Poli-Sci Digest Volume 6, Part 2



Poli-Sci Digest         Wednesday, 28 May 1986     Volume 6 : Issue 13

Today's (few) Topics:

                          What? No Flames &
                      Government Funded Research &
                          Subsistance Levels

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Return-path: < TCS@USC-ECL.ARPA> 
Date: Thu 8 May 86 10:07:22-PDT
From: Terry C. Savage < TCS@USC-ECL.ARPA> 
Subject: Re: Poli-Sci Digest   V6 #12



What?!? No flames about the Libyan bombing? Must mean you all support
it as strongly as I do.

Too bad about the Russian power plant. I've always said "Nuke 'em til
they glow", but I never exxpected them to do it to themselves!

Your friendly flamer...

TCS

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Date: 15 May 86 16:54:26 EDT
From: Tim < WEINRICH@RED.RUTGERS.EDU> 
Subject: Government funded research



        Date: Thursday, 24 April 1986 10:29:28 EST
        From: Hank.Walker@unh.cs.cmu.edu
        Subject: Re: what should government do
        The only way to generate the funds for [basic research] is for
        people to elect a government that then coerces the money out
        of evryone through taxes.

   One obvious alternative is research thru private contributions.
Even within our present framework we have places like the Space
Studies Institute in Princeton which funds research solely with
private contributions (they dont even accept goverment funds.)  There
are problems with this kind of thing.  But you can still make the
argument that, if no one is willing to voluntarily contribute to the
research, then they probably dont believe they need it, and they
certainly dont deserve it.


   Twinerik

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Date: 15 May 86 16:56:22 EDT
From: Tim < WEINRICH@RED.RUTGERS.EDU> 
Subject: Families below subsistance levels



        Subject: Re: Poli-Sci Digest   V6 #10
        Date: Thu, 24 Apr 86 10:53:30 -0500
        From: random@ATHENA.MIT.EDU
        It is easy to come up witth isolated pathological examples of
        welfare fraud. However, for each of these cases there exists
        hundreds of other cases of families without adequate
        subsistence levels.

   Do you have any idea how many such cases there are?  How many of
them are on welfare (and still do not have adequate subsistence
levels) and how many are not?  Note that I am only interested in
families which do not earn enough money to feed, clothe, and house
themselves.  Whether or not they can afford a television set is
another question.  So just quoting facts on how many families earn
less than "the poverty level" doesnt answer the question.  (I know any
number of students who earn less than the poverty level and live not
uncomfortably.)

   Just curious...


   Twinerik

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End of Poli-Sci Digest
**********************


Poli-Sci Digest Friday, 6 Jun 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 14 Today's Topics: Article on Blue Cube ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < wild%oscar@SUN.COM> Date: Tue, 29 Apr 86 11:39:08 PDT From: wild%oscar@SUN.COM (Will Doherty) Subject: Article on Blue Cube My friend Edward Hasbrouck has asked me to circulate this article to mailing lists that may find it of interest. If you have any comments that you would like delivered to the author, send them to me and I will forward them to him. Will Doherty sun!oscar!wild MOFFETT PARK, SUNNYVALE, CA: "STAR WARS" GROUND ZERO BY EDWARD HASBROUCK Moffett Park, an industrial park just north of of Hwys 237 & 101, adjacent to Moffett Field in Sunnyvale, looks like many others throughout the San Francisco Bay area. The barbed wire around it is typical of Silicon Valley corporate security. Its low, monotonous sprawl of windowless and reflective-glass prefab buildings gives little indication of its purpose or products. The name of its true owner appears on no sign. Its purpose is preparation for a nuclear war started by a preemptive US first strike. Its products are first-strike nuclear missiles and the information needed to aim a US first strike. Its spying and other operations are directed by the National Reconnaissance Office (the largest "black" organization in the US government) and its parent agency, the National Security Agency (the real "Big Brother" of 1986). On 21 April 1986 I was one of about fifty people who came to Moffett Park on the national "Focus: Star Wars" day of No Business As Usual. I was didsappointed that, while we made our presence felt by many workers and others in the area, we were unable to make our motives understood by more than a few. This article was written to accompany a report on No Business As Usual in the Revolutionary Worker (a surprisingly non-sectarian paper which has featured some surprisingly non-dogmatic analyses of Star Wars by once-SDS'er Clark Kissinger). I hope that, through its circulation on electronic bulletin boards and mailing lists, it will convey to those who work at Moffett Park (and elsewhere in high tech and the Silicon Valley) some sense of our response to the question so often posed of demonstrators: "But why do you come HERE?" THE LOCKHEED D-5 MISSILE There are two major complexes at Moffett Park: Lockheed and the "Blue Cube". Lockheed Missiles and Space Co., Inc., is the prime contractor with the Department of Defense for D-5 missiles. Most of the 30,000 Lockheed workers at Moffett Park are engaged in production of these long-range, submarine- launched missiles, each carrying multiple, independently-targeted, Hydrogen-bomb warheads (MIRV's). D-5's are also called Trident II missiles; they will replace Trident I missiles on present and future Trident submarines. Lockheed's D-5 missile, like most other tools of nuclear (or any) war, is itself evidence of the wars for which it is intended. The sole advantage of Trident II over Trident I missiles (and, for the most part, of Tridents over earlier US nuclear submarines) is their ability to be used in a US first strike. The D-5 is the first missile ever built or deployed (by the US or the USSR) capable of launching a large enough warhead from a submarine with sufficient accuracy to destroy "hardened" military and strategic targets. "They will have 'a counterforce capbility, even a preemptive capability,' Richard DeLauer, the Under-Secretary of Defense, said [in] 1981." < ref. 8, p. 130> Its greater range will reduce the warning given targets deep within the USSR from the 20-30 minute flight time of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM's) to the 5-10 minute flight of missiles launched from offshore submarines (SLBM's). < ref. 8, p. 132> These capabilities do not deter nuclear war. Deterrence depends on the ability to retaliate -- mutual assured destruction. A Trident submarine commander, with Trident I missiles, already controls the 3rd-largest nuclear force in the world, a force greater than the entire US nuclear arsenal in the early 1950's (when it was considered adequate to dominate the world). If a single Trident sub survived a Soviet first strike, destruction of all significant Soviet population centers would be assured. By threatening the Soviet ability to retaliate against a US attack, D-5's provoke the USSR to adopt a policy of launch-on-warning (at best) or of preemptive first strike (at worst). If US war plans (contained in the Single Integrated Operational Plan, or SIOP) were in fact based on deterrence, the D-5 would be worse than useless. The priority put on its deployment is part of the priority put in the SIOP on a US first strike. "If there is a nuclear war, the United States will be the one to start it," an Air Force strategist who has worked on the SIOP told me." < ref. 8, p. 107> Many military workers say they build, maintain, and operate nuclear (and other) weapons "so that they will never be used". Such rationalizations do not apply to inherently offensive weapons like the D-5 missiles built by Lockheed at Moffett Park. They are built to be used, and they are useful only in a US first strike. Those who work to build them -- whether they like it or not, whether they choose their jobs or not -- are working not to defend the USA but to "conquer" the USSR with a preemptive US nuclear attack. Because the Trident submarines and missiles are among the most destabilizing weapons systems ever deployed, they are opposed by people throughout the world who struggle for survival. Those who work against the construction of Trident II missiles at Moffett Park join those who have been working against the Trident shipyard in Groton, CT, since the first US nuclear submarines were built there in the late 1950's; those who work against the Trident component and missile-tube factory at Quonset Point, RI; those who have been working against the Trident bases at Bangor, WA, and King's Bay, GA, since those sites were chosen; those who have blocked the "White Train" that carries nuclear warheads to those bases from Amarillo, TX; those who work against the purchase of Tridents by the UK and their deployment at a base in Scotland; and those who have tried to disarm Trident subs, missiles, and missile tubes, to "beat swords into plowshares". THE BLUE CUBE In one corner of Moffett Park, surrounded by satellite antennae, is a square, five-story building known as the "Blue Cube". The Blue Cube controls, maintains in orbit, and processes data received from military spy satellites; it is the operations center of the National Reconnaissance Office. < ref. 1, p. 263> According to Daniel F. Ford, former excutive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Blue Cube is "the Air Force's main satellite ground control center.... It would be one of the likely targets for Soviet attack, or sabotage, in the opening phase of a nuclear war. Unclassified Pentagon testimony before Congress in March 1983 mentioned the exact site of that ground station when it referred to US strategic connectivity as 'dependent on the single satellite control facility (SCF) located at Sunnyvale, California.' (The facility is euphemistically designated the 'Satellite Test Center.')... In some cases, a high level of redundancy is built into the strategic command system, with a large number of backup facilities and alternate means for carrying out critical tasks.... The Sunnyvale facility is one of the obvious weak links.... "The Consolidated Space Operations Center now being constructed near Colorada Springs... will be a backup to the vulnerable Satellite Control Facility in Sunnyvale, CA. Its role as a backup is... questioned.... Something surely needs to be done to avoid the catastrophic effects of a Soviet attack, or an earthquake, that could disable the main control center for US military satellites. Colorado Springs, though, is just as easy a target as Sunnyvale, and having two vulnerable facilities instead of one does not greatly increase protection against Soviet dismemberment of the satellite control system.... "The apparent 'defects' in US retaliatory capability, in this context, are a by-product of the military's unstated reliance on the major first-strike option it has always included in the SIOP.... Shoddy arrangements have been tolerated, Desmond Ball [head of the Strategic and Defense Studies Centre of the Australian National University] said, because 'down inside, they don't really believe that this stuff's going to be of any use' in the type of war the US would end up fighting. The Strategic Air Command simply does not plan to be in a retaliatory mode, and if US leaders want to push the button first, they do not need to use... such devices.... The military has no interest in limited options and prefers, if it has to fight, to launch a major first strike." < ref. 8, pp. 64-65, 234-235> The Blue Cube's ostensible raison d'etre is to give early warning of a nuclear attack on the US and to target a retaliatory attack (based on which Soviet missiles had already been launched, etc.). It could not possibly do either. Its function, location, and vulnerability (above ground, thin-walled, unshielded against blast, radiation, or electromagnetic pulse (EMP)) are as well known to the USSR as to US war planners. Both know that the first explosion of a nuclear attack on the US would probably be a submarine-launched airburst over Sunnyvale. The EMP from such an explosion would instantly destroy all semiconductor circuitry in the Blue Cube (and for hundreds of miles around), blinding all US satellites before any land-based missiles were launched. < timeline, ref. 51> The Blue Cube is Ground Zero. (Although there are perhaps half a dozen critical points for a first strike against US command control, communications, and intelligence (C3I), most are either "hardened" or inland where it would be harder and take longer for submarine-launched missiles to reach them undetected.) Although there has been much talk of Soviet "satellite-killing" experiments, there would be no need to destroy the satellites themselves. Even if raw data from satellite sensors could somehow be received elsewhere, no sense could be made of it without the Blue Cube's computers. The National Reconnnaissance Office is a branch of the National Security Agency, and the NSA is acknowledged to have "the largest and most advanced computers available to any bureaucracy in the world" < ref. 4, p. 60> . The computational requirements for real-time analysis of signals from satellites continuously transmitting images of the earth's surface with a resolution of 10 cm < ref. 9, p. 40> are vast. Most NRO attempts to decentralize its data processing have failed. < ref. 8, p. 71> , and Star Wars systems will require even larger and more centralized "battle-management" computers < ref. 10> . The Blue Cube won't exist once World War III begins, and it won't help the US retaliate. "'It is inconceivable to me that if the Russians were going to start a war, they'd not start by knocking out the early warning sites,' one of the Pentagon's leading experts on command-system design told me. 'If I were going to do it, that's how I'd do it,' a NORAD general said." < ref. 8, p. 67> (One implication of the vulnerability of communications is that for the US to be able to retaliate -- as it says it will -- it must already have delegated authority to use nuclear weapons to battlefield commanders who it knows will be isolated by the first strike. "According to... Raymond Tate -- a former Deputy Director of the NSA -- '...The codes and devices are set up to allow that.'" < ref. 8, p. 143> There are many US fingers on many buttons.) The real role of the Blue Cube -- and NRO satellites -- is to identify and locate the targets of a disabling US first strike on the USSR. "As a member of one of the [Department of Defense] connectivity review groups noted, 'Official policy suggests we're moving toward long-range war fighting. But in reality we're moving toward first strike.'" < ref. 8, p. 130> This strategy is reflected in the characteristics of many of the NRO satellites currently operated by the Blue Cube. They are intended for targeting and surveillance; their few defensive and warning capabilities are largely incidental. KH-11 ("Keyhole") satellites transmit live photos, but they pass over the Soviet Union only intermittently; an attack could be launched while they were on the other side of the Earth (or obscured by clouds). Their high-resolution photos are, however, essential for the US to aim a first strike accurately and with confidence that it hasn't overlooked any sites from which the Soviets could retaliate. When a KH-11 was reported to have exploded on launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, 18 April 1986, it was considered a setback to US "strategic interests". Possible delay in US ability to target a first strike was considered more significant than the KH-11's cost (half a billion dollars or more). Lockheed 467 satellites also provide only intermittent coverage, and are in any case intended for signals intelligence (SIGINT) -- intercepting communications -- rather than photography. Since most Soviet strategic communications are carried by land lines rather than radio, a Soviet attack might not be preceded or accompanied by any unusual broadcasts detectable by SIGINT satellites, even the "Rhyolite" which hovers continually over the USSR or the "Aquacades" which are to replace it when either Titan 34D or space shuttle launches resume. The satellites most likely to warn of Soviet missile launches are those of the Defense Support Program (DSP) which use infrared telescopes to detect the heat of the rocket flames. "Hundreds of millions of dollars have gone into development of new early warning satellites, and almost three billion dollars will will be spent to deploy them as replacements for the three DSP satellites now in orbit.... Advanced DSP satellites... are scheduled to be deployed over the next few years using the manned space shuttle. The launching of intelligence satellites has been slated as one of the shuttle's primary missions... "The new early warning satellites... will have more sophisticated sensors.... The new models will not scan the Soviet missile fields a few times per minute but will stare uninterruptedly at each Soviet missile silo. Current satellites can identify the general area from which missiles are launched, but not the individual silos. For warning purposes, this makes little difference. All that counts is that the Soviet launches be quickly detected. However, in the new offensive Pentagon nuclear strategy, the more refined data from the advanced DSP satellites plays a key role." < ref. 8, pp. 201, 202> Knowing exact launch sites is the first step toward knowing exact missile trajectories and aiming Star Wars anti-ballistic-missile (ABM) weapons. This new ability of Advanced DSP satellites will be especially useful in focusing a limited Star Wars ABM system on the "ragged retaliation" from only a few silos following a US first strike. Most other parts of an ABM system are in the early stages of research. ADSP satellites will be the first operational components of a Star Wars ABM system, and in controlling them the Blue Cube will be the first operational Star Wars facility. WHO RUNS THE BLUE CUBE? Although the Blue Cube is officially the "Sunnyvale Air Force Station" and its costs "are secretly hidden in the classified budget for the Air Force, which serves as a cover for the NRO", its real owner is the National Security Agency. "Once the satellite achieves orbit, responsibility for both the operation of the ground collection stations and their costs is assumed by the NSA, although actual control of the spacecraft is retained by the NRO through its operations center in Sunnyvale." < ref. 1, p. 263> The National Security Agency is "the nation's largest intelligence agency" < ref. 14, p. 29> . It has about 50,000 direct employees; a similar number of military employees are assigned to NSA listening posts. Its budget is several billion dollars a year, ten times larger than that of the CIA and over 90% of the total US budget for spying. < ref. 1, p. 17> The National Reconnaissance Office, whose operations are centered at the Blue Cube, runs the US spy satellite program. The NRO pioneered the militarization of space and has probably received more Star Wars funding than any other organization. The space shuttle was designed specifically to launch NRO satellites, and NASA "is in fact a minor user and not the driver" of the space shuttle. < Hans Mark, quoted in ref. 6, p. 10> NRO requirements have dominated NASA research since former NSA director and Air Force General Lew Allen, Jr., was put in charge of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. < ref. 6, p. 8> Even before Star Wars the NRO had a budget several times larger than the NSA. Including the NRO and civilian contractors (such as those who build the satellites) the Director of the NSA probably controls several hundred thousand people and several tens of billions of dollars a year. < ref. 3, p. 124> Details are hard to come by. The NSA is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act; all information concerning the NSA, its budget, or its employees is classified (the majority of all US classified material is produced and destroyed within the NSA); and the NSA actively suppresses public information about itself (after the only book about the NSA was published, NSA agents removed the sources it refered to from the shelves of public libraries, classified them, and locked them in safes). "Similar to the NSA during the early 1950's, the NRO is considered a 'black' agency, one whose very existence is denied by the government." < ref. 1, p. 243> The scope of NSA spying is both vast and threatening. "No law has ever been enacted preventing the NSA from engaging in any activity. There are only laws to prevent the release of any information about the Agency." < ref. 1, pp. 18-19> "With unknown billions of Federal dollars, the agency purchases the most sophisticated communications and computer equipment in the world.... Every day, in almost every area,... systems and procedures are being adopted... that make it easier for the NSA to dominate American society should it ever decide such action is necessary." < ref. 4, p. 67> The "cloak and dagger" spying of the CIA has been largely replaced by the NSA's electronic intelligence gathering (freeing CIA agents for plainclothes war). A former employee of both the NSA and the CIA described the CIA as "morally principled" in comparison to the NSA, and said the greatest threat to freedom in the US was the increasing use by the FBI and other domestic police of technology developed by the NSA for use abroad. The NSA's attitude toward the public is that of Big Brother. It is even more desperate to prevent anyone else from keeping secrets than to keep its own secrets. When IBM researchers developed a computer code the NSA didn't think it could break, the agency intervened to prevent it from being adopted as a national standard. < ref. 7, pp. 424-427; ref. 1, pp. 433-440> A 1984 Reagan directive gave the NSA responsibility for security of all "private computer systems processing 'unclassified but sensitive information that could adversely affect national security.'" The NSA is now using this authority to expand its eavesdropping power: "The new algorithms will be buried in computer chips manufactured to NSA specifications and encapsulated so that any effort to read the code... would destroy the chip. 'I don't think that the people using the code would even know the algorithm,' said Edward Zeitler, manager of information systems security at the Security Pacific National Bank in California. 'We probably couldn't break our own codes.'... 'It will give the NSA much freer access to data then the agency has today,' said Robert H. Courtney, a former data security specialist at IBM who now runs a private security consulting service. 'You could interpret it as an effort to increase security, or you could interpret it as a power play.'" < ref. 14, pp. 29, 32> The NSA is only supposed to spy on foreigners. But it has always spied on US citizens, and its right to do so has been upheld by the Federal courts. < ref. 4, p. 60> . NSA headquarters has a major receive-only node in the US phone system: phone company computers can route calls to the NSA without the need to install any "bugs" or hardware. < ref. 1, p. 228-230> NSA research currently focuses on automated voice transcription systems to search these calls (as it already searchs all telegrams, telexes, and computer messages) for key words or phrases, eliminating the need for human monitors. "Because of the towering barrier of secrecy that surrounds the NSA, determining whether the agency actually has developed such an ability simply is not possible. But from the experiments we know have been conducted by AT&T and other groups, it is not unreasonable to assume that the NSA has such equipment to monitor some telephone calls." < ref. 3, p. 254> If they don't yet, they will soon. In 1983 NSA agents (possibly including some in the Blue Cube) listened silently as the USSR shot down a Korean airliner (which may itself have been on an NSA mission) < ref. 5> . When President Reagan denied that the NSA could have warned the pilot, two former NSA workers accused him of "a major efort... to bewilder the public concerning the capabilities of... the NSA.... We believe that the entire sweep of events... was meticulously monitored and analyzed instantaneously by US intelliogence.... We find the inference made by President reagan... to be unbelievable and contrary to NSA policy." < Tom Bernard and T. Edward Eskelson, quoted in ref. 5, pp. 43, 111, 130-131> After the April 1986 bombing of Libya, Reagan claimed to know of "direct orders of the Libyan regime. On March 25,... orders were sent from Tripoli from to the Libyan People's Bureau in East Berlin... On April 4, the People's Bureau alerted Tripoli that the attack would be carried out the following morning. The next day they reported back to Tripoli.... Our evidence is direct [and] precise." < "Transcript of Address By Reagan on Libya", ref. 13, p. 7> As the New York Times reported, "The Administration has not divulged how it came into possession of this information. But the US extensively monitors radio transmissions and telephone calls to Libya and has the capability to break codes." < Bernard Gwertzman, "US Says Libyans Around World Are Plotting to Attack Americans", ref. 13, p. 6> The NSA has always spied on foreign embassies, and its headquarters is "ideally located" to intercept microwave transmissions between other countries embassies in Washington and their consulates and UN missions in New York. < ref. 1, p. 229; see also pp. 461-467> But it would cause a diplomatic crisis for Reagan to admit that the US routinely violates the supposed sanctity of privileged diplomatic communications. Such an admission would be comparable to an admission that the US breaks into and copies the contents of sealed diplomatic pouches. As usual, the government is more interested in keeping such activities officially classified "secret" than in actually keeping them secret from the public. The power to define what is and is not known (and thus what can and cannot be talked about), is central to the government's ability to control both the media and public debate. This tactic succeeded for a surprisingly long time in suppressing discussion of the "covert" war on Nicaragua. Its ultimate expression is the "black" programs which cannot be questioned because the government does not admit they exist, and the largest of these is the NRO. < For more on "secrecy" as thought control see ref. 12, especially p. 139> Reagan's allegations are dubious and unsubstantiated. He may simply be lying, and his "evidence" may be nonexistent, fabricated, or distorted. But the most favorable (to Reagan) interpretation of his statement is that the NSA has once again allowed hundreds of people to be killed or wounded rather than risk exposing itself and its activities by sounding a warning! This is the NSA's record: a record of compulsive secrecy, calculated irresponsibility, and callous disregard for human life. Based on this record we are supposed to trust the NSA -- acting in complete secrecy, completely without accountability -- to operate both our existing system for early warning of nuclear war and any future Star Wars system for "nuclear defense". I do not trust them (nor should you) and I will not entrust my life to them. If we are to live, we must take life in our own hands (as millions of us have done by resisting draft registration and preventing the draft). If we are to gain power, we must empower ourselves. If there is to be disarmament, we must disarm the governments. They won't listen to reason, They won't be bound by votes, The governments must be stopped from launching World War III, No matter what it takes! SOURCES ON THE NSA/NRO/BLUE CUBE AND LOCKHEED D-5 < 1> James Bamford, The Puzzle Palace: A Report on America's Most Secret Agency (Houghton Mifflin, 1982; revised and expanded ed., Penguin Books, 1983) < 2> Paul Bracken, The Command and Control of Nuclear Forces (Yale University Press, 1983) < 3> David Burnham, The Rise of the Computer State (Random House, 1984) < 4> David Burnham, "The Silent Power of the N.S.A.", The New York Times Magazine, 27 March 1983 < 5> Oliver Clubb, KAL Flight 007: The Hidden Story (Permanent Press, 1985) < 6> D. S. Crafts, "NASA's Military Payload", East Bay Express, 4 April 1986 < 7> Katharine Davis Fishman, The Computer Establishment (Harper & Row, 1981) < 8> Daniel Ford, The Button: The Pentagon's Command and Control System -- Does It Work? (Simon and Schuster, 1985) < 9> David Hafemeister, Joseph J. Romm, and Kosta Tsipis, "The Verification of Compliance With Arms-Control Agreements", Scientific American, March 1985 < 10> Herbert Lin, "The Development of Software for Ballistic-Missile Defense", Scientific American, December 1985 < 11> Robert Lindsey, The Falcon and the Snowman < 12> Howard Morland, The Secret That Exploded (Random House, 1981) < 13> The New York Times, 15 April 1986 < 14> David E. Sanger, "Computer Code Shift Expected", The New York Times, 15 April 1986 < 15> John Steinbruner, "Launch Under Attack", Scientific American, January 1984 SOURCES ON SOVIET "STAR WARS" AND "BLACK" PROGRAMS < 16> Zhores A. Medvedev, Nuclear Disaster in the Urals (W.W. Norton, 1979; revised and expanded ed., Random House, 1980) < 17> James E. Oberg, Red Star in Orbit (Random House, 1981) PREVIOUS REVOLUTIONARY WORKER ARTICLES ON STAR WARS AND FIRST STRIKE < 18> Clark Kissinger, "The Compulsion for Mass Murder -- First Strike and the Military Realities of Nuclear War", Part I, Revolutionary Worker #294, 22 February 1985; Part II, Revolutionary Worker #295, 1 March 1985 < 19> Clark Kissinger, "High Tech Armageddon: Star Wars and the US First-Strike Strategy", Part I, Revolutionary Worker #350, 7 April 1986; Part II, Revolutionary Worker #351, 14 April 1986 ABOUT THE AUTHOR Edward Hasbrouck (415-824-8562) participated in the No Business As Usual focus on Star Wars in Sunnyvale and Stanford, CA. He an anarcho-pacifist and an editor of the draft resistance newspaper Resistance News. He is proud of his convictions, which include refusing to register for the draft, hugging, trespassing, and posting handbills without permission. ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Friday, 6 Jun 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 14 Today's Topics: Administrivia: Net? What Net? Article on Blue Cube ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < mcgrew@red.rutgers.edu> Date: Fri, 27 Jun 86 12:00:00 EDT From: mcgrew@red (Charles) Subject: The gateway is WHAT? Our gateway has been down (or at least not passing this issue of Poli-Sci) for a goodly while. I'm remailing this issue again.... Charles ------------------------------ Return-path: < wild%oscar@SUN.COM> Date: Tue, 29 Apr 86 11:39:08 PDT From: wild%oscar@SUN.COM (Will Doherty) Subject: Article on Blue Cube My friend Edward Hasbrouck has asked me to circulate this article to mailing lists that may find it of interest. If you have any comments that you would like delivered to the author, send them to me and I will forward them to him. Will Doherty sun!oscar!wild MOFFETT PARK, SUNNYVALE, CA: "STAR WARS" GROUND ZERO BY EDWARD HASBROUCK Moffett Park, an industrial park just north of of Hwys 237 & 101, adjacent to Moffett Field in Sunnyvale, looks like many others throughout the San Francisco Bay area. The barbed wire around it is typical of Silicon Valley corporate security. Its low, monotonous sprawl of windowless and reflective-glass prefab buildings gives little indication of its purpose or products. The name of its true owner appears on no sign. Its purpose is preparation for a nuclear war started by a preemptive US first strike. Its products are first-strike nuclear missiles and the information needed to aim a US first strike. Its spying and other operations are directed by the National Reconnaissance Office (the largest "black" organization in the US government) and its parent agency, the National Security Agency (the real "Big Brother" of 1986). On 21 April 1986 I was one of about fifty people who came to Moffett Park on the national "Focus: Star Wars" day of No Business As Usual. I was didsappointed that, while we made our presence felt by many workers and others in the area, we were unable to make our motives understood by more than a few. This article was written to accompany a report on No Business As Usual in the Revolutionary Worker (a surprisingly non-sectarian paper which has featured some surprisingly non-dogmatic analyses of Star Wars by once-SDS'er Clark Kissinger). I hope that, through its circulation on electronic bulletin boards and mailing lists, it will convey to those who work at Moffett Park (and elsewhere in high tech and the Silicon Valley) some sense of our response to the question so often posed of demonstrators: "But why do you come HERE?" THE LOCKHEED D-5 MISSILE There are two major complexes at Moffett Park: Lockheed and the "Blue Cube". Lockheed Missiles and Space Co., Inc., is the prime contractor with the Department of Defense for D-5 missiles. Most of the 30,000 Lockheed workers at Moffett Park are engaged in production of these long-range, submarine- launched missiles, each carrying multiple, independently-targeted, Hydrogen-bomb warheads (MIRV's). D-5's are also called Trident II missiles; they will replace Trident I missiles on present and future Trident submarines. Lockheed's D-5 missile, like most other tools of nuclear (or any) war, is itself evidence of the wars for which it is intended. The sole advantage of Trident II over Trident I missiles (and, for the most part, of Tridents over earlier US nuclear submarines) is their ability to be used in a US first strike. The D-5 is the first missile ever built or deployed (by the US or the USSR) capable of launching a large enough warhead from a submarine with sufficient accuracy to destroy "hardened" military and strategic targets. "They will have 'a counterforce capbility, even a preemptive capability,' Richard DeLauer, the Under-Secretary of Defense, said [in] 1981." < ref. 8, p. 130> Its greater range will reduce the warning given targets deep within the USSR from the 20-30 minute flight time of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM's) to the 5-10 minute flight of missiles launched from offshore submarines (SLBM's). < ref. 8, p. 132> These capabilities do not deter nuclear war. Deterrence depends on the ability to retaliate -- mutual assured destruction. A Trident submarine commander, with Trident I missiles, already controls the 3rd-largest nuclear force in the world, a force greater than the entire US nuclear arsenal in the early 1950's (when it was considered adequate to dominate the world). If a single Trident sub survived a Soviet first strike, destruction of all significant Soviet population centers would be assured. By threatening the Soviet ability to retaliate against a US attack, D-5's provoke the USSR to adopt a policy of launch-on-warning (at best) or of preemptive first strike (at worst). If US war plans (contained in the Single Integrated Operational Plan, or SIOP) were in fact based on deterrence, the D-5 would be worse than useless. The priority put on its deployment is part of the priority put in the SIOP on a US first strike. "If there is a nuclear war, the United States will be the one to start it," an Air Force strategist who has worked on the SIOP told me." < ref. 8, p. 107> Many military workers say they build, maintain, and operate nuclear (and other) weapons "so that they will never be used". Such rationalizations do not apply to inherently offensive weapons like the D-5 missiles built by Lockheed at Moffett Park. They are built to be used, and they are useful only in a US first strike. Those who work to build them -- whether they like it or not, whether they choose their jobs or not -- are working not to defend the USA but to "conquer" the USSR with a preemptive US nuclear attack. Because the Trident submarines and missiles are among the most destabilizing weapons systems ever deployed, they are opposed by people throughout the world who struggle for survival. Those who work against the construction of Trident II missiles at Moffett Park join those who have been working against the Trident shipyard in Groton, CT, since the first US nuclear submarines were built there in the late 1950's; those who work against the Trident component and missile-tube factory at Quonset Point, RI; those who have been working against the Trident bases at Bangor, WA, and King's Bay, GA, since those sites were chosen; those who have blocked the "White Train" that carries nuclear warheads to those bases from Amarillo, TX; those who work against the purchase of Tridents by the UK and their deployment at a base in Scotland; and those who have tried to disarm Trident subs, missiles, and missile tubes, to "beat swords into plowshares". THE BLUE CUBE In one corner of Moffett Park, surrounded by satellite antennae, is a square, five-story building known as the "Blue Cube". The Blue Cube controls, maintains in orbit, and processes data received from military spy satellites; it is the operations center of the National Reconnaissance Office. < ref. 1, p. 263> According to Daniel F. Ford, former excutive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Blue Cube is "the Air Force's main satellite ground control center.... It would be one of the likely targets for Soviet attack, or sabotage, in the opening phase of a nuclear war. Unclassified Pentagon testimony before Congress in March 1983 mentioned the exact site of that ground station when it referred to US strategic connectivity as 'dependent on the single satellite control facility (SCF) located at Sunnyvale, California.' (The facility is euphemistically designated the 'Satellite Test Center.')... In some cases, a high level of redundancy is built into the strategic command system, with a large number of backup facilities and alternate means for carrying out critical tasks.... The Sunnyvale facility is one of the obvious weak links.... "The Consolidated Space Operations Center now being constructed near Colorada Springs... will be a backup to the vulnerable Satellite Control Facility in Sunnyvale, CA. Its role as a backup is... questioned.... Something surely needs to be done to avoid the catastrophic effects of a Soviet attack, or an earthquake, that could disable the main control center for US military satellites. Colorado Springs, though, is just as easy a target as Sunnyvale, and having two vulnerable facilities instead of one does not greatly increase protection against Soviet dismemberment of the satellite control system.... "The apparent 'defects' in US retaliatory capability, in this context, are a by-product of the military's unstated reliance on the major first-strike option it has always included in the SIOP.... Shoddy arrangements have been tolerated, Desmond Ball [head of the Strategic and Defense Studies Centre of the Australian National University] said, because 'down inside, they don't really believe that this stuff's going to be of any use' in the type of war the US would end up fighting. The Strategic Air Command simply does not plan to be in a retaliatory mode, and if US leaders want to push the button first, they do not need to use... such devices.... The military has no interest in limited options and prefers, if it has to fight, to launch a major first strike." < ref. 8, pp. 64-65, 234-235> The Blue Cube's ostensible raison d'etre is to give early warning of a nuclear attack on the US and to target a retaliatory attack (based on which Soviet missiles had already been launched, etc.). It could not possibly do either. Its function, location, and vulnerability (above ground, thin-walled, unshielded against blast, radiation, or electromagnetic pulse (EMP)) are as well known to the USSR as to US war planners. Both know that the first explosion of a nuclear attack on the US would probably be a submarine-launched airburst over Sunnyvale. The EMP from such an explosion would instantly destroy all semiconductor circuitry in the Blue Cube (and for hundreds of miles around), blinding all US satellites before any land-based missiles were launched. < timeline, ref. 51> The Blue Cube is Ground Zero. (Although there are perhaps half a dozen critical points for a first strike against US command control, communications, and intelligence (C3I), most are either "hardened" or inland where it would be harder and take longer for submarine-launched missiles to reach them undetected.) Although there has been much talk of Soviet "satellite-killing" experiments, there would be no need to destroy the satellites themselves. Even if raw data from satellite sensors could somehow be received elsewhere, no sense could be made of it without the Blue Cube's computers. The National Reconnnaissance Office is a branch of the National Security Agency, and the NSA is acknowledged to have "the largest and most advanced computers available to any bureaucracy in the world" < ref. 4, p. 60> . The computational requirements for real-time analysis of signals from satellites continuously transmitting images of the earth's surface with a resolution of 10 cm < ref. 9, p. 40> are vast. Most NRO attempts to decentralize its data processing have failed. < ref. 8, p. 71> , and Star Wars systems will require even larger and more centralized "battle-management" computers < ref. 10> . The Blue Cube won't exist once World War III begins, and it won't help the US retaliate. "'It is inconceivable to me that if the Russians were going to start a war, they'd not start by knocking out the early warning sites,' one of the Pentagon's leading experts on command-system design told me. 'If I were going to do it, that's how I'd do it,' a NORAD general said." < ref. 8, p. 67> (One implication of the vulnerability of communications is that for the US to be able to retaliate -- as it says it will -- it must already have delegated authority to use nuclear weapons to battlefield commanders who it knows will be isolated by the first strike. "According to... Raymond Tate -- a former Deputy Director of the NSA -- '...The codes and devices are set up to allow that.'" < ref. 8, p. 143> There are many US fingers on many buttons.) The real role of the Blue Cube -- and NRO satellites -- is to identify and locate the targets of a disabling US first strike on the USSR. "As a member of one of the [Department of Defense] connectivity review groups noted, 'Official policy suggests we're moving toward long-range war fighting. But in reality we're moving toward first strike.'" < ref. 8, p. 130> This strategy is reflected in the characteristics of many of the NRO satellites currently operated by the Blue Cube. They are intended for targeting and surveillance; their few defensive and warning capabilities are largely incidental. KH-11 ("Keyhole") satellites transmit live photos, but they pass over the Soviet Union only intermittently; an attack could be launched while they were on the other side of the Earth (or obscured by clouds). Their high-resolution photos are, however, essential for the US to aim a first strike accurately and with confidence that it hasn't overlooked any sites from which the Soviets could retaliate. When a KH-11 was reported to have exploded on launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, 18 April 1986, it was considered a setback to US "strategic interests". Possible delay in US ability to target a first strike was considered more significant than the KH-11's cost (half a billion dollars or more). Lockheed 467 satellites also provide only intermittent coverage, and are in any case intended for signals intelligence (SIGINT) -- intercepting communications -- rather than photography. Since most Soviet strategic communications are carried by land lines rather than radio, a Soviet attack might not be preceded or accompanied by any unusual broadcasts detectable by SIGINT satellites, even the "Rhyolite" which hovers continually over the USSR or the "Aquacades" which are to replace it when either Titan 34D or space shuttle launches resume. The satellites most likely to warn of Soviet missile launches are those of the Defense Support Program (DSP) which use infrared telescopes to detect the heat of the rocket flames. "Hundreds of millions of dollars have gone into development of new early warning satellites, and almost three billion dollars will will be spent to deploy them as replacements for the three DSP satellites now in orbit.... Advanced DSP satellites... are scheduled to be deployed over the next few years using the manned space shuttle. The launching of intelligence satellites has been slated as one of the shuttle's primary missions... "The new early warning satellites... will have more sophisticated sensors.... The new models will not scan the Soviet missile fields a few times per minute but will stare uninterruptedly at each Soviet missile silo. Current satellites can identify the general area from which missiles are launched, but not the individual silos. For warning purposes, this makes little difference. All that counts is that the Soviet launches be quickly detected. However, in the new offensive Pentagon nuclear strategy, the more refined data from the advanced DSP satellites plays a key role." < ref. 8, pp. 201, 202> Knowing exact launch sites is the first step toward knowing exact missile trajectories and aiming Star Wars anti-ballistic-missile (ABM) weapons. This new ability of Advanced DSP satellites will be especially useful in focusing a limited Star Wars ABM system on the "ragged retaliation" from only a few silos following a US first strike. Most other parts of an ABM system are in the early stages of research. ADSP satellites will be the first operational components of a Star Wars ABM system, and in controlling them the Blue Cube will be the first operational Star Wars facility. WHO RUNS THE BLUE CUBE? Although the Blue Cube is officially the "Sunnyvale Air Force Station" and its costs "are secretly hidden in the classified budget for the Air Force, which serves as a cover for the NRO", its real owner is the National Security Agency. "Once the satellite achieves orbit, responsibility for both the operation of the ground collection stations and their costs is assumed by the NSA, although actual control of the spacecraft is retained by the NRO through its operations center in Sunnyvale." < ref. 1, p. 263> The National Security Agency is "the nation's largest intelligence agency" < ref. 14, p. 29> . It has about 50,000 direct employees; a similar number of military employees are assigned to NSA listening posts. Its budget is several billion dollars a year, ten times larger than that of the CIA and over 90% of the total US budget for spying. < ref. 1, p. 17> The National Reconnaissance Office, whose operations are centered at the Blue Cube, runs the US spy satellite program. The NRO pioneered the militarization of space and has probably received more Star Wars funding than any other organization. The space shuttle was designed specifically to launch NRO satellites, and NASA "is in fact a minor user and not the driver" of the space shuttle. < Hans Mark, quoted in ref. 6, p. 10> NRO requirements have dominated NASA research since former NSA director and Air Force General Lew Allen, Jr., was put in charge of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. < ref. 6, p. 8> Even before Star Wars the NRO had a budget several times larger than the NSA. Including the NRO and civilian contractors (such as those who build the satellites) the Director of the NSA probably controls several hundred thousand people and several tens of billions of dollars a year. < ref. 3, p. 124> Details are hard to come by. The NSA is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act; all information concerning the NSA, its budget, or its employees is classified (the majority of all US classified material is produced and destroyed within the NSA); and the NSA actively suppresses public information about itself (after the only book about the NSA was published, NSA agents removed the sources it refered to from the shelves of public libraries, classified them, and locked them in safes). "Similar to the NSA during the early 1950's, the NRO is considered a 'black' agency, one whose very existence is denied by the government." < ref. 1, p. 243> The scope of NSA spying is both vast and threatening. "No law has ever been enacted preventing the NSA from engaging in any activity. There are only laws to prevent the release of any information about the Agency." < ref. 1, pp. 18-19> "With unknown billions of Federal dollars, the agency purchases the most sophisticated communications and computer equipment in the world.... Every day, in almost every area,... systems and procedures are being adopted... that make it easier for the NSA to dominate American society should it ever decide such action is necessary." < ref. 4, p. 67> The "cloak and dagger" spying of the CIA has been largely replaced by the NSA's electronic intelligence gathering (freeing CIA agents for plainclothes war). A former employee of both the NSA and the CIA described the CIA as "morally principled" in comparison to the NSA, and said the greatest threat to freedom in the US was the increasing use by the FBI and other domestic police of technology developed by the NSA for use abroad. The NSA's attitude toward the public is that of Big Brother. It is even more desperate to prevent anyone else from keeping secrets than to keep its own secrets. When IBM researchers developed a computer code the NSA didn't think it could break, the agency intervened to prevent it from being adopted as a national standard. < ref. 7, pp. 424-427; ref. 1, pp. 433-440> A 1984 Reagan directive gave the NSA responsibility for security of all "private computer systems processing 'unclassified but sensitive information that could adversely affect national security.'" The NSA is now using this authority to expand its eavesdropping power: "The new algorithms will be buried in computer chips manufactured to NSA specifications and encapsulated so that any effort to read the code... would destroy the chip. 'I don't think that the people using the code would even know the algorithm,' said Edward Zeitler, manager of information systems security at the Security Pacific National Bank in California. 'We probably couldn't break our own codes.'... 'It will give the NSA much freer access to data then the agency has today,' said Robert H. Courtney, a former data security specialist at IBM who now runs a private security consulting service. 'You could interpret it as an effort to increase security, or you could interpret it as a power play.'" < ref. 14, pp. 29, 32> The NSA is only supposed to spy on foreigners. But it has always spied on US citizens, and its right to do so has been upheld by the Federal courts. < ref. 4, p. 60> . NSA headquarters has a major receive-only node in the US phone system: phone company computers can route calls to the NSA without the need to install any "bugs" or hardware. < ref. 1, p. 228-230> NSA research currently focuses on automated voice transcription systems to search these calls (as it already searchs all telegrams, telexes, and computer messages) for key words or phrases, eliminating the need for human monitors. "Because of the towering barrier of secrecy that surrounds the NSA, determining whether the agency actually has developed such an ability simply is not possible. But from the experiments we know have been conducted by AT&T and other groups, it is not unreasonable to assume that the NSA has such equipment to monitor some telephone calls." < ref. 3, p. 254> If they don't yet, they will soon. In 1983 NSA agents (possibly including some in the Blue Cube) listened silently as the USSR shot down a Korean airliner (which may itself have been on an NSA mission) < ref. 5> . When President Reagan denied that the NSA could have warned the pilot, two former NSA workers accused him of "a major efort... to bewilder the public concerning the capabilities of... the NSA.... We believe that the entire sweep of events... was meticulously monitored and analyzed instantaneously by US intelliogence.... We find the inference made by President reagan... to be unbelievable and contrary to NSA policy." < Tom Bernard and T. Edward Eskelson, quoted in ref. 5, pp. 43, 111, 130-131> After the April 1986 bombing of Libya, Reagan claimed to know of "direct orders of the Libyan regime. On March 25,... orders were sent from Tripoli from to the Libyan People's Bureau in East Berlin... On April 4, the People's Bureau alerted Tripoli that the attack would be carried out the following morning. The next day they reported back to Tripoli.... Our evidence is direct [and] precise." < "Transcript of Address By Reagan on Libya", ref. 13, p. 7> As the New York Times reported, "The Administration has not divulged how it came into possession of this information. But the US extensively monitors radio transmissions and telephone calls to Libya and has the capability to break codes." < Bernard Gwertzman, "US Says Libyans Around World Are Plotting to Attack Americans", ref. 13, p. 6> The NSA has always spied on foreign embassies, and its headquarters is "ideally located" to intercept microwave transmissions between other countries embassies in Washington and their consulates and UN missions in New York. < ref. 1, p. 229; see also pp. 461-467> But it would cause a diplomatic crisis for Reagan to admit that the US routinely violates the supposed sanctity of privileged diplomatic communications. Such an admission would be comparable to an admission that the US breaks into and copies the contents of sealed diplomatic pouches. As usual, the government is more interested in keeping such activities officially classified "secret" than in actually keeping them secret from the public. The power to define what is and is not known (and thus what can and cannot be talked about), is central to the government's ability to control both the media and public debate. This tactic succeeded for a surprisingly long time in suppressing discussion of the "covert" war on Nicaragua. Its ultimate expression is the "black" programs which cannot be questioned because the government does not admit they exist, and the largest of these is the NRO. < For more on "secrecy" as thought control see ref. 12, especially p. 139> Reagan's allegations are dubious and unsubstantiated. He may simply be lying, and his "evidence" may be nonexistent, fabricated, or distorted. But the most favorable (to Reagan) interpretation of his statement is that the NSA has once again allowed hundreds of people to be killed or wounded rather than risk exposing itself and its activities by sounding a warning! This is the NSA's record: a record of compulsive secrecy, calculated irresponsibility, and callous disregard for human life. Based on this record we are supposed to trust the NSA -- acting in complete secrecy, completely without accountability -- to operate both our existing system for early warning of nuclear war and any future Star Wars system for "nuclear defense". I do not trust them (nor should you) and I will not entrust my life to them. If we are to live, we must take life in our own hands (as millions of us have done by resisting draft registration and preventing the draft). If we are to gain power, we must empower ourselves. If there is to be disarmament, we must disarm the governments. They won't listen to reason, They won't be bound by votes, The governments must be stopped from launching World War III, No matter what it takes! SOURCES ON THE NSA/NRO/BLUE CUBE AND LOCKHEED D-5 < 1> James Bamford, The Puzzle Palace: A Report on America's Most Secret Agency (Houghton Mifflin, 1982; revised and expanded ed., Penguin Books, 1983) < 2> Paul Bracken, The Command and Control of Nuclear Forces (Yale University Press, 1983) < 3> David Burnham, The Rise of the Computer State (Random House, 1984) < 4> David Burnham, "The Silent Power of the N.S.A.", The New York Times Magazine, 27 March 1983 < 5> Oliver Clubb, KAL Flight 007: The Hidden Story (Permanent Press, 1985) < 6> D. S. Crafts, "NASA's Military Payload", East Bay Express, 4 April 1986 < 7> Katharine Davis Fishman, The Computer Establishment (Harper & Row, 1981) < 8> Daniel Ford, The Button: The Pentagon's Command and Control System -- Does It Work? (Simon and Schuster, 1985) < 9> David Hafemeister, Joseph J. Romm, and Kosta Tsipis, "The Verification of Compliance With Arms-Control Agreements", Scientific American, March 1985 < 10> Herbert Lin, "The Development of Software for Ballistic-Missile Defense", Scientific American, December 1985 < 11> Robert Lindsey, The Falcon and the Snowman < 12> Howard Morland, The Secret That Exploded (Random House, 1981) < 13> The New York Times, 15 April 1986 < 14> David E. Sanger, "Computer Code Shift Expected", The New York Times, 15 April 1986 < 15> John Steinbruner, "Launch Under Attack", Scientific American, January 1984 SOURCES ON SOVIET "STAR WARS" AND "BLACK" PROGRAMS < 16> Zhores A. Medvedev, Nuclear Disaster in the Urals (W.W. Norton, 1979; revised and expanded ed., Random House, 1980) < 17> James E. Oberg, Red Star in Orbit (Random House, 1981) PREVIOUS REVOLUTIONARY WORKER ARTICLES ON STAR WARS AND FIRST STRIKE < 18> Clark Kissinger, "The Compulsion for Mass Murder -- First Strike and the Military Realities of Nuclear War", Part I, Revolutionary Worker #294, 22 February 1985; Part II, Revolutionary Worker #295, 1 March 1985 < 19> Clark Kissinger, "High Tech Armageddon: Star Wars and the US First-Strike Strategy", Part I, Revolutionary Worker #350, 7 April 1986; Part II, Revolutionary Worker #351, 14 April 1986 ABOUT THE AUTHOR Edward Hasbrouck (415-824-8562) participated in the No Business As Usual focus on Star Wars in Sunnyvale and Stanford, CA. He an anarcho-pacifist and an editor of the draft resistance newspaper Resistance News. He is proud of his convictions, which include refusing to register for the draft, hugging, trespassing, and posting handbills without permission. ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Wednesday, 2 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 15 Today's Topics: DUI Legislation & Welfare and the Poverty Level (2 msgs) & Third World Dictatorships & Nicaraguan Legislation ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < CSDAVE%MAINE.BITNET@WISCVM.WISC.EDU> Subject: A Policy on Automobile-Related Felonies? From: CSDAVE%MAINE.BITNET@WISCVM.WISC.EDU (David A. Liscomb) Date: Tue, 03 Jun 86 09:04:56 EDT ----- Received from LISCOMB AT MAINE on 21 May 1986 14:32:57 ----- From: Orny Subject: The Koppel-Unit Nightline brought up an interesting possibility. It seems that several states have instituted programs such as the law requiring repeat offenders of OUI/DWI/PDQ laws to place bumper stickers on their cars stating so. In Ohio this has led to the use of two licence plates, the normal, and a bright yellow plate. The idea is to discourage the crime by fear of public humiliation, rather than hand-slapping. I think that the idea certainly has merit, if not carried to extremes. A special plate should be required by law for vehicle owners who fit all of the following categories. 1). the crimes in question must be FELONY level crimes. 2). the crimes in question must be AUTOMOBILE-RELATED (ie OUI, leaving scene of accident, evading pursuit, etc) 3). the individual in question must be a REPEAT OFFENDER. The public humiliation of being (in effect) branded as a criminal is a legitimate force and deterrant to crime. I think that it is a viable solution, particularly of the OUI problem, where even more severe laws go unenforced and are ineffective in dealing with a very major problem. ------------------------------ Date: 4 Jun 86 12:02:12 EDT From: Tim < WEINRICH@RED.RUTGERS.EDU> Subject: Re: Families below subsistance levels To: young-jonathan@YALE.ARPA Date: 3 Jun 86 11:36:09 EDT (Tue) From: Jonathan Young < young-jonathan@YALE.ARPA> Subject: Re: Families below subsistance levels Huh? This is a mistake I used to make, too. The federal poverty level is now $12K/year (approx. - I don't remember exactly.). But the thing to remember is that this is for a family of FOUR! Now, I make under $12K/year - I'm a graduate student - but I most certainly don't make under $3K/year. Oh come on. A family of four doesnt require anything close to four times as much money to live as a single person. For one thing, they're almost certain to share the same apartment. (In most areas, four unrelated people \cant/ share an apartment - by law.) They will probably have one car, maybe two, but certainly not four! Those two things alone make up the bulk of the expenses that a poor family has. I claim that I could live on $4000 per year. In fact, I claim that is a liberal estimate of the amount I absolutely need to live - even in this fairly expensive area. (I couldnt live here strictly legally for that - I'd have to share my apartment with three other people.) Of course, on that income I couldnt afford to keep a car. Or a television. Or a vacation every year, or a movie every week, or a date every week, or eating out when I want. But for $4000 (net) I could rent 1/4 of an apartment, feed myself, clothe myself, pay minimal phone/electricity bills, maintain my bicycle, and have a bit left over to save for the occasional doctor/dentist bill. Figure it out. My reason for pointing this out is that people have a very exaggerated view of how much money is needed for the necessities of life. They set the poverty level at a ridiculous figure like $12,000/year and then use it to prove that we have a huge number of poor people. If you want to know what it is to be \poor/, spend a week in Tanzania. Meanwhile, I'm still awaiting evidence that there are a large number of people living below the subsistance level in the U.S. Twinerik ------------------------------ Return-path: < random@ATHENA.MIT.EDU> Subject: Re: Poli-Sci Digest V6 #13 Date: Mon, 09 Jun 86 14:50:05 -0500 From: random@ATHENA.MIT.EDU One major omission in you list of things that welfare should provide - adequatehealth care - ( it is also dubious as to weather the levels of food, clothing, and shelter that are provided are sufficient for a country that is as wealthy as the U.S. is ). I also think that your statement that you know many college students who earn less than the poverty level is patently absurd. To attend school today costs anywhere from a few thousand dollars to seventeen thousand ( total costs ). This level of earnings definitely puts students above the so called poverty level. At M.I.T. ., the seventeen thousand school, fewer than one half of the students receive any financial aid at all. In fact most of the money necessary to attend school in this country comes from either the government - in the form of loans or grants whose size and ease of acquisition are unknown to people on welfare - or the student's parents. There are hungry, homeless, and sick people in this country and they do ! not choose to be that way. To insinuate that college students - the biggest country club this world has known - are worse off than the poor is a gross insult to those who have been swept under bthe societal rug. ------------------------------ Return-path: < COWAN@XX.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Tue 17 Jun 86 18:55:21-EDT From: Richard A. Cowan < COWAN@XX.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: RE: Third World Dictatorships To: ametek%walton@CSVAX.CALTECH.EDU, arms-d@XX.LCS.MIT.EDU From: Steve Walton < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> : I'm afraid that Jeanne Kirkpatrick's distinction between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes is both accurate and useful, and submit as evidence recent events in the Phillipines and Haiti as contrasted with the far worse repression in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The latter group's governments have not, and will not fall due to internal popular uprisings. Perhaps I am wrong, but I suspect a double standard in the way you define the "falling" of a government. When talking about the governments of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, I suspect you mean the overthrow of socialism and/or the removal of these countries from the Soviet sphere of influence. When talking about the Phillipines and Haiti, you definitely mean the transfer of power without any change in social system or sphere of influence. The difference is crucial. Neither the Filipino nor the Haitian uprisings produced changes we'd consider revolutionary if they happened in a USSR-backed country. Even if Aquino has good intentions, the peasants who were exploited under Marcos will not get substantially better standards of living unless someone pays for it: the corporations who they ultimately work for, the landowners in the Phillipines, or the American taxpayer. This would be unlikely. And the Haitian "revolution" was accompanied by cluster of US warships off the coast of that island to insure a smooth transition to a less corrupt leader who would still guarantee US interests. Both leaders were evacuated on United States planes. I'm not willing to rule out a popular "revolt" in Soviet-backed countries which simply has the outcome of installing a new puppet who can sell the Soviet system more effectively to the people. And I agree that the Soviet system is extremely repressive when threatened by unrest within countries threatening to leave its sphere of influence. But the United States is also repressive when countries under its sphere of influence threaten to leave, as history has shown time and time again in Latin America. -rich ------------------------------ Return-path: < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> Date: Thu, 19 Jun 86 09:49:35 pdt From: Steve Walton < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> To: cit-vax!XX.LCS.MIT.EDU!COWAN, cit-vax!xx.lcs.mit.edu!arms-d Rich Cowan (cowan@xx.lcs.mit.edu) comments: Perhaps I am wrong, but I suspect a double standard in the way you define the "falling" of a government. When talking about the governments of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, I suspect you mean the overthrow of socialism and/or the removal of these countries from the Soviet sphere of influence. When talking about the Phillipines and Haiti, you definitely mean the transfer of power without any change in social system or sphere of influence. The difference is crucial. My major point was that no change *of any kind* in the government of a totalitarian state has come about except by the application of external force. Pol Pot was overthrown by the Vietnamese invasion and replaced by another Communist regime. It is true that the result moved Cambodia from the Chinese to the Soviet sphere of influence, but the country is still Communist. I think we would all agree that any change in the leadership of a totalitarian country which was not the result of internal Communist Party decisions or of external force would be unprecedented, whether such change resulted from popular revolt, military coup, or replacement of one Communist Party by another. We did not send US tanks into the streets of Rome when Communist members were elected to the Italian Parliament; try to imagine members of the Capitalist Party being elected to the Supreme Soviet. What should US policy be? Should we stand firmly for the overthrow of all Communist regimes? Should we expand contacts with them as much as possible in the hope that exposure to external influence will eventually change their government? Do we implicitly endorse their form of government by carrying on trade and diplomatic relations? Should we enter into arms-control agreements, however imperfect, or attempt to bankrupt them by daring them to match our large defense budgets? Does our hostility actually strengthen them by giving them something with which to distract their citizens from internal problems? These are the fundamental questions of US-SU relations, and in order to answer them on a sound basis, we must harbor no illusions about the SU. ------------------------------ Return-path: < ucsbcsl!uncle@ucbvax.Berkeley.EDU> Date: Fri, 27 Jun 86 21:04:05 pdt From: < ucsbcsl!uncle@ucbvax.Berkeley.EDU> Subject: Wer nie sein Brot mit Traenen ass In contradistinction to the fact that polls show the American public to be opposed to further funding of the "contras", in contradistinction to serious substantiated charges about contra corruption, in contradis- tinction to the overwhelming opinion of Latin American Countries in opposition to a continuation of U.S. intervention, the U.S. House of Representatives has acceded to Reagan's demands to prosecute the war in central America further. This event, the vote in the House, has major implications. It is the lowest and most abject level to which the "Democratic" Party has ever sunk. Furthermore, it stands as a milestone in the consolidation of power by the "conservative revolution" which seeks, under guises suchs as "democracy", "championing of the middle classes ", "defender of the faith" etc., to do none other than secure the triumph of a megacorporate oligarchy hardly distinguishable from any other form of tyranny including the soviet form. Among those who should receive THE MOST SEVERE CRIRICISM at this hour are those silent-academicians who object not at all when the grossest falsifications are offered up as justifications for the reagan-crusades. Who thwarted democracy in central-america for a hundred years, somebody from beyond the seas?, some alien bogeyman? When reagan talks about "restoring democracy" in Nicaragua, where is the tidal wave of academicians who should rise up to remind him of the earlier examples of the policy he is espousing (Guatemala, Chile ...). Where are the jurists and the historians to speak about international law? where are the logicians to speak of the logical inconsistency of reagan's south africa policy with his central america policy. YOU, if you are one of these Herr Professor Doktor Nebentitel Hintertitel types, you are a pillar of the new american paternalism, the reassertion of might is right and bigger is better. The University, if it still exists, if it ever existed weeps over your silence!!!!!!!!!!! ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Monday, 14 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 16 Today's Topics: Vehicle Safety (2 msgs) & Swiss Pogrom & Academics Arise! & Homosexual Rights (2 msgs) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < DAUL@OFFICE-1.ARPA> Date: 3 Jul 86 09:21 PDT From: William Daul/McDonnell-Douglas/APD-ASD < WBD.MDC@OFFICE-1.ARPA> Subject: Re: A Policy on Automobile-Related Felonies? To: CSDAVE%MAINE.BITNET@WISCVM.WISC.EDU If I ever had a good friend that had such a vehicle....I WOULDN'T borrow it to run any errands...unless I wanted to wear a mask. I guess I am the "shy" type. --Bi// ------------------------------ Return-path: < foy@aerospace.ARPA> Subject: Re: Poli-Sci Digest V6 #15 Date: 03 Jul 86 09:27:14 PDT (Thu) From: foy@aerospace.ARPA The proposal to have different license plates for drivers convicted of repeat felony driving violations is intriguing. It seems that it might bve worthwhile. However I suggest that there may be unforseen developments with such a program. Is it possible that the yellow plates would become a macho status symbol for those inclined to auto felonies. It is my understanding that going to prison is a status symbol among certain groups of people. Does the cost in freedoms which would probably result from this approach be greater than the benefits gained. It the past women who did not believe in a sexual double standard, had to wear red As on their forehead. People are now proposing tattoos on people with aids. Where does the coercion end. If people want the government to forciably control all risks in their lives they might be wise to examine more carefully those countries where the governments (left or right) do have more power over the people. Please remember that this power is always rationaized for one reason or another when it is established. Richard Foy, Redondo Beach, CA The opinions I have expressed are the result of many years in the school of hard knocks. Thus they are my own. ------------------------------ Return-path: < ucsbcsl!uncle@ucbvax.Berkeley.EDU> Date: Fri, 4 Jul 86 22:41:13 pdt From: < ucsbcsl!uncle@ucbvax.Berkeley.EDU> Subject: Schweizer Zigeunersuppe it has been said that reagan is the "teflon" president; it may be that switzerland is the "teflon country". the carefully cultivated image of switzerland as that cute, civilized, neutral, peace-loving, kindly country seems to persist in spite of all evidence to the contrary. The Germans at least have had people like Heinrich Boell to force them to deal with their past and to some extent, they have done so. The austrians are perhaps a hapless and hopeless case, they have no Boell and that is no bull! Now the swiss have only recently acknowledged women's rights, have colluded with adolf (document: the film Das Boot ist voll) , AND NOW I HAVE HEARD IN A RADIO REPORT THAT A FEDERALLY SPONSORED SWISS INSTITUTION WAS KIDNAPPING GYPSY CHILDREN FROM THE 20'S THROUGH THE 1970'S !!!!! IN ORDER TO DESTROY THE GYPSY COMMUNITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ------------------------------ Return-path: < ucsbcsl!uncle@ucbvax.Berkeley.EDU> Date: Fri, 4 Jul 86 22:38:24 pdt From: < ucsbcsl!uncle@ucbvax.Berkeley.EDU> Subject: Press Censorship - West : the subtle heavy-hand (re: submission by wex@mcc re: press censorship modes ) (reference to submission by wex@mcc is from recollection i may not have acurately restated his position, however his article motivates the following comments:) i am a sometime net reader depending on which system i happen to have access to. i was browsing in net.politics and saw that you remarked upon the "free-world" approach to censorship. I think you are correct in your observations. One of the reasons that this state of affairs exists is the elevation and subsequent co-opting of "journalism" by the mass-media industry ( (firstname=?) (lastname= Cogburn(?)) a contributor to The Nation, recently wrote about this in "The Los Angeles Weekly" (complete with e.g.s of how the 60-min. monolith conveniently misses big targets and how it actively falsifies stories in order to contribute to the building of the prevailing neo-fascist liturgy which has come to dominate public discourse. One group which carries a very heavy responsibility and which receives scant criticism is 'academics'; they spend their lives delving into this and that and then when they see that UP is being offered up as DOWN etc. in the public discourse, when they see that such falsifications are being used as justifications for war etc., they don't rise up , no they just sit idly by figuring out how dept of destruction money for laser research can be rationalized as 'medical research', or how (fill in the blanks for everyone from anthropology to zoology!) !!!!!!! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ------------------------------ Return-path: < KFL@AI.AI.MIT.EDU> Date: Sat, 5 Jul 86 14:08:05 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL@AI.AI.MIT.EDU> Subject: Rights To: Salamir%UMass.BITNET@WISCVM.WISC.EDU Cc: KIN@AI.AI.MIT.EDU, KFL@AI.AI.MIT.EDU From: salamir%UMass.BITNET@WISCVM.ARPA (Ron Lussier -- SalNet Hacker) homosexuals cannot be given special rights because historically, they have always been treated badly. Not exactly. The Supreme Court didn't say they COULDN'T be given special rights, but that they didn't HAVE TO be given special rights. This is true not becuase 'they have always been treated badly' but because it does not say in the constitution that you can't discriminate based on sexual preference. The things to do are: 1) Try to get the state law changed. The Supreme Court didn't say the law HAD to be there, merely that the Supreme Court had no authority to eliminate it. 2) Try to get a constitutional amendment. The Constitution is what the Court has to follow. The Court doesn't really have all that much power. If there was an amendment saying that people have to wear green hats on Tuesdays, the Court would have to live with that, they couldn't overrule it. Good thing this court was not around during the Lincoln era, eh? Well, slavery was perfectly legal where states did not have laws against it. Until the 13th amendment was added to the Constitution. And it really wasn't up to the Court. The Dred Scott decision is ridiculed today, but it was the only decision the Court could have come to at the time, given the Constitution as it existed. The Supreme Court does NOT have the power to eliminate BAD laws. It has the power to eliminate UNCONSTITUTIONAL laws. Not the same thing at all. Remember 'seperation of powers'. The Supreme Court does not run the country. We the people do. Write to your congresscritters about getting a gay rights amendment, if that is how you feel. Keith, what is this bullshit about liberals thinking that the government should subsidize homosexuality? What is that supposed to MEAN? Well, it seems nothing can simply be 'legal' anymore. Once it is legal the government has to pay for it at least part of the time. For instance taxpayers money is used to pay for hundreds of thousands of abortions each year. I'll bet that if marijuana was legalized tomorrow that government would soon be subsidizing marijuana growers, buying surplus marijuana, paying farmers not to grow marijuana, etc. Just as they are doing now with tobacco. I think the perception is that if gay sex were legalized, that there would be more of it, that there would be more AIDS, and that many of the people with AIDS would be given medical treatment at taxpayers expense. Understandably, taxpayers do not like this scenario. Nor do they like having to pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year for research into AIDS cure and prevention, when they perceive that gays 'caused' the disease and that 'innocent' people are now catching it. This is the same sort of reasoning that lead to the mandatory seatbelt law, and the mandatory motorcycle helmet law. If government is going to pay for medical care for helmetless motorcyclists, then surely it is a government interest that they wear the things. I symathize with this reasoning, but I think people are drawing the wrong conclusions. This is America, not some random European socialist despotism. The solution is not to make these behaviors illegal, but to make them 'at your own risk'. If you ride a motorcycle without a helmet, and you are injured, YOU pay for the medical care. If you catch AIDS, YOU pay for the medical care. I don't want to government to do anything but leave me alone. Same here. If I am being denied something because I'm gay, I expect my government to protect me as it would protect blacks, jews, or any other minority. There has been a pernicious trend towards enumeration of minorities. The idea apparently being that each identified minority must have explicit mention in the Constitution and in the state laws and in the EEOC rules. I have worked with EEOC and the recognized groups are 1) White 2) Hispanic 3) Black 4) Asian/ Pacific Islander 5) American Indian/Native Alaskan. The implication is that everyone is in exactly one of those categories, and that aside from those categories (and male vs female) it is ok to discriminate for any reason. You object that gays are not a recognized minority group. Well, the same is true of short people, tall people, ugly people, fat people, left handed people, crippled people, blind people, deaf people, old people, young people, Arab-americans (a relatively new form of discrimination), Jews, etc, etc... This is a nation of 240,000,000 minorities and each should be judged on his or her own merits, and not on membership in any minority. It bothers me when blacks object to 'dilution of the black vote'. The black race has no rights. The white race has no rights. Gay people as a group have no rights. Every INDIVIDUAL has rights, as do VOLUNTARY organizations of individuals. Nobody else and nothing else has any. Any other approach runs into serious problems when it conflicts with individual rights. What about an indian tribe? Does it have rights? The right to continue its culture? What does that mean? If a member of that tribe wishes to leave the tribe, does he have that right? Or does it conflict with the right of the tribe to continue its cultural existance? If a member of the tribe objects to being put to death for fornication (in accordance with tribal laws) does it violate the tribe's rights for him to demand a trial under United States laws? We have the same problem with 'state's rights'. Despite what I was saying above about the Supreme Court not having authority to overturn random bogus state laws, I do NOT belive in 'state's rights' in the traditional sense. The pre-1860 notion (at least in the South) was that the states get their power from the people of the state, and that the U.S. gets its power from the states. That the U.S. is in fact a voluntary organization of the states. Much anguish could have been avoided had it been more generally realized that involuntary organizations have no rights. The U.S. could not be a voluntary organization of the states because the states have no rights to join or leave any such organization. Only individuals and voluntary organizations of individuals (or of voluntary organizations, etc) do. The U.S. gets its power directly from the people, not from the states. The states get their power from the people, not from the U.S.. The division of power between the states and the U.S. government is spelled out in the Constitution. The Constitution can be changed, but until it is, people should realize that their dispute is often with their state, not with the Federal government or any of its agencies or courts. Has anyone noticed that we are slowly losing more and more of our rights.? Yes. ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < KFL@AI.AI.MIT.EDU> Date: Sat, 5 Jul 86 17:10:04 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL@AI.AI.MIT.EDU> Subject: Personal liberty To: DPH.SWF@OZ.AI.MIT.EDU Cc: KIN@AI.AI.MIT.EDU, KFL@AI.AI.MIT.EDU From: "Scott Frazier" < DPH.SWF%OZ.AI.MIT.EDU@XX.LCS.MIT.EDU> 1. Why does the government feel it has the right to interfere with the sexual practices of two consenting adults? ... 2. Why does the government feel obligated to protect people from themselves? (Ie: Why do laws like the "seatbelt law" exist?) I think this is because the government is frequently the one to pay for the consequences, so they feel that they should have some say in reducing the costs. If I was paying for all your food, I might object to what foods you choose to eat, and attempt to choose for you. There are three solutions to this dilemma: 1) The liberal solution: The taxpayers should pay, and pay, and pay more. There should be no limit on taxes even if it drives us into another great depression. The taxpayers should have no say in the behavior of the recipients. Problems: a) It is very unfair to those of us who have lived prudently, believing that each individual must bear responsibility for his actions. We feel motivated to say 'The hell with it, I too will live for today and let the taxpayers bail me out tomorrow'. b) It is unfair to everyone to tax them more than absolutely necessary, even if the tax money is to be used for a good cause. In fact, it is nothing more or less than theft. c) It will demolish the economy, rewarding imprudent and disease causing behavior, and punishing savings, investment, moderation, and hard work. Everyone will end up beneath the poverty line except a few government bureaucrats and lobbyists. d) By moving money from the private to the public sphere, individuals have much less control over how money is spent. For instance, if all medical spending and medical research spending was private, each individual would decide for himself whether he thought AIDS research and/or cancer research was worthwhile. Instead, we find that AIDS research has become a political football. Either underfunded due to government bureaucrats and legistlators prejudice against gays, or overfunded, as is sickle cell anemia, since a very vehement group contains most of the victims. I don't think it should be up to random lobbyists to decide how my money is to be spent. Not that there would be as much of it if more of it was taken away from me in taxes, since I would be less motivated to make money knowing it is to be stolen from me. Not that my employer would pay me as much even if I were to continue to work as hard as I do now, since he too would be subject to higher taxes. 2) The conservative solution: We must control people's behavior, for their own good. Problems: None, unless you value personal freedom. As I very strongly do and as most of the people on this list obviously do. 3) The libertarian solution: People can do what they want, so long as they do not infringe another person's rights. But they must take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. If someone fails to use a seatbelt, and gets badly injured, taxpayer money will not be used for medical treatment. Problems: None. ...Keith ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Monday, 14 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 17 Today's Topics: Balancing the Budget & Totalitarianism & Privacy Rights & Rights, Rescue and Punishment (2 msgs) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> Date: Mon, 7 Jul 86 10:32:33 pdt From: Steve Walton < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> Subject: WSJ's economic policy The following is a letter which I mailed on Thursday, July 3 to the Wall Street Journal. I thought Poli-Sci might be interested. -----Start of text----- I think it is time to call you to account for your consistent editorial stance in favor of the Reagan Administration position on the federal budget: namely, that balancing of the federal budget is possible solely by removing unnecessary programs, and that said balance can be achieved while still increasing defense spending and without enacting new taxes. You have run several editorials recently which castigate the Congress and various of its members for maintaining that this is not the case. You are in favor of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget and giving the President line-item veto power. You have also severely criticized Congress for not implementing the recommendations of the Grace Commission report. Let us examine some facts. (1) Half of the dollar savings in the Grace Commission report come from defense, and George Will (the noted free-spending liberal) concluded after a careful reading that much of the savings in the report were grossly exaggerated. (2) Every proposal for a balanced-budget constitutional amendment which I know of also requires the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress. This Administration has never submitted a budget to Congress with a projected deficit smaller than $150 billion, and even those projections were based on extremely rosy economic projections. (3) You have criticized such items as the Amtrak subsidy, to which the President also gave prominent mention in one of his Saturday radio speeches. Amtrak receives $600 million, 0.06% of the budget and less than 0.3% of the amount of the deficit. Other specific items which you have criticized are equally negligible. In short, you ignore this simple reality: elimination of the general-funds portion of the federal budget except for defense and interest on the national debt would be barely sufficient to balance the President's budgets. Put another way, the budget would not be balanced if the President vetoed every appropriations bill except defense sent to him by Congress. Line-item veto power is of very little utility in such circumstances. However, I am willing to allow you to prove your case by a simple challenge: Balance the budget. You are the President of the United States, and are required by Constitutional amendment to submit a balanced FY 87 budget to Congress. I suggest the following ground rules: * You need not take political feasibility into account. Make whatever cuts and program deletions you need to. * You may not increase taxes. You may, however, propose ``user fees'' such as an increase in airline ticket taxes sufficient to cover the cost of operation of the FAA, should that prove necessary. * You may not cut the basic Social Security system, by which I mean that part which is funded from FICA taxes and is thus balanced within itself. * Defense spending should show a minimum of 3% real growth. This is consistent with your editorial positions. * You must assume realistic numbers for future economic performance. I suggest you show your projected surplus for GNP growth of 2%, 3%, and 4%. I don't believe that it is possible, but I am willing to be proven wrong. -----End of text----- Pardon the TeX formatting stuff [Removed and slightly reformatted to be more readable - CWM]. I predict the Journal's response will be, in decreasing order of probability: (1) They will ignore the letter. In a month, I plan to send copies to the NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune. (2) They will publish it but ignore the challenge, probably by fudging with statements like "President Reagan's program was an integrated whole, and Congress and/or the Federal Reserve strangled economic growth by not adopting it as a package." (3) They will actually take up the challenge, thus showing how draconian such spending cuts would have to be. I'll keep you posted. Stephen Walton ucbvax!sun!megatest!ametek!walton OR seismo!scgvaxd!group3!ametek!walton ametek!walton@CSVax.Caltech.Edu ------------------------------ Return-path: < LKK@XX.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Tue, 8 Jul 1986 17:34 EDT From: LKK@XX.LCS.MIT.EDU Subject: Poli-Sci Digest V6 #15 From: Steve Walton < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> > My major point was that no change *of any kind* in the government of > a totalitarian state has come about except by the application of > external force. Bogus! The Soviet Union today is a vastly different place to live the the country that Stalin ruled in 1937. The govt. in 1937 was a one many terroristic dictatorship. Today it is a bureaucratic oligarchy with a much wider dispersion of power, little if any cult of personality, and little day-to-day terror of citizenry. I think this is patently obvious to anyone who has studied that country, but if someone doesn't believe me I can list the differences. Hungary is also a changed place, as the result of an internal revolt. Although the Soviets did crush the rebelion of Imre Nagy, the resulting government of Janos Kadar has proved to be the most liberal in the Soviet bloc. > We did not send US tanks into the streets of Rome when > Communist members were elected to the Italian Parliament; try to > imagine members of the Capitalist Party being elected to the Supreme > Soviet. No, but under the Truman doctrine, the CIA did actively fund the Christian Democrats in Italy and attempt to destablize the Communist party there. Even though the CP was the biggest party in Italy for many years, it was never able to form a government, due to US pressure. Anyhow, its unfair to compare eastern Europe to western Europe. A more appropriate comparison is E.U with OUR "backyard", Latin America. Our record of intervention there is equally as heinous as that of the USSR in the SOviet bloc. -larry kolodney ------------------------------ Return-path: < Hoffman.es@Xerox.COM> Date: 14 Jul 86 09:52:11 PDT (Monday) From: Hoffman.es@Xerox.COM Subject: Privacy Rights amendment To: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL@AI.AI.MIT.EDU> Enumeration of minorities is a never-ending, impossible, and unnecessary task. Instead of prohibiting discrimination of the basis of every conceivable irrelevant personal attribute, I'd like to see employers adopt a policy stating something like, "Only job-related characteristics shall be considered in hiring, firing, and promotion decisions." A small handful of universities have such statements in place of the usual laundry-list of prohibited discriminations. I don't think we need a "gay rights amendment" to the Constitution. We need a PRIVACY RIGHTS amendment! The right to privacy which the Supreme Court has been struggling to define (and to which they've now stated an abhorrent limit) is nowhere explicit in the Constitution. I'd like to hear peoples' suggestions for the wording of a good privacy rights amendment. For comparison, here's Article IV: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. -- Rodney Hoffman ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Thu, 10 Jul 86 22:58:33 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Re: rescue and punishment To: cugini@NBS-VMS.ARPA Cc: KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU, MetaPhilosophers@OZ.AI.MIT.EDU From: "CUGINI, JOHN" < cugini@nbs-vms.ARPA> I'm not a utilitarian, but a cost-benefit analysis is sometimes relevant - the less the cost to you and the greater the benefit to the other, the higher the obligation to help, and vice-versa. I don't agree. There is NEVER an OBLIGATION to help. One ALWAYS has the right to just sit there and mind your own business (assuming that you did not throw the child in the water, are not in the drivers seat of a rapidly moving car, etc). The alternative would soon lead to the notion that one is obligated if and only if the benefit to whomever is greater than the cost to you. This would imply that any food you own or buy must immediately be given to the hungriest person in the world. Your stereo must be given to whoever can make the best case that they will get the most out of it. There is no place for individual rights in this worldview. My original example was designed precisely to avoid this as a criterion by positing two lives of equal value, so we could look at other criteria which then come into play, eg active/passive. You have criticized people on the list for ignoring your central question. Well I am no exception. As I said, there is no good solution to that dilemma. Ten people stranded for the winter in a snowy wilderness with food enough for three of them to survive till spring. Eight men on a lifeboat at sea with fresh water enough for two. Four astronauts weeks away from Earth with oxygen enough for one. No good solution except to try to plan well enough that the situation doesn't come up. I prefer to deal with moral dilemmas that come up more often in ordinary life. States do have legitimate authority that individuals don't. The state can erect a stop sign and tell you to stop at it. You can't and neither can I. If you own the road you can. This is why the state can. I don't have the right to fine you or imprison you - this would be theft or kidnapping. The state (under all but anarchist assumptions) does have that right. The state has no rights that individuals do not. You DO have those rights, i.e. the right of self defense. You do NOT have the right to hassle someone for doing something that doesn't hurt you or any unwilling third party. Thus neither does the state have the right to punish people for voluntary sex acts, buying or selling pornography, gambling, using drugs, etc. The rationale for punishment of any kind is to send a message to the perpetrator which must be taken seriously. I am not sure what this means. I see the purposes as: 1) Preventing the crook from doing the crime again, at least while (if) he is locked up. 2) Deterring him from doing crimes after (if) he is released. 3) Deterring others from doing crimes. The death penalty certainly fulfils all three. So would a useful death. I don't see why a useful death would be taken less seriously by the convict than a useless one. But if they didn't already deserve punishment, we would never be justified in incarcerating them simply as a precautionary measure, a la Japanese-Americans in WWII. I agree in general, though wartime has special rules all its own. When you are fighting for your life, you can't always play fair. I take it then that you oppose involuntary confinement of mental patients, except ones who have comitted serious crimes? if punishment is *not* tied to notions of intentionality and justice - treating people as morally serious agents - the alternatives seem to be to treat them purely as means to an end (utilitarian), or as mentally incompetent (punishment as therapy), or as in some other way irresponsible. Well, I certainly agree with that. Except I am not sure what you mean by utilitarian in this context. ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Thu, 10 Jul 86 23:17:08 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Re: Various To: aweinste@DIAMOND.BBN.COM Cc: MetaPhilosophers@OZ.AI.MIT.EDU From: Anders Weinstein < aweinste@DIAMOND.BBN.COM> > From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL@AI.AI.MIT.EDU> > One is NEVER *COMPELLED* to save someone. It is not evil to > mind one's own business even to the detriment of others. Not true. For example, you ARE compelled to (actively) step on the brake at a crowded crosswalk and save the pedestrians from the injury that would result if you (passively) maintained your cruising speed and mowed them down. Only because you pressed the accelerator a little earlier. Similarly, you ARE compelled to save a drowning child if YOU put him in the water. What if you intended to cause evil through your passivity? This is evil by the intent rule but not by the active/passive rule. The active/passive rule takes priority. One is never compelled to take action. One may be compelled to FOLLOW THROUGH an action, i.e. step on the brakes, meet the deadline, do the work you contracted to do, pay the money you owe for goods or services rendered, etc, but not to INITIATE any action. Any other set of rules rapidly runs into contradictions or trashes individual liberty. Also, notice that it is not necessarily evil to cause something bad. Surely you would agree that communist propaganda has bad effects, but it should not be illegal to distribute, right? I doubt that pornography leads to sex crimes (unless purchasing pornography is a sex crime!) but even if it did, reading, writing, buying, and selling pornography is not evil and should not be illegal. ...Keith ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Monday, 14 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 17 Today's Topics: Balancing the Budget & Totalitarianism & Privacy Rights & Rights, Rescue and Punishment (2 msgs) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> Date: Mon, 7 Jul 86 10:32:33 pdt From: Steve Walton < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> Subject: WSJ's economic policy The following is a letter which I mailed on Thursday, July 3 to the Wall Street Journal. I thought Poli-Sci might be interested. -----Start of text----- I think it is time to call you to account for your consistent editorial stance in favor of the Reagan Administration position on the federal budget: namely, that balancing of the federal budget is possible solely by removing unnecessary programs, and that said balance can be achieved while still increasing defense spending and without enacting new taxes. You have run several editorials recently which castigate the Congress and various of its members for maintaining that this is not the case. You are in favor of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget and giving the President line-item veto power. You have also severely criticized Congress for not implementing the recommendations of the Grace Commission report. Let us examine some facts. (1) Half of the dollar savings in the Grace Commission report come from defense, and George Will (the noted free-spending liberal) concluded after a careful reading that much of the savings in the report were grossly exaggerated. (2) Every proposal for a balanced-budget constitutional amendment which I know of also requires the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress. This Administration has never submitted a budget to Congress with a projected deficit smaller than $150 billion, and even those projections were based on extremely rosy economic projections. (3) You have criticized such items as the Amtrak subsidy, to which the President also gave prominent mention in one of his Saturday radio speeches. Amtrak receives $600 million, 0.06% of the budget and less than 0.3% of the amount of the deficit. Other specific items which you have criticized are equally negligible. In short, you ignore this simple reality: elimination of the general-funds portion of the federal budget except for defense and interest on the national debt would be barely sufficient to balance the President's budgets. Put another way, the budget would not be balanced if the President vetoed every appropriations bill except defense sent to him by Congress. Line-item veto power is of very little utility in such circumstances. However, I am willing to allow you to prove your case by a simple challenge: Balance the budget. You are the President of the United States, and are required by Constitutional amendment to submit a balanced FY 87 budget to Congress. I suggest the following ground rules: * You need not take political feasibility into account. Make whatever cuts and program deletions you need to. * You may not increase taxes. You may, however, propose ``user fees'' such as an increase in airline ticket taxes sufficient to cover the cost of operation of the FAA, should that prove necessary. * You may not cut the basic Social Security system, by which I mean that part which is funded from FICA taxes and is thus balanced within itself. * Defense spending should show a minimum of 3% real growth. This is consistent with your editorial positions. * You must assume realistic numbers for future economic performance. I suggest you show your projected surplus for GNP growth of 2%, 3%, and 4%. I don't believe that it is possible, but I am willing to be proven wrong. -----End of text----- Pardon the TeX formatting stuff [Removed and slightly reformatted to be more readable - CWM]. I predict the Journal's response will be, in decreasing order of probability: (1) They will ignore the letter. In a month, I plan to send copies to the NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune. (2) They will publish it but ignore the challenge, probably by fudging with statements like "President Reagan's program was an integrated whole, and Congress and/or the Federal Reserve strangled economic growth by not adopting it as a package." (3) They will actually take up the challenge, thus showing how draconian such spending cuts would have to be. I'll keep you posted. Stephen Walton ucbvax!sun!megatest!ametek!walton OR seismo!scgvaxd!group3!ametek!walton ametek!walton@CSVax.Caltech.Edu ------------------------------ Return-path: < LKK@XX.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Tue, 8 Jul 1986 17:34 EDT From: LKK@XX.LCS.MIT.EDU Subject: Poli-Sci Digest V6 #15 From: Steve Walton < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> > My major point was that no change *of any kind* in the government of > a totalitarian state has come about except by the application of > external force. Bogus! The Soviet Union today is a vastly different place to live the the country that Stalin ruled in 1937. The govt. in 1937 was a one many terroristic dictatorship. Today it is a bureaucratic oligarchy with a much wider dispersion of power, little if any cult of personality, and little day-to-day terror of citizenry. I think this is patently obvious to anyone who has studied that country, but if someone doesn't believe me I can list the differences. Hungary is also a changed place, as the result of an internal revolt. Although the Soviets did crush the rebelion of Imre Nagy, the resulting government of Janos Kadar has proved to be the most liberal in the Soviet bloc. > We did not send US tanks into the streets of Rome when > Communist members were elected to the Italian Parliament; try to > imagine members of the Capitalist Party being elected to the Supreme > Soviet. No, but under the Truman doctrine, the CIA did actively fund the Christian Democrats in Italy and attempt to destablize the Communist party there. Even though the CP was the biggest party in Italy for many years, it was never able to form a government, due to US pressure. Anyhow, its unfair to compare eastern Europe to western Europe. A more appropriate comparison is E.U with OUR "backyard", Latin America. Our record of intervention there is equally as heinous as that of the USSR in the SOviet bloc. -larry kolodney ------------------------------ Return-path: < Hoffman.es@Xerox.COM> Date: 14 Jul 86 09:52:11 PDT (Monday) From: Hoffman.es@Xerox.COM Subject: Privacy Rights amendment To: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL@AI.AI.MIT.EDU> Enumeration of minorities is a never-ending, impossible, and unnecessary task. Instead of prohibiting discrimination of the basis of every conceivable irrelevant personal attribute, I'd like to see employers adopt a policy stating something like, "Only job-related characteristics shall be considered in hiring, firing, and promotion decisions." A small handful of universities have such statements in place of the usual laundry-list of prohibited discriminations. I don't think we need a "gay rights amendment" to the Constitution. We need a PRIVACY RIGHTS amendment! The right to privacy which the Supreme Court has been struggling to define (and to which they've now stated an abhorrent limit) is nowhere explicit in the Constitution. I'd like to hear peoples' suggestions for the wording of a good privacy rights amendment. For comparison, here's Article IV: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. -- Rodney Hoffman ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Thu, 10 Jul 86 22:58:33 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Re: rescue and punishment To: cugini@NBS-VMS.ARPA Cc: KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU, MetaPhilosophers@OZ.AI.MIT.EDU From: "CUGINI, JOHN" < cugini@nbs-vms.ARPA> I'm not a utilitarian, but a cost-benefit analysis is sometimes relevant - the less the cost to you and the greater the benefit to the other, the higher the obligation to help, and vice-versa. I don't agree. There is NEVER an OBLIGATION to help. One ALWAYS has the right to just sit there and mind your own business (assuming that you did not throw the child in the water, are not in the drivers seat of a rapidly moving car, etc). The alternative would soon lead to the notion that one is obligated if and only if the benefit to whomever is greater than the cost to you. This would imply that any food you own or buy must immediately be given to the hungriest person in the world. Your stereo must be given to whoever can make the best case that they will get the most out of it. There is no place for individual rights in this worldview. My original example was designed precisely to avoid this as a criterion by positing two lives of equal value, so we could look at other criteria which then come into play, eg active/passive. You have criticized people on the list for ignoring your central question. Well I am no exception. As I said, there is no good solution to that dilemma. Ten people stranded for the winter in a snowy wilderness with food enough for three of them to survive till spring. Eight men on a lifeboat at sea with fresh water enough for two. Four astronauts weeks away from Earth with oxygen enough for one. No good solution except to try to plan well enough that the situation doesn't come up. I prefer to deal with moral dilemmas that come up more often in ordinary life. States do have legitimate authority that individuals don't. The state can erect a stop sign and tell you to stop at it. You can't and neither can I. If you own the road you can. This is why the state can. I don't have the right to fine you or imprison you - this would be theft or kidnapping. The state (under all but anarchist assumptions) does have that right. The state has no rights that individuals do not. You DO have those rights, i.e. the right of self defense. You do NOT have the right to hassle someone for doing something that doesn't hurt you or any unwilling third party. Thus neither does the state have the right to punish people for voluntary sex acts, buying or selling pornography, gambling, using drugs, etc. The rationale for punishment of any kind is to send a message to the perpetrator which must be taken seriously. I am not sure what this means. I see the purposes as: 1) Preventing the crook from doing the crime again, at least while (if) he is locked up. 2) Deterring him from doing crimes after (if) he is released. 3) Deterring others from doing crimes. The death penalty certainly fulfils all three. So would a useful death. I don't see why a useful death would be taken less seriously by the convict than a useless one. But if they didn't already deserve punishment, we would never be justified in incarcerating them simply as a precautionary measure, a la Japanese-Americans in WWII. I agree in general, though wartime has special rules all its own. When you are fighting for your life, you can't always play fair. I take it then that you oppose involuntary confinement of mental patients, except ones who have comitted serious crimes? if punishment is *not* tied to notions of intentionality and justice - treating people as morally serious agents - the alternatives seem to be to treat them purely as means to an end (utilitarian), or as mentally incompetent (punishment as therapy), or as in some other way irresponsible. Well, I certainly agree with that. Except I am not sure what you mean by utilitarian in this context. ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Thu, 10 Jul 86 23:17:08 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Re: Various To: aweinste@DIAMOND.BBN.COM Cc: MetaPhilosophers@OZ.AI.MIT.EDU From: Anders Weinstein < aweinste@DIAMOND.BBN.COM> > From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL@AI.AI.MIT.EDU> > One is NEVER *COMPELLED* to save someone. It is not evil to > mind one's own business even to the detriment of others. Not true. For example, you ARE compelled to (actively) step on the brake at a crowded crosswalk and save the pedestrians from the injury that would result if you (passively) maintained your cruising speed and mowed them down. Only because you pressed the accelerator a little earlier. Similarly, you ARE compelled to save a drowning child if YOU put him in the water. What if you intended to cause evil through your passivity? This is evil by the intent rule but not by the active/passive rule. The active/passive rule takes priority. One is never compelled to take action. One may be compelled to FOLLOW THROUGH an action, i.e. step on the brakes, meet the deadline, do the work you contracted to do, pay the money you owe for goods or services rendered, etc, but not to INITIATE any action. Any other set of rules rapidly runs into contradictions or trashes individual liberty. Also, notice that it is not necessarily evil to cause something bad. Surely you would agree that communist propaganda has bad effects, but it should not be illegal to distribute, right? I doubt that pornography leads to sex crimes (unless purchasing pornography is a sex crime!) but even if it did, reading, writing, buying, and selling pornography is not evil and should not be illegal. ...Keith ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Sunday, 20 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 18 Today's Topics: What about the GAO? & Personal liberty (2 msgs) & What is Job-Related? (2 msgs) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < DAUL@OFFICE-1.ARPA> Date: 17 Jul 86 17:49 PDT From: William Daul / McDonnell-Douglas/APD-ASD < WBD.MDC@OFFICE-1.ARPA> Subject: GAO To: human-nets@rutgers.edu Could someone tell me more about the Government Accounting Office? How many employees? What do they do? What is the GAO budget? Are all the employees in one place? I keep hearing about GAO reports and don't have any idea about how they work? Are there any GAO readers out there? Thanks, --Bi// ------------------------------ Return-path: < tim@ICSD.UCI.EDU> To: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL@ai.ai.mit.edu> Subject: Re: Personal liberty Date: Mon, 14 Jul 86 11:35:12 -0800 From: Tim Shimeall < tim@ICSD.UCI.EDU> > From: Keith F. Lynch > 3) The libertarian solution: People can do what they want, so long as > they do not infringe another person's rights. But they must take > responsibility for the consequences of their actions. If someone > fails to use a seatbelt, and gets badly injured, taxpayer money > will not be used for medical treatment. Problems: None. Pardon me, but I see a couple of problems with this approach: a) How do you discern behavior that infringes with another person's rights? In our society, there are a lot of seemingly personal and private functions which may strongly interfere with other people. One example: Sex between unmarried teen-agers: many girls are choosing to keep their babies, but cannot support them (no job skills, no income...). If society ("the taxpayers") refuse to support them, numerous large problems result (health hazards, for one). If society agrees to support them, then a large amount of money (read, "ever-increasing taxes") is needed to provide this support. At present, I'm not aware of any good solution to this problem, except prevention (LOTS of education, plus LOTS of available contraception), which needs taxpayer support. (And who decides what the education is to include? Which/who's morality is to be taught?) b) How do you provide prior restraint to control infringing behavior, in cases where enforcement is impossible, or where the participants in this behavior CANNOT bear the consequences of their actions? Tim ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Mon, 14 Jul 86 21:56:59 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Re: Personal liberty To: tim@ICSD.UCI.EDU Cc: KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU From: Tim Shimeall < tim@ICSD.UCI.EDU> Pardon me, but I see a couple of problems with this approach: a) How do you discern behavior that infringes with another person's rights? Well this is a problem in any system. Except in one in which people don't HAVE rights. My main point is not that the line between nose and fist is being drawn in the wrong place, but that this principle is being ignored totally. The line is clear off the map when there are laws like the seatbelt law, rent control, gun 'control' (i.e. banishing), minimum wage laws, maximum occupancy laws, and zoning laws. Things are obviously completely out of control when we have tax rates that are so high, and when tax money is being used to pay so much for so many things that are not government's responsibility. I just read in today's Washington Post that people can get government aid to pay for child day care if child day care exceeds 10% of the family's salary. In the same article it said day care typically costs $150 a week. Now why should people earning $77,000 get welfare? Does this seem right to you? When people making 1/10 as much manage to pay their own way, and subsidize this boondoggle? Sex between unmarried teen-agers: many girls are choosing to keep their babies, but cannot support them (no job skills, no income...). Well, there are really three issues here: 1) Teenage pregnancy. I have nothing against this, per se. There are teenagers capable of being good parents. 2) Unmarried mothers. Many people are choosing to live together without being formally married. Some do it because of the enormous marriage penalty tax. Some do it for other reasons. Some people like to raise children alone. It is nobody's business but their own, so long as they don't infringe anyone's rights. 3) Unsupported children. These DO infringe people's rights, in that we the taxpayers are called upon to support these children. I don't know of any good solution in any system. The current system, in which unmarried people are essentially PAYED to have children is certainly one of the worst possible. It infringes the taxpayer's property rights, even to the extent that companies are ruined and hard-working prudent people are often unable to save enough money to raise a family until they are middle-aged, if ever. At present, I'm not aware of any good solution to this problem, except prevention (LOTS of education, plus LOTS of available contraception), which needs taxpayer support. I agree that education is always a good idea. I do not agree that it needs taxpayer support. Much of education is on the street, not in the classroom. The poor have learned their lesson well, that they will be payed to raise children. Is it any wonder that when you subsidize something you get a lot of it? If welfare was eliminated or reduced by a few orders of magnitude, they will get the message whether million dollar classrooms are supplied or not. (And who decides what the education is to include? Which/who's morality is to be taught?) Classic dilemma of public education. b) How do you provide prior restraint to control infringing behavior, in cases where enforcement is impossible, or where the participants in this behavior CANNOT bear the consequences of their actions? One ALWAYS bears the consequences of one's actions. That is something government CAN'T take away. Well, what about prior restraint for crimes? There is no way to restrain a potential thief or murderer who has comitted no crime. Not in a free society. So we are limited to after-the-fact consequences. The main cause of crime is not drugs, nor is it poverty. It is free will. A person comits a crime (or some antisocial act like having children he/she can't support) because he/she chooses to do so. If the consequences are unpleasant enough, i.e. whatever the 'natural' consequences for the act would be in absense of anyone bailing the person out, rational people will be disuaded, and irrational people will get rational or will find someone rational to follow or will not enjoy life very much. The latter is their right, of course. But they do NOT have a right to create misery and give it to others while they watch TV all day and count the welfare checks. ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Tue, 15 Jul 86 00:36:08 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Re: Privacy Rights amendment To: Hoffman.es@XEROX.COM Cc: Reges@SU-SCORE.ARPA From: Hoffman.es@Xerox.COM Enumeration of minorities is a never-ending, impossible, and unnecessary task. Instead of prohibiting discrimination of the basis of every conceivable irrelevant personal attribute, I'd like to see employers adopt a policy stating something like, "Only job-related characteristics shall be considered in hiring, firing, and promotion decisions." Do you mean that employers should voluntarily do this? Or that they should be compelled by law to do this? We need a PRIVACY RIGHTS amendment! The right to privacy which the Supreme Court has been struggling to define (and to which they've now stated an abhorrent limit) is nowhere explicit in the Constitution. Who is this amendment to protect us against? Just the government? Or other individuals and private organizations as well? If just the government, note that it will not prevent discriminatory hiring or firing. The amendments in the Bill of Rights protect individuals from the government, not from eachother. This seems to be frequently misunderstood. People speak of freedom of speech as if the first amendment prevented individuals and voluntary organizations from restricting one's freedom of speech in all circumstances. For instance as if a university is breaking the law if they forbid students from demonstrating on campus. Or even as if a radio or TV station is breaking the law if they do not provide everyone free air time to expouse their point of view. As I see it, people are free to contract together to do anything except violate other people's rights. Either party is free to attach any conditions to the contract. Each individual is also free to refuse to contract with another for any reason. This has several implications. For one thing, the equal opportunity employment laws are not fair to employers. Not only should employers not be compelled to to hire various minority groups in proportion to their representation in the population regardless of qualifications, they are not compelled to hire people they choose not to hire at all. The employer's right to choose who to hire is absolute. And what's wrong with this? It simply restores symmetry. Nobody questions the employee's absolute right to choose where to work. Can you imagine an employee being prosecuted for not applying for a job at a minority owned firm? Or for doing too little work for the wages he gets, even if the employer thinks the deal is equitable (analog of the minimum wage laws). And what if all the companies engaged in a given line of business were to simultaneously refuse to do business unless they get more profits? This would be prosecuted under the anti-trust laws, of course. What if instead of doing so, the government were to penalize any individual who does business with a company that does NOT join in the work stoppage? Sound bizarre? Well, it's the symmetrical analog of the current pro-labor union laws. I see nothing wrong with an employer refusing to hire a person because he is gay. Surely there is nothing wrong with a potential employee chosing not to work in a company because his potential boss is gay, right? The gay rights issue as I see it, is simply the right to be let alone. The sodomy laws should be overturned (though this is for states to do, not the supreme court, unless we do get a new constitutional amendment) but nobody has a right to associate with others against their will, i.e. I see nothing wrong with employers and tenants discriminating against people because they are gay or for any other reason. The issue is entirely a victimless crime issue. It has nothing to do with whether taxpayers should be compelled to pay money for AIDS research (they shouldn't) or whether anyone should be compelled to associate with gays (they shouldn't), but merely with whether consentual private sex acts should be illegal (they shouldn't). I am not clear on your proposed privacy ammendment. Are you saying it would be ok for employers to discriminate based on whether someone is gay, but not ok to ask? If so, wouldn't it be prejudicial to those who are 'out of the closet' and wish to live an open life, in favor of those choose to be secretive? Or are you saying that anything done in private would automatically become legal? I assume you exclude such things as burglary. What about private drug use? Is the idea that urine tests for drugs would be forbidden as an invasion of privacy but the drug use itself would remain illegal albeit harder to detect? This bothers me. Granted that most people like to keep sections of their life private, it doesn't seem right to me that someone who chooses not to can be prosecuted while someone who chooses to keep it all secret is safe. This is all too remeniscent of the curious notion that no crime is truly criminal, only getting caught is. ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < dmw@unh.cs.cmu.edu> Date: Tuesday, 15 July 1986 16:36:27 EDT From: Hank.Walker@unh.cs.cmu.edu Subject: What is Job-Related? What is a job-related attribute? For example, suppose I as chairman must promote one of two people the be company president. Both have equally good work performance. Their only difference is that person A has had three heart attacks, has high blood pressure, is grossly overweight, smokes like a chimney, and has tested positive for AIDS. Person B is in great health, and is into clean monogomous living. Who would you promote? To me the answer is obvious. One candidate is much more likely to die on the job than the other. Promoting one candidate to president involves an investment in an adjustment period, forming new working relationships with employees and customers, etc. It is likely that the losing candidate will leave the company, so several years will be required to train a new successor. The chairman would be exposing his stockholders to unnecessary risk by chosing person A rather than person B. In fact key employees at all large companies are required to undergo extensive physicals. All manner of bad personal habits that significantly increase the chances that the employee will die or be unable to perform their work duties in the future seem to be job-related attributes to me. A more interesting issue is when instead of personal habits or environment, the cause is genetic. What if person A was 40 and male, and his father had Huntington's disease, so that there was a significant chance he would get it. What if there was a test that verified he would get the disease? Again I as chairman would pass him over. It may seem unfair to person A, but his death while president would be unfair to stockholders. There is a separate issue of how one obtains the information about these personal habits or genes, but once the information is in hand, I think it can be legally used. ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Wednesday, 23 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 19 Today's Topics: Privacy Rights (2 msgs) & Wartime Economies & Research in the Free Market ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < wild@SUN.COM> Date: Wed, 16 Jul 86 13:47:10 PDT From: wild@SUN.COM (Will Doherty) Subject: We need the laundry list From: Hoffman.es@Xerox.COM Enumeration of minorities is a never-ending, impossible, and unnecessary task. Instead of prohibiting discrimination of the basis of every conceivable irrelevant personal attribute, I'd like to see employers adopt a policy stating something like, "Only job-related characteristics shall be considered in hiring, firing, and promotion decisions." A small handful of universities have such statements in place of the usual laundry-list of prohibited discriminations. I don't think we need a "gay rights amendment" to the Constitution. We need a PRIVACY RIGHTS amendment! The right to privacy which the Supreme Court has been struggling to define (and to which they've now stated an abhorrent limit) is nowhere explicit in the Constitution. I'm afraid I have to disagree with you here, Rodney. As long as our culture continues to enumerate these groups of people with "irrelevant personal attribute[s]," such as blacks, women, and lesbians and gays (among the many), so as to relegate them to a status other than human being status, then the people in these groups need to struggle for human being status. As these characteristics become unimportant (at least as far as hiring, firing, etc.), then we can forget about pushing for protective laws. But we aren't there yet. The problem with the policy that you propose is that someone decides what "job-related characteristics" are, and if we leave that open to the interpretation of many people in corporate management, then we won't see any change in the composition of the people in the workplace. And if we don't force the change in composition of the workplace, then the people working there won't get exposed to attitudes which may produce a resulting attitude change in themselves, and in society at large. Will Doherty UUCP: ...sun!oscar!wild ARPA: "oscar!wild"@sun.com ------------------------------ Return-path: < Hoffman.es@Xerox.COM> Date: 16 Jul 86 17:46:12 PDT (Wednesday) From: Hoffman.es@Xerox.COM Subject: Re: Privacy Rights amendment To: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Cc: Reges@SU-SCORE.ARPA From: Keith F. Lynch Do you mean that employers should voluntarily [adopt a policy stating something like, "Only job-related characteristics shall be considered in hiring, firing, and promotion decisions]? Or that they should be compelled by law to do this? I meant exactly what I said, that "I'd like to see employers adopt" such policies. I'll further say that IF the government is going to mandate some sort of non-discrimination laws (which I'm not calling for here), I'd prefer one of that sort to what I called before the "never-ending, impossible, and unnecessary" enumeration of minorities. Who is this [privacy rights] amendment to protect us against? Just the government? Or other individuals and private organizations as well? As with the Fourth Amendment I quoted as a model, just the government. The context was the discussion of the recent Supreme Court ruling about Georgia's sodomy law. Such an amendment, as you note, would not prevent discriminatory hiring or firing. These are separate issues. (They were only combined in my message because they were both discussed in your earlier one.) The privacy amendment is not (solely) a gay rights issue, obviously. The "gay rights issue", as I see it (and as I've stated it here before [August 1983]) is about equality. If the state must sanction marriages, they should sanction gay marriages as well. The state as an employer should be compelled to abide by a sweeping non-discrimination law of the sort I outlined earlier. And so on. -- Rodney Hoffman ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Thu, 17 Jul 86 00:58:23 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: War productivity To: DRW@AI.AI.MIT.EDU Cc: KIN%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU From: Dale Worley < DRW@AI.AI.MIT.EDU> Tangentially, I find it amusing that military spending can rev up the US economy, despite the fact that very little of the wasted resources actually translate into improved political status or anything. The idea of actual waste of resources improving the economic situation seems counter-intuitive. I think the only time that military spending improved the US economy was when WW II pulled us out of the great depression. It does indeed seem counterintuitive that something as wasteful as warfare can improve the economy. It happened during WW II because the amount of productive output that was being used up in war was dwarfed by the increased utilization of manpower. Since a person doing no work of course has zero productivity. It has been suggested that the economy would run more smoothly if surplus goods were to be purchased by the government and destroyed. In fact, some are. It might indeed run more smoothly under some definitions of smoothly. But there can be no arguing with the fact that it leaves everyone poorer on the average, just as common sense would lead you to believe. One problem is that people's opinions of the state of the economy are often formed less by statistics or personal finances than by anecdote. A few steelworkers layed off after 30 years employment, and a few bankrupt farmers, lead some to wonder if it isn't worth reducing productivity growth to prevent dislocations like this. Orwell's _1984_ and Heinlein's _Door_Into_Summer_ address these issues. Personally, I'm all in favor of letting the free market determine these things, rather than allow coercion, or involuntary transfers of wealth (which I regard as plain old theft). Sometimes war is necessary. But I certainly hope none is ever called simply to spruce up the economy. ...Keith [ Might it be that the supercharging of wartime economy is caused by the government injecting money it doesn't have (i.e. deficit spending) or money from taxes into large, job-creating industries ( Coupled with more government-created jobs (soldiery, among others)? - CWM] ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Thu, 17 Jul 86 02:19:25 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Re: concerning Technology (a Lengthy flame) To: steven@LL-XN.ARPA Cc: KIN%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU From: steven@ll-xn.ARPA (Steven Lee) Some other things which seem uneconomical in the free market: A lot of things are not invested in by individuals and private companies precisely because the government is paying. space exploration Is a good example. Private companies are very interested now. And why not? Space exploration has payed for itself several times over already, from communications satellites alone. Would they have been interested in the beginning, had government not stepped in? Who can say? But sailing ships and steamships and airplanes were developed and operated by private companies. These were often as expensive, and far more dangerous, than space exploration is today. eradication of small pox I am not so sure of that. I can see a consortium of insurance companies investing in research in order to reduce their costs when their clients get smallpox. Anyhow, Jenner, who developed the smallpox innoculation, did not have any government funding. the first computers Well, the first major computer client was DoD. Much of the early work (and much of the recent work) was done to meet their requirements. But the work itself was not done by the government. The first computer was built at a university. As far as I know it had no federal funding. the American Civil War I can't think of too many privately financed wars. Are you implying we would be worse off if the war between the states had never happened? and some things which apparently are not: assassination I think government has the edge here. a few dozen different brands of toilet paper. Oh, come on! One weakness of a free market is that it's dumb: it has difficulty planning ahead. Governments don't? Projects which require large startup captial are hard to fund, especially if time to profitability is on the order of a human lifetime or more. Well, anyone who thinks it's worthwhile is free to invest in it. If few people do so, then probably few people thought it was worth doing. I can't blame them. Technology is moving so quickly that such a project would have a very high probabilty of being a total flop. For instance what if someone had financed a grid of coaxial cables across the US to compete with the phone company? They would be feeling quite foolish today, now that a relatively cheap (!) satellite can outperform their multibillion dollar network of cables. There are many other examples. Another drawback is the free market's lack of interest in general welfare. What is made is what people want to pay for. If there is more market for scented toilet paper than for cultural TV shows, or if there is greater demand for cigaretts than for a cure for cancer, those are what get produced. Yes, there are alot of scientists and engineers who, if brought together and funded, could implement safe, clean, maybe even inexpensive ways of providing abundant energy. (I consider myself one.) The government has been funding a fusion program for 30 years. So far, still no fusion. Nixon declared a war on cancer. Billions of federal dollars have been spent prosecuting this war every year. Still no victory in sight. Of the government run city buses, the less said the better. Nobody takes one if there is any alternative. Dozens of companies have sprung up to deliver letters and packages. How can they hope to compete given that the USPS has had a 200 year head start and is subsidized? And I would not dream of riding Amtrack. I once thought that NASA was an exception to the rule that anything the government runs turns to ashes. Sadly, I was mistaken. Private companies demand results. And get them, or go out of business, only to be replaced by several new companies. Founding one's own company is the American dream. Working as a bureaucrat is not. Russia has no shortage of brilliant people. And no shortage of government programs that bring them together. So why don't we hear of anything useful coming from all this? We hear of a lot of neat new stuff in Japan, where the per capita government budget is much less than in the US. Coincidence? Who is going to find them, bring them together and pay them--and *why*? My argument that government should not be running such things is NOT based mainly on the record of who gets things done more efficiently, though it could be. It is based on the fact that money used to pay for government programs is coerced from people. Individuals and voluntary groups lose control over how the money is to be used. This is both immoral and inefficient. It is also an insult to everyone asked to pay taxes, that a bunch of bureaucrats who can't even balance a budget have a better idea how their money should be spent that they do. Wealth is created by individuals and voluntary groups of individuals. Wealth is not created by governments. Some people are confused by the fact that wealth is represented by money printed by the government, and with 'U.S.A.' written all over it. Confused into somehow thinking that all money really belongs to the government and is just on loan to individuals. Look at it this way. If you were to bake ten cookies, or paint ten paintings, or build ten CD players, what right does anyone have to take three of them? Or any of them? I am speaking of wealth that you created, from scratch, that would never have existed had you not created it. The recent American government (last quarter century) has bet primarily on fission. Note, however, that it has funded virtually all the fusion experimentation in the US, and probably a majority of the solar energy research, not to mention hydroelectric research and implementation (remember TVA), MHD, geothermal, and a variety of lesser know ideas. And we all know what a sorry or nonexistant state each of these is in, except hydroelectric, which was NOT developed by the government. Without such non-free market funding, where would we be? Possibly much further along, and possibly the unproductive avenues of investigation would be dropped. I am not saying that corporations have any kind of crystal ball, but their track record has always been much better than any government's, and for well understood reasons. And when, WHEN, world oil and gas production peaks and the real energy crisis begins (I guess 1990's), Yes, it has always been ten to twenty years away, at least since the 1850s. HOW long would it take the free market to respond if it had to start from scratch: research, wild theories, experiments, test designs, failures, successes, ... the whole bit. It doesn't have to. It has already done so. Gasoline, fuel oil, methane, and lubricants can be made out of plants or coal. This is more expensive than petroleum refining, which is why it's not done that way now. But the technology is all in place to take over whenever the oil gets more expensive than it is now. Why do you think OPEC isn't daring to raise the price? I don't know about oil, but there is one theory that there is thousands of times the natural gas anyone thought there was, you just have to dig deeper for it. Why do humans operate by the rule: enjoy now, pay later? Simple. Individuals expect to die ... so they may NOT have to pay. Organizations have yet to emerge as thoughtfully sentient creatures. Companies can outlast the longest lived people. Some companies are at least 900 years old. I don't think they got that way by employing that rule. Some individuals do, much to their detriment. The federal governmnet clearly does. No corporation has ever run up a two trillion dollar debt. Certainly some companies can be short sighted. But few are as short sighted as government, which only looks ahead to the next election. A corporate director may be on the board for 40 years or more. And he wishes his stock to do well so his son can take over a wealthier company. No US president serves anything close to 40 years, nor does he worry that the opposition party might have a tough time of it after the next election. Just look at what Roosevelt saddled future generations with! And stop complaining about how much better it was 50, 100, or 150 years ago. It was also worse, too. Did I do this? Not me. I wouldn't trade the 1980s for any prior decade. ...Keith [ I must take exception to Keith's remark about Amtrack. I have ridden the rails a number of times recently, and I have found the trains clean, spacious, and staffed by courteous people. In my opinion it is a very pleasant way to travel. Also, please correct me if I'm incorrect, but weren't most of the large hydroelectric "applications" projects (TVA leaps to mind, and Hoover Dam) government funded? -CWM] ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Thursday, 24 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 20 Today's Topics: Technology, Research and the Free Market (2 msgs) & Personal, Minority and Employer's Rights (2 msgs) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < asp@ATHENA.MIT.EDU> Date: Sun, 20 Jul 86 17:52:30 EDT From: Jim Aspnes < asp@ATHENA.MIT.EDU> To: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%AI.AI.MIT.EDU@ht.ai.mit.edu> Cc: steven@LL-XN.ARPA, KIN%AI.AI.MIT.EDU@ht.ai.mit.edu Subject: Why the US Post Office exists Reply-to: asp@athena.MIT.EDU The US Post Office exists, and (used to) lose money, because they will deliver a first-class letter anywhere in the United States for a nominal fee. No private mail company has ever claimed that it could provide the same universality of service at the same price as USPS. This is also the reason why AT&T was a monopoly, and why governments invest in smallpox vaccines or food stamps. There are some things that must be provided by a just society, and if the free market cannot or will not provide them, then it has no place getting in the way of organizations that can. Capitalism makes a worthy slave but a wicked master. ------------------------------ Return-path: < KFL@AI.AI.MIT.EDU> Date: Sat, 19 Jul 86 18:04:01 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL@AI.AI.MIT.EDU> Subject: Technology and Government To: steven@LL-XN.ARPA Cc: KIN@AI.AI.MIT.EDU From: steven@ll-xn.ARPA (Steven Lee) 1) space exploration The cost of the NASA space program through the Apollo missions was on the order of a trillion (current) dollars. Is there a private enterprise whose *revenues* over a decade are that large? I hope fellow space advocates won't lynch (ahem) me for saying this, but it is my opinion that the Apollo project was performed much too soon and for all the wrong reasons. Witness the fact that now, 17 years later, nobody has returned to the moon, and nobody in any country plans to do so in the remainder of this century. Space travel is very expensive. This is partly because it is very new technology, partly because of the extreme safety measures that are taken (which have made space the least fatal new frontier ever explored), and partly because of government inefficiency. I believe that the cost of space travel will continue to drop, until it is within the cost of any family who wishes to go homestead space. Quite possibly this would have happened much sooner if there wasn't an effective government monopoly on space until recently. No, I don't know of any industry with trillion dollar revenues. Neither do I know of any company with deficits as great as the US post office has. But that doesn't mean that many companies haven't successfully competed with the USPS - and made a considerable profit doing so. 2) eradication of small pox Small pox was eradicated from developed nations long ago. It was eradicated from the world a few years ago, the effort sponsored by a UN agency. Why would insurance companies be interested in eradicating it from places like Ethiopia? Perhaps so that it wouldn't spread to the rest of the world? Perhaps because healthier people are better customers for insurance AND FOR EVERYTHING ELSE, regardless of their level of wealth or poverty. One reason many American companies are loath to get heavily involved in third world countries is because they rightly fear that they will be nationalized, i.e. their assets seized by the third world government. Anyone who opposes smallpox is (was) free to donate to the cause. Why use taxpayer money? I would say to the victims "I am sorry you have smallpox, and I know it isn't your fault. But it isn't my fault either, so I don't see why I should have to pay." Actually, I probably would donate some money. But the amount *I* donate should be up to ME, not up to anyone else. 3) the first computers Not counting Babbage's efforts, the interest in calculating machines and their development to computers was for code-breaking (WWII). That was certainly a big part of it. But there was plenty of private interest all along. The computer industries (hardware, software, support, sales, data, etc) are certainly very profitable today. And they employ many millions of people. Nothing like this seems to have happened in the countries with 'controlled' or 'planned' economies. No government bureaucrat ever 'planned' for personal computers. But they happened anyway in countries where people and voluntary organizations of people are free to make plans of their own. 4) planning ahead: governments try--the free market doesn't The free market is not an individual or an organization, even though it is sometimes talked about as if it was. The free market is the sum total of the actions of millions of freely acting individuals and organizations. Collectively, it is true, they don't together plan for anything. Individually, they have many plans, many hopes, many dreams, many aspirations. Soviet Russia is a good example of the absense of the free market and the presense of government planning. Soviet citizens aren't stupid, in fact they are better educated than most US citizens. So any failure of this method cannot be blamed on low IQ. The Soviet government has had many five year plans. None of them have ever been successful. None of the plans ever planned for lasers or TV or computers or jet planes. Since the economy is compelled to try to follow the government plans to the exclusion of any individual plans, none of these things was ever produced, until the technology was devised in another country and 'borrowed' by the Soviets. Their plans are for much more modest things like becoming self sufficient in food production, something even the Czars were able to manage (precisely because they DIDN'T try to manage it, but left it to individuals). So far, they have not been successful. There would be a great famine in the Soviet Union, the country with more farmland than any other, as there was in the 1930s, if people in the US and other free countries were to stop selling food to them. 5) long term investments--example Do you believe that interstellar travel will eventually be enormously profitable? I don't know, but I think it is very likely. Are you interest in investing in it *today*? No. Neither would I have invested in Manhattan real estate in the 1500s, or in personal computers in the 1950s. Or investing in the development of androids? I am not sure what you mean by androids. If you mean robotics, I *AM* investing in it, and my stock has been doing quite well, thank you. 6) "What is made is what people want to pay for ..." Not true. What is made is what people are willing to pay for-- a profound difference (consider built-in obsolesence). I don't get your point. 7) controlled fusion Check the experiments at Princeton last year for sustained fusion reactions in a laboratory. Then read National Geographic's article on energy, Nov. 1967, on when researchers then thought sustained fusion reactions would be achieved in the laboratory, and when it they thought it would be commercially viable. I don't happen to have that issue handy. Want to summarize it for us? 8) public transportation ... is fars less subsidized than automobile transportation is through highway construction and maintenance. I happen to like riding Amtrak. I think that highway construction is payed for by taxes levied against drivers, i.e. the gasoline tax, and road use tax for large trucks. If not, it should be. I don't think people who don't drive should subsidize those who do. Private roads, including private highways, are another thing there should be a lot more of. 9) Founding one's own company is -one- American dream, and that doesn't justify it. So was manifest destiny ... at the cost of Native Americans and Mexico. You are right, simply being dreamt of does not justify something. I didn't say it did. Starting one's own company doesn't NEED justification, any more than does any other activity which doesn't violate anyone's rights. I don't see any comparison to 'manifest destiny' or the Mexican war, other than that they are both dreamt of. 10) "Russia has no shortage of brilliant people." Really? Then why do they mind their emmigration? NO nation deems itself as having enough truly brilliant people. And remember Sputnik in 1957? As for Japan, consider the magnitude and scope of their AI project. Many of the brightest ones wish to leave, for understandable reasons. I don't understand your point about Sputnik. That should be proof that there are (or at least were) a lot of bright people there. Of course the IDEA behind Sputnik was mostly German. I don't understand your point about Japan. 11) MY point is that there are things people want their government to do for which a free market provides no incentive. So? If you want something to be done, do it yourself. Nobody is stopping you or anyone else from spending your own time and money on whatever you think it should be spent on. Nobody is stopping you from trying to convince others to spend their time and money on whatever. What I am objecting to is when some individuals choose to spend OTHER people's money according to THEIR OWN whims! What possible justification can there be for that? 12) Wealth exists because of a subjective belief in value. Who owns it depends on your poltical philosophy. WRONG! Not unless your 'political philosophy' is completely bogus. It is owned by its creator, or whoever its creator chooses to give it to or trade it to. 13) Name a major dam which was privately built and owned. I don't know which dams are private and which aren't. I don't think it's important. If the power produced sells for more than the dam cost to build and maintain, then it is profitable, and at least could have been built privately. If the power produced sells for LESS than the dam cost to build and maintain, then the dam shouldn't have been built in the first place. Given that it was, the people who chose to risk their money on it should be the ones to take the loss. NOT the rest of us! 14) Most of the synthetic fuels research was government sponsored, which is why it's possibly ready as an alternative. The same thing I said about dams goes here too. 15) "...one theory that there is thousands of times the natural gas anyone thought..." When faced with potential calamity, I don't like the idea of pursuing just one speculative theory. Which is one of the things wrong with a government planned economy. Government tends to settle on one theory. The free market, being many different individuals and organizations, never does. ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < SAPPHO@SRI-NIC.ARPA> Date: Mon 21 Jul 86 16:32:08-PDT From: Lynn Gazis < SAPPHO@SRI-NIC.ARPA> Subject: sodomy laws The issue of to what extent we should pay to protect people from the consequences of their actions, while interesting, has nothing to do with sodomy laws. 1. Sodomy laws were written before AIDS. There was no reason at the time they were written to believe that gay sex cost the public money. 2. Childless gay people pay plenty of money in taxes for various kinds of assistance to children whose parents aren't able to fully support them. So it still is not reasonable to say that gay sex costs the public a disproportionate amount of money. And in fact oral sex between heterosexual couples, which is also forbidden by the Georgia law, is less likely to cost taxpayers money than regular heterosexual intercourse. 3. People who complain about gay people "causing" AIDS seem more alarmed about the possibility that gay people will then spread AIDS to "innocent" people than the financial cost. 4. Why would anyone who is concerned about gay sex costing taxpayers money want gay people put in jail where they will cost the taxpayers even more money and be just as likely to get AIDS? People pass and support laws like sodomy laws because they think it is more important for the government to enforce their morality than for people to have privacy in their bedrooms. Perhaps they also think these private sexual acts in some way harm other people's marriages and families or lead the participants to then want to go and molest children (at least, that is the impression their arguments sometimes give). Lynn Gazis sappho@sri-nic ------------------------------ Return-path: < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> Date: Mon, 21 Jul 86 09:03:14 pdt From: Steve Walton < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> To: cit-vax!mx.lcs.mit.edu!kfl Subject: Personal liberty On the subjects of welfare and criminals: (1) I doubt you are qualified to say what persons are capable of doing while under the influence of drugs. (2) If criminals make a rational decision to commit crimes, they do so because it is their perception that crimes are their best route to improve their lot. To the extent that societal problems cause racial discrimination, poor public schools and police protection in ghettos, and other such conditions, society is responsible for some crime. (3) "being PAYED [sic] to have children". The amount of extra welfare money which is received for another child is small compared to what it actually costs to raise the child. Did you watch the NBC special on the black family which Bill Moyers did? The problem is quite a bit more complex than this. (3) "Watch TV all day and count the welfare checks" is a wonderful buzz phrase, calculated to produce an emotional response, but it has no grounds in fact. Most welfare money goes to people who are the victims of circumstance, and most of them would take a job if they could get one. Unfortunately, none of the jobs are in neighborhoods they can afford to commute or move to. I'm also not sure why this phrase appeared at the end of a paragraph devoted to the causes of crime. On the subject of business: > And what if all the companies engaged in a given line of > business were to simultaneously refuse to do business unless they get > more profits? This would be prosecuted under the anti-trust laws, of > course. What if instead of doing so, the government were to penalize > any individual who does business with a company that does NOT join in > the work stoppage? Sound bizarre? Well, it's the symmetrical analog > of the current pro-labor union laws. Read your history, Mr. Lynch. I recommend William Manchester's "The Glory and the Dream." The employer-employee relationship is NOT sym- metrical in the absence of unions, because employers can deprive an employee of his/her livelihood, but an individual employee cannot do the same to an employer. When individual workers expressed political views with which their employers disagreed, they were fired. When workers attempted to exercise their right to freely assemble by forming unions, the government shot them. Your ideal libertarian free market only exists in cases where it is easy to enter a new line of work if profits (wages) cease in an old one. This isn't true in the real world--ask any farmer or steel-mill owner or worker living in an isolated company town. The citizens of the US decided during the New Deal that it was a proper function of government to provide minimum protection to people trapped by cir- cumstances beyond their control--in the words of George Will, FDR saved capitalism by tempering its excesses. Steve Walton ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu ucbvax!sun!megatest!ametek!walton ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Sunday, 27 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 21 Today's Topics: Personal Rights & "Journalism and the Mass Media" & Research and Technology in the Free Market & SDI ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Wed, 23 Jul 86 00:52:35 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Communities To: steven@LL-XN.ARPA Cc: KIN%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU From: steven@ll-xn.ARPA (Steven Lee) > There is no such thing as community. There are only individuals. One could equally say, "There are no humans, there are only cells." Communities exist because of the benefits of cooperation.... Groups of people don't make decisions, individuals do. A group may reach a consensus. Does this compel any dissenters to follow the will of the majority in every case? What if you were part of a group, a community if you prefer, and it is decided that henceforth everyone is to divide all their money equally. Since, lets say, you have more money than everyone else in the group put together, and since you worked very hard for many years spending as little as possible to earn that money, you probably wouldn't be too pleased with the decision. You would probably even be willing to permanently leave the group rather than give up your hard earned wealth. But you are informed that that is not a choice. When talk of the wonderful things they plan to do with your money fails to sway you, they start threatening to take it from you by force. Since the leaders of the group have already spent the money they got from the other members of the group on powerful weapons and training in their use, and since the group rules say that you must go around completely unarmed, you realize that resistance would be futile. Is this the kind of 'community' you feel you are a part of? Do you really not see any possible alternative to this subjugation? ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < campbell%maynard.UUCP@harvisr.HARVARD.EDU> Date: Mon, 21 Jul 86 21:13:39 EDT From: campbell%maynard.UUCP@harvisr.harvard.edu Subject: Re: Press Censorship - West : the subtle heavy-hand In article ucsbcsl!uncle@ucbvax.Berkeley.EDU writes: > One of the reasons that this > state of affairs exists is the elevation and subsequent co-opting > of "journalism" by the mass-media industry ( (firstname=?) (lastname= > Cogburn(?)) a contributor to The Nation, recently wrote about this > in "The Los Angeles Weekly" ... His name is Alexander Cockburn, and he is one of the most trenchant commentators on the political scene today. The Nation is a must-read, not only for Cockburn's wonderful biweekly column, entitled "Beat the Devil", but for the best investigative and political reporting I've ever seen on either end of the political spectrum. Don't miss it! -- "You'll pay to know what you really think." Larry Campbell The Boston Software Works, Inc. ARPA: campbell%maynard.uucp@harvard 120 Fulton Street, Boston MA UUCP: {alliant,wjh12}!maynard!campbell (617) 367-6846 ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Mon, 21 Jul 86 21:13:14 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Re: Why the US Post Office exists To: ASP@ATHENA.MIT.EDU Cc: KIN%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU, steven@LL-XN.ARPA From: Jim Aspnes < asp@ATHENA.MIT.EDU> The US Post Office exists, and (used to) lose money, because they will deliver a first-class letter anywhere in the United States for a nominal fee. No private mail company has ever claimed that it could provide the same universality of service at the same price as USPS. I think someone choosing to live outside the city should suffer (and enjoy) all the consequences of doing so. I don't see any reason why some customers should subsidize others. Or why taxpayers should subsidize either group. This is also the reason why AT&T was a monopoly, ... Right. It was said that the long distance phone rates were high because rural customers were being subsidized by urban customers. And that if competing long distance firms were to be allowed, that rural rates would hit the ceiling. Well, rival carriers WERE finally allowed, and rural rates have gone DOWN, as have urban rates. AT&T discovered that they COULD lower their rates, if they needed to to stay in business. Now if only they would allow competing LOCAL phone companies! One of the main points that opponents of pure capitalism often make is that without government, there would be nothing to prevent monopolies from forming and driving up prices and reducing quality. Well, they are certainly correct that monopolies drive up prices. And that they reduce quality. But the only way monopolies can exist is if government mandates it. There are many examples of such monopolies. In the 19th century, many railroads had a monopoly over their service area, since the government gave them land for free and forbid any other railroad from operating in the area. It is ironic that the resulting bogus price structure was blamed on capitalism, rather than on government interference. Today, most areas have monopolies in local phone service, electric power, and water. There are a few places with competing phone service and/or competing power service, and the prices for those services is generally much lower than where they are a monopoly. And today, cable TV service is becoming available in many areas. This too is generally a mandated monopoly. A common pattern is what has happened where I live. Several cable companies compete for a guaranteed monopoly. This consists entirely of presenting bids to the local government. The company that offers the most service for the lowest cost to consumers wins the right to be a monopoly. After a year or two, they start reneging on the bid. They raise their rates and reduce their services. This, they say, is because of unanticipated market conditions. Of course by then it is too late to go back and offer the contract to some other cable company. Why the government doesn't simply allow any number of cable companies to compete for the same customers is beyond me. Why the government even thinks it has any say in the matter, why it thinks whether or not to interfere in the free market is its choice, I don't understand. Things are being handled a little more rationally with cellular phone service. By federal law two and only two companies are allowed to compete in each metropolitan area. Why it should be limited to two, I don't understand. Spectrum space isn't THAT limited. But at least two are better than one. Thank goodness it hasn't occured to anyone to make cellular phone service available to all rural areas, to be subsidized by the urban cellular phone users, or worse yet, by taxpayers. I am not aware of ANY monopolies that are NOT mandated by the government. I don't see how one could get started. If one did, and it started raising its rates, other companies would get into the field and undersell it. Unless they were forbidden to do so by the government. And, of course, lets not forget the most notorious monopolies of all: The labor unions. Laws protecting the 'right' to strike without being fired, and the 'right' of a union to insist that employers hire no non-members, are largely responsible for the US trade deficit, and the replacement of US made goods with goods made in Japan and Korea. Especially depressing are recent rulings limiting state laws forbidding unions from demanding closed shops. Virginia has such a law, and a person who was turned down for employment by the WMATA transportation authority on the grounds that he was not a union member brought suit under that law in the Virginia court system and won. The union appealed to the federal court system and won. The federal ruling says that Virginia's right-to- work law does not apply becasue WMATA headquarters is not in Virginia, even though the job he was applying for was. A similar case under the Tennessee right-to-work law said that the law does not apply to the new Saturn plant, for some equally random reason. There are some things that must be provided by a just society, There is no such entity as 'society'. There are individuals, various voluntary organizations such as companies, churches, universities, and social clubs, and there are local and state governments, there is the federal government, and there is the UN. Which of these should provide what 'must' be provided? Who decides which of these? And who decides which things 'must' be provided? Perhaps Meese thinks that protection from pornography must be provided. Perhaps Reagan thinks that protection from cocaine must be provided, even if it means sending troops into foriegn countries. Remeber that governments can't really provide anything. No government has anything to provide. What governments CAN do is take things from some individuals and give them to others. No government can make the world a better place, all they can do is redistribute what's already there. and if the free market cannot or will not provide them, then it has no place getting in the way of organizations that can. The free market is not an entity. It consists entirely of independent free individuals and voluntary organizations of individuals. Any individual who wishes to contribute to a worthy cause is free to do so. Nobody else may get in his way. I am not sure what you mean by the free market getting in the way of organizations (I assume you mean governments) who can provide things. If I understand you correctly, this is a curious inversion of logic. Individuals would 'get in the way' of an organization devoted to, say, abolishing the housefly, if they choose not to contribute money to the organization. I am not advocating anyone getting in the way of anyone doing any good deeds. I am simply saying that the good deed doer has no right to steal property from others no matter how good his deeds. A person DOES have the right, in other words, to 'get in the way' of someone trying to pick his pockets. Capitalism makes a worthy slave but a wicked master. Very profound. But does it mean anything? Capitalism is the system where individuals are free to do what they please, so long as they do not infringe the rights of other individuals. How can such a system be a master? How can anyone be a slave to it? ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < pyramid!kontron!cramer@topaz.rutgers.edu> Date: Wed, 23 Jul 86 15:01:28 pdt From: pyramid!kontron!cramer@topaz.rutgers.edu (Clayton Cramer) Subject: Re: Arms-Discussion Digest V6 #122 To: voder!nsc!ihnp4!abnji!politics > Date: Saturday, 12 July 1986 12:25-EDT > From: maynard!campbell at ucbvax.berkeley.edu > To: arms-dXX.LCS.MIT.EDU > re: 10 warheads > Newsgroups: mod.politics.arms-d > Organization: The Boston Software Works, Inc. > > > ...Just > > what constitutes "extensive protection" against ICBMs (personally I > > don't mind 10 warheads getting through but would object to 1000) > > and just how likely SDI is to achieve it is a different question... > > > > Henry Spencer @ U of Toronto Zoology > > {allegra,ihnp4,decvax,pyramid}!utzoo!henry > > Gee, Henry, I don't know about you, but 10 warheads would definitely > ruin MY day. Seriously, what bothers me most about SDI is that it > attempts to solve what is essentially a POLITICAL problem with > TECHNICAL means. This is compounded by the Reagan administration's > demonstrated contempt for political solutions. It's much better to > simply prevent the missiles from ever being fired than it is to > attempt to construct untestable defenses which by their nature > require a level of performance that most workers in the field > publicly state is impossible to achieve. > -- > Larry Campbell The Boston Software Works Inc. > ARPA: campbell%maynard.uucp@harvard 120 Fulton Street, Boston MA > UUCP: {alliant,wjh12}!maynard!campbell (617) 367-6846 What bothers me most about the opposition to SDI (whose value as a system is completely separate from the advisability of building it), is the desire to solve an essentially POLITICAL problem with MORE POLITICS. It is, indeed, "much better to simply prevent the missles from ever being fired", but that is rather like saying "it is much better to simply prevent bad things from happening". The unavoidably adversarial nature of free societies and the Soviet Union make it impossible for sufficient trust to be developed in both directions that nuclear weapons can go away. Why do some people have more trust in TECHNICAL solutions than POLITICAL solutions? Because TECHNICAL solutions require no trust of the Soviet Union, something likely to change over time in unpredictable ways. IF a technical solution can be developed, it doesn't require trust of the good intentions of the Soviet Union -- something that many people in this country manage to delude themselves about, time and time again. Clayton E. Cramer ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Sunday, 27 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 22 Today's Topics: Technology, Wealth, and Liberty ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Tue, 22 Jul 86 22:30:25 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Technology, wealth, and liberty To: steven@LL-XN.ARPA Cc: KIN%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU From: steven@ll-xn.ARPA (Steven Lee) Consider a wheatfield. In spring, a farmer sows wheat. S/he irrigates and fertilizes as necessary. A typical seed responds by growing prodigously, putting forth fine kernels on a sturdy stalk. What happens to its creation? The farmer takes it. Imagine the rest of the biological kingdom outraged: humans don't create honey, bananas, wheat, or fish--yet they steal the products of the labor of others. What is the human response? "But I was the one who provided the environment." Exactly. Likewise, communities provide environments to individual humans: education, social structure, an economy, jobs, capital and material resources, a judicial system, and much more. Fascinating argument. It only applies if you equate humans with plants and animals, though. Replace the plants and animals with blacks and 'environment' with 'plantation' and you have just justified slavery. There is no consistent moral framework in which plants and animals are considered to be at the human level. There is a consistent moral, or I should say immoral, framework in which humans are considered to be at the plant and animal level. You just described it. It is the way most of mankind has lived for ages. It is the way most of mankind lives now, for that matter. Farmers could be said to "tax" wheatfields and beehives. Likewise communities "tax" individuals for the community's "investment" in them. The word 'enslave' or 'rob' fits better than 'tax'. But I admit it is only a difference of scale. Your argument would seem to justify any kind of oppression. Your argument would seem to legitimize anyone's authority over anyone else. Kings, Churches, Emperors, Fuerhers, Czars, Premiers, all would seem justified in whatever they choose to do to the rest of us. For ages it was believed that subservience to whoever seems to be in charge is the only way to live. Today we know better. Also, communities are willing to invest in projects like enormous dams because even if the return from selling the electrical power does not cover the cost of the dam, making abundant, low-cost energy available spurs other enterprises, raising additional tax revenues which make the dam profitable from the community's point of view. I assume you mean governments, not communities. There is no such thing as a community, only individuals, governments, and various voluntary organizations. Governments may be willing to invest in a dam. But they invest OTHER people's money. Against their will. This is what I object to. If what is payed for the power does not cover the cost of the dam, then the rates should be raised. If this causes demand to drop faster than revenues increase, then the dam is unprofitable and should never have been built. If the availabity of low cost power spurs enterprises which make additional tax revenues available, enough additional tax revenues that the dam really is a net benefit, then why shouldn't the tax rates be lower and the power rates be higher for the enterprises? The result would be the same in either case. If the enterprises can afford tax costs sufficient to make the dam profitable then they can afford power costs sufficient to make the dam profitable. The difference being that in the latter case, the users of the power are the ones that pay. Conservation is encouraged to exactly the extent necessary, by reduced power costs for reduced power consumption. And most importantly, it becomes more clear that a private company could have built and operated the dam. Government never had to get involved at all, except possibly to insure that the dam is safe to those living downstream. How would one sell if there was no one to buy? How would one speak if there was no one to speak with? How much could one learn if the knowledge of others was not available? How long would one survive in Hobbes' state of war? I don't know who you are arguing against. Not me. I like to live among others, and to freely trade information, services, and goods with others. I do not like to be coerced into giving up any form of wealth against my will. That is all I am arguing against. The decision-making organization for a community--its government-- It's not clear what you mean by community here. Lets see... "The decision-making organization for individuals--their government--" that doesn't seem right. Individuals make their own decisions. Perhaps it should be "The decision-making organization for a government --government--". No, that makes even less sense. You must have meant the former. Why, oh why must individuals and voluntary organizations have decisions made for them? Has everyone been declared legally incompetent while I wasn't looking? The way I learned it, government's purpose is to serve individuals. Not to rule them. Not to make decisions for them. At least not in the USA and in other free countries. has to be interested in the community's welfare: not just because it can tax more, One might as well justify slavery on the grounds that a master is interested in his slaves' welfare so as to maximize his use of them. Torturing them to death would be unprofitable, and a waste of valuable goods. but also because otherwise it would be replaced. Ah. This is what does seperate us from the really horrible tyrannies. If things get bad enough, we can always kick the bastards out. And kick a new set in. The problem is mainly a lack of education. The Libertarian party has been doing rather poorly in elections. To some extent this is because of the two party effect - people don't think third parties have any chance, so they don't vote for them. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. But it is not necessary that a member of the Libertarian party be elected. Generally, when third parties start doing fairly well, their platform is absorbed by one or both of the two major parties. As such, one's vote is actually much MORE effective if one votes for a third party. So why hasn't this happened? Why haven't there been more votes for the Libertarians? All I can figure is that it is a matter of ignorance on the part of many individuals. Most people learn most of what they know about government in public schools. These schools are owned and operated by the established government, and naturally enough tend to (perhaps subconsciously) slant their teaching of government in a direction that tends to perpetuate the status quo. People who do not do a lot of independant reading, or who do not change their opinions much after high school graduation, would naturally believe the conventional 1930s-1980s view of the role of government. People who get much of their information from radio and TV have the same problem. The notorious 'fairness doctrine' says that radio and TV stations and networks must not broadcast any political views unless they also broadcast competing views. In practice, this means Democrats and Republicans get equal coverage and nobody else gets any. There is very little that human individuals create. Most of what they do to "create" wealth is move things around. Gold, for instance, can be moved out of the ground into someone's hands to make that person wealthy. Houses aren't created out of vacuum, but out of piles of brick and lumber. Cars aren't created from nothing, but from sheet metal and other materials. Does this mean that houses are worth no more than piles of bricks and lumber? Does this mean that cars are worth no more than sheet metal? Does this mean that sheet metal is worth no more than iron ore? Do you mean to imply that if a person were to magically build a house out of nothing or bake delicious cookies with no ingredients, that his time and effort is of value to himself, but that if he uses bricks for houses and flour for cookies that it is ok for someone to rob him of the value of his labor? Remember that he payed for the bricks and mortar. He purchaced the flour and the sugar and the power needed for the oven. The price of food is quite alot higher than the farmer gets for it because it has been moved around. See? The value of wheat seed is less than the value of grown wheat. The farmer had to invest his time and labor. He had to buy not only the wheat seed but the land to grow it in. And possibly fertilizers and water and fuel. The flour is more valuable than the wheat. The flour maker had to pay for a lot more than the wheat to make the flour. And the cookies are more valuable than the flour and the butter and the sugar and whatever other ingredients went into it. There are shipping costs, power for cooking, time and effort for doing all this, for organizing it, for shopping for the cheapest ingredients, for marketing the cookies, etc, etc. If each party to the transition were not taxed a high rate for each purchase and each sale from seed grain to baked goods, the final cost would be much less. But the cost of the cookies would still be much greater than the cost of the seeds or the wheat. Has anything been created? You are correct that no matter has been created. Has no wealth been created? When a master artist puts paint on canvas he might be creating a great work of art. It might be worth millions. But he didn't create the paint. He didn't create the canvas. Did he create anything? When a house burns down no matter is literally destroyed. It is merely rearranged a bit. Has nothing been destroyed? When people are killed, no matter is destroyed. Just moved around. Has nothing been destroyed? The few material things that I can think of which humans create are their own flesh and blood, and their children. (And from a microscopic view, these also are just moving things around, rearranging them.) Would you have parents own their children-- forever? A human being cannot own a human being (except himself) and a government cannot own a human being. This is because every person has certain inalienable rights. The very rights you seem eager to throw away. If you prefer to reject all the current benefits you are receiving from your environment, go live on a deserted isle or ship. As I said, I prefer to live among people, to freely and voluntarily trade with them, and to voluntarily donate my wealth to whoever and whatever I choose. I would prefer living on a deserted isle to living among robbers. You happen to live in one of those few communities which might let its enormous investment in you go What investment? You might say that my parents have made an investment in me, but who else? Do you mean public education? I am mostly self-educated. And even if I wasn't, I never agreed to accept any debt for my education. Nobody has any obligation to live up to the terms of any transaction not voluntarily agreed to. What community? By community, I assume you mean government. I wish you would use the word government if that is what you mean. Public education is payed for mostly by local taxes. If you believe that the local 'community' is investing in a person and expects to get its investment back with interest, does this mean you oppose the freedom to move to another city? Does one have to work off one's debt to the city one was educated in first? This is one of the main rationales that the communist countries use to justify restrictions on the movement of its citizens. Do you then agree with them that people educated in communist countries should not be permitted to leave? Or that they are 'lucky' if they are allowed to leave? (the modern rationale for considering suicide illegal is this investment and the damage the suicide will have on the community's other investments). No. The reasons are the traditional religious reason, the fact that relatives and friends of the deceased will (usually) be very upset, the fact that the vast majority of people who were forcibly prevented from comitting suicide were later very thankful for the intervention, and the idea that suicide is so obviously against one's best interests that attempting suicide is considered strong evidence that the person is not in his right mind, and thus not currently capable of freely rationally choosing suicide. Not that I support any of these reasons, though the last two are pretty persuasive. I would let someone kill themselves if they remained determined to do so over a period of several weeks, especially if they had what appeared to be a rational reason, such as a life sentence without parole, or a very painful fatal disease. ...Keith ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Sunday, 27 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 23 Today's Topics: Welfare, crime, business, unions, and freedom ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Wed, 23 Jul 86 23:53:00 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Welfare, crime, business, unions, and freedom (long) To: ametek!walton@CSVAX.CALTECH.EDU From: Steve Walton < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> On the subjects of welfare and criminals: (1) I doubt you are qualified to say what persons are capable of doing while under the influence of drugs. Wrong. I have been around users of drugs. They know what drugs do to them. If they choose to take them anyway, they have to accept the consequences of their actions while on drugs, whether they are able to control those actions or not. If I choose to drop bricks from a tall building, I can't control just where they fall. Perhaps I wanted one to land on my property but a stray gust of wind causes it to demolish a car and cause an accident. Am I responsible for that? I would say that I am. Even though I could not control where the brick would land, I am the one who dropped it off the building. Suppose it did land on my property. Would the police then have reason to arrest me? I would say that they would not. There is nothing evil about dropping bricks. The crime is wrecking cars and causing accidents. Similarly, there is nothing evil about taking drugs. The crimes are robbing, raping, and killing people. Being on drugs should neither excuse a crime nor constitute a new crime in its own right. (2) If criminals make a rational decision to commit crimes, I didn't say it was a RATIONAL decision, I said it was a VOLUNTARY decision. Not the same thing at all. RATIONAL means that the criminal and his neighbors would be better off if they all went around mugging eachother. I don't believe this would be the case. VOLUNTARY means that the criminal commits a crime because he freely chooses to do so. Or because he freely chooses to take drugs that he knows will make it impossible to control his behavior. The liberal theory seems to be that crime is caused by economic conditions and has nothing to do with anyone's free will, except maybe that of the taxpayers. I do not believe anyone is compelled to commit crimes. People do it by choice. Most people living in the worst slums never commit any crimes. Many people who are very well off, who have everything going for them, throw it all away to take up a life of crime. Ask any probation or parole officer, or any psychologist, psychiatrist, or judge. They will tell you that nobody can predict whether an individual will commit crimes or not. Not by analyzing his socioeconomic status to ten decimal places. Not by studying his environment, not by interviewing his relatives and neighbors, not by analyzing his urine. they do so because it is their perception that crimes are their best route to improve their lot. They may be right. If they don't get caught. I believe I could probably steal hundreds of thousands from banks via computer without a chance of being caught. But I don't do it. The great majority of people will NOT rip off others, even if there is no way they could ever be suspected of the crime. Our system is largely built on trust. If a large percentage of people started writing bad checks, spoofing EFT systems, stealing parked cars, taking whatever they could whenever they didn't think they would be caught, life would become much less pleasant. The crime problem is caused by a tiny minority who just don't give a damn about anyone else. It has nothing to do with poverty. Do you think the nuts who put cyanide in tylenol are below the poverty line? Crime is the choice of the criminals. To prevent it, we have to make it not worth their while. We have to show our repugnance for what they do. Saying that crime isn't really their fault but society's, or that they are ill and in need of treatment, has precisely the opposite effect. Having hundreds of thousands of laws, most of which few people have ever heard of, and many of which criminalize perfectly innocent (even if unsavory or unwise) behaviors, also sends the wrong message. By crime, I am talking about murder, robbery, burglary, rape, theft, espionage, sabotage, vandalism, fraud, arson, assault, and extortion. I am not talking about prostitution, gambling, selling or using drugs, pornography, or homosexuality. Those should not be crimes. Some of them may lead to crime but that doesn't mean they should be crimes, anymore than it means that a serious crime can be excused by one of these non-crimes. Judges routinely show leniency to people who have been using drugs or alcohol. Some rapists try blame their crimes on pornography. Sadly, the Meese report may serve to justify their behavior to themselves, and possibly to judges. To the extent that societal problems cause racial discrimination, poor public schools and police protection in ghettos, and other such conditions, society is responsible for some crime. What does it mean for society to be responsible? Do we lock it in jail? If by society you mean government, perhaps that wouldn't be a bad idea. :-) (3) "being PAYED [sic] to have children". The amount of extra welfare money which is received for another child is small compared to what it actually costs to raise the child. That depends on how good a job of raising the child you do. I am not saying the welfare families are getting rich. I am just saying that they live comfortably enough that they don't see the need to change. Why work if you can watch TV all day? Especially if the only job you can get at the moment is one that pays hardly any better than welfare. And you lose your free medical insurance for yourself and your kids, your food stamps, and possibly your subsidized housing. Since you would have to pay for day care for the kids while you are at work, it obviously makes much more sense to just sit back and watch TV. Note that these people aren't just getting AFDC. They get food stamps, subsidized transportation, free medical care, and subsidized housing. The total value of this is considerably greater than many working people can afford. Once again, we are lucky that so many people are fundamentally honest. Practically anyone with children who is in the bottom 20 or 30 percent economically would do better if they quit their job and lived off government assistance of various forms. On second thought, perhaps it would be better if they DID do so. Then things would HAVE to change. Did you watch the NBC special on the black family which Bill Moyers did? The problem is quite a bit more complex than this. No, I don't have a TV. And if I did, I wouldn't have time to watch it. I know the problems are complex. I don't see how complexity justifies government subsidies. Quite the opposite. The more complex someone's life and problems are, the less likely it is that anyone but themselves would completely understand them. I don't see it as a black problem. Most blacks are not on welfare. Many whites are on welfare. Race really has little to do with it. It's mostly an attitude problem. (3) "Watch TV all day and count the welfare checks" is a wonderful buzz phrase, calculated to produce an emotional response, but it has no grounds in fact. Wrong. I *KNOW* people like this. Most welfare money goes to people who are the victims of circumstance, and most of them would take a job if they could get one. Too many people see themselves as victims of circumstance, or of forces beyond their control. Trapped in a world they never made. Wallowing in self pity. I could get into that. You think my life has been all roses? Closer to all thorns. Seven years ago I was released from prison after serving a sentence for burglary. (I was innocent.) I had 25 dollars to my name. And a bus ticket and a new suit. If that doesn't make me a victim of circumstance I don't know what does. If I had then turned to a life of crime and moaned about how an ex-con doesn't have a chance, I am sure I would have your symapthy. You would eagerly agree that I was blameless and that it was all society's fault. But I didn't do that. I worked long and hard and now work for a high technology company. I'm not wealthy, but I do manage to save over a third of my after tax salary. Unfortunately, none of the jobs are in neighborhoods they can afford to commute or move to. Wrong. There are plenty of jobs in the inner city. Small apartments are no more expensive in the suburbs than in the city. Bus and/or subway service connects the two, at a cost that even people making minimum wage can afford. And people can live on as little as $200 a month if they are willing to share apartments and eat cheap foods. Also, there are a lot of farm jobs going begging. People just don't want to get their hands dirty. I am just not aware of anyone who HAS TO commit crimes to survive or to feed their children. Not in this country. Stealing hubcaps may be more lucrative and more exciting than washing dishes. Checking the obituary pages and burglarizing a family's house while they are at a funeral may be a faster route to a large bank account than picking vegetables. Does this justify crime? Is it the fault of government for not making the minimum wage and the welfare minumum as much as someone could get by spending his time tunneling into bank vaults? On the subject of business: ... The employer-employee relationship is NOT symmetrical in the absence of unions, because employers can deprive an employee of his/her livelihood, but an individual employee cannot do the same to an employer. Wrong again. An employer's only power is the power to fire the employee. This does not deprive the employee of his livelihood, since he is free to find another employer or to become self-employed. Similarly, an employee's only power over his employer is (or rather should be) the power to resign. This does not deprive the employer of HIS livelihood, since the employer is free to find another employee to replace the one who resigned, or to work without employees. It is perfectly symmetrical. It can be a considerable inconvenience losing a job. Being fired can be as traumatic as being divorced. Saying 'one can always find another job' may sound as callous as saying 'one can always find another spouse'. But it is true. And if one can't, why should taxpayers be required to pay? Nobody seems to object to divorce laws becoming more symmetrical, so why object to employment laws becoming more symmetrical? For an employer to lose an employee can be traumatic as well. Major corporations have gone out of business simply because one or more employees left when they were badly needed. What people don't seem to understand about laws that make it difficult for people to be fired is that they make it equally difficult for people to be hired. Much of the difficulty that people do have in finding jobs is simply the flip side of the minimum wage laws and the many other laws that make life difficult for employers. When workers attempted to exercise their right to freely assemble by forming unions, the government shot them. I hope you don't think I support that! Nobody should ever be shot at unless they shoot first. The fact that members of labor unions got a raw deal many years ago does not imply that members of labor unions should now have any special rights (i.e. rights not posessed by non-members). I doubt that any of the current members were around when these shootings occured anyway. Your ideal libertarian free market only exists in cases where it is easy to enter a new line of work if profits (wages) cease in an old one. Not only where it is EASY, but where it is POSSIBLE. There is no guarantee that life must be easy. Most of the people who are newly out of work, i.e. steel mill and automobile industry employees, were making a very respectable salary for many years. If such a person fails to invest much of his money, but instead spends it on a grand lifestyle, I have very little sympathy when the bottom falls out of the market. For many years they were making money way out of line with the value of the products and services they were producing, thanks to extortion by the labor unions. Their employers shrugged their shoulders and passed the excess costs on to the consumers. The result was greatly overpriced cars, steel, and buildings. Why should the employers bother to fight it? They would probably get their facilities torched by union goons. They aren't losing any business, since their competitors have the same problems. And nobody is actually harmed. Except the consumers, who are paying way too much for cars, etc. The foreign competition started easily underselling the unionized firms. The unions flex their muscles and cry foul. "Dumping" they say. Nobody can possibly be making a profit selling cars or steel for that little, they argue. They never explain why any company or country would be throwing money away by selling goods for less than it cost to make them, or why it wouldn't be a net benefit to people in the US to buy the inexpensive goods whether the goods were being dumped or not. It made me really angry when I heard about the 'voluntary' import quotas. Just when it looked like the average person would soon be able to afford a new car it all fell apart. Detroit is still firmly in charge. I just hope the union members think about the lives that are destroyed by accidents caused by obsolete vehicles. I just hope they realize that this political pressure game is no game, but that there are innocent people being badly hurt. I feel even less sympathy for the oil barons of the southwest, who are now feeling the bad effects of the oil price decline. They had little mercy for the rest of us when oil prices were skyrocketing. Now they want government subsidies, handout, guaranteed price floors. It IS possible to enter a new line of work. I am not saying it is always easy. Sometimes it even requires learning new skills. How much easier to have the government or the consumers simply subsidize your continuing to perform your old job to nobody's benefit. Often, taking a new job means making a lot less money, and losing your house with the $2000 mortgage payments and your shiny new BMW. So what? Should those of us who have never lived like royalty suffer even higher taxes to keep this guy in his house? It is a little known fact, but most government transfer payments (AFDC, Social Security, food stamps, various subsidies) actually go to people wealthier than they come from. The government is no Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. On the average it is just the opposite. Not that I think it would be justified even if it ran the way it supposedly does. The citizens of the US decided during the New Deal that it was a proper function of government to provide minimum protection to people trapped by circumstances beyond their control SOME citizens decided this. Even if it was the majority, does that make it right? The majority supported slavery at one time. Individuals have certain rights that cannot be subsumed to the tyranny of the majority. The cost of this minimum protection is enough to bankrupt the nation. The federal government is nearly two trillion dollars in debt and rapidly getting deeper into debt. Nearly all of this can be attributed to social spending, not to defense. When you take into account the fact that about half the money spent for defense returns at once in the form of taxes, and when you count social security, medicare, and medicaid as part of the social budget rather than being completely seperate from the federal budget, and when you attribute the VA and military pensions to the social budget rather than the defense budget, and when you count state and local taxes, none of which go to defense, you will discover that defense only takes up 16% of tax revenues. Certainly that should be reduced, but defense is not THE problem. Taxes could be cut to 1/4 of their current amount if social spending was abolished. And I don't just mean federal income taxes but ALL taxes. Add up just how much extra money that would be for you. Probably it would be even greater savings for your employer and your landlord, which would both pass on most of their savings to employees and tenants to remain competitive. Can you imagine suddenly being this much wealthier? Can you imagine EVERYONE suddenly being this much wealthier? What wonders it would do for business, for consumer spending. Most people could buy a new car with one year's tax savings. A small amount of this windfall would be given voluntarily to the one percent of the population who are permanently truly needy and the two percent of the population who are temporarily truly needy. And to anyone else who can make a good case that they should receive voluntary donations. These percentages would probably shrink even further if people would stop reciting 'I am trapped by circumstances beyond my control' to themselves. People who are blind and deaf have lived productive and rewarding lives. People raised in orphanages have made great discoveries. People with no legs have won skiing trophies. People with no arms have become millionaires. People foolish enough to become addicted to drugs have stopped using them and gone on to live useful long and healthy lives. People sentenced to death in high security prisons have escaped. You seem to share common misconceptions about the New Deal. Nothing like that would have been allowed by the citizens except that there was a terrible depression at the time. The depression was caused by government meddling in the free market. The New Deal did not end the depression, it made it worse. World War II ended the depression. The New Deal policies have been a constant major drag on the economy ever since. Our technology is light years beyond that of the 1920s. Worker's efficiencies have doubled, doubled again, and doubled again. Farm productivity is up by a factor of ten. Electric power available to the average person has increased by a factor of 100. Computer power, by a factor of several trillion. So why do we seem to be only a little wealthier and happier than people were in the 1920s? And in some ways we are worse off. The average family in 1926 could afford a house and a new car. The average family in 1986 can afford neither. How do you explain this? ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Sunday, 27 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 24 Today's Topics: Non-discrimination Policies Welfare, Crime, Business, Unions, and Freedom Privacy Rights Amendment Technology, Research and the Free Market ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < Hoffman.es@Xerox.COM> Date: 24 Jul 86 10:11:58 PDT (Thursday) From: Hoffman.es@Xerox.COM Subject: laundry list (non-discrimination policies) To: wild@SUN.COM (Will Doherty) From: Will Doherty As these characteristics [race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, etc.] become unimportant (at least as far as hiring, firing, etc.), then we can forget about pushing for protective laws. But we aren't there yet. Well, we certainly aren't. I proposed to do away with the "laundry list" of prohibited discrimination categories in favor of policies like, "Only job-related characteristics shall be considered in hiring, firing, and promotion decisions." But I readily admit this is idealistic. A further idealistic tenet of mine is that I help change the world toward my ideal by, as far as possible, being idealistic in my life and in my proposals. :-) ------------------------------ Return-path: < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> Date: Thu, 24 Jul 86 10:04:13 pdt From: Steve Walton < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> Subject: Welfare, crime, business, unions, and freedom (long) Well, it seems I touched a nerve. :-) Let me discuss a few points with minimal quoting from your letter, which I greatly enjoyed. You are correct that one is often "better off" under welfare today, because the current benefit structure is such that you lose more than $1 of benefits for every $1 you earn at a job. However, the numbers show that the majority of means-tested benefit programs (which should be distinguished from non-means-tested entitlement programs such as veterans' benefits and Social Security) go to people who cannot work, mainly unskilled mothers with small children whose fathers have split. We all know people who are stealing from the government, including people who "watch TV all day and count the welfare checks." This is anecdotal evidence of abusers of a system, and proves nothing about the general utility, or lack thereof, of that system. The current welfare system is, indeed, an active disincentive to finding useful employment, and must be either fixed or scrapped. Whether it can be fixed awaits the outcome of such experiments as California's new "workfare" program. It really is possible to be a victim of circumstance. I admire your success since your release from prison; it doesn't change the fact that there are people who have applied for more than 100 jobs, re- ceiving one interview and no job, and have given up looking. (Actual name of this person can be found on the front page of the July 21 LA Times, which I don't have handy at the moment.) I am also not aware of anyone who "HAS TO commit crimes to survive" in this country. You suggest that crimes would decrease if crime was less lucrative and exciting. How do you suggest we do that? We already spend a larger percentage of our national wealth on law enforcement, and have a larger percentage of our population in prision, than any other democracy. And they are not in there for the victimless "crimes," which I agree should not be illegal, but for crimes against other persons and others' property. Business and employees: The relationship between an *individual* employer and employee is not symmetrical. Employers have, in the past, not only fired employees but tagged them as "troublemakers," thus preventing them from getting jobs anywhere else. They also paid workers a barely adequate living wage, which meant they couldn't afford to strike, or put money aside and quit, in order to protest low wages, or unsafe working conditions. When, despite these odds, workers started to band together in unions, the coercive powers of business and government (the two being nearly identical in those days) were used to prevent this. In the book I recommended in my last posting, William Manchester's "The Glory and the Dream," he offers another explanation for the Great Depression. Manchester, reflecting a middle-of-the-road consensus of economists, concludes that it was due to low wages. Industry showed spectacular productivity gains from 1900 to 1929, but wages remaind relatively constant. The result was that those who were manufacturing the cars and refrigerators couldn't afford to buy them. They bought them anyway, on credit terms which they couldn't meet. The problem was compounded by low farm product prices, the result of overproduction, which meant that farmers couldn't afford industrial products either. When it turned out that most people couldn't afford the payments on their debts, the banks and then the economy collapsed. Note that NONE of this was the result of government action or inaction. In fact, the top income tax rate was dropped from 65% to 25% in 1925, which today's economic thinking says should have generated an enormous boom. (If all of this sounds familiar, perhaps it should.) Before 1929, there was a regular crash every 20 to 30 years; they called it the "business cycle." There hasn't been another one since the New Deal. While correlation is not cause and effect, I think a fair case can be made that this one is. When unions demanded a fair share of their company's profits, and won them after years of battles, it created the middle class in this country. We avoided the socialism of Europe because of, not in spite of, our labor unions. (I must credit a George Will commentary on ABC of about a year ago for these thoughts.) At the time, they were simply asking for a share in the productivity gains which they had helped bring about. Now, of course, they ask for wage increases even when their productivity goes down. Senator Bill Bradley of NJ recently suggested that fixed wages be scrapped in favor of giving workers some minimal wage plus a share in the company's profits, an idea which I think has much merit. TODAY'S labor unions are, to quote Prof. Lance Davis of Caltech, monopolistic corporations whose product is labor. This does not change their mainly positive contributions to American life. You are absolutely correct about the current state of the auto and steel industries, and the negative effects of import quotas on the economy. And I certainly share your lack of sympathy with people who were sporting "Drive 85--freeze a Yankee" bumper stickers a few years ago. Most government transfer payments, such as Social Security, go to the middle class, but such "entitlement" programs must be carefully distinguished from "means-tested" programs such as food stamps and AFDC. I don't know what the total amount being spent on means-tested programs at all levels of government are, but I'm quite sure its a tiny fraction of the $350 billion which the Social Security system hands out every year, to say nothing of government pensions which often exceed what employees at the same level as the retiree's receive. So, your comment about the amount which taxes would drop if social spending were eliminated is true even if welfare is excluded. But I am not sure that voluntary contributions would in fact adequately provide for "the 1% who are permanently truly needy and the 2% who are temporarily truly needy." However, it is in fact possible to be a victim of circumstance. Your 2% of the population who are temporarily truly needy is 5 million people, or roughly 1.5 million families. Coincidentally (?), about 1 million Americans are classed by the Labor Department as "discouraged workers," meaning that they have tried hard and been unable to find a job. Loss of a job is not merely "traumatic" to a family with only one wage earner. What are they to eat while another job is found, or retraining obtained? Your analogy to divorce is interesting, since another large component of government aid recipients is wives whose husbands recently left them, and who have no job skills and are given custody of the children. Consider widows in similar circumstances. We, as a society, have made the value judgement that such people should not have to sell their homes and cars (which are usually old VW's not new BMW's) and live in abject poverty until such time as employment can be found again. Rather, we have decided that tax revenues (which are largely voluntary--it is laughably easy to cheat the IRS) should be used to prevent such poverty. You disagree with this value judgement; I agree with it, and I don't think that either of us can change the other's mind. If you don't have time to watch TV (I don't own one either), I'm surprised you have time to read, or write, diatribes like this one. Steve ------------------------------ Return-path: < Hoffman.es@Xerox.COM> Date: 24 Jul 86 10:30:37 PDT (Thursday) From: Hoffman.es@Xerox.COM Subject: Privacy Rights amendment To: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL@AI.AI.MIT.EDU> Keith Lynch correctly points out some problems with drafting a Privacy Rights amendment: Or are you saying that anything done in private would automatically become legal? I assume you exclude such things as burglary. What about private drug use? .... [I]t doesn't seem right to me that someone who chooses not to [keep sections of their life private] can be prosecuted while someone who chooses to keep it all secret is safe. This is all too remeniscent of the curious notion that no crime is truly criminal, only getting caught is. There's a difficult line to be drawn here. That's exactly why I asked readers of Poli-Sci Digest to help me in drafting a Privacy Rights amendment. I do indeed mean to do away with vice laws (at least so far as they pertain to what I do in private, not on the streets) and other such attempts at legislating "morality". If you don't like my morals, try to convert me yourself. You shouldn't be able to enlist the state's help! At first I thought I could come up with one quickly, modeled on some existing amendments, but as I wrote it, it kept getting more complicated. I still think the closest model is the Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Now, how can we adapt that to say that it's no business of the government what I do sexually (alone or with consenting adult partners), what I do (to myself) with drugs, and so on? -- Rodney Hoffman ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Thu, 24 Jul 86 22:54:32 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Free market To: asp@ATHENA.MIT.EDU From: Jim Aspnes < asp@ATHENA.MIT.EDU> 1. Consider a typical resident of a 19th-century mining town. He does not make enough money to feed his family, so must go into debt to support them. This debt becomes payable immediately when he quits his job as a miner ... Any attempt he makes to escape his condition would necessarily infringe upon the rights of his employer, and the situation he is in was entered voluntarily when he was hired, fresh off of Ellis Island. ... I would claim that the miner was effectively enslaved. This is why there are bankrupcy laws. Also, the resident wasn't COMPELLED to go into debt. There are plenty of alternatives. 2. ... a ... corporation ... purchases from the local landowners 90% of the arable land in a small country ... The remaining ... tenant farmers ... now must feed themselves on ... 10% of the land which remains under their control. They are free to find work elsewhere. This is the classic dilemma of the tenant. A tenant of an apartment can be kicked out at any time (when his lease expires). An owner of an apartment or house cannot. A tenant farmer can be told to pack up and leave at any time (when his lease expires). An owner of a farm cannot. This is one of the main reasons why renting is much cheaper than buying. You are buying not just the use of a thing, but its perpetual control. This is unfortunate for the renters. But they are always free to go elsewhere and make arrangements with others. The fortunate 20% who are employed by the fruit growers cannot leave their employment, Why not? and cannot ask for more than a minimal living wage, since the fruit company could quickly replace any employee who did so with one of the unemployed. You could equally well argue that employers cannot ask people to work for less than an exorbitant wage because any employer who did so would lose employees to a company which payed the top rate. The situation IS symmetrical. Oh yes, you assumed that there was only the one fruit company. You never explained how that could be. Unless the country has laws prohibiting competition. In which case we aren't talking about the free market anymore. You never explained why the landowners would have thought it was a bright idea to sell their land in the first place. I would think most of them would prefer to remain owners of their land rather than workers on it for whatever low wage (in your view) the company chooses to pay. Or is the value of each parcel of land enough that by selling it, its owner could retire? If so, I would imagine that many would have sold their land already, unless they were determined to pass the land on to their children, in which case they wouldn't sell to the fruit company either. Do you know of any actual cases like this? (No fair naming countries with special laws favoring just one fruit company. Your criticism is of the free market, not of random banana republics.) There may be ideological reasons for avoiding agricultural price supports, government-managed banking systems, and the like; but most of them are not sufficient to justify another Dust Bowl or another Depression. It was government interference with the free market that caused the dust bowl (with a little help from the weather) and the depression. ...Keith ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Monday, 28 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 25 Today's Topics: Technology and the Free Market (3 msgs) & Minority and Privacy Rights (4 msgs) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Fri, 25 Jul 86 00:26:03 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: People vs. Animals To: dab@BORAX.LCS.MIT.EDU From: dab@BORAX.LCS.MIT.EDU (David A. Bridgham) The farmer had a position of dominance over the crops he had sown. ... You go on to mention that this is slavery so maybe I misunderstand what you were saying here. You sure do. It is slavery only if PEOPLE are treated like crops. I don't understand why the moral framework in which humans are considered on the same level as plants and animals is immoral, and I don't believe that this is how most of mankind lives today or has lived in the past. Mankind has believed in his dominance over the rest of creation for many many years and he certainly does so today. What I meant was the system in which most people are relegated to the status of animals or objects or incompetents. The idea being that the elite must run these people's lives. The elite has never regarded itself the equal of animals or incomepetents. They have always regarded most of the rest of mankind that way, however. This attitude is alive and well, as can be seen in the Meese report, in which it is solemnly concluded, based, not on science, but on 'common sense', that most of us can't be trusted with pornography. This must be kept from us, we are told, along with firearms and drugs, for our own good. Believes this to the extent that he now seems to believe that he is completely seperated and independent of everything but himself and his creations. I don't know anyone who believes this. We are a part of the natural physical universe and cannot be seperated from it. If you defoliate a quarter of a million acres, errode away most of the topsoil, pollute it so baddly that the animal population decreases by two orders of magnitude and many animals are now absent from the area altogether, that's ok, as long as you succeed on the free market. If you own the land, you are free to do whatever you want with it. Presumably you would destroy its future value only for something of much greater value that cannot be obtained in any other way. This is your choice if you own the land. I do oppose government handouts for farmers who have damaged their land by destructive farming techniques. Perhaps one of the reasons why people are doing this to the land is because of those very subsidies and handouts? Not that a whole lot of land is being destroyed. And not that the damage is as long lasting as most people seem to think. ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Fri, 25 Jul 86 00:35:21 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Big companies To: JBVB@AI.AI.MIT.EDU From: "James B. VanBokkelen" < JBVB@AI.AI.MIT.EDU> ... Other instances of unfair rates were examples of railroad owners using their power to legislate things they wanted for other reasons (like the extinction of Atlantic-Pacific shipping and Sacramento River shipping, in both cases attempting to seize a monopoly). I oppose this, of course. As I oppose steel companies and car companies throwing their weight around today. There are far too many laws, and far too many special rules, taxes, tax exemptions, fines, exemptions from fines, mandatory insurance, exemptions from mandatory insurance, tariffs, protectionism, special phone company laws, special laws that apply only to computer usage, special banking laws, etc, etc. There should be one set of simple laws for all of us, that forbid only violating other people's rights. ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> Date: Fri, 25 Jul 86 09:07:15 pdt From: Steve Walton < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> To: cit-vax!mx.lcs.mit.edu!kfl Subject: Erratum It is of course, not accurate to say that farmers OVERPRODUCED in the 1920s. I would like to make the following correction: the sentence reading: The problem was compounded by low farm product prices, the result of overproduction, which meant that farmers couldn't afford industrial products either. in my last message should be replaced by: The problem was compounded by drought in the farming regions of the country, which meant that farmers could no longer buy industrial products AND the scarcity and consequent high prices of food meant industrial workers could afford only the bare necessities. ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Thu, 24 Jul 86 23:01:58 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Laundry list To: wild@SUN.COM From: wild@SUN.COM (Will Doherty) Subject: We need the laundry list As long as our culture continues to enumerate these groups of people with "irrelevant personal attribute[s]," such as blacks, women, and lesbians and gays (among the many), so as to relegate them to a status other than human being status, then the people in these groups need to struggle for human being status. A voluntary organization is one which anyone is free to join if they want to and the organization is willing to let them, and in which any member is free to leave if he wants to, and in which the organization is free to select anyone as a member if they are willing to join, and in which the organization is free to expel any member. Both parties have to agree for someone to join, but either party is free to break the relationship. Examples of voluntary organizations are churches, social clubs, and mailing lists on the net. Marriages come close. Why shouldn't corporations work the same way? The problem with the policy that you propose is that someone decides what "job-related characteristics" are, and if we leave that open to the interpretation of many people in corporate management, then we won't see any change in the composition of the people in the workplace. I propose we go to a policy of giving employers complete control over whether to hire an applicant and as to whether to fire an employee. Just as individuals have complete control as to where to apply for a job, and as to whether to resign. Employers who make hiring decisions based on irrational criteria will be at a competitive disadvantage. ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Sat, 26 Jul 86 00:38:41 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Proposed amendment To: Hoffman.es@XEROX.COM Cc: Reges@SU-SCORE.ARPA, JOSH@RED.RUTGERS.EDU From: Hoffman.es@Xerox.COM I do indeed mean to do away with vice laws (at least so far as they pertain to what I do in private, not on the streets) and other such attempts at legislating "morality". I agree. But why exclude what is done in public? At first I thought I could come up with one quickly, modeled on some existing amendments, but as I wrote it, it kept getting more complicated. What's needed isn't a privacy rights amendement, but a noncoercive activity amendment. How about: No laws, taxes, or ordinances are valid that attempt to prohibit or to single out activities that harm nobody who does not voluntarily consent to participate in said activity. For purposes of this amendment, seeing, hearing, and reading things is not considered harm. For purposes of this amendment, increasing the probability that a someone will commit a crime is not considered harm. Every person who is at least 21 years of age shall be presumed to be capable of voluntary consent, unless he has voluntarily declared himself incompetent, or has been declared incompetent by a court of law after having been convicted of a crime. The period of incompetency declared by a court shall not exceed the maximum sentence allowed for the crime he was convicted of. There are probably some loopholes in this, but it's a starting point. My intention is for it to legalize nudity, loitering, prostitution, driving without a seatbelt, riding a motorcycle or bicycle without a helmet, drug use, drug manufacture, drug sales, gambling, pornography, suicide, voluntary euthanasia, and all other victimless crimes. Please note that I do not necessarily advocate any of these activities, I simply don't think it should be up to government to ban them. I also intend for it to focus the debate on government regulation of business on whether the consumer is giving voluntary consent to the risks of the product. Also, zoning laws, rent control, and affirmative action would be abolished. The part about seeing and hearing needs work. I do not think there is anything wrong with laws against very loud noise. Loud noises can be disruptive and even damaging. Similarly, the restriction on laws forbidding things from being seen should not prohibit a law making it illegal to shine a bright spotlight in someone's window at 3 am. But painting one's house purple should always be allowed. As should dancing naked in one's front yard. I can't quite decide how to make this distinction explicit. It is not my intention to legalize fraud. Fraud is when there is no voluntary consent. It is not my intention to allow children to participate in any such activities. Children cannot give voluntary consent. The amendment neither legalizes nor illegalizes abortion, as the issue in abortion is precisely whether the fetus is 'someone' If the fetus is someone, the fetus must be presumed to not consent to the abortion. The amendment also abolishes involuntary commission to a mental hospital, except for crimes. One terminolgy kludge: The law should change so as to say that someone found to have committed a crime but to not be responsible because he was insane, was CONVICTED not ACQUITTED. If it is found that he was insane, perhaps he should be committed to a mental hospital instead of sent to prison, but it doesn't seem reasonable to call the person innocent of the crime. If he was truly innocent, he should be allowed to go free. But people who commit serious crimes should NOT go free, so they should NOT be found innocent. Comments eagerly awaited. ...Keith [ 'Fraud', as I understand it, is by 'consent', but with the one party misrepresenting him/her/itself to the other. 'Fraud' without consent is robbery, I thought... Also, I've always thought that "not guilty by reason of insanity" was a judgement that the person had performed the act, but was not 'responsible' for it (whatever that means) - not "innocent". -CWM] ------------------------------ Return-path: < fair@ucbarpa.Berkeley.EDU> Date: Fri, 25 Jul 86 23:58:06 PDT From: fair@ucbarpa.berkeley.edu (Erik E. Fair) To: Hoffman.es@xerox.com Subject: Re: Proposed amendment Cc: JOSH@red.rutgers.edu, KIN%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@mc.lcs.mit.edu Cc: Reges@su-score.arpa What is your presumption about people who commit crimes? Are they: to be rehabilitated (this assumes that anti-social acts are acts of individuals who are not completely sane or normal by the standards of the society, but that offenders are potentially useful members of the society at large) to be punished (this assumes that anti-social acts are acts of responsible individuals who choose to be anti-social, and need to be punished [which in itself is also intended as a further deterrent if the offender is ever released from punishment]) For purposes of answering this question, do not assume the current penal/correctional/mental-health system anywhere in the U.S. Erik E. Fair ucbvax!fair fair@ucbarpa.berkeley.edu ------------------------------ Return-path: < rlk@ATHENA.MIT.EDU> Date: Sat, 26 Jul 86 12:33:51 EDT From: Robert L. Krawitz < rlk@ATHENA.MIT.EDU> To: fair@ucbarpa.berkeley.edu (Erik E. Fair) Cc: Hoffman.es@xerox.com, KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@mc.lcs.mit.edu, Cc: cc: JOSH@red.rutgers.edu, KIN%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@mc.lcs.mit.edu, Cc: cc: Reges@su-score.arpa Subject: Re: Proposed amendment I'd say that you cana't make a blanket statement either way. Depends too much on the particular individual, the particular crime, etc. All circumstances have to be considered (not that I care to go into lots of detail here right now). Robert^Z ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Tuesday, 29 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 26 Today's Topics: Welfare ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Sat, 26 Jul 86 01:50:48 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Welfare To: ametek!walton@CSVAX.CALTECH.EDU From: Steve Walton < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> ... the majority of means-tested benefit programs ... go to people who cannot work, mainly unskilled mothers with small children whose fathers have split. I am not convinced that these people are unable to work. Most of these fathers have split in order to make the mothers eligible for these programs. Thus these programs are viciously anti-family, and are responsible for the breakup of more families than slavery. We all know people who are stealing from the government, including people who "watch TV all day and count the welfare checks." I wasn't speaking of people who were cheating, but of those who are using the system legally. Though there are plenty of cheaters, too. The current welfare system ... must be either fixed or scrapped. Whether it can be fixed awaits the outcome of such experiments as California's new "workfare" program. Well, that is better than regular welfare at least. Though I don't think it is up to government to find work or to make work for these people. There are a lot of problems with mixing welfare with work. Read Busby's Rissa Kerguelen trilogy for a view of a future society in which the majority of the population ends up on welfare, working for the state. An example of workfare taken to its logical extreme is the Soviet Union. They truthfully boast that unemployment is zero. The Soviet government guarantees everyone a job. But I don't hear the unemployed of this country clamoring to emigrate there. It really is possible to be a victim of circumstance. A lot less possible than most people think. Every victim of circumstance I know of has simply chosen to be one. They will never get rich, but they have an easy life ahead of them. Why not? What about all the immigrants who came here with nothing, not even speaking or reading English, and are now doing quite well? This isn't just something that happened hundreds of years ago. At work we had a party last week to celebrate the naturalization of an employee who escaped from Laos on a boat three years ago. She spoke no English then, but now speaks better than a lot of inner city types who have lived in the US all their life. She taught herself to type, and is now married to a fellow refugee and has a good job. There was an article in last month's Reader's Digest about a woman who couldn't read or write. She was determined to become a doctor, so she studied hard and worked hard and now has her medical degree. There are many cases of people missing eyes, hands, arms, and legs, being very productive. Robert Heinlein was declared permanently and totally disabled over 40 years ago. Since then, he has made several million dollars. He says "that scrap of paper wore out, but I didn't". ... there are people who have applied for more than 100 jobs, re- ceiving one interview and no job, and have given up looking. They should talk to a friend or relative about what they are doing wrong in the interviews. More common is the case of a person who interviews at three to five places, waiting until they get a firm 'no' from each place (which often never happens) before interviewing at the next place. And then giving up. Also common are people who are out of synch. They apply for summer jobs in June when they are all taken. You suggest that crimes would decrease if crime was less lucrative and exciting. How do you suggest we do that? I am sure it would. But I don't see any practical way to do that, and didn't suggest that we try. What WILL help is if we make crimes MORE exciting, i.e. if more people are armed, burglary will soon become a thing of the past. If more people are trained in self defense, there will be less mugging. One thing that engenders crime is the high cost of illegal drugs. If all drugs are legalized, the price will fall. Also, there will be a lot fewer dangerous overdoses since the purity will be much more standard. Perhaps most importantly, legalizing all forms of vice will put organized crime out of business for good. We already spend a larger percentage of our national wealth on law enforcement, and have a larger percentage of our population in prision, than any other democracy. Sad but true. Juries need to be a lot more hardheaded. Most juries today are willing to fall for any harebrained expert testimony theory. For instance the case of that guy in San Fransisco who got a very light sentence for murder because he was under the influence of Hostess Twinkies (!). Or Patty Hearst, who got a relatively light sentence for armed bank robbery because she was 'brainwashed'. Some women have literally gotten away with murder by pleading PMS (i.e. that time of month). That should do wonders for women's rights. And don't forget 'insane' Hinckley. Or 'suffered enough' Nixon. Judges also have this problem. There was a case three years ago here in Virginia in which the same judge who sentenced me to six years, suspended a twenty year jury sentence for a convicted rapist and let him off with probation! This circuit court judge has since been promoted to the Virginia Supreme court. Also, juries tend to put to much weight in the prosecution's arguments if the defendant is not being well represented. People are serving life sentences for rape, on the sole testimony of the victim. In one recent case, the 'victim' 'found Christ' and admitted she made the whole thing up. A man here in Virginia is serving a 40 year sentence for posession on one ounce of marijuana. A man in Oklahoma got 99 years for indecent exposure. Is it any wonder that the crime rate and the incarceration rate are both so high? Sentences should be much more uniform. The chances of an innocent person being locked up must be reduced. The chances of a guilty person going free must be reduced, but not at the expense of the former. And they are not in there for the victimless "crimes," which I agree should not be illegal ... A lot are there for selling drugs. Maybe forty percent are there for crimes committed to support their drug habit. Many justify their crimes by pointing out how unfair the system is, especially in regards to wealthy and white collar criminals. They claim that everyone commits crimes, it's just that the businessmen know how to get away with it. This may just be sour grapes, but many seem to be utterly convinced of it. Morality is equated in their minds with obviously bogus religious fundamentalism. They just have no conception of a true, humanistic, morality. What does it mean to be told that robbery is a serious crime, when they are also told that viewing pornography is a serious crime? Also, a lot of them had no idea prison would be as bad as it is. The news media have failed to convey just how awful it truly is. There are no simple answers to the crime problem. On the whole, I would say it is up to each individual to not commit crimes (I have little sympathy for those who do commit crimes and then complain of the unpleasantness of the consequences) and to protect himself and his property from crime. I wish more people were armed. Crime has many bad consequences, some of which are obvious, and some of which I hadn't realized before my imprisonment. For instance a crime demands a suspect, and the police get the wrong guy more often than you might suspect. Does a burglar consider the enormous cost to someone of their being held responsible for his crime, when he breaks into a house? Business and employees: The relationship between an *individual* employer and employee is not symmetrical. Employers have, in the past, not only fired employees but tagged them as "troublemakers," ... Similarly, an employee or ex-employee can tag his employer as a trouble spot. There are in fact several companies I would not consider working for, simply because of what people who work there have said about the working conditions. Symmetry. When ... workers started to band together in unions, the coercive powers of business and government ... were used to prevent this. I oppose government coercion just as strongly whether it is exercised on the side of big business (as it frequently was late in the last century) or on the side of big unions (as it frequently is today). In the book ... another explanation for the Great Depression. There are many explanations. I firmly believe the libertarian one. If I see this book in paperback I will buy it. But I doubt he has any evidence that will change my mind. Before 1929, there was a regular crash every 20 to 30 years; they called it the "business cycle." There hasn't been another one since the New Deal. Huh? What about all these random recessions? They don't compare to the 1930s, but then neither did anything before 1929. When unions demanded a fair share of their company's profits, and won them after years of battles, it created the middle class in this country. Well, I am not too familiar with social classes. I try not to think in those terms. But it was my understanding that the working class, as contrasted with the middle class, has been associated with unions. And the large middle class supposedly dates back to the renaissance. We avoided the socialism of Europe because of, not in spite of, our labor unions. Well, this is a classic arguing technique. FOO may be bad, but it prevented BAR which is worse. Didn't the Nazis argue this way with regard to communism? America is getting a lot of enemies thanks to our unfortunate policy of supporting really bad governments simply because they aren't communist. Senator Bill Bradley of NJ recently suggested that fixed wages be scrapped in favor of giving workers some minimal wage plus a share in the company's profits, an idea which I think has much merit. I too think it has much merit. But it should be up to the employer and empolyee, not up to the governmnent. There is a profit sharing plan where I work, in addition to 'fixed' wages. Also, each employee's wages are subject to review and revision once each year, based on his performance, which is another thing unions tend to disaprove of. An AT&T supervisor told me that during the recent AT&T strike, each supervisor was able to do the work of five union employees. The union employees have no incentive to work productively. Unions also tend to oppose automation and other techniques of improving productivity. Even to the extent of mandating 'featherbedding' (compelling companies to pay people for obsolete jobs, for instance having a man to hold the horses at a truck plant, or to operate an automatic elevator). TODAY'S labor unions are, to quote Prof. Lance Davis of Caltech, monopolistic corporations whose product is labor. This does not change their mainly positive contributions to American life. There may have been positive contributions many years ago. What have they done recently? Anything to justify them having a government supported monopoly status to the unquestioned detriment of the rest of the economy? Most government transfer payments, such as Social Security, go to the middle class, ... Right. The average social security recipient is wealthier than the average social security contributer. The government resorts to such subterfuge as 'employer contributions' to make it look like the social security tax rate is 'only' 7.35 percent. Actually, the social security tax rate on the employee's after tax earnings is about 22 percent! The unfunded liability of the social security system is over ten trillion dollars, vastly dwarfing the rest of the national debt. Thanks to creative accounting it doesn't even show up in the national debt at all. But it is very real. To continue to pay current retirees and to pay back everyone who has contributed, while stopping the social security tax, would require ten trillion, that's ten to the thirteenth power, dollars. That's quite a hole FDR threw us into. Ten thousand billion. Ten million million. Ten billion thousand. Equivalent to a billion new cars, ten billion personal computers, a trillion compact discs, ten trillion large bags of peanuts, a quadrillion toothpicks, or a mole (6*10**23) of bits of memory. Of course subsequent generations have made the hole a lot deeper, but that is pretty inevitable with pyramid schemes like this. There might be that much wealth in the world, just barely. But since the social security debt is growing exponentially, that won't be the case much longer. The system has to collapse sooner or later. Hopefully sooner, or objective economists would have to judge that the net worth of the world has gone negative. (Would that mean it would be a net gain to blow it up?) ... your comment about the amount which taxes would drop if social spending were eliminated is true even if welfare is excluded. We have to cut it all at once. Otherwise, recipients under an abolished program would simply be switched to another program. But I am not sure that voluntary contributions would in fact adequately provide for "the 1% who are permanently truly needy and the 2% who are temporarily truly needy." If enough people feel strongly enough that these people deserve handouts, then the needy WILL get enough. If enough people DON'T feel that way, then by what right does OUR government take our money and use it for these programs against our will? This is typical of the trend to treat people as incompetent to manage their own affairs. It is apparently believed either that: 1) The majority do not believe in giving sufficient money to the needy but we (government) are wiser than them and must do what WE choose with THEIR money against their will. or 2) The majority DO believe in giving money to the needy, but will not actually do so without being coerced. "Stop me before I kill again." I'm not sure which is a worse insult to the taxpayers. Being considered a slave, or being considered psychotic. ... another large component of government aid recipients is wives whose husbands recently left them, and who have no job skills and are given custody of the children. Why aren't the fathers paying child support? Consider widows in similar circumstances. Well, this was the original rationale for welfare. But it has grown by orders of magnitude. Very few of the recipients are widows and orphans. Those widows (and widowers) whose spouses left little money and had no life insurance and which have no skills of their own can be supported by voluntary donations. There really aren't that many of them. Most jobs offer life insurance as a fringe benefit, whether you need it or not. And most wives have skills of their own, and have been working outside the home for quite some time. We, as a society, have made the value judgement that such people should not have to sell their homes and cars ... and live in abject poverty ... Whoa! Who is this 'society'? *I* never made any such value judgement. There is an enormous gap between having to sell a house and a car and being in poverty. I own neither house nor car, nor expect to in the forseeable future. Nor have I ever owned either. But I don't consider myself even close to being poor. I vehemently object to being taxed to support people with wealthier lifestyles than me. Government is out of touch with reality, as usual. Reagan often talks of the middle class in such a way that it is clear he means a $40,000 to $100,000 salary range. His recent remark about women not being willing to give up their diamonds (re South Africa sanctions) further illustrates this. Even the opponents of the current administration seem to think that people fall into just two classes - those who sleep on heating grates and those who have $40,000 or more to burn. ... we have decided that tax revenues (which are largely voluntary --it is laughably easy to cheat the IRS) ... Amazing concept. I think that if we are to have taxes at all, they should be fair. Everyone should pay the same proportion of their salary. The fact that taxes and the national debt are higher than they should be becuase some people cheat on their taxes, well, it just isn't right. That's not what's meant by voluntary taxes. You could probably commit murder and not get caught if you were clever about it. That doesn't mean that the murder statutes are optional. I've long wondered, what is the justification for the social security tax being a REGRESSIVE tax, i.e. people with sufficiently high incomes pay a smaller percentage than the rest of us. If you don't have time to watch TV (I don't own one either), I'm surprised you have time to read, or write, diatribes like this one. Perhaps I have time for this BECAUSE I don't watch TV? People have a lot more time than they think. It's all a matter of priorities. An average person can get several college degrees in the time he would normally spend watching TV. Well, I'm not doing that, but I think reading and sending these messages is somewhat more useful than watching television all day. This is the more interesting tube. ...Keith [ Having spent several years in front of both (and books), I find that there is value in TV, you just have to go looking for it -- there's drek on the computer networks too: just read a few days worth of net.singles. As to the assertion that "most of these fathers split to make their wives eligible", I'd like to see some numbers on that. While initially negative about your 'voluntary contribution' assertion, I wonder: every year newspapers have stories about needy families, and these people are virtually buried in contributed food and clothing. Maybe so, maybe so... 'Arming the peasants' is an attractive idea, but the social effects could be staggering. The old slogan "an armed society is a friendly one" may hold, but some inner-city neighborhoods may become literally free-fire zones (those that aren't already, that is). We may bring Beirut to us... Lastly, concerning the assertion made a while back (v6 #25) that selling drugs should be legalized: what penalty (if any) for selling drugs to minors? -CWM] ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Tuesday, 29 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 27 Today's Topics: More than Two Terms & Crime and Punishment (2 msgs) & Employers' and Employees' Rights & Taxation & The New Deal and Banking & Privacy Rights Amendment & Loss of Critical Context vis. South Africa ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Sat, 26 Jul 86 15:52:48 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Third term To: DPH.SWF@OZ.AI.MIT.EDU Cc: KIN%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU, SWA@BORAX.LCS.MIT.EDU Sender: DPH.SWF%OZ.AI.MIT.EDU@XX.LCS.MIT.EDU However, while "Reaganomics" isn't really working, I haven't seen anything from the Democrats that looks any better. Neither of the two major parties has been in touch with reality for decades. I recieved a letter from some clown in Washington that wants to change the constitution so Ronald Reagan can run again in 88. The change would apply only to future presidents, not to Reagan. This isn't exactly the bill of rights that we are talking about. The only-two-terms amendment was enacted in 1947, out of spite after FDR's four terms. I certainly sympathize with that attitude, but I don't think it is right to prevent the people from voting for whoever they want, even if he has happened to have held office for eight years. ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Sat, 26 Jul 86 16:01:55 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Crooks To: fair@UCBARPA.BERKELEY.EDU Cc: KIN%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU From: fair@ucbarpa.berkeley.edu (Erik E. Fair) What is your presumption about people who commit crimes? Are they: to be rehabilitated (this assumes that anti-social acts are acts of individuals who are not completely sane or normal by the standards of the society, but that offenders are potentially useful members of the society at large) to be punished (this assumes that anti-social acts are acts of responsible individuals who choose to be anti-social, and need to be punished [which in itself is also intended as a further deterrent if the offender is ever released from punishment]) By 'crimes' I am excluding victimless crimes, which should not be considered crimes at all. It should be decided by the court on a case by case basis. I think the wrongdoer should be held responsible in the vast majority of cases, even if he is mentally ill. Just because a wrongdoer is responsible does not mean that he is not a potentially useful member of society. And just because a wrongdoer is NOT responsible for his actions does not necessarily mean that he could ever be a potentially useful member of society. Also, I wouldn't equate sane with normal. It is definitely not normal to rape and murder. But does that mean that anyone who does so is automatically absolved from his crimes on the grounds that he must be insane? The Hinckley jury made this mistake, it's a common one. Insane means that the person didn't know what he was doing. It doesn't just mean that he is acting crazy. The traditional legal test for this is the "policeman at the elbow" test. Would the person have done what he did if there was a policeman watching close by? If not, then he is judged to be sane enough to know right from wrong, and thus held responsible. (Of course it is often impossible to answer the policeman-at-the-elbow question, but that is a question of fact, not of law. There is no question that Hinckley, for instance, took pains to hide his actions. He knew perfectly well that the authorities wouldn't approve.) ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < david@rice.edu> Date: Mon, 28 Jul 86 11:56:18 CDT From: David Callahan < david@rice.edu> Subject: Re: rescue and punishment Reply-to: david@dione.UUCP (David Callahan) In article kfl@mx.lcs.mit.edu@mc.lcs.mit.edu writes: > > The rationale for punishment of any kind is to send a message to > the perpetrator which must be taken seriously. > > I am not sure what this means. I see the purposes as: > > 1) Preventing the crook from doing the crime again, at least while > (if) he is locked up. > 2) Deterring him from doing crimes after (if) he is released. > 3) Deterring others from doing crimes. > > The death penalty certainly fulfils all three. > Can you reference any study which establishes that the death penaly deters crime (particularly murder)? This is an often stated defence of capital punishment which is seldom backup up with evidence. david ------------------------------ Return-path: < king@kestrel.ARPA> Date: Mon, 28 Jul 86 09:58:53 pdt From: king@kestrel.ARPA (Dick King) Subject: Welfare, crime, business, unions, and freedom (long) Date: Thu, 24 Jul 86 10:04:13 pdt From: Steve Walton < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> . . . It really is possible to be a victim of circumstance. I admire your success since your release from prison; it doesn't change the fact that there are people who have applied for more than 100 jobs, receiving one interview and no job, and have given up looking. (Actual name of this person can be found on the front page of the July 21 LA Times, which I don't have handy at the moment.) Does seem a bit rough. Er, why did he quit looking? What does he do instead? . . . Business and employees: The relationship between an *individual* employer and employee is not symmetrical. Employers have, in the past, not only fired employees but tagged them as "troublemakers," thus preventing them from getting jobs anywhere else. Employees have, in the past (and present), not only resigned their positions but tagged their former employees as troublemakers. As an example, messages circulated around the net a while ago that a company named EDS was miserable to work for. If you don't have time to watch TV (I don't own one either), I'm surprised you have time to read, or write, diatribes like this one. I have time to do anything that takes less than 168 hours per week. When I, and I presume other people, say "I don't have time to do X", I macroexpand it to "There exist 168 hours of activity per week to which I give higher priority than X". Steve -dick ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Sat, 26 Jul 86 16:11:08 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Taxes To: JBVB@AI.AI.MIT.EDU Cc: KIN%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU From: "James B. VanBokkelen" < JBVB@AI.AI.MIT.EDU> The only prospect for any actual reduction is based on shifting some of the tax burden back to corporations, ... No, taxes can't be swept under the rug. If corporations are taxed more they will simply pass on the cost to consumers in the form of increased prices and to employees in the form of decreased wages and benefits. It doesn't really matter whether all taxes are payed by individuals or by corporations or by any combination. The same amount of money is payed by the same number of people. Actually, it's better that it be payed by individuals for one important reason: People should know what government is costing them. For that reason I oppose such 'painless' taxes as corporate taxes, payroll witholding, employer contributions, seperate sales taxes, property taxes, excise taxes, inheritance taxes, gift taxes, etc, etc. If everyone supposedly agrees that we have the right amount of taxation, or too little, why not simply merge all the taxes into one, and present each individual with a bill for total taxes owed at the end of each year? Preferably, it would be itemized as to how much money was going to pay for each government program. I think if they were to do that, people would start realizing just how much money is being taken from them and would insist on a radical tax cut, like by a factor of two at least. There is really only one choice open to government: Cutting taxes, and, to eliminate the national debt (not just the deficit, i.e. the annual increase in the national debt) cutting spending by an even greater amount. ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < dmw@unh.cs.cmu.edu> Date: Monday, 28 July 1986 10:54:27 EDT From: Hank.Walker@unh.cs.cmu.edu Subject: Stability via New Deal I think it is much more likely that the financial stability since the Depression has been due to changes in the banking and investment industry, rather than the New Deal. In the 1920s you could buy stock on 10% margin. It is now 50%. Banks could also loan money on very low margin. The margins are much higher now. Banks were mostly individual institutions. Now they belong to the Federal Reserve system. There used to be no insurance. There is now federal, state, or private insurance for banks and savings and loans. Notice how there were recently runs on poorly insured banks in financial trouble, while federally insured banks that were also in trouble did not experience runs. ------------------------------ Return-path: < Hoffman.es@Xerox.COM> Date: 28 Jul 86 08:56:29 PDT (Monday) From: Hoffman.es@Xerox.COM Subject: Re: Proposed amendment To: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Cc: KIN%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU, Reges@SU-SCORE.ARPA Cc: JOSH@RED.RUTGERS.EDU I prefer to keep constitutional amendments as simple as possible. How about the following: The United States and no state shall make any law pertaining to private activities of informed, consenting persons. Activities are deemed private unless involving a clear and present danger to uninformed or non-consenting others. This intentionally does not define "informed", "consenting", or "person". I would like to think that our thoughts about these terms are evolving and improving over time. -- Rodney Hoffman ------------------------------ Return-path: < ucsbcsl!uncle@ucbvax.Berkeley.EDU> Date: Sat, 26 Jul 86 20:09:20 pdt From: < ucsbcsl!uncle@ucbvax.Berkeley.EDU> Subject: please-post/re:reaganism/re: loss of critical context point.1 about 1/2 of 1 percent of the US population posesses about 1/3 of the total assests of the US point.2 the governemnt of Mosssadegh in Iran was overthrown by the CIA in the late 40's.; the government of Guatemala (Arbenz) was overthrown by the CIA in 1953; The CIA was involved in the installation of Mobutu in Zaire ; The CIA was involved in the overthrow of Allende (1973) RE: point.2 : Are these implicit precedents of reaganism w.r.t "restoring democracy" ??????? Severing critical context from the public discourse is a Hauptmethedologie and a Hauptziel of reaganism ASSERTION: TOO MUCH POWER IN THE HANDS OF TOO FEW IS BAD. ASSERTION: MONEY ISSSSSS POWER, JUST AS MUCH SO AS THE POLITICAL POWER OF ANY KOMISSAR. See point.1:viz: about 1/2 of 1 perct of the US population controls about 1/3 of the total US assets. TAX "Reform"???? "Flat Tax" = trojan horse II. point.3 Before reagan was president, before he was a racist president, excusing south african racists, before he was a racist governor, before he was a mccarthyite fbi informer, before reagan had even met nancy, the ANC was struggling honorably for justice in south africa!!!! BOIL-DOWN: american mass-journalism (+) american servile-silent academicians foster the severing of critical context from the public discourse; FREEDOM AND JUSTICE do not require or depend upon reaganism, they are ANTIPODAL to reaganism. ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Tuesday, 29 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 28 Today's Topics: Basic Rights & Property rights (2 msgs) & Government and Taxation & Governments and Monopolies ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Sat, 26 Jul 86 16:13:55 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Rights To: silber@P.CS.UIUC.EDU Cc: KIN%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU From: silber@p.CS.UIUC.EDU (Ami A. Silberman) Yes, but what right's do people have, Every possible right, except those that would violate other individual's rights. and do some people have more rights, or different rights, than others do ... No. and do collections, groups, and organizations of people have rights. They have all rights that the individual members do, and no more. This applies to government as well. Government has no rights that individuals do not. ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Sat, 26 Jul 86 16:36:37 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Property rights To: DAB@BORAX.LCS.MIT.EDU Cc: KIN%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU From: dab@BORAX.LCS.MIT.EDU (David A. Bridgham) You do have the escape clause that you would only do this if you expected to get something back of greater value than the future value of the land being destroyed but this is pretty weak. I can't think of a better way to decide how to use the land, can you? The techniques for assigning values to things like the future value of a forest is pretty laughable. Which 'technique' to use is entirely up to the owner of the forest. Actually those techniques bring me back around to my basic dislike for capitalism. You have found a better economic system? Please tell us. It's assumed that the value of something is how much money you can get for it. No it isn't. It is assumed that the value of something is for its owner to decide, by whatever method he chooses. For instance in a socialist country, the government chooses what they consider the most productive use of every bit of land. The tenants of the land (there are no owners except the government) have no choice but to go along with this. But in a capitalist system, if someone owns some forest land, no matter how much someone else wants to use it, they are not compelled to sell it. There is an organization called the Wildlife Conservatory which does just that. Using voluntary donations they have purchased millions of acres of wilderness, and they refuse to sell it to anyone for any reason. No such organization could exist under any system but a capitalist one. Thinking ahead several hundered years just isn't done. If your goal is to succeed in the market place it doesn't make sense to be concerned about that far ahead. Wrong. It is true than no individual expects to own any land for centuries. But he does expect to sell it or to leave it to his children. In any case, he wants it to be worth as much as possible when he gets rid of it. Manhattan real estate has gone from being worth 24 dollars to being worth many billions of dollars, over 360 years. Virtually everyone who invested in Manhattan real estate over those centuries sold it for more than they bought it for. But no individual owned it for the full 360 years. Suppose it was possible to destroy Manhattan real estate. Would anyone have done so? Or would they have preserved it, knowing it was worth more to the next investor that way? It's that goal that I dislike and I dislike it because of how it makes people so short sighted. It is up to each individual to decide how short sighted to be. You keep viewing capitalism through red colored glasses, and you see it as a distorted version of socialism, with a handful of evil capitalists in charge, all wearing top hats and smoking cigars as they decide how to exploit the masses. Nothing could be further from reality. It seems much more likely that the point where humans can no longer survive on this planet will happn before the point where all of nature collapses. Could you explain just how something like this could happen? It seems to me that our standard of living is getting better, not worse. Do you disagree? Or do you agree but think that it will turn around? Please tell me the details. I honestly don't see how we could wipe ourselves out unless there is a nuclear war. This may sound very strange to someone who thinks in old movie cliches, but I firmly believe that people now are living in closer harmony with nature than ever before. And I see very little feedback that would cause us to stop pushing before we get to that point. Feedback is what capitalism is all about. For instance if wilderness is valuable and is becoming more and more valuable, then people will be motivated to invest in it and preserve it. And to make more of it, if possible. The more I think about it the more I understand the Indians perplexity about ownership of land. It's a very strange concept. Land ownership is not only not strange, it is inevitable. If no person or private organization is allowed to own land, it is not NOT owned, rather it is owned by the government. If NOBODY owned a piece of land, presumably it would be ok for anyone to do anything with it. This is clearly NOT what you want. In order for land to be preserved, it must be in someone's interest to do so. You don't come out and say it, but you obviously think that someone should be the government. I don't. ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < dab@BORAX.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Mon, 28 Jul 86 14:25:15 edt From: dab@BORAX.LCS.MIT.EDU (David A. Bridgham) To: KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU Cc: KIN%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU Subject: Property rights Date: Sat, 26 Jul 86 16:36:37 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Suppose it was possible to destroy Manhattan real estate. Would anyone have done so? Or would they have preserved it, knowing it was worth more to the next investor that way? But it was destroyed. This is exactly what I'm talking about. The value of something in a capitalistic system is only that value which can be gotten from it in the market place. The life that used to live there had no free market value and so was swept aside to make room for that which did. You keep viewing capitalism through red colored glasses, and you see it as a distorted version of socialism, with a handful of evil capitalists in charge, all wearing top hats and smoking cigars as they decide how to exploit the masses. Nothing could be further from reality. Nothing could be further from reality. I view capitalism as people fighting it out in the market place (competitively not physically) with their only goal being to succeed in the system. There is no explicit desire to exploit the masses or to destroy the environment, but neither is there any reason not to. It is simply that that is an effective way to win given the system and its definition of winning. Unfortunately I do not have a better economic system to propose. If I did you can be sure that I would have let you know about it by now. So I am not proposing abandoning capitalism just yet; I don't have anything to replace it with. I'm just pointing out the problems with this system as I see them. Do you really believe that capitalism is the ultimate economic system? There can be no better? I'm not being sarcastic. I have a friend who has said just that to me before, and meant it. It seems much more likely that the point where humans can no longer survive on this planet will happn before the point where all of nature collapses. Could you explain just how something like this could happen? It seems to me that our standard of living is getting better, not worse. Do you disagree? Or do you agree but think that it will turn around? Please tell me the details. I honestly don't see how we could wipe ourselves out unless there is a nuclear war. I agree (mostly) but I think it will turn around. Actually, I think that nuclear war is one of the less likely ways in which we'll lose in a global sense. While it would be hideously destructive, I think humans would end up surviving, as a species not as individuals, with a very high probability. Much more likely is that we pollute the earth so bad that it can no longer support us. Lack of potable water is already a serious problem in many places and the water table is dropping steadily in others. Relying on a very few highly hybridized strains of food crops has a high potential for lossage due to epidemic, although I can't see this one thing doing us all in. But apparently the same problem exists in some animals and right now there is such a disease hitting many of the chickens on the east coast. In truth, I don't see the whole human race being eradicated by any of these. I do see the population being drastically and forceably reduced. When it happens, it will not be a pleasant time and people's standard of living will certainly get worse. This may sound very strange to someone who thinks in old movie cliches, but I firmly believe that people now are living in closer harmony with nature than ever before. Name calling? Sigh. You're right though, it does sound strange. Milk comes from a cardboard carton, meat is just food you buy at the store not the flesh of a once living animal (and most people can make no sense at all of the suggestion that plants are the same way), the call of the loon is considered haunting, and the whistling of a snipe's tail feathers is described as eerie. Land ownership is not only not strange, it is inevitable. If no person or private organization is allowed to own land, it is not NOT owned, rather it is owned by the government. If NOBODY owned a piece of land, presumably it would be ok for anyone to do anything with it. This is clearly NOT what you want. In order for land to be preserved, it must be in someone's interest to do so. You don't come out and say it, but you obviously think that someone should be the government. I don't. ...Keith That is obvious only to you my friend. I don't come out and say it because I don't believe it. I don't trust the government to do *anything* right. Dave ------------------------------ Return-path: < TESTA-J%OSU-20@ohio-state.ARPA> Date: Mon 28 Jul 86 14:53:45-EDT From: ~joe testa~ < TESTA-J%OSU-20@ohio-state.ARPA> Subject: Governments Keith F. Lynch writes: > Remeber that governments can't really provide anything. No > government has anything to provide. What governments CAN do is take > things from some individuals and give them to others. No government > can make the world a better place, all they can do is redistribute > what's already there. I don't know about this -- i thought i remember you stating earlier (though it could have been someone else) that the libertarians believe that one of the functions of government should be to prevent people from infringing on other people's rights. Well, to do this, a government has to provide some sort of judicial system, since not all members of the society will voluntarily respect each others rights. This is bound to make (at least part of) the world a better place. Then there is the question of how one manages to establish this judicial system. It will take money. But, you object to taxation as "robbery". But where should the government get the money to fund a judicial system? Certainly the concept of "user's fees" cannot apply here, since justice should be available to everyone, not just those with money. Is it not reasonable that, in exchange for a justice system designed to protect everyone, that some form of taxation be used to support it? I just got in in the middle of this doscussion, so i apologize if i'm repeating something discussed earlier. -joe testa testa-j%osu-20@ohio-state.arpa ------------------------------ Return-path: < Mills.Multics@MIT-MULTICS.ARPA> Date: Tue, 29 Jul 86 00:23 EDT From: Mills@MIT-MULTICS.ARPA Subject: Re: Government mandated monopolies From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> One of the main points that opponents of pure capitalism often make is that without government, there would be nothing to prevent monopolies from forming and driving up prices and reducing quality. Well, they are certainly correct that monopolies drive up prices. And that they reduce quality. BUT THE ONLY WAY MONOPOLIES CAN EXIST IS IF GOVERNMENT MANDATES IT. [emphasis added by John Mills] WRONG. Monopolies can and would form under PURE capitalism. That is why we have anti-trust laws. Once a large, wealthy person or business controls most of a market, it is relatively easy to keep your current market share and get most of the rest. This can be positive if they use their profits to do more R&D than anyone and provide the most price-performant products. It can also be bad if they simply buy out the competition, sell products at a loss until there competition goes under, or any number of other UNFAIR business practices. In my opinion there would only be one computer company in the U.S. if not the world if it were not for the U.S. anti-trust laws. John Mills ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Tuesday, 29 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 29 Today's Topics: Medical Care & Property Rights (2 msgs) & SDI and Technological "Solutions" ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Sat, 26 Jul 86 16:47:46 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Medical care To: JBVB@AI.AI.MIT.EDU Cc: KIN%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU From: "James B. VanBokkelen" < JBVB@AI.AI.MIT.EDU> If somebody doesn't adjust our spending to match our income (whichever way) we will leave our children with a debt problem they will curse us for. Right. But there is only one way it can be done. Hint: It ISN'T by raising taxes. ... what is so evil about socialized medicine? If the government pays for everyone's medical care, then they clearly have a financial interest in improving people's health, even against their will. This is a good justification for laws against drugs and sex. I do not think there should be any such justification. And I do not think that taxpayers should bail someone out if they do make themselves ill. No money is really saved. Assuming medical care costs no more when payed for by the government (unlikely) people are paying the same amount as always. On the average. Those who stay healthy by living prudently would end up paying more. Those who live only for today and don't take care of themselves would end up paying less. Is this fair? Is it fair to doctors to have only one employer? Shouldn't doctors be free to make arrangements with patients without government approval? If government pays for something: 1) The price skyrockets. Government really has no control. Doctors say 'it costs this much' what are they going to do? Only competition can keep prices down. 2) Competitors (if allowed at all) go out of business. How can they compete against someone offering 'free' service? 3) The level of service goes down. Once again, only competition can keep this up. 4) The level of convenience goes down. Once again, only competition can keep this up. 5) Trivial usage goes up. Why not see the doctor more often, if it's free? It costs more to everyone in the long run of course, but the incremental cost to you is negligible. Besides, everyone else is doing it. Why should you pay and get none of the benefits? Private health insurance is essentially mandatory, unless you want to be thrown out of emergency rooms. No it isn't. I am medically insured through my employer, but I would prefer not to be. In the six years I have been working there, my total medical costs have been zero. Before working there, I did have to go to an emergency room when I cut my arm and needed stitches. The total costs were under $200. With private insurance, at least you can shop around. Insurers are motivated by competition to keep costs down and services and convenience up. This wouldn't apply to government of course. I dread getting sick in a medical system that is run like a city public bus system. ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < @MC.LCS.MIT.EDU:KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Sat, 26 Jul 86 17:01:12 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Subject: Property rights To: JBVB@AI.AI.MIT.EDU Cc: KIN%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU From: "James B. VanBokkelen" < JBVB@AI.AI.MIT.EDU> You don't want big corporations throwing their weight around, like arranging their rates so their competitors get undercut where they have competition, and their customers get raped where they don't. I would prefer that they don't, just as I would prefer that people don't smoke and use dangerous drugs. But I don't think that *I* should have veto power over behavior I don't like. You do want a land-owner to be able to do *anything* he wants with his property, even to destroying all life on it. Who else should be allowed to decide? Who should have veto power over the landowner's decisions? THese come into conflict. I would like to see less smoking. A ban on tobacco advertising would certainly do this. So I would be pleased such a ban. But I oppose the ban. Yes, there is a conflict. Truly supporting freedom of speech means supporting it even when the speaker is saying something uttely vile. Similarly, truly supporting individual rights including property rights (and can there be any rights without property rights?) means supporting the right of a landowner to do things I don't like with his land. Please understand that there is an enormous difference between supporting a right and agreeing with how an individual chooses to excercise it. There is an enormous difference between disapproving of a behavior and supporting a law against it. Reader's Digest refuses to allow tobacco advertisements. I applaud this exercise of their rights. And I buy their magazine every month partly to show my support. If they had instead chosen to ban advertisements by any minority owned firm I would be dismayed, and would refuse to buy the magazine, and would advocate a boycott. But I would support their RIGHT in EITHER case. You are free to boycott dealing with someone whose conduct you find reprehensible. You are free to try to talk others into also boycotting the individual or the corporation. Suppose Nelson Bunker Hunt had succeeded, and succeeded with gold or platinum instead of silver. He then owns almost *all* of it in the world. Not likely. The more he owned, the more the remainder would cost. Other investors would notice, and would buy and would refuse to sell. He was not trying to own ALL the silver. He only wanted to own a sufficient percentage of it that its price would go up by a few percent. Then he would quickly sell it at the higher price. He was very wealthy, but not even he could afford to buy several percent of the silver in the world. He borrowed enormous amounts of money to do so. This is a risky game. It depends on being able to outguess the other investors. He played it and lost. The price went up more slowly than he thought when he bought the silver. The price went down more quickly then he thought when he sold it. What is the alternative to allowing people to play this game? Do you advocate nobody but the government being allowed to own silver? Seems to me that policy simply trades the remote possibility of a partial monopoly for the certainty of a (government) monopoly. And does so at the expense of individual liberties. I fail to see the sense in that. ...Keith ------------------------------ Return-path: < dab@BORAX.LCS.MIT.EDU> Date: Mon, 28 Jul 86 14:29:13 edt From: dab@BORAX.LCS.MIT.EDU (David A. Bridgham) To: KFL@MX.LCS.MIT.EDU Cc: KIN Subject: Property rights Date: Sat, 26 Jul 86 16:36:37 EDT From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> Suppose it was possible to destroy Manhattan real estate. Would anyone have done so? Or would they have preserved it, knowing it was worth more to the next investor that way? But it was destroyed. This is exactly what I'm talking about. The value of something in a capitalistic system is only that value which can be gotten from it in the market place. The life that used to live there had no free market value and so was swept aside to make room for that which did. You keep viewing capitalism through red colored glasses, and you see it as a distorted version of socialism, with a handful of evil capitalists in charge, all wearing top hats and smoking cigars as they decide how to exploit the masses. Nothing could be further from reality. Nothing could be further from reality. I view capitalism as people fighting it out in the market place (competitively not physically) with their only goal being to succeed in the system. There is no explicit desire to exploit the masses or to destroy the environment, but neither is there any reason not to. It is simply that that is an effective way to win given the system and its definition of winning. Unfortunately I do not have a better economic system to propose. If I did you can be sure that I would have let you know about it by now. So I am not proposing abandoning capitalism just yet; I don't have anything to replace it with. I'm just pointing out the problems with this system as I see them. Do you really believe that capitalism is the ultimate economic system? There can be no better? I'm not being sarcastic. I have a friend who has said just that to me before, and meant it. It seems much more likely that the point where humans can no longer survive on this planet will happn before the point where all of nature collapses. Could you explain just how something like this could happen? It seems to me that our standard of living is getting better, not worse. Do you disagree? Or do you agree but think that it will turn around? Please tell me the details. I honestly don't see how we could wipe ourselves out unless there is a nuclear war. I agree (mostly) but I think it will turn around. Actually, I think that nuclear war is one of the less likely ways in which we'll lose in a global sense. While it would be hideously destructive, I think humans would end up surviving, as a species not as individuals, with a very high probability. Much more likely is that we pollute the earth so bad that it can no longer support us. Lack of potable water is already a serious problem in many places and the water table is dropping steadily in others. Relying on a very few highly hybridized strains of food crops has a high potential for lossage due to epidemic, although I can't see this one thing doing us all in. But apparently the same problem exists in some animals and right now there is such a disease hitting many of the chickens on the east coast. In truth, I don't see the whole human race being eradicated by any of these. I do see the population being drastically and forceably reduced. When it happens, it will not be a pleasant time and people's standard of living will certainly get worse. This may sound very strange to someone who thinks in old movie cliches, but I firmly believe that people now are living in closer harmony with nature than ever before. Name calling? Sigh. You're right though, it does sound strange. Milk comes from a cardboard carton, meat is just food you buy at the store not the flesh of a once living animal (and most people can make no sense at all of the suggestion that plants are the same way), the call of the loon is considered haunting, and the whistling of a snipe's tail feathers is described as eerie. Land ownership is not only not strange, it is inevitable. If no person or private organization is allowed to own land, it is not NOT owned, rather it is owned by the government. If NOBODY owned a piece of land, presumably it would be ok for anyone to do anything with it. This is clearly NOT what you want. In order for land to be preserved, it must be in someone's interest to do so. You don't come out and say it, but you obviously think that someone should be the government. I don't. ...Keith That is obvious only to you my friend. I don't come out and say it because I don't believe it. I don't trust the government to do *anything* right. Dave ------------------------------ Return-path: < TESTA-J%OSU-20@ohio-state.ARPA> Date: Mon 28 Jul 86 15:06:21-EDT From: ~joe testa~ < TESTA-J%OSU-20@ohio-state.ARPA> Subject: SDI and technological "solutions" Clayton Cramer writes: > What bothers me most about the opposition to SDI (whose value as a > system is completely separate from the advisability of building it), > is the desire to solve an essentially POLITICAL problem with MORE > POLITICS. It is, indeed, "much better to simply prevent the missles > from ever being fired", but that is rather like saying "it is much > better to simply prevent bad things from happening". The unavoidably > adversarial nature of free societies and the Soviet Union make it > impossible for sufficient trust to be developed in both directions > that nuclear weapons can go away. > > Why do some people have more trust in TECHNICAL solutions than > POLITICAL solutions? Because TECHNICAL solutions require no trust of > the Soviet Union, something likely to change over time in > unpredictable ways. IF a technical solution can be developed, it > doesn't require trust of the good intentions of the Soviet Union -- > something that many people in this country manage to delude > themselves about, time and time again. The problem here is that a technical "solution" is not a solution in the same sense that y=cos xt is a solution to a wave equation. Like trust in the Soviet Union, the PROBLEM to be solved will certainly change over time. In attacking a problem of human vs. nature, a technological solution can be determined to "work" since nature (at least at the most fundamental level) does not change over time -- but in a problem of human vs. human, no technological solution can be final since the other side will just think up new ways to sabotage the other's solution. When the problem is military, this leads to a faster and faster arms race. A political solution doesn't "require trust of the good intentions of the Soviet Union". We can still come to a political "solution" even if we decide that the Soviets are scum with the worst possible intentions. As long as they do not ACT to violate the terms of a treaty, there will be no danger to the US if the treaty was thought out carefully enough. -joe testa testa-j%osu-20.ohio-state.arpa ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************
Poli-Sci Digest Tuesday, 29 Jul 1986 Volume 6 : Issue 30 Today's Topics: Monopolies & The Post Office and the Free Market & Libetarianism & Alex Cockburn and The Nation ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Return-path: < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> Date: Mon, 28 Jul 86 11:41:34 pdt From: Steve Walton < ametek!walton@csvax.caltech.edu> Subject: Monopolies (I know I said I didn't have time, but I can't resist replying to this, from Poli-Sci V26 #3). Keith Lynch writes: Right. It was said that the long distance phone rates were high because rural customers were being subsidized by urban customers. And that if competing long distance firms were to be allowed, that rural rates would hit the ceiling. Well, rival carriers WERE finally allowed, and rural rates have gone DOWN, as have urban rates. AT&T discovered that they COULD lower their rates, if they needed to to stay in business. Wrong. Long distance phone rates were being used to subsidize local service for everyone, urban and rural. The difficulty was that said high long distance rates were primarily being paid by businesses who discovered that they could set up their own, private, long distance service. Now, local rates are going up, deprived of their subsidy. I don't know about anyone else, but my phone bill is in fact higher than it was, because the decrease in the cost of my long distance doesn't make up for the increase in the cost of my local service. I just paid $37.50 to have my phone service moved to my new address; that used to be free (in the sense of being included in my basic monthly service, which is some $10 per month). Now if only they would allow competing LOCAL phone companies! There used to be such. But it wasn't very good. Can you imagine the VHS vs. Beta vs. 8mm video competition extended to telephone service? You fail to take account of the (admittedly few) cases where a given course of action benefits everyone, but in a way which is so diffuse that no one person benefits enough to make it cost-effective for them to take the action first. To draw an analogy, clearly the motorists on the LA freeways (where I live) would be better off if they car-pooled. Even if they each found only 1 other person with whom they ride-shared once a week, it would reduce the number of cars on the road by 20%, which would eliminate rush-hour traffic jams (evidence: a decrease of 4% during the Olympics eliminated most of them.) But, if only a few people car pool, they give up the freedom of choosing the time they arrive, the time they leave, and where to go for lunch, AND do not benefit from a reduction in the number of cars on the road, because it isn't large enough to make a difference. So no one car pools. One of the main points that opponents of pure capitalism often make is that without government, there would be nothing to prevent monopolies from forming and driving up prices and reducing quality. Well, they are certainly correct that monopolies drive up prices. And that they reduce quality. But the only way monopolies can exist is if government mandates it. Not true. Telephone and electric power are two examples of what economists call "natural monopolies." They are called that because, based on the available empirical evidence, it is always possible for the largest company to offer the cheapest service. In most industries, a given firm has a natural size, namely the one which minimizes its cost of providing its goods or services, and that size is such as to allow several competitors. If the size of the company increases, its costs either remain the same or actually go up. This doesn't appear to happen with telephone or electric service, hence the term "natural monopoly," because the largest company can ALWAYS undercut its competitors' prices, drive them out of business, and then raise prices to monopoly levels. In the 19th century, many railroads had a monopoly over their service area, since the government gave them land for free and forbid any other railroad from operating in the area. It is ironic that the resulting bogus price structure was blamed on capitalism, rather than on government interference. I know of no reputable economist who disputes the fact that the Interstate Commerce Commission was responsible for said "bogus price structure." People who believe otherwise cannot prove their case. Today, most areas have monopolies in local phone service, electric power, and water. There are a few places with competing phone service and/or competing power service, and the prices for those services is generally much lower than where they are a monopoly. Name one. I believe you give too much credit to the enemies of capitalism, and that you do capitalism a disservice by refusing to admit that while it is the best possible economic system, it is not perfect. The latest Time magazine documents the fact that capitalism seems to be spreading in the Third World; they've tried the Soviet centrally-planned model and found it just doesn't work. To which I shout, "Wonderful! GREAT!" But let's not ignore a few flaws, such as the natural monopolies described above, flaws to which I see no remedy other than government intervention in the market. Steve Walton ------------------------------ Return-path: < Mills.Multics@MIT-MULTICS.ARPA> Date: Tue, 29 Jul 86 00:18 EDT From: Mills@MIT-MULTICS.ARPA Subject: Re: Why the post office exists. From: Jim Aspnes < asp@ATHENA.MIT.EDU> The US Post Office exists, and (used to) lose money, because they will deliver a first-class letter anywhere in the United States for a nominal fee. No private mail company has ever claimed that it could provide the same universality of service at the same price as USPS. From: "Keith F. Lynch" < KFL%MX.LCS.MIT.EDU@MC.LCS.MIT.EDU> I think someone choosing to live outside the city should suffer (and enjoy) all the consequences of doing so. I don't see any reason why some customers should subsidize others. Or why taxpayers should subsidize either group. I think free enterprise methods should be used whenever possible in our country. When the government wants ANYTHING, goods or services, it should be put out for bid. If cost leveling to different users is a desired part of the service, then that should be part of the specification companies bid on. REAL open competition does tend to produce efficient solutions to specific problems. Only when free-enterprise fails to provide the desired result at an acceptable cost should the government go into the business. I think the U. S. Postal System is a good example of this. I believe that we have a consensus that having a simple communication system that is of similar ease of use and cost to most people is of a high value to the country. What if the level of service, start-up and maintenance costs and revenue are such that no business or corporation is interested? Is it valid for the government to require people to bear the costs of such a project? If the government has to take on the project, is it reasonable to restrict the actions of others that will make the result more expensive? An example of of this is restricting private mail companies that skim off the more profitable mail business near the cites letting the post office do the expensive part in rural areas. The question of requiring people to bear the costs is easy. If there is a real consensus that the project is a good thing, there will be little objection to forking over the money for it. You get into problems when people perceive they are paying more than their fair share or they don't agree with the project in the first place. By being citizens of a particular country/government, we have agreed to a particular method of figuring how much an individual should have to pay and how that money is distributed. If you don't like it you can have protests, try to elect candidates who agree with you... The question of restricting competition is harder. One hybrid solution might be to open the profitable parts to free-enterprise, with the government taking a cut of the the profits. I feel this would be fair to the companies, as they are not providing the full range of services, but are increasing the cost of those services. If the company would provide the full range of services, then they should be allowed to compete without special charges. John Mills ------------------------------ Return-path: < SAPPHO@SRI-NIC.ARPA> Date: Tue 29 Jul 86 00:05:45-PDT From: Lynn Gazis < SAPPHO@SRI-NIC.ARPA> Subject: libetarianism Several comments on the discussion of libertarianism, in no particular order: 1. I think most of the people who receive government assistance only do so for short periods of time while they are down on their luck. But it is not only people who are not "fundamentally dishonest" and who want to "sit around watching TV all day" who won't want to get a job if the government pays more for welfare than they can make at a job. I would have to value self-sufficiency very highly indeed to leave my (hypothetical) children to be cared for by someone else in order to go out and make money so that they can be less well fed and clothed and lose the free medical care they are getting. I also think that, whether a government or a private organization is assisting people who are down and out, there are ways of helping that are more likely to encourage independence and ways which encourage dependence, so it is not just a choice between giving people a handout and encouraging them to work. 2. Saying that "society" is to some extent responsible for crime means that "society" can somehow alter its behavior to make crime less frequent, and that it ought to do so. I can think of many social policies, some of them contradictory and some of them not worth the cost in personal freedom, which people justify on grounds that they reduce crime, so I don't think this idea implies any particular government policy. It just means that I should think about how my actions (including the laws I support and the policies I support in the organizations I join) encourage or discourage crime, even if I am not myself a criminal. If there are ways of reducing crime which are more effective than heavy punishments for the criminals, then we should try them (provided the cost in personal liberty is not too high). 3. Based on my experience three years ago trying to find a way to live on $350 a month (doable even in the Bay Area if you find a good share, but lots of competition for those shares), I do not believe that it is possible to live indoors and buy food (let alone medical care) for $200 a month, even with shared housing and cheap food. 4. I would also like to hold people who take drugs and alcohol fully responsible for their actions while intoxicated without punishing them for just getting drunk or high, but I don't find Keith's analogy about dropping bricks very persuasive. I think people should be punished for doing things which are sufficiently dangerous to other people (such as drinking and driving or reckless driving), even if they have not actually hurt someone. If they are not, then a lot of people will do these things thinking that they won't be the ones to have an accident, and they will kill and maim a certain number of other people. I do not think they have the right to risk my life in this way, and so I would like to give them a consistent punishment whenever they threaten people, because that is more likely to stop them than a punishment which only affects some of them. 5. What was the difference between the crashes that occurred every 10 to 20 years before the Great Depression and the several recessions we have had since? 6. Anyone who gives up looking for work after applying to 100 companies and getting one interview has unrealistic expectations of the job market and is not persistent enough. I sent out hundreds of resumes and cover letters, asked every friend I could think of about openings at their companies, called companies, went to several employment agencies, and had several interviews before I found the job I have now. It took a year. I am sure it isn't unusual for people to have to apply for over a hundred jobs to find one. It is useful to have some safety net to support people while they are looking, but I don't approve of someone's giving up that easily. 7. I don't agree that taxes are "largely voluntary" just because people who are sufficiently dishonest and are willing to risk the penalty if they are caught can avoid paying them. If Steve thinks they are OK because they are "largely voluntary", then he should support making them completely voluntary. If not, then he shouldn't use that argument to support the current system. 8. Keith, what would you do about people who are needy because of past injustices of the government. Is it wrong for the government to compensate them, since it has to take money from everyone to do so? 9. What ought the government to do in the way of protecting children? They should not be completely at the mercy of their parents, but all kinds of excessive restrictions on people's freedom are justified in the name of protecting children. 10. Keith, not everyone agrees that government interference caused the Great Depression. So, if you want to use that as an argument, could you either sum up why you think this is so or give a pointer to some explanation. I think I remember having read an argument to that effect in The Incredible Bread Machine, but I don't remember it and have misplaced my copy. Am I remembering the right book, or do you have a better book to suggest? I have some disagreement with Keith in my general principles, but I will discuss that in another message. Lynn Gazis sappho@sri-nic ------------------------------ Return-path: < cramer@SUN.COM> Date: Mon, 28 Jul 86 20:41:25 PDT From: cramer@SUN.COM (Sam Cramer) Subject: Re: Press Censorship - West : the subtle heavy-hand Reply-to: cramer@sun.UUCP (Sam Cramer) In article campbell%maynard.UUCP@harvisr.harvard.edu writes: > His name is Alexander Cockburn, and he is one of the most trenchant > commentators on the political scene today. The very same Mr. Cockburn who is fond of decrying the influence of the evil capitalist system on journalism was fired from his post at the Village Voice a while back. It seems that Mr. Trenchant concealed the fact that he was under hire by a pro-Arab organization for "research" that was to end in publication. > The Nation is a must-read, > not only for Cockburn's wonderful biweekly column, entitled "Beat the > Devil", but for the best investigative and political reporting I've > ever seen on either end of the political spectrum. Don't miss it! Yes, the Nation is a must read, if you go in for chic anti-semitism. Gore Vidal's blatantly anti-semitic piece in the recent anniversary edition of the Nation was, without a doubt, the most vitriolic piece of Jew-hatred to appear in the "legitimate" press in the past decade. It's no surprise that such a stellar journalist find a home at such an august journal... And it is similarly unremarkable that folks who believe in an oxymoronic and non-existent "subtle heavy-hand" of press censorship (in a country in which plans for the hydrogen bomb have been published!) enjoy such rubbish. ------------------------------ End of Poli-Sci Digest **********************