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TheJoker
14-12-2008, 01:05 AM
Most of the arguement in the politics section revolves around the role of government and personal freedom. A what sort of public policy will result in the greater well-being of the citizens.

Until recently I had an under-developed concept of freedom/liberty, much like some of the right libertarians on the BB. The work of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has helped me develop a better understanding of freedom and welfare.

I found the article on the web that provides a nice brief summary of Amartya Sen's approach. I be interested to hear any criticisms of this approach:

http://www.wku.edu/~jan.garrett/ethics/senethic.htm

Kevin Bonham
14-12-2008, 01:18 AM
Until recently I had an under-developed concept of freedom/liberty, much like some of the right libertarians on the BB.

I haven't noticed any right-libertarians here at all. I have noticed a couple of posters who appear to be socially-conservative capitalists (or something like that) though (Jono and Igor Goldenberg).


As a libertarian what do you believe are more important positive freedoms or negative freedoms?

I am not a libertarian. However I do not know of any libertarian who believes positive freedoms are more important than, or even as important as, negative freedoms. The problem for the true libertarians is that for any so-called "positive freedom" the question lurking in the corner is "who pays?" - positive freedom is obtained only at the expense of negative.


Also what do you think of Amartya Sen's capabilties approach?

I think the vague and open-ended nature of the question of what capabilities will be valued (and how these values will be weighted) not only makes assessment based upon it highly subjective but also makes it susceptible to being used to promote a needlessly long list of capabilities some of which might not actually deserve State support. (I have the same problem with bill of rights proposals that include positive rights.)

There is also the question of what you do when an adult individual persists in freely destroying their own capabilities - do you respect that decision or do you get paternalistic to ensure that they are "forced to be free" (to quote a Kanteanism that I personally find very nauseating)? I abhor state paternalism towards adults in general, except in cases of what I call "flippant autonomy" (as an example of the latter I have no problem with the State forcing people to wear seatbelts for their own good.)

Nonetheless the capability approach seems quite a good conceptual model for how I think the State should approach and measure the success of education and child welfare. The whole issue of childhood is a big black hole in classical economic libertarianism which can easily slip into the trap of treating children as the property of their parents to be indoctrinated and raised as their parents see fit. This can result in children having a lot of options closed off for them before they are old enough to know any better, and can be extremely detrimental. I like the basic idea that the State should ensure children are given the skills and knowledge to have their adult options open.

TheJoker
14-12-2008, 01:18 AM
I am not a libertarian. However I do not know of any libertarian who believes positive freedoms are more important than, or even as important as, negative freedoms. The problem for the true libertarians is that for any so-called "positive freedom" the question lurking in the corner is "who pays?" - positive freedom is obtained only at the expense of negative.



I think the vague and open-ended nature of the question of what capabilities will be valued (and how these values will be weighted) not only makes assessment based upon it highly subjective but also makes it susceptible to being used to promote a needlessly long list of capabilities some of which might not actually deserve State support. (I have the same problem with bill of rights proposals that include positive rights.)

There is also the question of what you do when an adult individual persists in freely destroying their own capabilities - do you respect that decision or do you get paternalistic to ensure that they are "forced to be free" (to quote a Kanteanism that I personally find very nauseating)? I abhor state paternalism towards adults in general, except in cases of what I call "flippant autonomy" (as an example of the latter I have no problem with the State forcing people to wear seatbelts for their own good.)

Nonetheless the capability approach seems quite a good conceptual model for how I think the State should approach and measure the success of education and child welfare. The whole issue of childhood is a big black hole in classical economic libertarianism which can easily slip into the trap of treating children as the property of their parents to be indoctrinated and raised as their parents see fit. This can result in children having a lot of options closed off for them before they are old enough to know any better, and can be extremely detrimental. I like the basic idea that the State should ensure children are given the skills and knowledge to have their adult options open.

Kevin

Thanks for the interesting reponse. Btw I started a new thread since this seemed a little of topic perhaps you could move the posts over to that thread. I agree with most of your criticisms.

However I might add that negative freedoms see to also be limited concept. Negative freedoms can often be hollow in that all though I am free from outside interference, I dont have the means to make an actual choice.

Kevin Bonham
14-12-2008, 01:25 AM
However I might add that negative freedoms see to also be limited concept. Negative freedoms can often be hollow in that all though I am free from outside interference, I dont have the means to make an actual choice.

I agree with this to a degree and that is one of the reasons why I support a basic welfare net including almost unconditional unemployment benefits. But beyond my comments about education above, and this idea that the State should try to provide the most basic financial security for all who want it, I'm not sure how much further I'm inclined to take it.

TheJoker
14-12-2008, 01:36 AM
I think the vague and open-ended nature of the question of what capabilities will be valued (and how these values will be weighted) not only makes assessment based upon it highly subjective but also makes it susceptible to being used to promote a needlessly long list of capabilities some of which might not actually deserve State support. (I have the same problem with bill of rights proposals that include positive rights.)

Yes that does seem to be a valid concern, Sen originally had five essential capabilities, that has already been expanded to ten by Nussbaum.

TheJoker
14-12-2008, 01:40 AM
I agree with this to a degree and that is one of the reasons why I support a basic welfare net including almost unconditional unemployment benefits. But beyond my comments about education above, and this idea that the State should try to provide the most basic financial security for all who want it, I'm not sure how much further I'm inclined to take it.


What about healthcare where the spillover benefits often exceeds the costs of the free-rider problem?

Capablanca-Fan
14-12-2008, 01:46 AM
I haven't noticed any right-libertarians here at all. I have noticed a couple of posters who appear to be socially-conservative capitalists (or something like that) though (Jono and Igor Goldenberg).
Probably a reasonable description (of me anyway; Igor can certainly speak for himself).

The LDP would probably be left-libertarians by your definition. They seem quite rare though. In America there are people who demand that the GOP shift direction to attact the socially liberal fiscal conservatives, but there are hardly any of those.


I agree with this to a degree and that is one of the reasons why I support a basic welfare net including almost unconditional unemployment benefits.
The LDP supports that (http://ldp.org.au/federal/policies/tax.html) (as did Milton Friedman), in such a way that a beneficiary is always significantly better off with any paid work, unlike the current system.


(I have the same problem with bill of rights proposals that include positive rights.)
Chairman KRudd's government seems determined to foist this crap on Australia.


There is also the question of what you do when an adult individual persists in freely destroying their own capabilities — do you respect that decision or do you get paternalistic to ensure that they are "forced to be free" (to quote a Kanteanism that I personally find very nauseating)?
A bit like the mandatory volunteerism favoured by Comrade Obamov.


I abhor state paternalism towards adults in general, except in cases of what I call "flippant autonomy" (as an example of the latter I have no problem with the State forcing people to wear seatbelts for their own good.)
OK, but what about airbags, bike helmets? I'm not especially ancient, but I cycled without a helmet in my misspent childhood and rode in cars without seatbelts. Then we have banning trans fats ...


Nonetheless the capability approach seems quite a good conceptual model for how I think the State should approach and measure the success of education and child welfare. The whole issue of childhood is a big black hole in classical economic libertarianism which can easily slip into the trap of treating children as the property of their parents to be indoctrinated and raised as their parents see fit. This can result in children having a lot of options closed off for them before they are old enough to know any better, and can be extremely detrimental. I like the basic idea that the State should ensure children are given the skills and knowledge to have their adult options open.
Who says the State knows better than parents? Look at the way the State educracy has dumbed down education, so kids leave school without knowing how to read or write or add up. That's what closes off options. And the KRudd government is developing a curriculum to indoctrinate Australian kids into the leftist PC groupthink.

Kevin Bonham
14-12-2008, 02:04 AM
What about healthcare where the spillover benefits often exceeds the costs of the free-rider problem?

Means-tested healthcare along the lines of Medicare is fine by me - not so much from a cost-benefit angle as from an avoiding-very-bad-outcomes angle (eg all the negative freedom in the world is not much use to you if you're not that rich and have very expensive health problems - and I'm not convinced private health insurance is a viable solution).


The LDP would probably be left-libertarians by your definition.

Well they are certainly to the left of Ayn Rand economically. :lol:

(Rand rejected the libertarian label but is the archetype of a right-libertarian in my classification.)


The LDP supports that (as did Milton Friedman), in such a way that a beneficiary is always significantly better off with any paid work, unlike the current system.

They do but as I have previously discussed their version is much too stingy and very few people could live on it alone with any real quality of life.


A bit like the mandatory volunteerism favoured by Comrade Obamov.

What has he proposed in this light?


OK, but what about airbags, bike helmets? I'm not especially ancient, but I cycled without a helmet in my misspent childhood and rode in cars without seatbelts. Then we have banning trans fats ...

There's probably some level at which a good solution would be that if someone really wants to do themselves serious harm with no evident benefit apart from laziness or extreme cost-cutting, they can do it if they waive the right to state health care should they injure themselves.

Think when I road a bike as a child helmets weren't even an issue.


Who says the State knows better than parents? Look at the way the State educracy has dumbed down education, so kids leave school without knowing how to read or write or add up. That's what closes off options. And the KRudd government is developing a curriculum to indoctrinate Australian kids into the leftist PC groupthink.

I'm talking about what the State should do, not necessarily about what it does. And I'm talking about the responsibility of the State to ensure that children are protected from miseducation and shutting down of capabilities by the bad end of the parent spectrum (the incompetents and the extremist indoctrinators, primarily).

Capablanca-Fan
14-12-2008, 03:02 PM
They do but as I have previously discussed their version is much too stingy and very few people could live on it alone with any real quality of life.
But their costs would likely come down, private charities are more likely to increase since donors have less money confiscated from the government. And most importantly, there is a real incentive to obtain paid work under the LDP system as opposed to the bullying Centrelink bureaucracy.


There's probably some level at which a good solution would be that if someone really wants to do themselves serious harm with no evident benefit apart from laziness or extreme cost-cutting, they can do it if they waive the right to state health care should they injure themselves.
Yes, that's fair. Or else they insure themselves, if they can afford the premium.


Think when I road a bike as a child helmets weren't even an issue.
One wonders if they even make riding safer overall. There is a "homeostasis of risk", where helmeted riders think they are better protected so adopt riskier behaviour, and motorists drive closer because they think the rider better knows what he's doing.


I'm talking about what the State should do, not necessarily about what it does.
And that's the rub: we can only judge by what it does, not by endless empty promises to improve. Why should parents give up education to the State with its proven record of incompetence? And here's another lovely benefit of our wonderful government school system (http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/our-kids-in-worst-class-of-bullies/2008/12/13/1228585181498.html):


Australian primary school students suffer bullying at a rate of almost 50 per cent above the international average, putting Australia in the worst category for bullying. Of the 36 countries sampled in the survey of year 4 students, only Kuwait, Qatar, Taiwan and New Zealand fared worse than Australia.


And I'm talking about the responsibility of the State to ensure that children are protected from miseducation and shutting down of capabilities by the bad end of the parent spectrum (the incompetents and the extremist indoctrinators, primarily).
But just as this atheist argued in A Libertarian Solution to Evolution Education Controversy: No More Public Schools (http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/01/a-libertarian-s.html), we don't need a state-mandated diet for children; we just punish extreme malnourishers. The same should apply to education.

Kevin Bonham
14-12-2008, 05:48 PM
But their costs would likely come down, private charities are more likely to increase since donors have less money confiscated from the government. And most importantly, there is a real incentive to obtain paid work under the LDP system as opposed to the bullying Centrelink bureaucracy.

There can be real incentives to obtain paid work with a more generous welfare net and without Centrelink's ridiculous behaviour.

Private charities would indeed increase but I am not sure they would increase sufficiently to ensure a liveable income for all who needed it and I see no compelling reason why the risk should be taken.

As I recall a person earning nothing under the LDP proposal received $9,000 per annum. If that was $15,000 I would be more tempted.

Yes, that's fair. Or else they insure themselves, if they can afford the premium.


And that's the rub: we can only judge by what it does, not by endless empty promises to improve. Why should parents give up education to the State with its proven record of incompetence?

I was not saying the State should educate all children. I was saying that the State should adopt and enforce a certain approach to ensuring children are well prepared for adult life. In my view that should include allowing for and encouraging home education, but not by parents who either don't know what they're doing or who will abuse the freedom.


But just as this atheist argued in A Libertarian Solution to Evolution Education Controversy: No More Public Schools (http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/01/a-libertarian-s.html), we don't need a state-mandated diet for children; we just punish extreme malnourishers. The same should apply to education.

The "extreme malnourishers" are the incompetents and extremist indoctrinators I was referring to.

MichaelBaron
14-12-2008, 07:13 PM
To me freedom is about empowering an individual to act in accordance with his beliefs in values as long as these beliefs and values do not contradict the law of the country.

Kevin Bonham
14-12-2008, 07:56 PM
By the way, I think "freedom" is best conceived as primarily negative freedom. Consider two cases: one in which someone wants to do something and lacks the resources or the ability, the other in which they want to do it, have the resources and the ability but the action in question is illegal. In the first case they have negative freedom but not positive, in the second case positive but not negative.

In my view to say they have the "freedom" to do whatever it is in the second case (where they are able to do it but will be arrested after doing so) is completely ludicrous, while to say they have the "freedom" to do it in the first case makes a kind of sense - they have the theoretical freedom but they do not have the actual capability.

Sen's "capability" term is a good word to use but it would be better viewed as a clarifying replacement for the misleading term "positive freedom".

Kevin Bonham
14-12-2008, 07:58 PM
To me freedom is about empowering an individual to act in accordance with his beliefs in values as long as these beliefs and values do not contradict the law of the country.

I'll turn that one around and park it properly. :D

To me freedom is about removing those laws of the country that would prevent an individual from acting in accord with their beliefs and values, except where the actions of the individual in question would prevent other individuals doing likewise.

Capablanca-Fan
14-12-2008, 07:58 PM
To me freedom is about empowering an individual to act in accordance with his beliefs in values as long as these beliefs and values do not contradict the law of the country.
That's the whole point though. Freedom should go further, so that the law of the country don't restrict actions unless they harm someone else, violating his life or property rights.

Kevin Bonham
14-12-2008, 07:59 PM
^^^
Where's Miranda? Here is an instance of KB and Jono not merely agreeing but doing so independently at the same minute!

Capablanca-Fan
14-12-2008, 08:41 PM
^^^
Where's Miranda? Here is an instance of KB and Jono not merely agreeing but doing so independently at the same minute!
That has to be preserved for posterity, because future generations won't believe it ;)

Capablanca-Fan
15-12-2008, 09:11 AM
There can be real incentives to obtain paid work with a more generous welfare net and without Centrelink's ridiculous behaviour.
The LDP would get rid of Centrelink's ridiculous behaviour (BTW, has it changed much under Chairman Rudd?). The main point of the LDP's proposal is to make sure that effective marginal tax rates for extra work are always low, unlike the huge rates for beneficiaries now.


Private charities would indeed increase but I am not sure they would increase sufficiently to ensure a liveable income for all who needed it and I see no compelling reason why the risk should be taken.
One reason is that charities can be directed better at those who need assistance, and can dispense with the bureaucratic hoops invented by Centrelink.


As I recall a person earning nothing under the LDP proposal received $9,000 per annum. If that was $15,000 I would be more tempted.
That's more than now isn't it?

I was not saying the State should educate all children. I was saying that the State should adopt and enforce a certain approach to ensuring children are well prepared for adult life. In my view that should include allowing for and encouraging home education, but not by parents who either don't know what they're doing or who will abuse the freedom.


The "extreme malnourishers" are the incompetents and extremist indoctrinators I was referring to.
When it comes to education, malnourish could include not teaching English or arithmentic. It would NOT mean old fashioned grammar, phonics, Shakespeare and learnign times-tables by rote rather than the educracy's fashionable look-and-guess reading and "power relationship" analysis.

"Extremist indoctrinators" should NOT include theistic (or misotheistic) parents, but should include indoctrinators in white (or black) supremacy or antisemitism. It should NOT include those who merely reject the black armband view of Western history, and point out the many achievements of white males in philosophy, literature, art, science, parliamentary democracy. Or those who point out that slavery was ubiquitous and was first abolished by white males (http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/4932/).

TheJoker
15-12-2008, 09:36 AM
I'll turn that one around and park it properly. :D

To me freedom is about removing those laws of the country that would prevent an individual from acting in accord with their beliefs and values, except where the actions of the individual in question would prevent other individuals doing likewise.


But like you said this only provides "theoretical freedom" but not actual capability.

To me freedom is about having ability to do or be something, except where the actions of the individual in question would prevent other individuals doing likewise. That entails having the freedom to act without interference and having the necessary means to persue those actions to a suitable outcome.

It is not enough to call someone free that doesn't have the means to enact the theoretical neagtive freedom.

Adamski
15-12-2008, 09:45 AM
Australian primary school students suffer bullying at a rate of almost 50 per cent above the international average, putting Australia in the worst category for bullying. Of the 36 countries sampled in the survey of year 4 students, only Kuwait, Qatar, Taiwan and New Zealand fared worse than AustraliaSlightly off topic, but that sad fact about NZ (and probably Aus and more other countries than were cited) is the chief reason my wife and I ended up homeschooling our son. He was a victim of a nasty emotional kind of bullying because he had medical issues and consequently was not good at anything of a sports nature. Other kids can be cruel when this is the case, but it was not so with the homeschooling group with whom he (and my wife and occasionally me, like when I taught the kids chess while between work contracts) met fortnightly. The kids there were much more accepting.

TheJoker
15-12-2008, 10:01 AM
That's the whole point though. Freedom should go further, so that the law of the country don't restrict actions unless they harm someone else, violating his life or property rights.


No one will argue with that. The real questions is what constitutes harm?

For example, do actions that reduce the productivity of the nation consitute harm to other individuals property rights (i.e. future earnings)?

Or irresponsible actions that indirectly increase the costs to other individuals.

Does harming oneself have a wider impact? Can it be seen as indirectly harming others?

TheJoker
15-12-2008, 10:12 AM
One reason is that charities can be directed better at those who need assistance, and can dispense with the bureaucratic hoops invented by Centrelink.

Charities are equally likley to inefficient with funds. Individuals are unlikely to have the time to follow-up on how there funds are being utilised. The media is unlikley to be able to report on the actions of all the numerous charity organisations (whereas they can easily report on the actions of a single government agency). Many charitable organisation are very inefficient or simply corrupt. The additional cost required to police the actions of charities is likley to exceed the cost of policing internal government departments.

Capablanca-Fan
15-12-2008, 12:10 PM
Charities are equally likley to inefficient with funds.
Come off it. Government ineffiency leaves other inefficiencies in the dust! Does TheJoke think that Centrelink is a model of efficiency?

So much government welfare money goes to the bureaucracy not to the people who need it. Charities are likely to be closer to home, so can best direct money to where it is needed.


Individuals are unlikely to have the time to follow-up on how there funds are being utilised.
At least they have a choice to give, and that's an excellent incentive for charities to be efficient.


The media is unlikley to be able to report on the actions of all the numerous charity organisations (whereas they can easily report on the actions of a single government agency).
Doesn't do much good, since bureaucracies are good at stonewalling (cf. Yes Minister, public choice theory (http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/PublicChoice.html)). Reagan was right when he said that the closest thing to eternal life in this world is a government program. Meanwhile, they have a guaranteed source of income: that coerced from taxpayers.


Many charitable organisation are very inefficient or simply corrupt.
Maybe. But since they could lose funding, there is a better incentive not to be. But wasteful and even failed government bureaucracies are often rewarded with more funding.


The additional cost required to police the actions of charities is likley to exceed the cost of policing internal government departments.
Absurd, but typical of the Anointed. The best policing is from voluntary donors. But bureaucracies balloon out since money is guaranteed from coercion.

TheJoker
15-12-2008, 12:44 PM
Come off it. Government ineffiency leaves other inefficiencies in the dust! Does TheJoke think that Centrelink is a model of efficiency?

So much government welfare money goes to the bureaucracy not to the people who need it. Charities are likely to be closer to home, so can best direct money to where it is needed.


At least they have a choice to give, and that's an excellent incentive for charities to be efficient.


Doesn't do much good, since bureaucracies are good at stonewalling (cf. Yes Minister, public choice theory (http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/PublicChoice.html)). Reagan was right when he said that the closest thing to eternal life in this world is a government program. Meanwhile, they have a guaranteed source of income: that coerced from taxpayers.


Maybe. But since they could lose funding, there is a better incentive not to be. But wasteful and even failed government bureaucracies are often rewarded with more funding.


Absurd, but typical of the Anointed. The best policing is from voluntary donors. But bureaucracies balloon out since money is guaranteed from coercion.

I am afriad you have little knowledge of the charities industry. Fraudlent activities under the guise of charities are a significant problem. Without proper regulation/policing you end up with outcome similiar to the "market for lemons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Market_for_Lemons)". That is the good charities lose out because people loose faith in the charities industry to do the right thing. So the inevitable bad apples are likely cause the funding to dry up significantly.

What makes you think charaties are likely to be any less bureaucratic than government , both are not for profit, therefore little no incentives exist for reducing bureaucrarcy.

In fact for charities one problem is that in order to attract funding they have to spend a lot of money on advertising/PR. I'd like to see a comparision of the overhead costs of a charity and government agency with a similiar objectives, outcomes and environment.

Capablanca-Fan
15-12-2008, 01:07 PM
I am afriad you have little knowledge of the charities industry.
I'm afraid that you are just one of the Anointed who can't stand people making their own decisions, so require an ever increasing government to make decisions for them.


Fraudlent activities under the guise of charities are a significant problem. Without proper regulation/policing you end up with outcome similiar to the "market for lemons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Market_for_Lemons)". That is the good charities lose out because people loose faith in the charities industry to do the right thing. So the inevitable bad apples are likely cause the funding to dry up significantly.
Sure, there are problems with charities, just like there are problems with the market. But expanding government will merely replace localized charitable and market failures with country-wide goverment failures. You also ignore the fact that government bureaucracies can also be fraudulent, but it's far worse since they have the force of government behind them.


What makes you think charaties are likely to be any less bureaucratic than government , both are not for profit, therefore little no incentives exist for reducing bureaucrarcy.
I told you: private charities can't coerce funding, unlike government bureaucracies. Therefore the charities must persuade people to donate. They have more chance of doing this if they are transparent.


In fact for charities one problem is that in order to attract funding they have to spend a lot of money on advertising/PR.
Not as much money spent on bureaucratic overheads.


I'd like to see a comparision of the overhead costs of a charity and government agency with a similiar objectives, outcomes and environment.
Good grief, a huge fraction of welfare funding merely props up the bureaucracy.

TheJoker
15-12-2008, 01:31 PM
I'm afraid that you are just one of the Anointed who can't stand people making their own decisions, so require an ever increasing government to make decisions for them.

Paranoid would be a better word than afraid. You'd also be wrong.



Sure, there are problems with charities, just like there are problems with the market. But expanding government will merely replace localized charitable and market failures with country-wide goverment failures. You also ignore the fact that government bureaucracies can also be fraudulent, but it's far worse since they have the force of government behind them.

Don't ignore, accept it. But you failed to address the concern about the fraudlent activities of a few charities is likley to cause a signficant reduction in its capacity to raise funds. As you point out government scandals don't reduce government funding because tax must be paid by law.



I told you: private charities can't coerce funding, unlike government bureaucracies. Therefore the charities must persuade people to donate. They have more chance of doing this if they are transparent.

I suspect they have a better chance of increasing funding by being less transparent and spending a larger proportion of every dollar raised on PR/advertising. But I don't have any stats to back this up its just a hunch from what I seen of the most sucessful (in terms of size) charities.



Not as much money spent on bureaucratic overheads. Good grief, a huge fraction of welfare funding merely props up the bureaucracy.

Any evidence to back up the claim that private charities have a better record at efficiently ustilising funds? Or are we simply supposed to take your word for it?

Capablanca-Fan
15-12-2008, 06:34 PM
Paranoid would be a better word than afraid. You'd also be wrong.
I might be paranoid, but it wouldn't mean that the Anointed are not trying to control our lives because they don't think the masses know what's good for them.,


Don't ignore, accept it.
Better to reduce the size of government than accept it.


But you failed to address the concern about the fraudlent activities of a few charities is likley to cause a signficant reduction in its capacity to raise funds.
Not nearly as much as the lower amount that donors have to give with more money confiscated by governments. It is a fact that FDR's policies killed many charities, whereas before him, one in every three American men was a member of a mutual aid society, which paid for doctors, built orphanages and cooked for the poor.

Conversely, Dr Dalrymple has observed horrifying indifference to the poor and injured, since far too many people have the idea that helping others is the government's job. It is also no accident that lefties like alGore and Comrade Obamov were very stingy with their own money, just generous with other people's money.

Another thing: Stossel gives an example of a charity to help ex-prisoners find a productive role in society, but almost failed because of government bureaucratic hurdles (http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0805/stossel082405.php3).


As you point out government scandals don't reduce government funding because tax must be paid by law.
Yes, which is why government charities are crap: they can fail and still be rewarded.


Any evidence to back up the claim that private charities have a better record at efficiently ustilising funds? Or are we simply supposed to take your word for it?
Learn history of what charities used to do, and contrast it with modern government welfare programs that have produced generational dependence.

Kevin Bonham
15-12-2008, 11:13 PM
But like you said this only provides "theoretical freedom" but not actual capability.

Indeed but I am not talking about whether freedom provides everything, I am talking about what I think it is. I find the issues more clearly thought of by talking about the tradeoff between the freedom of some and the capability of others, than by calling the latter itself a kind of "freedom". To say that I consider something to be freedom does not necessarily mean that I advocate it (although it does mean that anyone wanting to restrict it will need at least a half-decent reason).


To me freedom is about having ability to do or be something, except where the actions of the individual in question would prevent other individuals doing likewise. That entails having the freedom to act without interference and having the necessary means to persue those actions to a suitable outcome.

OK, it appears you are requiring both positive and negative freedom before you'll consider that "freedom" exists. That's okay, there are probably a range of playable lines in this definitional debate.

Following your definition, do you think there is a freedom to earn above the average national income?


It is not enough to call someone free that doesn't have the means to enact the theoretical neagtive freedom.

I think it's fine. I just say they have the freedom to do it if they are able to, but not the means to actually do it.

TheJoker
16-12-2008, 02:28 PM
Indeed but I am not talking about whether freedom provides everything, I am talking about what I think it is. I find the issues more clearly thought of by talking about the tradeoff between the freedom of some and the capability of others, than by calling the latter itself a kind of "freedom". To say that I consider something to be freedom does not necessarily mean that I advocate it (although it does mean that anyone wanting to restrict it will need at least a half-decent reason).



OK, it appears you are requiring both positive and negative freedom before you'll consider that "freedom" exists. That's okay, there are probably a range of playable lines in this definitional debate.

Following your definition, do you think there is a freedom to earn above the average national income?



I think it's fine. I just say they have the freedom to do it if they are able to, but not the means to actually do it.

Fair enough I guess that is why Sen used term capabilities to avoid conflicting definitions.

As for a freedom to earn above the average national income, that would depend on the individual and the time frame. Given adequate time frame I think most people would have the capability to earn above the average national income (unless they had a significant disability). Many people choose not exercise this freedom.

TheJoker
16-12-2008, 02:42 PM
Not nearly as much as the lower amount that donors have to give with more money confiscated by governments.

No evidence. Just because some charities became irrelevant once the role was taken n by government does not imply an overall reduction in resource toward that cause.

Also for the FDR case it is more likely of case reduction in private investment of charities in recessions. I think if you reveiew the data from recessions around the world this will be a common trend. Although I can't say for sure.


Conversely, Dr Dalrymple has observed .

Unforntunately no such person exists to my knowledge.


Yes, which is why government charities are crap: they can fail and still be rewarded.

But it also means they are not sbject ot the volatility of private investment. Private investment (particulary spending on charities) is greatly reduced during recessions. Which is precisely when it is needed most. Conversly government transfers increase in recessionary periods (with a defecit) and are reduced in expansionary periods. Automatic stabilisers.

"nationally the demand for services is up and donations down (http://www.newsnetnebraska.org/test-huskers-win/local/284-local-charities-feel-the-recessions-weight-in-donations)

Kevin Bonham
16-12-2008, 09:22 PM
As for a freedom to earn above the average national income, that would depend on the individual and the time frame. Given adequate time frame I think most people would have the capability to earn above the average national income (unless they had a significant disability).

Fair enough (especially if Jono's sources are right about the rich and the poor being often the same people at different stages.) I'll change it to "the freedom to earn above average total lifetime earnings".


Many people choose not exercise this freedom.

They do, but most people who are on low incomes are there not by choosing a low income but by being unable to easily access a high one.

eclectic
16-12-2008, 09:28 PM
"freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose"
kris kristofferson [me and bobby mcgee]

Kevin Bonham
16-12-2008, 09:59 PM
"freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose"
kris kristofferson [me and bobby mcgee]

John Farnham had some thoughts(?) on the definition too, but I think this forum and preferably the universe as a whole should be spared from those. :D

TheJoker
16-12-2008, 11:31 PM
Fair enough (especially if Jono's sources are right about the rich and the poor being often the same people at different stages.) I'll change it to "the freedom to earn above average total lifetime earnings"..

I think most people are also free to do this, if they apply themselves from an early age.




They do, but most people who are on low incomes are there not by choosing a low income but by being unable to easily access a high one.

I dont know if I would say most people (in Australia) never had the capability to earn an above average (or perhaps median) income, I would say some of them made choices that have negatively affected that capability. If a person comes from a reasonably functional home and applies oneself diligently in school and obtains a University education they are likely to be able to earn an above median income. But I could well be wrong. I do know that some people have dysfunctional homes that make it significantly harder to get a quality education.

Kevin Bonham
16-12-2008, 11:40 PM
I think most people are also free to do this, if they apply themselves from an early age.

But they may lack the capability to apply themselves in that way from an early age, so is that really what you were calling "freedom"? (and see below)


I dont know if I would say most people (in Australia) never had the capability to earn an above average (or perhaps median) income, I would say some of them made choices that have negatively affected that capability.

The use of "choice" here could get a bit free-will for my liking. I suspect that if they made choices that negatively affect that capability, then they were already influenced in such a way as to cause them to make those choices, in which case, were they really capable?

By the way, the discussion generated by my question has gone in a totally different direction to what I was fishing for! (That'll learn me.) I was trying to find an example where it is possible for some people to have a particular freedom but not possible for everyone who wants it to have it, such that some people having it stops others from doing so, then ask you if you considered it a "freedom".

After all for a negative-freedom type these sorts of questions are very easy; the answer is "yes so long as there isn't a law against it." But it looks like I'll need to find a better example!

TheJoker
17-12-2008, 11:27 AM
But they may lack the capability to apply themselves in that way from an early age, so is that really what you were calling "freedom"? (and see below)



The use of "choice" here could get a bit free-will for my liking. I suspect that if they made choices that negatively affect that capability, then they were already influenced in such a way as to cause them to make those choices, in which case, were they really capable?

Interesting questions, I guess there is no real black and white answers. Measuring capabilities is the subject of a lot of on-going research, AFAIK no generally accepted model has evolved as of yet. However measures such as the Human Development Index have been designed with the capabilities approach in mind.


By the way, the discussion generated by my question has gone in a totally different direction to what I was fishing for! (That'll learn me.) I was trying to find an example where it is possible for some people to have a particular freedom but not possible for everyone who wants it to have it, such that some people having it stops others from doing so, then ask you if you considered it a "freedom".

I suspect there are many cases of this due to finite resources. For the capability to own property exclusively (individual property rights) is probably the most obvious. It is true that one indivuals "freedom" may negatively impact on others "freedoms". This is why the black and white approach of negative freedom is not sufficient for me. For example lets say everybody has the negative freedom to buy land, however one individual has the capapbility to buy all the land and in exercsing this capability, prevents all others from having the capability to buy any land. Now their negative freedom to buy land is worthless, since no land is available for purchase.

I consider it a freedom to be able to purchase all the available land. Whether certain freedoms/capabilities need to be restricted is a question for society.

Kevin Bonham
17-12-2008, 10:44 PM
I suspect there are many cases of this due to finite resources. For the capability to own property exclusively (individual property rights) is probably the most obvious. It is true that one indivuals "freedom" may negatively impact on others "freedoms". This is why the black and white approach of negative freedom is not sufficient for me. For example lets say everybody has the negative freedom to buy land, however one individual has the capapbility to buy all the land and in exercsing this capability, prevents all others from having the capability to buy any land. Now their negative freedom to buy land is worthless, since no land is available for purchase.

I don't see this as much different from any other case where someone wants to purchase a unique product but the sender doesn't want to sell. In any such case you could say the negative freedom to buy the product is worthless since the product isn't for sale. However, generally that isn't a problem; it is mainly a problem where someone buys up something "essential" then refuses to sell it (at least at a reasonable price).

In such a case I still think that the negative freedom of the potential buyer is an important concept (even if it is apparently worthless at the time) - after all, the seller might change their mind and then the negative freedom to buy will matter a great deal to the buyer.

Land is a good thing to discuss in arguments about freedom though, because while it is easy to derive the freedom to transfer land by consensual gift or sale from negative freedom type concepts, it is impossible to account for the ownership of land in the first place by that method, since all land that is "owned" must at some point have been acquired by annexation, and then much of it is transferred by conquest. This problem that no distribution of existing property can be grounded in consensual transfer is one of the main reasons why I am not a libertarian. I do think it makes sense to talk about the negative freedom for someone to be allowed to buy up all the land but I don't think that negative freedom should be permitted.

TheJoker
18-12-2008, 12:32 AM
In such a case I still think that the negative freedom of the potential buyer is an important concept (even if it is apparently worthless at the time) - after all, the seller might change their mind and then the negative freedom to buy will matter a great deal to the buyer.

Yes negative freedom is often an important precursor to a capability. Reducing negative freedom is likely to reduce capabilties.

MichaelBaron
24-12-2008, 09:21 AM
I think many people in Western societies mistake freedom for a right to do whatever they like while ignoring others.

Capablanca-Fan
21-04-2009, 12:40 PM
Thought police muscle up in Britain (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25361297-7583,00.html)
Hal G. P. Colebatch
The Australian 21 April 2009

BRITAIN appears to be evolving into the first modern soft totalitarian state. As a sometime teacher of political science and international law, I do not use the term totalitarian loosely.



The Government is pushing ahead with legislation that will criminalise politically incorrect jokes, with a maximum punishment of up to seven years' prison. The House of Lords tried to insert a free-speech amendment, but Justice Secretary Jack Straw knocked it out.



In the past 10 years I have collected reports of many instances of draconian punishments, including the arrest and criminal prosecution of children, for thought-crimes and offences against political correctness.

There are no concentration camps or gulags but there are thought police with unprecedented powers to dictate ways of thinking and sniff out heresy, and there can be harsh punishments for dissent.



In September 2006, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, Codie Stott, asked a teacher if she could sit with another group to do a science project as all the girls with her spoke only Urdu. The teacher's first response, according to Stott, was to scream at her: "It's racist, you're going to get done by the police!" Upset and terrified, the schoolgirl went outside to calm down. The teacher called the police and a few days later, presumably after officialdom had thought the matter over, she was arrested and taken to a police station, where she was fingerprinted and photographed. According to her mother, she was placed in a bare cell for 3 1/2 hours. She was questioned on suspicion of committing a racial public order offence and then released without charge. The school was said to be investigating what further action to take, not against the teacher, but against Stott. Headmaster Anthony Edkins reportedly said: "An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark. We aim to ensure a caring and tolerant attitude towards pupils of all ethnic backgrounds and will not stand for racism in any form."

A 10-year-old child was arrested and brought before a judge, for having allegedly called an 11-year-old boya "Paki" and "bin Laden" during a playground argument at a primary school (the other boy had called him a skunk and a Teletubby). When it reached the court the case had cost taxpayers pound stg. 25,000. The accused was so distressed that he had stopped attending school. The judge, Jonathan Finestein, said: "Have we really got to the stage where we are prosecuting 10-year-old boys because of political correctness? There are major crimes out there and the police don't bother to prosecute. This is nonsense."

Finestein was fiercely attacked by teaching union leaders, as in those witch-hunt trials where any who spoke in defence of an accused or pointed to defects in the prosecution were immediately targeted as witches and candidates for burning.

Mephistopheles
21-04-2009, 01:48 PM
Thought police muscle up in Britain (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25361297-7583,00.html)
If there is more than a mere grain of truth in this then it is extremely alarming. My view is that people should be allowed to express what ideas they wish, regardless of how repugnant, but that they should also be prepared to be shouted down or ridiculed for expressing those views. That's the rough and tumble of free speech.

Did anyone spot the irony in this:


It was Straw who previously called for a redefinition of Englishness and suggested the "global baggage of empire" was linked to soccer violence by "racist and xenophobic white males". He claimed the English "propensity for violence" was used to subjugate Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and that the English as a race were "potentially very aggressive".

?

However, Jono, what say you to...


Muslim parents who objected to young children being given books advocating same-sex marriage and adoption at one school last year had their wishes respected and the offending material withdrawn. This year, Muslim and Christian parents at another school objecting to the same material have not only had their objections ignored but have been threatened with prosecution if they withdraw their children.

?

I am perfectly OK with parents withdrawing their children for any reason whatsoever just as I am OK with the dissemination of classroom materials deemed appropriate for that classrom (subject to review by the school authorities).

Overall, though, it points to a foamy-mouthed adherence to "political correctness". The examples quoted may be extreme, resulting in misleading vividness but they almost certainly point to a wider problem. There is far too much mollycoddling going on when it comes to what is allowed to assault our delicate, shell-like ears and (apparently) our even more delicate sensibilities. Yar boo sucks to that, I say.

Kevin Bonham
21-04-2009, 04:54 PM
Hate-crime police investigated Basil Brush, a puppet fox on children's television, who had made a joke about Gypsies.

...and then said "boom boom", I assume.

Many of those, if true and the whole story, are silly, and some, if true, are more than a little bit disturbing.

However I want to commend the Royal Navy on this one:


Permissiveness as well as draconianism can be deployed to destroy socially accepted norms and values. The Royal Navy, for instance, has installed a satanist chapel in a warship to accommodate the proclivities of a satanist crew member. "What would Nelson have said?" is a British newspaper cliche about navy scandals, but in this case seems a legitimate question. Satanist paraphernalia is also supplied to prison inmates who need it.

Concerned theists really need to get over examples like this. The existence of the small team does not "destroy" their norms and values one iota; it simply indicates that somebody else has a belief system that either inverts theirs or (far more commonly these days) praises aspects of what is condemned in theirs. I can understand that some Christians might be upset about a "reverse Christian" style Satanist fighting alongside them, but if it was a Laveyan or Modern Satanist chances are (the miniscule minority of more or less libertarian Christians excepted) that the Satanist has more commitment to the defence of liberty than they do.

AzureBlue
21-04-2009, 05:00 PM
Freedom is...
1. The condition of being free of restraints.
2. Liberty of the person from slavery, detention, or oppression.
3.
1. Political independence.
2. Exemption from the arbitrary exercise of authority in the performance of a specific action; civil liberty: freedom of assembly.
3. The right to unrestricted use; full access: was given the freedom of their research facilities.
4. The right of enjoying all of the privileges of membership or citizenship: the freedom of the city.
4. Exemption from an unpleasant or onerous condition: freedom from want.
5. The capacity to exercise choice; free will: We have the freedom to do as we please all afternoon.
6. Ease or facility of movement: loose sports clothing, giving the wearer freedom.
7. Frankness or boldness; lack of modesty or reserve: the new freedom in movies and novels.
8.
1. The right to unrestricted use; full access: was given the freedom of their research facilities.
2. The right of enjoying all of the privileges of membership or citizenship: the freedom of the city.
9. A right or the power to engage in certain actions without control or interference: "the seductive freedoms and excesses of the picaresque form" (John W. Aldridge).

Dictionary.com

Kaitlin
21-04-2009, 08:36 PM
Freedom is..

..having the will to do what you know is right even if it is contry to the current laws of the State, and the srenity to allow other people to be wrong, and not have to tell them :angel:

Redmond Barry
21-04-2009, 11:34 PM
its a furniture store on albany highway, cannington, w.a.

Basil
22-04-2009, 09:40 AM
Not quite a classic post, but certainly worth a snappy $15 HCDs.