welfare. (And in the case of a human target or, say, a privately-owned animal, one must be prepared to defend the use of such lethal physical force, in a court of law.)

    Nearly everything between those two extremes, though, is currently arguable. Weapons for hunting animals go far beyond the “small sidearm,” so any arguments concerning those devices can be, and generally are, quickly defused. But beyond that, things are truly arguable. What about an “automatic assault weapon”—such as that used by the Sandy Hook killer? Such a device being, virtually, a portable “weapon of mass destruction,” its legitimacy is not immediately apparent—unless, that is, you consider (say) the U.S. government’s increasing predilection for the use of armed “squads” against its own citizens (including, but by no means limited to, a host of hapless drug users). Should the government lapse into full totalitarianism, possession of such weapons would be inarguably useful, and morally legitimate. And in fact their widespread ownership, even in our present context, might in itself serve to somewhat retard the government’s descent into totalitarianism.

    I conclude that, given the increasing degree of menace posed by the U.S. government, it is currently far better to argue for “too much” firepower amongst the citizenry, than the opposite. If we were on the path to increasing freedom, the case would be otherwise. As it is …… Well: it is what it is.

  10. John Shepard

    “With Gun Control, Cost Benefit Analysis Is Amoral” by Harry Binswanger: http://www.forbes.com/sites/harrybinswanger/2013/01/01/with-gun-control-cost-benefit-analysis-is-amoral/

  11. John Shepard

    jayeldee, I don’t know why, but my last post took several days to be approved. I thought that, given that a couple of people had apologized for hijacking the thread (which didn’t make sense to me given that gun control was a topic discussed in the podcast, but perhaps I missed something), perhaps it would not be approved, that the thread would be closed.

    As it is, for some reason I cannot reply directly to your reply, so I’ll just reply here.

    Your comments re qualifying the use of “selfish” are well-taken. I think that until and unless selfishness comes to be understood as virtuous and selflessness as not, then, at least in some contexts we have to use “selfish” in a qualified manner.

    However, I think that Dr. Binswanger is right in his point. And basically that all I was pointing out. It was an aside to the discussion on gun control, but given that altruism is what’s destroying so much, it’s an important point. I certainly recommend the lecture.

    • jayeldee

      Thank you, John Shepard; I’ll attend to the linked lecture in due time.

      (PS–Insofar as making a reply to a reply, I found a bit ago that, if there is no reply link available, you actually have to issue a reply to the first “Reply” link that is available, above the reply to which you’re replying. Thus, when I issued my reply to your reply [wherein, you quoted Binswanger], I had to do so via the reply link available directly beneath my own former reply [to which reply you were replying]. By replying, thereby, to my own former reply, that later reply of mine was then issued in the appropriate order, after your latest reply—making of it, effectively, a reply to your reply.) …. (Whew.)

      (PPS–And as a by-the-way: if Amy’s upset with this supposed “hijack” [and I’d wager she isn’t—I bet she likes us hanging ‘round her nice site, especially if we have something of value to say, “off-topic” or not]—I’m sure she’d let us know directly, in no uncertain terms. Her dulcet tones [which I have termed “mellifluous”] notwithstanding, the lady is clearly no shrinking violet…. As for the reply delay you experienced, I’ve no idea: perhaps Miss Peikoff was mulling over what ought to be done with us—and happily decided the matter in accord with my wager.)

      • jayeldee

        (PPPS–And I should add that, of all the Replies I have ever made, the above is definitely one of them.) (And this … is another.)

  12. John Shepard

    Thank you, jayeldee, for the helpful advice re replying (“Whew” is understandable, but I actually do understand what you’ve said) as well as for your comments on the “hijacking” of this thread.

    I’ve been listening to Miss Peikoff’s podcast for some time, but I’ve very rarely posted any comments, so my experience here was a bit confusing.

    Thanks to all for the interesting, helpful discussion!

    Happy New Year!

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