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Post 20

Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 9:24pmSanction this postReply
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Michael says:
Moreover, the nature of money -- its being a store of human effort, a store of intelligent work -- suggests that if you are spending more than you are getting back, that you are wasting your life.  That runs contrary to a basic principle of Objectivism.  Every way I look at the problem, I see profit as a virtue that is not to be denied. 
Money is what you get when you trade your goods or services to other people.  It is not an indication of how you value things, but in how others value what you sell.  Gaining money only means you're benefiting others (or that they wanted to trade), not that you yourself are benefiting.  If someone paid you $10 to give up the woman of your dreams, you might "profit" in terms of money, but lose big overall.

In other words, money is not the measure of success, or happiness, or morality.  It is a value among many.

If this view of money were taken seriously, the only expenses you could be justified in making are those that contribute to future financial gain.  You can't pay for entertainment.  You can't pay for a vacation.  You can't buy CDs of your favorite music.  You can't even buy a house or car unless you can justify it by future profit.  And that's because if money is the measure of virtue, then spending it is the biggest sin.






Post 21

Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 11:11pmSanction this postReply
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Joe, thanks for making the important point, which I was too damn stupid to mention myself.




Post 22

Friday, January 14, 2005 - 7:41amSanction this postReply
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Joe Rowlands,

You asked me before why I give money to TOC and not to SOLO.  I am not sure if you read my response, but there are some tangible benefits to giving to TOC, such as a free subscription to the Navigator, discounts on their store, and, last but not least, a tax-deduction I can claim on my income tax return.  I also said that if SOLO offered similar benefits, I would do the same for SOLO.  What do you think?




Post 23

Friday, January 14, 2005 - 11:17amSanction this postReply
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Byron,

It depends on how you choose to define 'tangible benefits '. Unlike TOC, Solo is in its infancy as a concept, as such - a donation to Solo at this point in its development is an investment in its future growth.

So in essence the real question is not whether Solo offers any tangible benefits, but whether one believes that what it has to offer now and in it's future is greater or at least equal to what TOC has to offer. I for one see no future whatsoever for TOC, at least not beyond purely academic contributions. Say what you will about ARI, it will continue to be the primary 'official' voice of objectivism for years to come, and its focus on activism is strong. 

So, of the 2 alternatives (TOC and SOLO) I see before me, I think the choice is clear.

George

(Edited by George W. Cordero on 1/14, 1:59pm)




Post 24

Friday, January 14, 2005 - 12:21pmSanction this postReply
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George,

What I was trying to say was, "what's in it for me?"  All those benefits I mentioned all involve money in the bank.  Like some rapper once said (was it the Notorious BIG?), for me, "it's all about the Benjamins."  I especially like the fact that I may claim my contribution to TOC as a tax-deduction on a Schedule 1040, since TOC is a "non-profit organization".  SOLO is not.  Saving the world at some point in the future (2008?) is all well and good, but until I see something on paper that defines how that is going to be done, specifically how my money is going to be used toward that end, there is no reason for me to contribute money.

Let me break it down further.  For the moment, SOLO is an online forum for those of like mind.  I appreciate the fact that such a forum exists.  However, if this forum disappeared tomorrow, I'm not going to lose sleep over it.  If SOLO is only going to be an online forum, I do not see how it is going to change the world.  The same may go for TOC, of course, but I do have an immediate benefit: I pay less taxes on April 15th.  See what I mean?




Post 25

Friday, January 14, 2005 - 11:29amSanction this postReply
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Hi, I'm new here, but not new to Objectivism. I think that "marketing" as an answer to this poll is, frankly, funny. "Atlas" has been a best seller for decades, and is listed, year after year, as the second most influential book for Americans. Rand's ideas are so widespread now that a kid whom I urged to read AS came away shrugging (aptly) saying that it contained "nothing new", and he thought most of those things anyway.

IMO, the thing that most needs to be done is to continue what Rand started. Objectivism is not complete, has some serious holes (no metaphysics, ignores much modern science, the "problem of children" ethical dilemma, contradictions in Rand's esthetics, etc). There is tons of room to grow.

Another serious problem is that most Objectivists that I've talked to don't know how to apply Objectivists principles. They will argue with each other about whether such and such an action is "rationally selfish" by trying to calculate gains and losses rather than apply the correct principle. (Objectivist ethics being a set of principles, not a general injunction to calculate possible outcomes of one's actions). This error is so common that I even read an article once in "The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies" with the authors assertions based on this misunderstanding.




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Post 26

Friday, January 14, 2005 - 4:24pmSanction this postReply
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Byron, we're still looking into some of these things.

I'm sorry to hear that you wouldn't lose any sleep over SOLO disappearing tomorrow.  I think if you really find so little value in SOLO, we're probably not going to expect large contributions from you anyway.  Those who find value in it, and live by the trader principle, find ways to contribute.  Sometimes financially.

As far as seeing what your money is going towards, you can pay to keep the site hosted for another month.  Or, if you want to make a donation for a something more specific, you can write me.

Also, maybe I'm misunderstanding the whole tax deduction thing.  When you donate to a non-profit, the government doesn't tax you on it.  So if you gave TOC $100, and say your tax rate was 25%, you wouldn't be charged the $25.  At the end of the day (actually tax year), TOC gets $100, and you only had to spend $75.  The incentive given to non-profits is that they are essentially more efficient for donations.

Now, since SOLO isn't a non-profit, if you gave us $100, you'd still have to pay the $25 dollars.  But if you pay us $75 dollars, it comes out to the same spending on your part, but we only get $75 dollars, instead of $100.

Given that tax scenario, your donation is more efficiently given to TOC by a ratio of 100:75, or 4:3. Sounds fine.  But that assumes TOC is the equivalent of SOLO.  If they are, then 4:3.  If SOLO is say twice as good as TOC as far as you're concerned, then you the ratio change to 100:150, or 2:3.  It then becomes more efficient to donate to SOLO.  Four times better than TOC?  100:300, or 1:3.  If you think TOC is pretty much worthless, the ratio keeps getting better in our favor.

There's some added complexity, of course.  If you don't donate enough in a year, than you can't itemize your deductions, and that pushes it to a 1:1 ratio with SOLO (assuming no preference in organizations). 

That's my tax lesson for the day.  Comments?




Post 27

Sunday, January 16, 2005 - 9:11amSanction this postReply
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Michael M: "Could you explain that?  "Making current ideas more understandable." was the one option I did not understand.  The particular problem I had was in knowing what a "current" idea is."

I have a small problem with giving you an explanation, which is that I have just discovered I can't read. I completely misinterpreted the option, and took it as simply :"Making ideas more understandable." It is that which I enjoy: taking often complex philosophical concepts and ideas and translating them into the simplest and most common-sense terms possible.

Barbara



Post 28

Sunday, January 16, 2005 - 12:41pmSanction this postReply
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Barbara Branden wrote: ... took it as simply :"Making ideas more understandable." It is that which I enjoy: taking often complex philosophical concepts and ideas and translating them into the simplest and most common-sense terms possible.
It is what I enjoy about technical writing.  Before the days of Windows, I found a book about readability metrics.  I wrote a program in Fortran to parse my user manual and display its metrics.  It was always a challenge to move the reading level lower and lower.  I think the best I did was to explain a parallel processor industrial controller at a sixth grade reading level.  The manual passed a technical review of course.  So, I really knew that I knew what I was talking about.

What you do seems much more complicated.  With a philosophy, you get a roomful of people nodding their heads and maybe they are agreeing or maybe they are falling asleep.  People who have attended your seminars speak well of your work.

I am always impressed with the clarity of your writing here on SOLO. 




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Post 29

Tuesday, January 18, 2005 - 1:32pmSanction this postReply
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Michael M. said:
Well, that just means living your life and speaking the truth. 

For a measure of success that might come from getting Objectivist ideas into the mass media and thereby changing society, I point to the large number of Hollywood stars who are Scientologists.  In fact, I have a Scientology music CD callled The Joy of Creating.  It is pretty uplifting stuff. 

However, I do not see masses of people reprogramming their engrams as a result of John Travolta's being in many movies.

On the other hand, there is no doubt that Atlas Shrugged profoundly affected the course of modern history.  I believe that this came not so much from Ayn Rand convincing people as from her book finding people.


I say:
You misunderstand my point. I'm not looking to have a bunch of Objectivist celebrities (though that would be a nice bonus). I'm looking to have movies, plays, books, TV, and radio shows to have Objectivist themes or at least be sympathetic to Objectivist principles (i.e. The Incredibles). It is through these mediums that people can be influenced in the exact same way that many of us were influenced by reading Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Look at how much influence the Star Wars films have had over the past 25 years. If we can make movies that have just 1/16 of that kind of impact, it would be enough to inspire people to make changes in their life. Many successful people in all walks of life can point to some movie, book, or TV show that inspired positive change in their life.

Adam



Post 30

Wednesday, January 19, 2005 - 9:01amSanction this postReply
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Joe Rowlands,

Yes, you're tax lesson is good.  I itemize my deductions so I try to give at least 20% of my AGI to charities in the CFC (Combined Federal Campaign).

What do you mean by a large contribution?  I am not Bill Gates (yet) so, no, I cannot give millions of dollars.  If SOLO were a non-profit organization, I am more than willing to give $4999.99 a year to SOLO.  Since it is not, I will donate a lesser amount.  As soon as I find my Paypal password, expect that contribution later today.




Post 31

Saturday, January 22, 2005 - 11:45amSanction this postReply
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While I am convinced that the most important challenge faced by Objectivism is to make the current ideas more understandable, I agree, with one glaring exception, that all the choices in the poll are important. The one exception being street marches and protests. I am not against protests and street marches, so long as those participating respect people and property and don't run wild in the streets, but that is not a viable method to promote a philosophical school of thought with.

Apparently others agree, because, as I write this, no one has come forward and voted for protests as being the most important form of activism for Objectivists to participate in to promote the philosophy.

Ron Tobin
Philosophers Guild




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