There is no such thing as the “good of society”. It is an indeterminable concept as a society consists only of a multitude of individual men and could include or exclude any number of variations of these individuals. The size and scope of ‘Society’ is dependent upon the particular definition being used at any given time and upon the particular purpose for defining it. ‘Good’ and ‘value’ pertain only to a specified living being as individuals experience varied circumstances and needs. It is impossible to attribute either ‘good’ or ‘value’ to a disembodied aggregate of relationships between individuals.
The “common good” is a meaningless concept, arbitrarily defined by whichever entity holds the position to define it. It provides a moral blank check for those who attempt to embody it. It allows the good of some to take precedence over the good of others, with those others consigned to the status of sacrificial animals. We can be sure that 17th century slave owners defined “common good” in a different manner than their slaves.
The “common good” is a delusion, as the violation of any one individual’s rights results in the abrogation of all rights for all individuals. It sets the precedent that our rights are determined and granted by men, among men, and for the ends of men. It sets the fallacious precedent that our rights are dependent upon circumstance and may vary from generation to generation. It delivers a helpless majority into the power of any gang that proclaims itself to be the “voice of society” operating in the interest of the “common good”.
What is good for the individual is good for the society as a whole. When the individual is free, the society as a whole is free. A free individual has the liberty to determine his own best interest. A free individual cannot be dictated to by a collective, nor a majority, nor even an altruistic executive figurehead in regards to what his best interest is or how his efforts shall expended in the interest of the “common good”. When individuals have liberty to determine their own best interest, society as a whole flourishes. Individuals cannot, and morally, will not, produce under compulsion and controls. And whomever desires to disprove this point will first have to argue and prove that the institution of slavery has done more to advance human society than liberty. They will have to do this in spite of the vast advances in human society experienced in ancient Greece, the Renaissance, and the nineteenth century. And they will have to argue that slavery is still justifiable and good, for the ends of “society as a whole” and the “common good”.
We have a Right to life. That Right is indisputable. Inherent to our individual Right to life are all of the rights necessary to sustain our own life, by our own hands. For if we do not have the rights to take actions required to sustain our own life, then we do not technically possess a right to life.
Within our Right to Life, we have the right to defend our life from those who seek to harm, infringe, or abate our right to it. The infringement of an individual’s Right to defend their life from another, nullifies that individual’s Right to life and in turn, all individuals’ Right to life. It places the individual in a position of dependence upon another entity for the defense of their life with this other entity assuming the individual’s Right. As such, the second amendment is a non debatable issue.
Just as the individual has a Right to life, no individual has the right to take, abridge, or infringe upon the life of another.
To pass a law that places restrictions upon an individual’s Right to life sets the precedent that law may be passed which can limit any individual’s right to life, by the arbitrary decision of whomever holds a position to define the terms of that law. As such, abortion law in its current form establishes the unacceptable precedent that law may be passed in the United States abridging an individual’s Right to life.
If life is defined as beginning at birth, and not conception, then we introduce the factor of opinion into the definition of life. If opinion is a factor in defining life, then the definition can be changed. If the definition can be changed, then the Right to life is not inalienable. It is defined by men and can be abridged or denied by men.
We have a right to acquire, possess, and dispose of private property, which represents the fruits of our individual intellectual and/or physical labor. As the individual’s time on earth is finite, so too, is his labor. The illegitimate denial or diminution of the individual’s private property enslaves him to another, denies him his liberty, and nullifies his Right to life by making his means of sustenance dependent upon the decisions of another entity. As such, property taxes and estate taxes violate the Constitution and violate the individual’s Right to life.
With 12 dead and 58 wounded, the July 20th shooting at the Cinemark Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colorado was sure to result in a lawsuit. On Friday, the first suit was announced, claiming Cinemark has “primary responsibility.” The theater did have responsibility for the attack, but not for the reasons that the lawyers bringing the case think.
The lawyer bringing the suit, Attorney Marc Bern, with the New York city law firm of Napoli, Bern, Ripka and Scholonik, suggested the theater should have had security guards the night of the attack. Yet, checking bags or metal detectors at the front of the theater that night wouldn’t have prevented the attack. The killer brought his guns in through an emergency backdoor.
Armed security guards at movie theaters are rare in low crime areas, such as Aurora, especially on less crowded weeknights. And, with an audience fleeing the theater, armed guards may have experienced difficulty getting quickly inside.
So why did the killer pick the Cinemark theater? You might think that it was the one closest to the killer’s apartment. Or, that it was the one with the largest audience.
Yet, neither explanation is right. Instead, out of all the movie theaters within 20 minutes of his apartment showing the new Batman movie that night, it was the only one where guns were banned. In Colorado, individuals with permits can carry concealed handgun in most malls, stores, movie theaters, and restaurants. But private businesses can determine whether permit holders can carry guns on their private property.
Most movie theaters allow permit holders carrying guns. But the Cinemark movie theater was the only one with a sign posted at the theater’s entrance.
A simple web search and some telephone calls reveal how easily one can find out how Cinemark compared to other movie theaters. According to mapquest.com and movies.com, there were seven movie theaters showing “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20th within 20 minutes of the killer’s apartment at 1690 Paris St, Aurora, Colorado. At 4 miles and an 8-minute car ride, the Cinemark’s Century Theater wasn’t the closest. Another theater was only 1.2 miles (3 minutes) away.
There was also a theater just slightly further away, 10 minutes. It is the “home of Colorado’s largest auditorium,” according to their movie hotline greeting message. The potentially huge audience ought to have been attractive to someone trying to kill as many people as possible. Four other theaters were 18 minutes, two at 19 minutes, and 20 minutes away. But all of those theaters allowed permitted concealed handguns.
So why would a mass shooter pick a place that bans guns? The answer should be obvious, though it apparently is not clear to the media – disarming law-abiding citizens leaves them as sitting ducks.
Concealed carry is much more frequent than many people believe. With over 4 percent of the adult population in Colorado having concealed handgun permits, a couple hundred adults in Cinemark’s movie theater means that there is an extremely high probability that at least one adult would have a permit.
Unfortunately, some have still not figured this out. A manager at the Harkins Northfield 18 five miles from the killer’s apartment told me, the theater changed its policy and started banning concealed handguns following the Cinemark attack.
The recent Colorado and Sikh Temple shootings are by no means the first times that killers targeted gun-free zones. We have witnessed mass public shootings in such places as the Westroads Mall in Omaha, Nebraska and the Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake City, Utah. In both cases, guns were banned at those particular malls, but not at other similar venues that allowed guns and were spared. With just one single exception, the attack in Tucson last year, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.
And remember the 1999 Columbine attack in Colorado. Few appreciate that Dylan Klebold, one of the two Columbine killers, was following Colorado legislation that would have let citizens carry a concealed handgun. Presumably, he feared being stopped during his attack by someone with a weapon. In fact, the Columbine attack occurred the very day that final passage was scheduled.
Gun-free zones are a magnet for those who want to kill many people quickly. Even the most ardent gun control advocate would never put “Gun-Free Zone” signs on their home. Let’s stop finally putting them elsewhere.
“Across the nation, people take to the streets in record numbers to overthrow the greed and politics they say has hijacked the American dream. No longer can you work hard and get ahead, they say: The system is rigged to promote the rich, the powerful and the greedy.”
I think it is high time we give greed a more specific definition. Is it wrong to be self-interested? By natural design we all are self-interested. We want to survive and once having secured survival, we want to flourish. It is how civilizations have been built. How is greed being defined in this quote? Why are some justified in their self-interested greed, while others are not?
Let’s consider the problem of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and the combination of medicinal drugs, including azidothymidine (AZT), used to treat it. AZT, used in combination with other drugs in mixtures called cocktails, is believed to arrest AIDS completely. These drugs were developed by a small group of pharmaceutical companies, which own patents on them, giving them a monopoly. Patents are given on medicine to encourage firms to find cures for various diseases. The monopoly the patent gives them lets them charge a high price so that firms can expect to make a profit from their research. Whether such patents are in the public interests isn’t an issue, since the patent has already been granted.
What is an issue is what to do about these drugs. Currently demand for them is highly inelastic (a change in the price of the drugs will not cause a significant change in quantity demanded, as there are no close substitute drugs) so the price the pharmaceutical companies can charge is high even though their marginal cost of producing [the drugs] is low. Whether they are making a profit depends on their cost of development. But since that cost is already spent, that’s irrelevant to the current marginal cost. Thus, the pharmaceutical companies are charging an enormously high price for drugs that may help save people’s lives and that cost them a very small amount to produce.
What, if anything, should the government do? Some people have suggested that the government regulate the price of the drugs, requiring the firms to charge only their marginal cost.This would make society better off. But most economists point out that doing so will significantly reduce the incentives for drug companies to research new drugs. One reason drug companies spend billions of dollars for drug research is their expectation that they’ll be able to recoup the money expended on research and still earn profits if they’re successful. If drug companies expect the government to come in and take their monopoly when they’re successful, they won’t search for cures. So forcing these pharmaceuticals to charge a low price for their drugs would help AIDS victims, but it would hurt people suffering from diseases that are currently being researched and that might be researched in the future. So there is a strong argument not to regulate.
But the thought of people dying when a cheap cure—or at least a partially effective treatment—is available is repulsive to me and to many others. In the 1990s African countries, where 70% of all people infected with the virus that causes AIDS live, threatened to license the production of these drugs to local manufacturers and make the drugs available at cost. U.S. pharmaceutical companies initially pressured the U.S. to cut off foreign aid if the African countries carried out their threat, but because of the bad public relations that the drug firms were getting, they stopped enforcing their patents in developing countries, making drugs for AIDS available to AIDS patients in poor nations at a much lower price than they do to others (an example of price discrimination).
An alternative policy suggested by economic theory to deal with such drug problems is for the government to buy the patents and allow anyone to make the drugs so their price would approach their marginal cost. Admittedly, this would be expensive. It would cause negative incentive effects, because the government would have to increase taxes to cover the buyout’s costs. But this approach would avoid the problem of the regulatory approach and achieve the same ends. However, it would also introduce new problems, such as determining which patents the government should buy. [You think lobbying is bad now?]
Whether such a buyout policy makes sense remains to be seen, but in debating such issues the power of the simple monopoly model becomes apparent.
David C. Collander, Economics
It is important to consider the repercussions of such regulatory actions. The last thing we need in this environment is another American Dream killing, class warfare argument about how the rich should pay for everything the poor need. Especially in the medical field. Self reliability and responsibility should still play a role in this world, so an ideal solution should involve more than how to address the envelope for the bill.
Price discrimination is the de facto solution currently, much in the manner employed by colleges and universities. Those who can pay, pay a premium. Those who cannot pay are essentially provided with a charitable service. However, price discrimination in this instance is no more just of a solution than price as a rationing method in the case of life saving drugs.
Future solutions need to consider how to properly incentivize and compensate pharmaceutical companies for their massive investments R&D incurred in the creation of treatments for various illnesses. Corporations have every right to their intellectual property as the individual does, or as the individual has to their own labor. If the government of our, or any other nation can revoke a corporation’s ownership of their intellectual property, then it can do it to any corporation, or any small business, or any individual, at any time. And if they can take intellectual property, they can also claim physical property. And when they do that, for what ever issue of the greater good they claim justifies the usurpation of rights, then the individual is no longer relevant or important. We become sacrificial animals to the “greater good.”
Personally, I disagree with the article’s statement that cost of development is irrelevant; irrelevant to marginal cost, but certainly not irrelevant. Debt has to be repaid, financial losses have to be recuperated, so development cost is very relevant. I think the solution for pharmaceutical companies involves the economy of scale; but I am not sitting in their accounting department now, am I? -lbp