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Rebirth of Reason

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Saturday, April 2, 2005 - 2:50pmSanction this postReply
This is my first post as a new member of this site, so I'll try not to disappoint you all.  Here goes.

The government decided some point back that specific drugs are harmful to people and that such people are incapable of keeping themselves away from such drugs long enough to become informed of their ill effects.  The solution?  Tell people what they are allowed to do to or put into their own bodies by creating rigid laws that not only severely punish offenders but make a difficult situation even more difficult for many people.

I am a Libertarian as well as an Objectivist, and as such I think that the government has chosen the wrong action in pursuing a drug-free (always portrayed as a positive term) society.  Currently, the government is infringing on its people's right to the pursuit of happiness.  I am not saying that drugs should simply be legalized universally.  Rather I am saying simply that the government has made a dangerously wrong decision in how to keep the public safe from drugs.

Many people argue that marijuana is a gateway drug.  From my experiences, this is true, but only in a limited fashion, and it is (and I hate to assign blame) the government's fault.  Why?  Because people must break the law to sell marijuana, and if they are going to break the law to sell one thing, why would selling one or two other illegal items such as extasy or methamphetamines be a concern?  If I am a repeat customer at Joe's Underground Drug Depot as a weed buyer, what is stopping him from occasionally, or even frequently, trying to push his higher-end more profitable and dangerous wares such as cocaine on me?  These conditions set up the scenario for a marijuana buyer to be talked into trying harder stuff even if his original intention was to stick to his ganga (we aren't assuming that every pot smoker is an idiot, but rather that every drug dealer is a businessman, and businessmen know how to talk to customers).

The solution?  This is the tough part.  Realistically, legalizing marijuana would be a good start, as it could be sold at legitimate retailers.  The government would profit from its sales, and the buyers would profit by putting distance between them and the commonly criminal dealers from whom they used to be forced to buy.  One might argue that such legalization would lead to higher crime rates and automotive accidents.  Well, we seem to get along fine with alcohol being legal right now.  In times when a crime is caused or aggravated by alcohol, stricter penalties are enforced as a deterrent.  There is no reason why the same measures could not apply to marijuana.  Another might argue that people would show up to their jobs high and become less responsible.  As a rational person, I would have to agree that such an event would happen, perhaps frequently, but it happens already in cases of alcohol abuse.  If someone shows up to work drunk, they get warned if not fired.  Copy, paste.

Besides, if marijuana was legalized, perhaps some corporate research would actually go into making a burning joint smell less like burnt hair (if you haven't smelled pot smoke or burning hair, then consider yourself lucky).

Eventually, harder drugs could be legalized as well.  When I was younger I had been indoctrinated by DARE and anti-drug commercials that daddy government used my and my parents' money to pay for.  I did not see how legalization of drugs could work because I was taught that they are incredibly destructive to both people and society.  In many cases, this is true.  If a person uses a hard drug, they might overdose, slip into a hysterical series of hallucinations, or even become extremely depressed and try to commit suicide.  But if that is a risk that person is willing to take, let him or her take it.  The question is not if we should allow people to do stupid things to themselves, but rather if we can prevent them from infringing on others' rights while doing so. 

Perhaps such hard drugs should be restricted to use in "drug resorts" where a private enterprise sets up a resort that caters to such people.  Low-risk environments would keep the users safe while keeping them separate from nonusers that do not work at the resort (the workers at the resort I assume will have gone through a mandatory corporate training session where they are taught to learn signs and symptoms consistent with overdose, violent hallucination, or suicide and how to deal with them effectively).  Such resorts would be expensive to stay at, but their prices could be considerably low with sponsorship from big-name drug companies that might have vendors at such resorts.

Keeping these resorts private would allow the government to earn money from drug users rather than spending money on incarcerating them, rehabilitating them, or fighting the drug trade.  Obviously some users would still try to get away with using their drugs at home, which is a sticking point in my argument.  Perhaps some of you could point me in the right direction.  Would it be most rational to: 1. have the hard drugs available only at the specific resorts and have people searched upon leaving to make sure that they do not bring any drugs out with them (forseen problem: blackmarket drug deals continuing to allow for comfort-of-one's-own-home consumption); or 2. allow users to use in their own home but enforce strict laws about using in public and VERY strict rules about using around heavy machinery?

Such laws about using hard drugs should not be as pro-incarceration as they are today.  Fine them if it is a minor offense (using in the wrong place, for example) and incarcerate them only if they are endangering others' lives immediately (such as getting behind the wheel), and of course, add being under the influence as an aggravating factor in all other crimes committed while under the influence of the drug.

I know that this post is very long and involved, but I hope that I covered all the bases and nixed any loopholes.  Please feel free to criticize my ideas where possible so that I know where I need to strengthen my argument, as I know that none of you will use slippery slope to make unreasonable assumptions about my suggestions, as my pseudo-intellectual colleagues at college might try to do.

Post 1

Saturday, April 2, 2005 - 9:13pmSanction this postReply
Hello David Appel, my name is Dean. Welcome to solo. This is my take on drugs and freedom:

To be able to accomplish their goals, people must have the freedom to do whatever they want to their own bodies. Who are we to prevent another person from doing something to their own body? So long as they are not initiating force, a person should be free to do what they want.

Drugs should be legal, since it is an act on one's own body. Drugs that cause people to go on a murderous rampage are questionable. I disagree with you, if people want to do drugs and use heavy machinery, or drive cars, it is within their rights. Of course the owners of the heavy machinery can allow or disallow who uses their machinery and how. Also, the owners of the roads can allow or disallow who uses their roads and how. What? The roads are owned by the most powerful business in the world, the US government? Well that sucks for us.

As soon as a drug user (or anyone) infringes on another's negative rights, they should both be forced to pay for the damages and forced to loose the freedoms that allowed them to initiate force. If they can't find a way to pay for their damages AND the force required to remove their freedom, then they can choose between going to an enclosed wilderness island or die.

One might argue that such legalization would lead to higher crime rates and automotive accidents.
Not if we begin to make people responsible for all of the negative results of their crimes and accidents, and remove their freedom to commit the crime again. Initial crime rates (caused by increase in drug usage) might be high, but natural selection and such will bring it back down.

The important thing will be that I will have more freedom. I have no interest in doing the drugs that you are talking about. But maybe there are healthy drugs out there that I should be using (its in my best interest to use them), but someone in power thinks they are illegal, and forces me not to use them on myself.

I am open to further discussion. I would direct you to Joseph Rowland's and Jeff Landauer's thoughts on the subject, but I cant seem to find the link.


Post 2

Saturday, April 2, 2005 - 10:37pmSanction this postReply
Mr. Gores,

Thank you for your insight on the subject.

"The roads are owned by the most powerful business in the world, the US government?"  It is a shame that it is such a poor example of a business if it is the most powerful business in the world, as others will look to it as an example.  I thought good businesses were supposed to make a profit... Haha.

All jokes aside now, I of course agree with your logic regarding use of heavy machinery and automobiles.  Perhaps the best scenario would be simply to make the use of such drugs *only* as aggravating factors in conjunction with other crimes.  That is, we have enough laws already to define almost any crime, so why make more when we can just let the severity of the circumstances dictate the penalty?  Of course the government seems ever ready to ignore such logic and make the simple use of drugs illegal.  They are trying to punish a person for a crime they have yet to commit (Minority Report style).

Here's a tangentional question to provoke further discussion:  Lets say a person does commit a crime under the influence of a hard drug and cannot pay damages.  Would it be right to put him to work to "work it off" so to speak (assuming that the amount of work is actually proportional to the debt), or does that violate the basic human right of freedom (and if it does, is that right still granted under the circumstances of a legitimate law being broken)?

Post 3

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 3:06amSanction this postReply
David Appel,

As long as it is clear who you are referring to, please go ahead and use my first name by itself. Thank you for the formality.

I think it is best to maximize X's freedom from force, where X is the set of intelligent beings who's choices do not cause an initiate force. "Intelligent beings" is a slippery slope. I will have to work on that.

To maximize X's freedom from force, initiation of force must be minimized. To make initiation of force undesirable to a semi-rational being, initiating force must have a negative net effect on that person. This cannot be done in many circumstances without a retaliatory force.

I think that the least retaliatory force necessary to convince a person to pay for their damages is best. I think when a person is currently continuously initiating force, the least retaliatory force necessary to convince them to stop is best.

"Taking drugs" is independent of whether a person should be forced to pay for the results of his initiation of force. Doing drugs may make a person's actions less planned out and more an accident. I think the need to pay for an initiation of force is independent of whether it is an accident. I think a person is always 100% responsible for the results of their own actions. In fact, I think we must force a person to pay for their damages, where the means of force is the threat to send them to an enclosed wilderness (which must be followed through on).

Now lets say that all damage has been payed for. Should we disallow that person from violating the same negative rights in the future?

I think if we have no reason to believe that the person has realized that their choice which resulted in an initiation of force was a bad decision, then we should limit that person's freedom until this changes. I think the least limit on freedom should be made on that person, at the expense of the initiator. Limiting the least amount of freedom is expensive, some initiators cannot afford the services and technology needed to put the least limit of freedom on them.

For example, lets say I punch you in the face. You now feel less secure so you do not get as close to strangers in the future, you put locks on your house, and you buy some mace. Those are all the results of my action, and I will have to pay for that stuff. I pay for it, but then punch you in the face again. It seems like I have not learned my lesson. Time for me to loose freedom. If I can afford it, I will pay trillions of dollars to invent a device that interferes with the nerves connected to my arm muscles whenever I decide to punch you. This would be the most expensive, and least limit on my freedom. I cannot afford it. Other cheaper limits might be a restraining order (I would have to pay for police to watch me when I come near you), jail time (I would have to pay to support myself while in jail), or an enclosed wilderness land (payment to fly/ship me to island), or death (no payment).

Should we give an initiator all of his freedom & negative rights back? Maybe so if they can have a net positive effect on the happiness and productivity of society, and do not initiate force in the future. What about when they repeat the choice that resulted in an initiation of force?

In some cases I think it is impossible to pay for damage done. Murder, rape, mutilation, ... Should we ever give freedom & negative rights back?

Post 4

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 3:17amSanction this postReply
"Inteligent being" is slippery, and could potentially include cows and flies. I am going to throw out "intelligent beings" now, and claim something extremely selfish.

I think it is best to maximize X's freedom from force, where X is the set of beings who:
1. each individually do not cause an initiation of force
2. each individually are in my long term rational best interest to have freedom from initiation of force

I am open to discussion on this!

Post 5

Sunday, April 3, 2005 - 5:48amSanction this postReply
'Cognitive beings' is, I think, what you are reaching for....

Post 6

Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - 6:11pmSanction this postReply
  Those who oppose Libertarian philosophy are quick to point out that "Libertarians support the legalization of drugs". They conveniently fail to point out we are not promoting the use of recreational substances. All pharmacy laws are contrary to the principles of Liberty and individual autonomy. The 'War on Drugs' is only one of the injustices associated with those laws.   Do you keep nitro tablets, digitalis or an epi-pen in your medicine cabinet?   No? Don't you know heart attack, arrhythmia and anaphylaxis are major causes of death in this nation. Those ingredients should reside in the medicine cabinets of every home in this land.   The federal government; however, does not permit it. It is illegal to produce, purchase or even posses these and other life saving medications unless you first pay an agent of the state (a doctor) for government's written permission (a prescription) to buy them from a licensed vendor. By law, your doctor cannot permit you those medications unless and until you prove you need them. By the time you realize you need them, it is often too late. Even a pharmacist could not 'legally' administer prescription medications to you if you fell ill while in his pharmacy.   I can only wonder how many people have unnecessarily perished because of this country's pharmacy laws? How many more will die before they are rescinded?   With restricted access to drugs, today's comsumers most often blindly rely on a physician's decision instead of learning for themselves how and when to apply a medication, what it does and what side effects and drug interactions may be expected? If government were really interested in the welfare of its citizenry rather than power and control over them, it would end its strangle hold on drugs and, instead, promote (but not mandate) medical literacy. Were it not for government interference since the early 1900's, our population would be much more medically sophisticated and physicians would not be wasting their time and our money tending to common ailments easily treated by any knowledgeable consumer.   If free market forces were allowed to work, product liability alone would make it highly unlikely that dangerous substances would be dispensed to an uninformed public. If a pharmacist or a drug manufacturer deemed any potion to be so dangerous it could only be safely dispensed with a physician's diagnosis and recommendation, it would be perfectly suitable - and a good business decision - for them to contractually restrict sales for the sake of product safety and civil legal liability. Criminal law should only apply if a dispensor of drugs maliciously harms a consumer by deliberate misrepresentation, misinformation, or gross negligence.   Rational individuals do not condone public intoxication. Public intoxication is a menace to society which emperils those with whom the abuser comes into contact. It should not be tolerated.   Rational individuals do not encourage the misuse of any food or drug. The abuse of any substance is detrimental to health. Those who engage in such abuse are eventually punished by the laws of nature. But, in a free society, unless their actions harm or cause substantial danger to another individual, the abusers need answer only to their own wretchedness. If bad personal decisions are to be made criminal, what should be the penalty for maintaining an unhealthful diet?   Government has no more authority to usurp our right to medicate ourselves as we see fit than it does to tell us how, when or what to eat, drink or wear. The primary responsibility of any government is to protect the rights of the individual. This includes the right of the individual to medicate himself as he sees fit. For the government to restrict access to medicine by force of law is nothing less than tyranny.

Jack McNally

Post 7

Monday, October 17 - 7:08pmSanction this postReply

You don't have to be a weatherman to know . . . .

Post 8

Monday, October 17 - 8:16pmSanction this postReply
I don't see the government declaring a "war on sugar"
Sugar is responsible for more premature deaths than all the recreational drugs and alcohol combined.

The only way to win the war on drugs would be to not only legalize them but to also NOT tax them. Let the free market set the price.

I do not condone the use of them. I believe it is the responsibility of parents to give their children the tools they need to see the dangers of substance abuse not the government.

How many billions are wasted on this war?
What would be the benefits of legalization?
Well if they were legalized fully 70% of organized crimes profits would go up in smoke instantly.

Why do most addicts create more addicts? To support their own addictions of course.

If you could buy it legally for its actual market value(which is next to nothing) gone would be the incentives for pushers to sell it.

How many officers in the dea would be freed up to fight real crime?

For that matter how much money could be freed up to be put into drug rehabilitation programs.

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Post 9

Monday, October 17 - 10:54pmSanction this postReply
Jules, I agree with everything you said.

I would add this... That the strongest argument will always be the moral argument. The government has no right telling us what we can or cannot put into our bodies. Period.

For them to claim otherwise is to claim a degree of ownership over our bodies. The precedent that sets is mind-boggling.

One step away from that is the constitutional argument - to demand where in the constitution is the government given the power to regulate what we take into our body? They need to hear stronger and stronger demands that they adhere to the constitution.

The next thing I'd mention is that there is a grave danger that grows when an activity that violates no individual rights is painted as sinful and is made illegal and the criminal class created is demonized. The danger is that it creates a fertile area in the culture for growing the most violent kind of statist, police structures. We have warrantless arrests, warrantless searches, probable cause out the window, confiscation of property that is alleged to have been used in the commission of the drug crime. We still have the RICO statutes and organized crime laws on the books that were created under prohibition. To get from a free society to a police state is usually done in a series of steps, over time, and this in one of those steps.

Post 10

Tuesday, October 18 - 7:38amSanction this postReply
Jules Troy: "I don't see the government declaring a "war on sugar"
Sugar is responsible for more premature deaths than all the recreational drugs and alcohol combined."

You mean white, refined sugar and then, also corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup.  The sucrose in an apple is not the problem.  You know that, of course, but my point is only that there is no consistency to the development of government actions or inactions.  Politics is pragmatism.  You know that the sugar craze started about the time of Fanny Farmer's first cookbook.  A hundred years later and ADM is super market to the world.  As soon as I moved here to Austin in September, I joined the closest food cooperative and this is the home of Whole Foods.  Still, I put a lot of stuff back on the shelf after reading the label.  Don't give me that "organic cane sugar" nonsense...  Food does not need to be sweetened to be palatable.

But, as with much, you know, it is not all evil governments and corporations.  We evolved with a craving for sugar.  We are apes, after all. Gorillas can manufacture Vitamin C and still eat enough fruit to get 3 grams of it a day.  So, it is to be expected that candy would be dandy.   It was not a problem, even 1000 years ago when "khand" was imported from Persia.  Now, it is easier to come by...  The real  problem is a lack of self-restraint.  That is not a political problem.
Steve Wolfer:"The government has no right telling us what we can or cannot put into our bodies. Period.
 ...  One step away from that is the constitutional argument - to demand where in the constitution is the government given the power to regulate what we take into our body?

This comes back to the child surrounded by coyotes.  I maintain that the police have a moral and legal responsibilty to act ahead of the tragedy to prevent it.  This is why we have the "Terry Stop." A polceman saw a known felon hanging out in front of a jewelry store, stopped him, frisked him, and found a gun.  The felon claimed that his constitutional rights were violated. The Supreme Court disagreed.  The police can, do, and should prevent the violation of rights as well as the loss of life and the loss of property. 

 So, too with the FDA.  Objectivist political theory asserts that the government is to protect against fraud as well as force.  Selling poison as medicine is fraud. And I assert that based on the premise of protection against force and fraud, that the government can have a role in inspecting foods and drugs.  We have specific evidence of the positive benefits of this. I refer to the Massingill case where ethylene glycol (radiator fluid) was put in cough medicine.  (If a murderer is to give up his life, how did this corporation continue in business?)  Following the stronger FDA regulations, in the 1950s, there was thalidomide.  Those tragedies were more numerous in Europe and less so in the USA because here a single FDA regulator refused to cave in to pressure from the corporations and her bosses.  She insisted on clinical data that was never provided because the tests were never carried out. 

Limited constitutional government can seem to be a hypothetical construct, even a Kantian categorical imperative, if we are to insist that a government that cannot act until after a right has been violated by an agent with volition, i.e., that this is morally absolute regardless of whether anyone or no one actually benefits (which is Kant's deontological rule).  Logically considered to its conclusion, this would mean that no one could act to prevent the loss of life or property of another person. (You can act to protect yourself, of course.) 

I'm just saying that if the purpose of government is protect against the violation of rights caused by force and fraud, then prevention is better than attempting a metaphysically impossible alteration of the past, what we call "remediation."  Remediation is better than nothing, perhaps, but prevention is better still.

A volitional being has a right to take its own life.  But if when a person attempts that with a public display, then clearly, they are not rational; and they have no more rights than a child.  Thus, the police can and should act to prevent their demise.  So, if a person is clearly cognizant of the dangers of sugar and wants to put a teaspoon of it in their coffee, that is their right.  But the marketing of refined white sugar as "food" is wrong and should be stopped.

Incidentally, some people took (take?) arsenic as an aphrodisiac.  You can build a tolerance to it, but once you do, you become addicted in the sense that if you quit, you will die.  I would expect that a fully capable adult might have this right, but, again, how would you react to Arsenic in the Vitamins Aisle of a supermarket, just, you know, a Big Pink A in a Red Heart: Arsenic.

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 10/18, 9:33am)

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Post 11

Tuesday, October 18 - 12:29pmSanction this postReply

You are so far from Objectivists principles that I don't know if even recognize them. You believe the police should prevent the loss of life. Maybe that was just sloppy writing, but do you mean that the police have the right to prevent a suicide? Ah, yes, reading further I see that is exactly what you mean.

You are mixed up where you talk about the fraud perpetrated by selling a substance as a medicine that is actually a poison. Of course that is a proper government function. But that has nothing to do with whether or not a person has the right to decide what goes into his own body.

You argue in favor of the FDA - have you forgotten that Objectivists hold that free enterprise would do a better job, net-net, in informing the public, in 'approving' good drugs, in catching bad drugs. And again, that the FDA does not have the right to tell people they can not put this or that substance into their bodies. NO MORAL RIGHT. Your position is statist.

You wrote, "Limited constitutional government can seem to be a hypothetical construct, even a Kantian categorical imperative, if we are to insist that a government that cannot act until after a right has been violated by an agent with volition, i.e., that this is morally absolute regardless of whether anyone or no one actually benefits (which is Kant's deontological rule). Logically considered to its conclusion, this would mean that no one could act to prevent the loss of life or property of another person. (You can act to protect yourself, of course.) "

You have achieved the final end provided by modern philosophy - you are capable of convincing yourself that words exist to render all things relative, nothing certain, and that words, if yours, will take precedence over reality.

The rest of us know that limited constitutional government is the structure we use create the cultural/legal/political/economic environment that best maximizes the nurturing, the expression and the protection of individual rights.

You can't protect against the violation of individual rights by prevention without a firm legal grasp of "imminent" - and it changes the rights violation by its nature. Example: If the police foil a murder attempt - the charge isn't murder, but attempted murder. Probable cause is still required as a justification for invasive police action (e.g., "I heard the defendent state that he was going to kill the victim, whereupon the defendent pulled out a pistol and began to aim it at the victim. At that point I disarmed the defendent.") If the defense had been able to show that the police intervened without reasonable certainty that a crime would have occured it would not meet the criteria of imminent, but if a reasonable person believed there was probable cause to believe a threat to initiate violence existed, then the police intervention was justified.

We should be seeking to create the best environment for individual rights.

Michael, either you stand on the side of individual rights or you want for some arm of a government to interfere on behalf of person's supposed well-being even under circumstances where an individual right is not in danger.

Post 12

Tuesday, October 18 - 6:34pmSanction this postReply
Can you sell yourself into slavery?

Can you sell your existing children into slavery?

Can you sell your unborn (unconceived) children into slavery?

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Post 13

Tuesday, October 18 - 7:47pmSanction this postReply
Michael your kung fu is weak...

In 1907 the us population was approx. 87million of those 313000 were opiate addicts...yes morphine or heroin...that is .3% of the population.
Back in those days medical technology was of course limited.
Physicians prescribed injected morphine for a large variety of ailments.
Dysentry, diabetes, colitis, cancer, bronchitis to name a few..and ironically opiates actually did help with many of these ailments.
Basically you suffered enormous amounts of pain and anxiety brought on by those afflictions or you took opiates.
In those days in todays dollars the cost of having a steady supply of medically supplied opiates was about 2.5 cents a day.

Ironically there was no crime associated or caused by opiate addicts much more crime however was caused by rowdy drunkards.

Today the population is 311.8 million and of those approximately 1.2million people are opiate addicts. Yes .3% of the population are still opiate addicts..what has changed? Medical technology is obviously better..
Oh that's right almost none of it is prescribed medically although many may have started their addiction due to injury and treatment in a hospital..
What else is different? The cost of adulterated black market unknown quality/quantity now costs the addict 60 to 100 dollars per day.
The addict is forced to create a cycle of addiction to pay for his own addiction not to get high but jussst to feel normallllll.

Last year the government spent 15 billion dollars on drug enforcement.
That is approximately $500/second

1 333 467 people were arrested or..1 person every 19 seconds. Over 51% of all people incarcerated are in jail for drug offences.
It costs approx 30000/person a year to keep these people in jail.

In an objectivist society these people would not have even broken a law.

Fully 25% of the entire worlds population of people incarcerated for drug offences are housed in american jails.

To reiterate incase you failed to grasp the point...only .3% of the population are addicted to opiates..the only thing that has changed is the amount of freedom to your liberties that you have allowed the government to take from you as well as all the crime that is caused by these addicts creating more addicts as well as the enormous cost of enforcement.

Do you think the cartels want drugs legalized? If you believe that id have just cause to call you stupid.
Do you think the government actually cares about you or your liberties?
Wake up the only thing a government with a statist agenda cares about is using this war on drugs to increase their control over everyone by using fear and flawed justification for their use of the initiation of force between 2 parties that are engaged in a willing transaction.

A warrior? DEA agents call themselves heroes going to any lengths to justify any atrocity they may commit in their cause and then pat themselves on the back for having done so.

I in no way shape or form support the use of drugs my own son who I just got custody of was falling into that very trap under his mothers "care". Drugs are a short term subjective benefit with long term destructive consequences. I as an objectivist understand this as does my son now that I've been able to educate him.
As a rational clear thinking objectivist anyone can see through these lies the government thrusts upon your average non thinking obedient sheep.

I am no sheep are you michael?

(Edited by Jules Troy on 10/18, 8:12pm)

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Post 14

Tuesday, October 18 - 11:30pmSanction this postReply

I cannot imagine why you would ask such pitiful questions.

You asked, "Can you sell yourself into slavery?"

Slavery, by definition is INVOLUNTARY servitude. The idea of volunteering for involuntary servitude is meaningless. When one voluntarily enters into a contract to supply services for a fee or as a gift, they are making a valid contract or arrangment. But that isn't slavery. It's either force or choice - can't be both. Your question makes no sense.

You asked, "Can you sell your existing children into slavery?"

No. Not morally and not legally. (Really... What kind of answer would you expect to that question and what does it have to do with anything?)

Children have individual rights that belong to them and not to the parent. A parent or guardian has an obligation to act as a protector of their children's rights till the child reaches majority (or until another guardian is properly established). We have child abuse laws to help protect children's individual rights, when the rights are being violated by the parent or guardian, since children haven't attained the maturity to act as their own defenders.

You asked, "Can you sell your unborn (unconceived) children into slavery?"

Again... not legally or morally. A contract attempting to compel an illegal act in the future is not a valid contract. And you can't morally sell what isn't yours (the labor and servitude of another).

Sometimes it's weird, Michael, when you write a post like that, which is presumably an answer to the post above, yet it makes no sense by itself, or in the context of the post above it, or the thread. Maybe I'm just missing something.

Post 15

Wednesday, October 19 - 7:12amSanction this postReply
Alcohol was a senseless failed prohibition.
Same with drugs, tobacco, firearms, butter, and soon enough, sugar.

DUI is DUI, and represents a fringe abuse of freedom, a violation of the symmetric peer-to-peer obligations of exercising freedom. Fringe DUI type abuses in a world where drugs were legal would be handled the same way DUI offenses are now.

Can it possibly be said that alcohol is any less of a potentially dangerous drug than any other drug, both in its use and abuse?

Is the justification for the current prohibition based on a belief that drug use would skyrocket?

Look with some irony to steroids; in the 50's it was a vitamin. In the 70's, it was a controlled but legal substance in sports. With some irony... it wasn't until it was banned as an illegal substance that we all saw HS and college and certainly pro sports blossom into the land of freakish giants. What was largely removed from the use of steroids was the involvement of legal doctors and any sense of moderation, and what was -created- by the ban was a totally fabricated incentive to -increase- its usage.

With more than a little irony, steroids use is far more dangerous today in the wild, wild west, without the overt involvement of physicians than it ever was in the 70s. Yes, we can always point to fringe anecdotes of excessive self-abuse in any period, but it is exactly our broad constructivist policies which work counter their intent. The same is true with the current drug prohibition.

Folks should be totally free to responsibly use or not use. As well, employers should be totally free to discriminate based on that use or not use, including required testing as a condition of employment, on the basis of free association and the responsibilities of exercising our freedom as peers.

The reasons we direct force at each other for any purpose need to be minimized, not maximized. But that isn't what politics is about. Politics is about getting what we want from others, including, the authority to direct force at them to achieve our wants.

Post 16

Wednesday, October 19 - 1:17pmSanction this postReply
"Folks should be totally free to responsibly use or not use."

Personal responsibility and a comfort with autonomy are hallmarks of high self-esteem and maturity.

I make sense of the drive to control others in two ways - both psychological.

One is the attempt to feel safe by controlling all things that seems to motivate statists and to form the reason for the centralized planning and ultimate power over others as a political approach.

The other 'model' or way of viewing this goes well with the first... a parent-child psychology. I see that when people fail to adequately individuate and find themselves attempting to operate at a lower level of self-esteem than they should have they will often follow one of two paths - to either live more in a child-self who wants to feel looked after and to feel secure in that way, or to live more from a parent-self, a kind of mimicking of the parent as a way of rising above feelings of inadequacy and as a way of projecting onto others the disliked aspects of their own disowned child-self which they can now attack or fix as the authoritarian parent.

Post 17

Wednesday, October 19 - 2:13pmSanction this postReply
Steve, historically, people have sold themselves into slavery.  It is a fact.  It is also a fact that today, children work to pay off the debts of their parents and grandparents.  If, as you say, a person has an absolute right to do whatever they want to themselves, then that includes the right to sell themselves into slavery. 

I maintain that such a contract cannot be binding.  The government would be obligated to intervene to prevent its execution.

Children in sweatshops are pitiful, indeed.  But, it could be a case that the children are better off there than at home.  Even today in China, millions of young people, girls, largely, leave the rural areas and participate in what has been called the largest human migration in history to work in the cities.  They are underage, lie openly about their ages, get ID cards and work in circumstances more promising than those they left.  Chocolate from Africa is often farmed by children sold to agri-businesses by their parents.  Again, the kids lives are nominally better there than at home where resources were so scarce that their parents sold them for money.  If it is better for the child, then how can a parent be accused of neglect or abuse?

These are real cases.  (How is this different from the present circumstance in which future generations must pay the debts of the government - or for that matter, as we pay for the debts of previous administrations back over 150 years and more?) 

The flip side, though, is that while we object to the idea of children inheriting debt, we do enjoy the right to inherit assets.  Why the one, but not the other, objectively speaking?

I would gladly sell all of my future children for $1000 each right now.  I am 62 and not likely to have any, so, I can make the offer.  If someone accepted it, would it be legal and lawful in an ideal society based on Objective Law?  if somone was foolish enough (though cognizant) to agree to give me, say, $5000 for my next five children, how could the government intervene in the contract?   These questions bear directly on the responsibility of the government to protect the rights of the people within its jurisdiction. 

The idea that you can do whatever you want to or with yourself is fraught with problems and needs better definition.

Post 18

Wednesday, October 19 - 2:23pmSanction this postReply
Jules Troy: I do not know what you mean about my kung fu being weak, or where you think you have found some words of mine that I am in favor of the war on drugs. 

Cite all the facts you want about opiates, I do not disagree with your larger point, and I fail to understand why you expected that I would.

I do believe that the government has a lawful power to prevent fraud by testing products.  And I might agree that other entities could have that right, as well.  And I even would grant that overall "the market" would be better than "the government."   But that would be true of security and adjudication, also, but some of us Objetivists would prevent those markets and want tto grant a monopoly to the government.    Just as the FBI might enforce non-objective laws (the DoJ investigates and prosecutes anti-trust, for example), it nonetheless is an example of proper police powers of the government based on the wisdom of that, it iseems clear that the FDA has a proper role, whether or not the agency today oversteps its moral limits.

Post 19

Wednesday, October 19 - 3:38pmSanction this postReply

Please read what I write before arguing with it, and then argue the point I made instead of ignoring it.

And, historically, people have done just about everything that can be done, so what? That they have, by itself, is neither justification or damnation of anything.

You say that a contract regarding slavery cannot be binding but in different nations and at different times these contracts have been held to be legally binding. But laws can be totally immoral and contracts based upon them would be immoral despite being legally binding in that jurisdiction.

You are talking about indentured servitude which for adults is voluntary - that is not slavery. Slavery is not voluntary.

I said that any contract that attempted to bind people to an illegal act was not going to be a binding contract . Again, why don't you read what I wrote.

You leap all over the place - back into the past and to different countries and all to make arguments that I still don't see as relating to anything on this thread.

You said I said that people have an absolute right to whatever they want to themselves but as I have pointed out that does not include slavery because of the definition of slavery. Now if you want to say indentured servitude... yes, they have the right to do that. And it doesn't include violating the rights of children which is not doing anything they want to themselves.

I addressed child abuse within the context of modern United States. So please tell me why one of your mini-lectures on African agriculture and children is relevant.

And why are you mixing up government spending that will be a debt that the next generation will be paying with the description of individual rights in this thread? I am opposed to government debt and I don't think that it answers any argument made on this thread.

You asked why it is alright to inherit assets but not debt. Don't you think that is a really dumb question? I have the right to give my property to others. That is the basis of inheritance laws. I do not have the right to obligate others who have not consented to an obligation - it would be a form of theft. How could you not see that!

You say you would be willing to sell your future children and then say that you are unlikely to have any. So, you are doing one of the following:
  • Wanting to find fools to deal with - those willing to pay now for what won't ever exist, or...
  • Engage in fraud by selling someone something that you have no intention to produce, or...
  • In the unlikely event that there was a child, you would either given them over to slavery, or violate your contract which would theft.
Personally, I would not be willing to stand by any of those options.

As to your technical question on the law regarding such a contract.... If you had no children, the contract would not amount to a criminal act unless there was an allegation of fraud. That would ensue from a criminal complaint from the person that paid you for your future children. Or it would arise as a criminal complaint if a child did arrive and an attempt to complete the sale ensued. It could always be taken into civil court as form of unlawful conversion whereby an invalid contract (based upon an act that would be illegal) was used to take money without proper consideration - or something like that. But if you think that the government could not justly intervention, you are wrong.

The only way the government can protect the rights of those within its jurisdiction is to observe objective laws derived from individual rights. And as I pointed out, no one has an individual right to enslave a child or take money under a bad contract (theft or fraud).

I stand by what I've written. You own your body and you can do what you want with it as long as it does not violate the rights of others. If the individual does not own their body, then it is the government that will step in and claim ownership rights.

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