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02/04/2003 Archived Entry: "FOX column on adultery"

On the Political Front:

Bush's announced budget involves deficits of more than $1.084 trillion over next 5 years -- *excluding!* war in Iraq.

No wonder he is urging consumers to forget about spiking unemployment and the precipitous rise in the cost of essentials like heat: the "people" should follow his example and spend, spend, spend! Debt is the door to salvation. DON'T LISTEN! Take care of your family and friends first. Budget carefully. Get out of debt. Live beneath your means. Own don't rent or lease. The economy cannot sustain the feckless orgy of government spending and economic dislocation being piled high. Take care of yourself.

On the Personal/Movement Front...

This week's FOX News column is on adultery -- it analyzes that practice and argues against it. (Or, rather, I provide as much analysis as 850 words permit). The column springs directly from last week's theme of Vices are Not Crimes, in which I argued that "vices" should be addressed through non-violent, non-legal means. What, then, should be done about vices on both a personal and societal level? On a personal level...every human being has to choose and be left free to do so. On a societal level...vices *will* be legislated against unless 1) a groundwork of respect for personal liberty is laid *and* 2) non-legal strategies for dealing with vices that "disrupt" others are developed. Unless the latter is pursued, the default position will become "there oughta be a law."

For years, I took a hands-off approach to applying my personal ethics to societal issues -- that is, with the glaring exception of applying the non-aggression principle. And, yet, my opinions on morality are as strong as they are on politics and rights issues. Perhaps my current desire to discuss morality is a harbinger of aging but I find it unsatisfying always to argue only for "anything that is peaceful." This principle must be form the underpinning of all human interaction but it is not sufficient.

Otherwise stated: rights tell me what I must not do to others. I must not batter, rob, defraud, etc. my neighbors. But abstinence from violence is such a part of my nature that it never crosses my mind to batter, rob and defraud people anyway. So there is a real sense in which rights theory -- as necessary as it is -- doesn't tell me much about how to live my life. it doesn't tell me whether I be kind or cruel, betray trust, exploit the weak, co-operate to build a community, or shun others. How highly should I rate family, marriage, friendship, compassion...? For that matter, what is friendship? Rights theory does not significantly help me in these areas.

There is no hard-and-fast objective answer to most ethical questions beyond the most basic ones -- e.g. Thou shalt not kill. In each instance, the answer depends too heavily upon an individual's goals and personality. But acknowledging a large subjective component in many value questions doesn't remove the need for vigorous discussion. It makes discussion all the more essential. In the future, I intend to give the answers on which I've arrived at through some pretty hard years of living.

(BTW...altho' response to this week's FOX column has been overwhelmingly positive, there is one criticism voiced repeatedly: namely, that Monica Lewinski was NOT gullible. Okay, okay! I thought she'd swallow anything but I could be wrong.)

Samuel Konkin III's commentary on Virginia Heinlein's recent death is an interesting addendum to the Los Angeles times obituary. SEK3 writes, "Amazing how they managed to leave out The Moon is A Harsh Mistress, Heinlein's masterpiece, and all suggestions that he was a Movement Libertarian. (He even slipped up a couple of times and voted for LP candidates, e.g., Hospers for Governor in 1974. But we [non-political libertarians] forgave him; he was just too important to us.) Virginia, by the way, converted RAH from Upton Sinclair EPIC socialism to Old Right proto-libertarianism during World War II; he went the rest of the way to "rational anarchy" with the help of Murray Rothbard and Robert LeFevre, the latter rewarded as character "Bernardo de la Paz" in _Harsh Mistress_." See ya at TorCon, SEK3.

Best to all,

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