Thursday, September 5, 2013

A response to Christian Science Monitor.

The Christian Science Monitor recently published and article that was picked up on yahoo titled
"7 big myths about marijuana and legalization", which really should be called 7 illiberal arguments supporting the status quo. And by illiberal I mean not taking an indepth examination from many angles. Here is a point by point response.

1.Marijuana is not physically addictive, not matter how strong it is. And strength varies based on production methods. A push towards indoor grows has forces yields up in order to make it profitable to grow. In addition a greater medical usage as pushed this trend as well. You could get stuff in the 60's nearly as strong, it just wasn't as common. Additionally you can cut it so it's not as strong.

The study about IQ is about persistent use, a bad idea with any drug, and minors, who would likely find it harder to buy should it be legalized.

2. BS. Sativex does get you high. It contains THC as an active ingredient, and "The most common adverse effects in Phase III trials were dizziness (25%), drowsiness (8.2%) and disorientation (4%)" Sound high to me.  Once medical marijuana passed in California, the use of over a dozen categories of pharmacueticals decreases, most notable opiates and other painkillers.  With medical study and breeding programs you can tailor a for specific combinations of bio-active compounds, you you can extract and re-mix these components as desired (like what sativex does) and it's be a lot easier if cannabis were legal.

3. This is 0.3% too many, and how convenient that you leave out compound offenses, and distribution charges.

4. Prohibition did not decrease alcohol use. However since 1970 education and other measures has reduced per captita alcohol consumption by more than 20%. Rates of smoking have dropped from 40% to about 20%. Education, treatment, and harm reduction policies can do a lot to affect drug usage. Prohibition at best will shift drug usage from illegal to legal drugs.

5. The methodologies on many of these studies are suspect. They count only costs and not hidden benefits.  For instance with smokers if you use total expected lifetime healthcare cost on the social dime it turns out to be a wash. While smoking does cause fatal and harmful diseases, their tendency to die much earlier than their peers, they are less likely to be treated on diseases of old age that are often very complex and expensive to treat.  Also you're counting not just on revenue, but the decreased spending needed to keep up prohibition. With alcohol most drinker impose no social costs, they drink moderately, or socially and avoid operating heavy machinery under the influence. It is a small number of stupid people who use alcohol and impose enormous public costs.  Lastly these costs are largely imposed by the discretion of  the government to provide certain services. If we don't like a person's choices, maybe we should just stop subsidizing them.

While it's likely marijuana use is likely to increase as a result of legalization it's just as likely that alcohol consumption will see a corresponding decrease, likely lowering total social costs as marijuana impairs driving less and is not associated with violent behavior.  I for one would be one making such a trade if marijuana were legal.

6. Portugal and the Netherlands provide successful models of DECRIMINALIZATION for all drugs.

You mention the treatment programs being ramped up, which is a great way to decrease social costs mentions in 5.

Decriminalization of all drugs in the minimum sane reform to U.S. drug policy. Legalization of marijuana rests on it's own merits.

7.  You've contradicted yourself in the same article. You say on one hand current efforts are just and effective, and then you say use is a growing problem and cost.

This whole thing is premised on the idea that drug use is bad of undesirable. It's not. In moderation or for  good reason drugs can and will improve lives. Problems from marijuana come mainly from overuse, it's illegal status, and use as too young an age.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Legislating Morality

Recently Selwyn Duke posted an article here, and this is my little response.

So let's start an analysis of the nature of morality. I ask you: Who or what determines what we call "morality"? I addressed this in "The Nature of Right and Wrong," writing:

[There are only two possibilities:] [e]ither man does or something outside man does. The idea that man determines right and wrong is known as "moral relativism"; this means that morals are relative to the time, place and people. The idea that right and wrong are determined by something outside of man is known as "Absolute Truth."

And, of course, the latter implies God. After all, if we're saying that "Truth" is something existing apart from man, that it is inerrant, and that we must abide by it -- which means it's above man -- what are we actually describing? But, now, what are the implications of relativism? I continued:"

Before the author criticizes the errors of the moderns, he ought to learn the lessons of the medievals first. Aquinas and the later Scholastics, and Hugo Grotious, some of the greatest if not the greatest theologians that ever were, admitted and even insisted that there was natural law and order of things that would be binding even if God did not exist.

"What we have been saying would have a degree of validity even if we should concede that which cannot be conceded without the utmost wickedness, that there is no God." -Hugo Grotius, De Iure Belli ac Pacis (1625):

"[Grotius’s] definition of natural law has nothing revolutionary. When he maintains that natural law is that body of rules which Man is able to discover by the use of his reason, he does nothing but restate the Scholastic notion of a rational foundation of ethics. Indeed, his aim is rather to restore that notion which had been shaken by the extreme Augustinianism of certain Protestant currents of thought. When he declares that these rules are valid in themselves, independently of the fact that God willed them, he repeats an assertion which had already been made by some of the schoolmen"-D'Entrèves, Natural Law, pp. 51-52.

The rational difference you seek between ice cream and murder is that a prohibition of murder touches upon a far more central aspect of what it is to be human. Society, that social cooperation and division of labor relies upon peace between man and man to operate. Being a social creature is much more important to the nature of man than a seeker of vanilla deserts over chocolate ones, especially considering that most men who have ever lived have not had the opportunity to sample either flavor of ice cream.

There may be reason to admit a god in a purely philosophical sense, of a thing whose essence and existence are one in the same, but there is no ready and reliable proof to any of the Gods of the various revelations. As such taking things purely as a command of God is to at first glance rely upon the opinions of priests and other holy men. This is not a situation conducive to peace and prosperity unless there is a resource to right reasons, to principles and a portion of morality discoverable by man's reason. Otherwise it is just conflicting sets of principles that can never be reconciled by any method than of violence.

The failure does not particularly lie with the average modern. Rather it is the failure of moral leaders of role models to teach and explain natural law and it's role in the human experience. That morality if revealed primarily by reason, and only secondarily by revelation. My belief is that this is not a mere error of knowledge of inexperience, but a deliberate and willful evasion by power hungry men and their apologists in order to escape the consequences and conclusion of this natural law. Of course this has not worked, and the world is swept into further confusion and chaos as these men have their way. The relativism the author criticizes is only a reaction to the effects of these policies. A so-called morality not based in right reason, and firm foundation of human nature ought not be legislated.

And in a way these reactionaries are perfectly correct. Morality cannot be legislated. The act of legislation (factually just making a writ en declaration of an opinion) adds nothing to the natural obligations of morality. At best it may clarify the default where there are several means that can be taken to fulfil this obligation. If a government agent interdicts to prevent a women from being raped, it is no more moral that if anyone without a badge did the same thing. Legislation may, and ought to reflect morality, but if legislation were to require the rape of the woman, the person interdicting would still be taking a moral action.

Another and correct way that the rally of "morality ought not be legislated" is to make a distinction between vice and crime. Notice of authors answers examples by revering to crimes rather than vices. Crimes being those actions that disturb the peace of society, and vices being those actions that create ill results for those who practice them excessively. The later everyman must judge for himself, but the former requires that we must judge for our own safety and that of others.

"In response, libertarians e-mailed me and said that they didn't impose morality, but rather prohibited "force," protected "property rights," or prevented "harm." But unless one objects to governmental use of force to apprehend a murderer or citizens' exercise of self-defense, moral distinctions must be made. Moreover, we couldn't credibly prohibit force, protect property rights, or prevent harm in the first place unless unjustly using the first, violating the second, or causing the third wasn't "wrong." Ergo, morality."

And my last criticism is that the author focuses on the masses of libertarian who lack a through education and background in the philosophy especially as it relates to law and ethics, rather than those who do like Roderick Long, Murray Rothbard, or Lysander Spooner, yet focuses on the work of the best educated and articulate example he can find of the founders. I'm sure that there were plenty of patriots at the time whose thoughts and opinions were far less articulate, systematic, methodical, and researched as those whom we call the founders. A real debate would require a dialogue on these positions instead of or in addition to the more populist versions.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Land of Laws?

Patriots and even plain folk who merely consider themselves citizens of a nation often have a great reverence and even fetishistic tenacity to the law. I have often heard the claim the United States is a land of laws, as if this should mean something to me and make me feel guilty for not prostrating myself before the allegedly mighty and benevolent State. Though such a claim is true in an unexpected way, the argument issuing thereof begs the question weather such laws do and should bind me or any other human.

When I place my finger upon a law, I am placing it on nothing more than paper and ink. So to live in a land of a laws is to inhabit a realm consisting of ink and paper. Just as middle-earth is a land of ink and paper. And if a person wishes to frolic in this land, I have no objection. Though you may dress as a hobbit, speak as an elf, stink as a dwarf, or grow a beard to rival a wizard's, I would not deny these pursuits to you. Though I believe such antics to be ill-advised my only demand is that you do not use violence to get me into your realm of ink and paper. The only thing that can bind me to ink and paper is my agreement to be so bound by it.

Further this paper and ink are not of my choosing, and were in fact never offered to me by any manner in which I could have chosen it. As I can tell even the authors of such paper and ink of the paper which claims to the the supreme law of the land did not write it in such a way to give evidence that they bound themselves to it. Primarily they did not sign it as a party. Additionally Article 1 Section 6 of the four pieces of paper titled "The Constitution of the United States" exempted those who operated as representatives under it from responsibility for their actions to anyone except themselves. (No Treason, Lysander Spooner) In simple terms, they declared that representatives need not be representative.

This is about as sensible as declaring that employment contracts need not offer exchange of labor for some other consideration, or that a sale need not entail some thing or interest be sold. It is far less sensible than a seeing-stone, glowing sword, ghost king, dragon, goblin, or giant spider queen because it is a direct contradiction. Language, the words formed with this ink on paper or the electronic analogy, can be used to declare what a thing appears to be and weather of not it is such a thing as it appears to be. Since the universe is not one indistinguishable mass but rather a myriad of entities or things distinguishable by qualities or combination of qualities that they entail which are absent in all other things. For example man is a rational animal. These qualities are known and describable only because they are distinct and differ from some other qualities.

To claim a thing is as it appears to be, while knowing that it contains qualities opposed to it's distinguishing set is to lie or intentionally present the unreal as real. A representative is one who acts for another. To become a representative is to take on another's interests as if they were your own. In the legal since a representative accepts a duty to carry out the other's interest as if they were is own. That the interest represented does not originate in the representative is the basic quality which leads to the doctrine of vicarious liability. With neither the duty or the liability present, qualities which are always associated with legal representation, the constitutional "representatives" are not what they appear to be, and the constitution does establish government by consent as it purports to establish.

So yes, the United States is a land of law. It is made of paper and ink. Many types of paper and ink such as histories, journals of science, sales slips, employment contracts, and expositions of the rules or logic are strongly linked to reality, with those things appearing within being as the appear often than not. Paper and ink such as Greek Mythology, The Lord of the Rings, and the Constitution of the United States and cannon subsequent to it to claim the unreal as real. Such false papers do not describe or even change reality. The land that I actually stand upon is not of paper and ink, but of minerals, microbes, plants and animals. Some of these animals are men that use the unreality and lies of Constitutions and Legislations to aide their exercise of violent control. Stop confusing opinions with reality. Your feet walk upon grass and concrete, rarely upon ink and paper, and never upon words. Laws do not create lands, but at best define and divide them.

I also often hear the term "nation of laws". While this is a more correct term, it also presents the unreal as real. A nation is not land. If you think so, where was Spain in 117 CE? A nation is political body, a group of people. Being part of a group can only entail duties if there is agreement to be a member. While it is claimed the United States is a political body, there is no evidence that anybody, anywhere, ever voluntarily agreed to become part of the United States. Though paper and words could in theory record the establishment a nation, none of the paper and words said to be of the United States can be said to have done so. None provide any evidence of any person every agreeing to bind themselves personally to such a body.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Anarchy and Moral Nihilism

I have noticed a sizable debate and contention between two factions of anarchists beginning 9 months or so ago on YouTube. A debate of ethics and moral nihilism peppered with colorful words and total frustration. One of the core principles of anarchism both parties agree on is the notion that one size does not, can not and should not fit all. The Moral Nihilists extend this idea or principles into ethics.

And I agree to an extent qualified such that Ethics and Politics are to be separated as concepts. Ethics very much is centered toward the question of how a person ought to behave in relation to his or her own self. An ethical or moral guideline saying that one should count backwards from ten when one is angered may be an invaluable tool for a person of a volatile character but a waste of time for someone of a more passive character. Ethics may and even must vary because the values, preferences, and characteristics of each individual are just that; individual and unlike any other.

However in the domain of politics the assertion of one-size fits all is far more plausible and grounded in empirical fact. Many who disagree would say this opinion, especially if arrived at by a Rothbardian natural law, is a remnant of the gross superstation and lazy religiosity. I can follow the logic of the conclusion easily. Gods commanded a unified and collective code of conduct that was right without regard to the individuals own uniqueness. A law based on an apriority natural law would seem to be guilty of this imposition, but given a few more minutes I will demonstrate why this is not the case at all.

To do this I will draw from the philosophy of another anarchist philosopher as illuminated by yet another anarchist philosopher. Roderick Long analyzed the legal philosophy and came up with a conclusion I find interesting and hope that it is capable of bridging the gap between the more emergent and moral nihilist version of anarchy with the more ethics based approach; that is to show once again a priori approaches to issues based on human nature have no conflict with a more directly empirical approach.

Spooner also has a natural law approach, but one that differs from Rothbard. Spooner defines his natural law as those conditions whose rough application lead to or ought to lead to peace. What Long has implied from this is that all legal codes incorporate these conditions in a significant manner and not by accident, but as an essential element of law. Any society, even one ruled by tyrants requires that most people are at peace with one another most of the time. Law if interpreted merely by the words is liable to mean as many different things as there are possible denotations and combination of denotation of the words used. Such a state of affairs is unlikely to create peace and once again it is found universally necessary to any legal system to adopt of natural law or libertarian methodology of interpreting the meaning of the words found in the positive legal codes.

In brief it is that law cannot be known or understood without knowing what law ought to be. Spooner unlike Rothbard does not base his natural law philosophy on the nature of what man is, but what the essential nature of what Law is a it emerges times and time again in society after society both statist and stateless alike. He bases his system on the empirical observation of what the essence of law as a revealed time and again in every system of law man has ever known.

Why exactly Spooner's approach studying the emergent essence of law to closely match the conclusion of Rothbard’s political philosophy based on the nature of man as a ration creature is unclear to me. Perhaps it is a human drive for empathy or reciprocation. Perhaps some complex game theory or study of utility is necessary to fully explain it. Whatever the cause for congruence it demonstrates that Rothbard’s one size fits all to natural law and political rules should not be rejected on that basis because the empirical facts back up the notion that any legal institution must incorporate principle of natural law. Just as the Misesian a priori approach was verified by extensive empirical data, Rothbard’s approach is supported by those elements are always present in substantial parts of any legal system.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rape Cannot Be a Contract.

A reply to a blog post by Francois Tremblay, wherein it is claimed that

"Voluntaryists, it’s time for you to wake up. You’ve been indoctrinated and sold a false bill of goods. Stop being subjectivists and come back to reality, where good and evil do not depend on whether people sign on it or not.

Rape is unethical, regardless of what any piece of paper says. That is a fact. Stop believing pieces of paper trump facts."

Volutaryist do no not believe the pieces of paper trump fact, but the opposite in that contracts unjust per se are not binding as a matter of fact and of law.

Lysander Spooner’s Sixth rule for interpreting law as he put forth in “The unconstitutionality of slavery is as follows”

“A sixth rule of interpretation, and a very important, inflexible, and universal one, applicable to contracts, is, that a contract must never, if it be possible to avoid it, be so construed, as that any one of the parties to it, assuming him to understand his rights, and to be of competent mental capacity to make obligatory* contracts, may not reasonably be presumed to have consented to it”

His last principle is “We are never unnecessarily to impute to an instrument any intention whatever which it would be unnatural for either reasonable or honest men to entertain.”

The arbitration clause should then only be applied to disputes arising out of that contract. To apply universally to all disputes or torts between the parties would be as such to make an employee a slave.

A tort by definition is not a contract dispute, and cannot by any mean be justly interpreted to imply protection toward inherently right-violating actions for the two reasons I have mentioned above.

To do t with thso would turn anybody signing a contract with and arbitration clause into a slave, and for a person to create a contrace intent of shielding himself from punishment of inherently criminal actions is something no honest man would need or want.

Voluntaryist and more specifically proprietarian and customary law anarchists do not propose that contracts could possible be binding if they are in violation of justice. To imply that they do is to drop the entire context and theory of voluntarism. And the context of current law courts. Current law courts are heavily dominated and biased towards corporations, especially those in the military-industrial complex with friends and bribes in high places. Voluntaryist theory also suggests courts issuing unjust decisions would be liable for the costs of appeal, and a court which took four years to finally recognize something which was immediately obvious under almost any conception of justice would itself be guilty of an injustice and subject to reparation payments.