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I suppose it is kind of preposterous that one imagines himself important enough to write down his opinions for others to read. Chattering superciliousness is one of the most infuriating things about academics and so-called intellectuals, generally, who feel compelled to share their thoughts. But here it goes, anyway.

Random Political and Social Principles

Random Political and Social Principles

I prize individual liberty above all other political ideals, but not without constraint.

I believe in the right to private property, by which I mean property that has been acquired fairly, and I believe in the right to dispose of it as one wishes, including free exchange of goods, though all within the constraints of morality and universal prescriptively. I therefore do not believe in absolute property rights. That I own a plot of wooded ground does not give me the right to set fire to it if it thereby endangers the property or lives of others; similarly, that I own a factory does not give me the right to spew toxins into the. The first right of property is property in one's self.

I think all organizations, both public and private, are corruptible, and that monopoly power, whether corporate or governmental, ought to be limited and viewed with great trepidation and with a skeptical perspective.

Aside from the right to property and the free exchange thereof, making free markets the default position of morality, and quite apart from its economic utility, the  particular virtue of free markets is that they foster pluralism and a diffusion of power, giving it an essentially democratic,  liberal, anti-authoritarian nature, though not without a dark side requiring amelioration through sensible policy.

The world is a dangerous place and I am a hawk on matters of national defense, believing we need a strong military force, but very suspicious of the military-industrial complex and foreign adventure.

I eschew superstition of all kinds, religious or ideological, and especially when it is used to oppress the freedom of others, including the subjugation of women and gays, and the suppression of individual rights.

While the principal role of the state is to guard individual freedom, defend the population, and enforce contracts, I believe when society is able,  it ought also to arrange for certain minimal standards of economic well-being for the least advantaged among us, including basic health-care services.  With that said, I do not believe society ought to sacrifice the interests of one class for another without significant concurrence on the ends chosen (in this case, ameliorating privation), and that no social contract amongst the governed should render it impossible for individuals to pursue their life ends because they must sacrifice their interests for others.

I am an unapologetic culturalist, and I believe western values, specifically, the Greco-Roman culture informed by the values of the Enlightenment, including the English-American principles of jurisprudence and individual rights, are vastly superior to the alternatives, and that they ought to be preserved and promoted.

The tyranny of the majority, though democratically achieved, is as pernicious as any other authoritarian system, which is why a constitutional system of law that protects the liberty of individuals and minority interests from the whims of the majority is of paramount importance.

Education (by which I broadly mean the liberal arts, including language, numeracy, and science) of the population is the best social security and guarantor of a free and prosperous society, and it ought to be a national priority. Our primary and secondary systems are in disarray, and this represents a great threat to the well being of future generations and our national security.

Capital punishment ought to be abolished, not because all life is sacred, but because it is administered unfairly and it places too much power in the hands of the state.

The war on drugs is a complete failure and their illicit status is an accessory to the growth a vast criminal underworld. Drugs should be legal, regulated, and taxed. It is illogical to allow alcohol consumption but not allow the use of other narcotics, some of which are demonstrably safer and less addictive, which is not to say the use of such substances in a manner that endangers others should be permitted any more than with alcohol. And in any event, drug addiction should not result in incarceration, but treatment. Our prisons, holding the largest population in the world... even more than otherwise repressive states...are full of people who do not belong there.

Homosexuals should have all the same rights as heterosexuals under the law, including the right to marry and serve in the military.

The state should have nothing to say or do with religion other than to protect the right to practice it freely (as long as the practice does not infringe upon others' rights, e.g., pedophilia, stoning women, etc.). Religious organizations should be given no special tax status.

The magnet for illegal immigration is primarily economic. Protect the borders, yes, but severely clamp down on the sources of the problem, namely, employers that hire illegals and government programs that subsidize them beyond what is necessary to protect the public health. Don't criminalize individuals seeking to feed themselves and their families, which most of us would do given similar circumstances; they are victims more than criminals. With that said, we are not in a position to help everyone. We should quit mollycoddling corrupt governments who create the unconscionable conditions leading to a diaspora of their indigenous populations.

I believe animal suffering induced by mankind is one of the great moral problems that we face, one that is getting worse rather than better by the growth of the food-industrial complex. Moral agency requires rationality; however, being an object of morality requires only the capacity to suffer and lose one's life, which broadens the moral realm considerably beyond human beings.

Good is variously defined, but evil is a more circumscribed and tractable notion, I believe, the essential components being death and suffering. By whatever description, however, no one desires these objects of irrational desire, death and suffering, for their own sake and without justification.  An impartial extension of avoiding the objects of irrational desire makes them other-directed.  This results in a small set of moral principles that are universal, unlike competing and often incommensurable theories of the good, including but not limited to various utilitarian and religious notions. However these rules are not absolute. Impartiality and prescriptive universalization, taking into account the essential facts at hand,  provide us with a means of adjudicating moral exceptions to these rules.