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Rebirth of Reason

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Post 20

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 6:02pmSanction this postReply
When we single out a group, "businessman", as evil ...
I never said that businessmen as a group are evil. I said that businessmen that use the government as a means to initiate force against other businessmen are evil.
Civility is lost when we overgeneralize and overuse words like "evil".
You are attempting to take two contradictory positions here.

First, you are arguing that what these businessmen are doing isn't wrong, that they are just doing the best they can do given the corrupt system. But you're also saying I used too strong of a word for their wrong actions. Well if they're not wrong in the first place then why are you quibbling that my terminology is too harsh? That would imply that you agree that they're wrong it's just not to the degree I'm saying they are, but you don't believe that.

Post 21

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 6:26pmSanction this postReply

No, I didn't say what they were doing wasn't wrong, I said it was the norm for the environment they were operating in. I also said I didn't think they were "evil". I do not equate the CEO of Sun Microsystems with Stalin. Or even with one of our local biker thugs. I am "quibbling that your terminology is too harsh" because words have meaning. If we say that the CEO of Sun Microsystems is "evil" we're saying he should be executed. When you overstate your case I get a little confused as to your exact meaning. Now I get it: businessmen who use government to squeeze out their competition are bad men. We agree.
(Edited by Mike Erickson on 2/10, 7:58pm)

Post 22

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 7:47pmSanction this postReply
Danny Silvera writes:
How are zoning laws magically rewritten to make way for a new Wal-Mart, when nobody else was previously allowed to use certains areas of land for business?
Hurrah for Wal-Mart! Zoning is governmental interference in the market. I'm all for getting around it any way one can. It's the same with taxes. Taxation is theft and the less one is robbed the better. I have no use for those who demand equal extortion in the name of "fairness".

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Post 23

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 8:45pmSanction this postReply

Ahh, Wal-mart... the store everyone loves to hate.

Having read through most every post on this thread, I see that the discussion is slowly devolving into side issues (government interference, corporate welfare, even Nazism and excommunication thrown in of good measure) and not about the news story itself (i.e. Wal-mart is fighting back against its critics).

Allow me to spray a shotgun fusillade of commentary.
1. Using Wal-Mart as a springboard for a corporate welfare discussion seems off-key. The original post stated something like "IF Wal-mart uses the government to crush other businesses, then...." No one has, to my knowledge, actually provided a concrete example of an instance of such corporate welfare vis-à-vis Wal-mart.

2. Given the high regard for Atlas Shrugged, I'm surprised no one has compared Wal-mart's PR announcement with John Galt's speech. It sounds as if CEO F. Scot Lee is going to challenge the many misstatements and near urban legends about the chain's treatment of employees and its various strategies. It will be interesting to see how far he will actually defend his company's right to earn a profit   -- I'll wager not far enough.

I don't think we'll see a outright Galtian swat of a homerun, but perhaps it will be yet another line-drive single for the cause of capitalism. I expect we Objectivists will be disappointed but I'm willing to give Lee the benefit of the doubt.

3. In 1993, just out of college, I worked as a Wal-mart department manager (electronics, a techno-geeks dream). In that time, I never witnessed any employee abuses and was quite pleased with my experience. Although I didn't need it, health insurance was offered at a rate competitive with most other local employers (including Uncle Government). All raises were given according to a detailed review process. Unionization was never an issue because there did not appear a need for one. Finally, every employee received a bonus (albeit not huge) thanks to profit sharing. The idea that their performance would actually affect profits and thereby raise their bonuses led to a marked enhancement in worker productivity (imagine that!). Most Wal-mart managers retire early thanks to their bonuses and ownership of commission-free shares of stock.

4. As far as using the government as a weapon, I knew of no favoritism. After I left Wal-mart and went to work for a small newspaper, my old store -- like most --- moved into a new SuperCenter. As the story unfolded, it was clear the company used the same process as any other business to obtain all the necessary (but immoral) permits and licenses. Of course, the local yahoos were pleased to see the expansion which meant more jobs and a broader tax base. However, there was no evidence of favoritism.  I admit to drawing these conclusions from a microcosm of one store that was well managed. However, I also experienced the same facts in other stores throughout the Southeast.

I have more to say about the Wal-mart issue but I'll cut it short. Suffice it to say that Wal-mart should serve as a model for an Objectivist-based business: rational and principled planning, outstanding customer service (at least in the "old days") , use of cutting edge retail technology and ownership/advancement opportunities at all levels.

And please, folks, don't bring up the tired old argument that Wal-mart is "destroying downtown America." That trend of a train left the station long before Sam Walton ever thought of opening his first store. Downtown America is dying because it doesn't meet the needs of its modern customers.

And thank you, SoloHQ, for shopping at Wal-mart. Be sure to check the bargain price on plastic lawn flamingos on aisle 12.


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Post 24

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 9:52pmSanction this postReply

Danny, it looks like several others got a crack at you first but now it is my turn.  This may be one of the worst posts I have ever seen on this website because you are assuming an understanding of several concepts that you have no understanding of at all.  This kind of wishywashyness and vagueness may fly as material for a cheesy editorial in a university newspaper but it isn't going to fly here.


“I didn't say that! I don't think any of it is operated fairly. I say, get rid of it all. Laissez faire.”

"But we can't have it both ways... We can't have the government out of our affairs while at the same time having the option of crying to them for help.  There is such a thing as balance." 


Well, as stated by other posters we can only cry for help against force initiators.  The government then has a mandate to take action.  This is a very important concept and you should spend more time studying Randian ethics so that you have a clear understanding of it.  In matters of politics this is THE key concept.   Freedom is, in essence the right to be free from the initiation of force by other groups, individuals or governments.    If Walmart is using government pull to obtain their objectives they are likely doing it at the expense of other individuals and businesses.  This essentially limits the freedom of these other parties because their ability to act in their own interests in these cases is being subjected to limitations backed ultimately by threats of physical force by the government.  The government must only respond when its citizens are being subjected to initiations of force by other citizens, groups of citizens or other governments.  This is how a free society is maintained.  The government must have a monopoly on force, but it must only be given the power to RESPOND to force and not to initiate it. 

"The way things are now, many big businesses don't want government helping out the "little people" by supporting them, yet those same big businesses and their CEOs have no compunction about appealing to the government for help for themselves... apparently they know themselves well enough to know that THEY can be trusted with assistance.  *rolling eyes so much it hurts*

"This is exactly the opposite of what Rand wisely argued for.  She said in effect, "Yes.  It's a jungle.  And it SHOULD be.  For EVERYONE... even big business." 

"I, however, believe in focusing more on the spirit of fairness inherent in that statement, rather than in her specific conclusions, regarding equal insecurity for everyone."


I'll stick with her specific conclusions around the non-initiation of force, the true definition of freedom and government’s role in protecting it.  They are far better argued and defined then the sloppy nonsense you just attributed to Ayn Rand.


"I say that whether we choose laissez-faire or mutual support, that rule must be enforced for everyone... We can't have people ACCEPTING help, while throwing a Nellie Olsen-style temper tantrum about reciprocating that help back to others, which is what many CEO's and big businesses have been doing for a long time now. 

"I am glad to help floundering businesses, so long as a system exists whereby they circulate that same degree of assistance back to those who help them... But what I see is a clever scheme to defeat that healthy circulation, while the periphery of the national and world economy develops gangrene."


What does this mean?  It sounds like a typical liberal rant.  There is no clarity at all in this argument, only vague innuendo.   If I read this correctly you are directly advocating socialism on an Objectivist website.   Go ahead and try that if you want, but please be more concise.  That last bit was entirely useless and meaningless.

"Personally, I have seen that this evolves naturally, even in your most laissez-faire of systems.  Even in total dog-eat-dog, people form support systems and alliance networks that amount to cooperative socialism."


Nonsense.  You are using very sloppy terminology (once again) by equating free cooperation between individuals and the physically forced "cooperation" known as socialism.  In capitalism people and business organizations TRADE.   This means that two parties voluntarily agree to cooperate in some manner by trading value.  Cooperation among FREE people does not amount to socialism at all because no one is being forced to do anything.

"And yes, even Objectivists and SOLOists -- despite all their talk about the nobility of individual struggle -- band together in private groups and cliques to grant special favors to each other, and lay down rules of mandatory cooperation (socialism), lest the non-cooperative individual face excommunication from the group. "


And here you make the same error.  In a free society people are free to assemble on their own private property.  They are free to include or exclude anyone they want.  SOLO is a website owned and managed by specific people, and based upon those rights they are free to include or exclude anyone they like.  Just in the same way that you won’t allow just anyone to hang around in your house.   If a government forced Lindsay Perigo to include everyone "equally and fairly" on his website that would be an example of socialist policy because they would be saying in effect that if he does not follow their “rules” then they will initiate force on him in some manner even though he was not guilty of any force initiations himself.   

"The only significant difference that I see between Rand's own "collective" and any socialist society, was that she gave compelling (albeit sometimes questionable) rationalizations for conformity and allegiance to the group, whereas many socialist governments rarely bother to make such good faith efforts at all. "


See above, more incredibly sloppy arguments based upon faulty premises. 


 - Jason

(Edited by Jason Quintana on 2/10, 9:59pm)

Post 25

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 11:02pmSanction this postReply

"We can't have the government out of our affairs while at the same time having the option of crying to them for help."

That's exactly the deal with legitimate government. We give the government power to arbitrate and defend our rights, otherwise they stay out of our affairs. When someone initiates force upon us, we go "crying to the government" for help. It's called civilized behaviour. But we don't go running to the government with everything we think is a "good idea" and beg the government to implement our good idea by force on everyone else. No one should be able to do that, big business or not.
You took my comments out of context.  I was referring to the context of business.
I am glad to help floundering businesses,.."

Bad idea. Floundering business should be allowed to fail if they can't figure out a way to turn themselves around. You talk like you are from the government.
I disagree.  The point I disagree with, is in not having any say in the matter.

"And yes, even Objectivists and SOLOists -- despite all their talk about the nobility of individual struggle -- band together in private groups and cliques to grant special favors to each other, and lay down rules of mandatory cooperation (socialism), lest the non-cooperative individual face excommunication from the group."

The owners of a website have a right to moderate. The only "rules" of solo, as far as I can tell, are minimum civility required. People of vastly different opinions post all of the time. You call the way solo is run "socialism"?!
To an extent, yes.  In all organizations, there is a party line that you must adhere to, or face excommunication.  I'm sure that SOLO is no different in this respect.

"The only significant difference that I see between Rand's own "collective" and any socialist society, was that she gave compelling (albeit sometimes questionable) rationalizations for conformity and allegiance to the group, whereas many socialist governments rarely bother to make such good faith efforts at all."

Rand's "collective"? This leaves me flabbergasted. I think I'll leave this for someone else. Perhaps you can give this a little more thought.
You're too easily flabbergasted.  Rand at first jokingly referred to her inner circle as "the collective", and then once the use of that term met no resistance, it became the common name for her inner circle... that's how they all referred to it, following her lead.

Post 26

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 11:11pmSanction this postReply
Excommunication at Solo? I have yet to see it. I have seen people wear out their welcome by having reached a point that is either so outlandish or so vicious that they have been thrown out of the forum. By the way, being a member of the forum is not the same as being among those that run Solo - forum membership is an internet subscription - like an interactive magazine. Banning member 999 from the forum is not the same as a David Kelley deciding to throw out Ed Hudgins from TOC. Being banned from this forum is NOT analagous to being excommunicated in the sense of the Peikoff - Kelley event. So spare me the analogies between a troll, lunatic, or wacko that gets kicked out of Solo with terms like 'excommunication'. Trust me they weren't banned because of some deep philosophical argument, there won't be a 'Truth and Toleration' forthcoming because a disturbed adolescent advocating genocide and spamming all the threads was banned.

In simpler terms: Your post was total bullshit.
You certainly are quite liberal and bold with terms like "bullshit".  And who's the "troll, lunatic, or wacko"?  You certainly sling abuse like fry cooks sling hash.

Before even coming in here, I've been aware of quite a large and prestigious body count generated by this website... I was not inclined to point it out before, but what the hey, since you've seen fit to deny reality...  Reginald Firehammer... a "troll"?  He attempted to make no valid points?  Tell me, would you attempt to claim that he was "spamming"?   

I'm just curious to see how far you'll go in your revision of history.  And don't forget to throw in lots of vicious verbal abuse while you're at it.  You certainly seem to have a penchant for that.

Post 27

Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 11:14pmSanction this postReply
I hear buzzing flies and smell rotting flesh, and the drums are now pounding... Would someone kindly point me toward the SOLO Heretics Corpse Pile?  I'd like to just cut to the chase. 

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Post 28

Friday, February 11, 2005 - 7:19amSanction this postReply
Speaking for the SOLO Collective, Danny, I think I have a brilliant idea to help all of us in this time of need. 

I propose the anti dog-eat-dog ordinance for SOLO, which will prevent any one member here of hoarding the posts to the detriment of others.  In this spirit of cooperation, dissidents such as yourself need not fear.

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