8 Ways to Obtain Contraception Without Violating Everyone Else’s Liberty

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the ways contraception can be obtained without violating the rights or liberties of others:

  • Pay for it out of pocket.
  • Split the costs with your significant other.
  • Buy a health insurance policy that voluntarily covers it.
  • If your employee health plan does not cover it, negotiate with your employer for contraception coverage.
  • If your employee health plan does not cover it, negotiate with your employer to be paid in cash, rather than medical benefits, and then use that cash to buy the medical benefits of your choice.
  • If your employer refuses to pay you in cash, campaign to remove the government regulations requiring your employer to pay you in benefits instead of cash.
  • If your employer refuses to pay you in cash, campaign to remove the tax benefits your employer receives for paying you in benefits instead of cash.
  • If your employer continues to refuse to pay you in cash after all government incentives against it have been removed, search for a different employer who respects your personal choice a little more.

And here is a list of the ways to obtain contraception by violating the rights and liberties of everyone else:

  • Campaign to use the force of government with the threat of taxes, prison, or violence, to mandate others to buy you contraception.
  • Steal it, or the money to buy it, with your own hand.

Yes, ladies, this same logic applies to Viagra as well.

Does I.Q. Predict Success?

I came across a forum thread discussing this article, which points out that SAT scores and I.Q. tests are high-resolution, strong predictors for the probability that an individual will patent, publish, and/or earn a doctorate. The article goes on to argue that innate talent is more important than hard work for predicting career success.

I think this conclusion misses some of the selection bias inherent in the SAT. I’ve witnessed friends (who happened to be particularly open about their scores) jump several percentile points year over year by attending SAT classes. Hard work and training can, in fact, drastically change how you measure on the SAT and other I.Q. tests, making them not particularly good at directly measuring innate talent. I think it is more likely that those who have the skills and academic drive necessary for academic success are simply more likely to work hard to improve their SAT scores, since good SAT scores are a gateway to good education and high-skill jobs. In other words, those who focus more on trying to look academically successful will inevitably become more successful in academics. It’s just another way of saying that people tend to get what they strive for.

But that’s not to say that intelligence or other innate talents are irrelevant to success. SAT scores and I.Q. test a very specific skill very effectively: the ability to recognize and evaluate simple patterns very quickly. They do not test other forms of intelligence that are easily recognized as crucial components of genius. These include creative inspiration, the ability to break down complex problems into solvable ones, and the ability to flawlessly follow a long trail of logic to its inevitable conclusion.

Have you ever known someone who always thinks carefully and speaks slowly, yet everything they say is absolutely uniquely brilliant? I know several people like this. Those people would score poorly on IQ tests due to the timing of it, but can out-think even the fastest pattern-solvers if you give them the time for it. They simply devote their mental resources towards quality and reflection rather than speed. Some of these individuals even choose not to pursue academic fields, despite their capabilities, preferring instead to focus on other hobbies, like entrepreneurship, art, or developing some component of their personal lives.

All of these forms of intelligence are necessary in some degree for true genius. Even then, genius alone won’t bring you success without confidence, perseverance, and a sense of purpose. The first step to being successful is figuring out how you, in your own life, would define “success.”

What is Civilization?

What is civilization? What is it that separates humans from the animals, and more civilized humans from the less civilized ones? The artist will tell you that civilization is the capacity to produce art. The scientist will tell you that civilization is a society that can contemplate its own existence. The engineer will tell you that civilization is the ability to build newer and greater technologies that improve the human condition. The businessman will tell you that civilization is the organization of labor to generate products in efficient ways. So who is right? Are any of them actually wrong? Is civilization just a conglomeration of different skills that all happened to be developed in humans, just because we’re smart or special or whatnot?

The property of being civilized doesn’t come from these attributes. Rather, these attributes all come from a root cause- some root “specialness.” So between all of these special abilities, what is the common thread? What do we really mean when we call one person civilized and another uncivilized?

After observing ancient artifacts in the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan today, it became pretty clear that the beginnings of civilization are recognized in the ability to produce and preserve things that take a great amount of time and effort. Using a stick as a tool to harvest termites is intelligent, but it’s not necessarily civilized. But the technique of identifying specific ores or clays, skillfully shaping them into useful vessels, taking the time to decorate them with designs, and baking them in furnaces specifically designed for that purpose? Now that’s civilization. Making a profession out of cutting elaborate jade idols by rubbing stone down with nothing more than sticks and string? Now that’s civilization. Cultivating farms of wheat or rice to trade for other goods? Now that’s civilization. The common theme here is clearly the organized or systematic production of value using human ingenuity. But why did some societies develop these capacities while others remained less “civilized?” Why did humans develop these capacities while other animals did not? Is it all just chance?

If you spent hours, days, or weeks of your short, neolithic life making a decorated ceramic vessel for storing grain (instead of spending that time seeking more food), and then someone else came along and took it (or smashed it), how likely would you be to make another one? If you spent days designing and building a furnace to cast metals, and then someone else immediately decided they were going to take it over, would you bother trying again, or would you return your focus to day-to-day survival? Without the ability to protect your own creations from destruction or theft, creativity is pretty pointless. We cannot have cultural or technological innovation unless the fruits of those labors are protected for the creator’s use. In other words, property rights are a fundamental component of civilization.

With the protection of property rights, there is a major evolutionary advantage to developing skills besides those necessary for basic survival. You can create tools to make survival easier. You can create decorative objects of great value that you can trade for the means to survive. You can specialize your labor and accumulate property with the certainty that you are not leaving yourself at a disadvantage against those who simply take what they want. When the protection of property rights fails (or never existed) societies fail to develop because there is no evolutionary advantage to creating anything of value. When value is ephemeral, putting time and effort into seeking it will just leave you at a disadvantage in the animalistic struggle for survival. Hence, no species or society that fails to recognize any form of property rights will ever evolve the capacity to develop culture, technology, or infrastructure. Meanwhile, any species or society that simply develops the means to recognize and protect property rights will grow, diversify, innovate, and prosper. The better the protection of property rights, the faster that civilized development will occur.

The earliest form of property rights that humans developed was a very centralized, authoritarian version of it. The leader of the tribe, or clan, or empire decides who gets what, and resolves all property disputes through binding judgements. Rather than engaging in a pure “might makes right” formula, these early civilizations operated by the rules of, “might makes leadership, leadership assigns rights to everyone else.” This certainly wasn’t the pinnacle of civilization, but it does allow for some forms of property rights to be assigned to some classes of people, providing a slight elevation of civilization above the purely animalistic realm. The warlord unifies a large region, preventing (or at least trying to prevent) other warlords from rising up and taking whatever they want. If only one person can steal from you, your property is still safer than when anyone can steal from you. So the artisans are free to practice their crafts in relative safety, offering their products to the warlord in exchange for the means of survival.

Several societies eventually grew tired of living only in service to kings and emperors. Decentralization of control over the arts in Ming Dynasty China led to a massive diversification of styles (in literature, painting, ceramics, etc.), within a larger shift to a prosperous market-based economy. The Magna Carta in 13th century England laid the constitutional foundations for the culturally and economically prolific British Empire. Allowing people other than the central leader to have consistent rights protecting their property allowed many more people to produce creative works without fearing the loss of their labors to the whims of the ruling class. Through market capitalism, artisans could also finance their works without imperial subsidies.

Of course, this protection of property rights was not complete. It took about half a century for a conscious philosophy of individual liberty to be hashed out. Implementation of liberty was attempted through the American Revolution in the 18th century. The spread of property rights to democratic majorities again produced an economic and cultural revolution that reshaped the societal structure of the entire world. Suddenly, diverse products became available to most people, and nearly anyone could become an artisan and express their creativity in exchange for the means of survival. But the democratic system meant to produce this liberty was imperfect, still allowing elected majorities to have the power to infringe on property rights, even continuing the practice of enslaving certain classes of people for decades. The populist philosophies of communism, socialism, and fascism arose, questioning the value of property rights to the lower-skilled classes. These philosophies of majoritarian rule reverted entire countries to the uncivilized practice of predatory survival. This time, however, it was majorities preying on a small number of productive people, rather than the ancient practice of an elite minority leeching off of the labors of the masses. This has inevitably restrained the creative potential inherent to humanity by encouraging survival by dependency, while making it more difficult to navigate the regulations that still control the productive arts.

So this is where we are now. We, as a humans, have not yet progressed to the point of implementing the entirely non-predatory system that would mark a fully-civilized society. But of course, that isn’t for lack of inspiration. Libertarianism is a philosophy which extends property rights to all aspects of human endeavor, and renders them inviolable. Defined in terms that span the history of civilization, Libertarianism is a system where, if you make a bowl, you (not an emperor, not an elite class, not a majority) get to decide what to do with that bowl, but you can’t force someone to do what you want with their own bowl. Implementation of this philosophy globally would complete the transition to civilized coexistence from predatory animalism. But therein lies the challenge. The idea exists, so why has it not yet been implemented?

The entire political history of humanity can be characterized as a gradual progression towards increasing levels of civilization. We, as a species, have made remarkable progress across the millennia. Yet, this progress has been intermittent, inconsistent, and slow. But what has changed about humans that has allowed this progress to occur? From the establishment of non-family governments, to the extension of property rights beyond the ruling family took thousands of years. From the formalization of individual rights to the first explicit attempt at their implementation took hundreds of years. Will the implementation of Libertarianism only take tens of years from the moment it was first fully defined as a philosophy? To reach that level of civilization, do we need to evolve intellectually, culturally, or biologically? Is the fact that I and others are writing pieces like this a hint that we may be on the brink of that transition towards greater civilization?

Liberal Intolerance

Something we often hear from self-described liberals is that you must be tolerant of people “from all walks of life.” But do they really take their own admonitions to heart? Andrew Cuomo, the current Democrat acting as Governor of New York, had this to say about people he considers “extreme conservatives”:

The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE Act — it was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate! Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.

With a very generous reading of his statements, I can understand the hatred of anti-gay and pro-life perspectives in terms of being intolerant of intolerance. So let’s just set that aside for now. What I cannot possibly understand is his comment about “pro-assault-weapon” people. So it’s okay to be blatantly intolerant of people who prefer to defend themselves rather than lay down and die? Is it okay to be an ignorant bigot against people who prefer liberty as a first principle? I mean, what if I were to say, “People who don’t like guns don’t belong in this country. There’s no place for you here.” Does that sound at all enlightened or worldly? How can you consider yourself a “tolerant” or “accepting” person if you believe that people who don’t share your principles should be turned into pariahs who can be fined, imprisoned, or exiled? So is all the liberal talk about tolerance just complete bullshit? A cynical political tool?

Now, I don’t want people to think I’m overgeneralizing based on one comment from one politician. Cuomo is not alone in his intolerance of non-liberals. This intolerance is neither isolated, nor unrepresentative. In fact, it is systematic, and has been documented. The linked review is pretty accurate, but if you’re not convinced, I highly recommend reading Jonathon Haidt’s whole book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. It’s truly cutting-edge.

The key observation I’d like to call attention to is that conservatives understand liberals, and believe liberals are “good people with bad ideas.” Meanwhile, liberals are, for the most part, completely ignorant of conservative principles, and do a terrible job of predicting how conservatives will react in particular scenarios. In other words, conservatives have a realistic view of liberals, but still reject their ideas, while the liberal view of conservatives is a cartoonish straw man that unrealistically kicks puppies and takes pleasure in the suffering of others. Conclusively, the liberal hatred of their intellectual opponents is not rational consideration, but ignorant bigotry.

So when liberals attack intolerance, are they just projecting their own weaknesses?

During my time engaging in political debates, I’ve encountered plenty of ignorance about my political philosophy, libertarianism. If you’d like to actually understand what we believe, Jonathon Haidt has recently published an excellent, well-supported, independent description of libertarian moral foundations. If you don’t understand how libertarians can believe what we believe, please read it. We tolerate you and your lifestyle, so why not make an effort to tolerate us?

Obamacare Infographic

Infographics are often a great way to explain complicated concepts without walls of text.

Here’s a good one that was shared with me describing some of the fundamental technical problems with Obamacare.
Colors to Die For
Source: Healthcare-Administration-Degree.net

Obama Administration Debates Dying Cancer Patient

Obama’s senior adviser, Dan Pfeiffer, just called a terminal cancer patient a liar, blaming her insurance company for being driven out of business by Obamacare.

At least Obama wasn’t lying when he said, “I’m really good at killing people.”

Will Single-Payer Solve the Obamacare Problems?

The popular response among progressives to the Obamacare trainwreck (higher costs, dropped coverage, incompetent mismanagement) is to suggest that all of this would be better if we had just enacted single-payer (i.e. nationalized/socialist) health care in the first place. But do you really think the same government that was too incompetent to manage a website and run the health insurance industry will be competent enough to run the entire health care industry directly?

If you nationalize all of this, those additional costs that Obamacare created through centrally-mandated inefficiencies won’t just go away. They’ll get worse as the government takes more of the decisions away from the health industry professionals, replacing their time-tested judgements with those of politicians. The only thing that will change to make anyone’s life easier is we’ll be paying for it through taxes rather than through insurance companies. But shuffling the costs around like that doesn’t make them go away. We will have to pay those costs, or our country will default, and then we’ll all be facing total economic devastation.

Socialist health care doesn’t fix fascist health care. It only sweeps the costs of inefficient centralized management under the rug and pretends they aren’t there.

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