Thought Experiments

A Conservative Wakes Up. Thought Experiment

A few may be familiar with my nutshells, in them I tried to isolate the characteristics of a particular ideology. This time you decide, but remember this is a thought experiment and the premise is not debatable.

One day a conservative wakes up from a coma in a world unlike her past world. In this world equality trumps personal freedom. The political structure could be defined as a constitutional cooperative in which decisions are made democratically and an elected court settled issues that any average citizen or minority group could disagree on.

The overall philosophical weltanschauung means no one is super rich and no one poor. The society varies but it excludes extremes. All receive a stipend, so all live securely. All fundamental services are free, these include transportation, education, and healthcare. Work is private, state, and federal but all work is supportive of the society and not just the person or corporation, above average profits are returned to the society. The business person, entrepreneur, artist, does enjoy prestige and a higher standard of living.

The conservatives finds this odd and uncharacteristic but soon grows accustom to the society, she receives a stipend, finishes her education, and finds work in a private industry.

One day the conservative discovers there is another nation in which personal freedom trumps equality. In this place extremes of all kinds exist and government and law exist to defend or to protect power. This nation is basically considered a libertarian capitalistic republic. In this society no stipend system exists and no service is free. While the nations are isolated from each other, each feels, and their media supports their political structure as the best political structure. Movement between nations is possible as both at a base level respect personal freedom.

What does the conservative do and why? Does she stay or leave for a nation that allows more economic freedoms, more profit, and is similar to her core ideological position up to her coma? Or does she change and stay, why?


Thought exercise Which is which?

There are two exclusions to make this interesting. All answers must be true or false.

You are in a chat room talking to a conservative and a liberal. You are allowed only one question to figure out which is which. The question must be about 'love' (Exclusion marriage). What is your question?

You are in a chat room talking to a conservative and a liberal, the liberal voted for Obama, the conservative McCain. Same task as above, but this time the question must be about 'history' (exclusion American presidents). What is your question?

You are in a chat talking to a conservative, a libertarian and a liberal. Again you are allowed one question about 'freedom' to figure out each. What is your question?

Optional answer: If we added a socialist to the third query would your question work too?

Please answer before engaging in the usual negative feedback. If your question is already asked, try another? Easy?


A Moral Question on UHC TE3

This is a simple thought experiment. The basics are factual.

If universal healthcare is passed, your taxes will go up 5%. If UHC is not passed 35 million Americans will die each year because they will not have access to healthcare. The number who die is not important, is it OK to deny UHC to all Americans if even one person dies. If life means what people claim it does, what does it mean to a society who deny its citizens equal right under the law.

What is your vote and why? Please, yes or no, why, and no BS.


Libertarianism in a Nutshell rev1.1

Rand's mother receives excellent care during her pregnancy
rand is born in a public education university hospital
he is well cared for in corporate day care
his parents have health insurance through work
he lives in a neighborhood in which the tax code provides excellent schools, safe playgrounds, good libraries, and other amenities
he attends a private school and his parents can easily afford tutors when needed
his grandparents provide the funds for college
he attends a state funded college and graduates with a business degree
in college he joins a libertarian group
libertarianism fits well with his political ideas
a friend of his father recommends him to a colleague for a job interview
he lands a job through these connections
he marries a woman of similar background and class
they have two children
he repeats much of the life of his parents and finally enters politics
he runs as a libertarian candidate in the republican party
his campaign stresses libertarian principles of individual freedom
free markets are the force that matter
the election is close
rand wins by a small fraction of available voters
he enters congress during a time of heavy budget deficits
an enormous budget package proposal includes reduced corporate taxes and a reduction in entitlements
rand true to his libertarian creed votes yes
his vote is among the deciding votes
many protesters hold signs of disagreement in the streets
breakfast and lunch services are stopped for many poor children
loans are limited for education funds
early child care is reduced dramatically
health care for the elderly also receives a large cutback
rand ponders these consequences but is true to his libertarian creed
after all he made it on his own, didn't he?

Note: Assumptions of impossibility or fictional aspect are not counter arguments. The pretense of future possibilities is not a counter argument.


Four woman live in two different countries, one is a democracy and the second totalitarian. All the woman believe that they live in complete individual freedom. That value is written into the governing documents of each country. One day the two woman from the democracy decide to go on vacation. One woman buys her ticket and gets on a plane to Bermuda. The other woman has limited resources and when she gets to the airport is told she cannot board the plane without a ticket. Finally after much dispute she is arrested and thrown into a state jail.

One day the two woman in the totalitarian state decide to travel abroad. One works in government and gains permission to go to Bermuda. The other woman checks with her local commissar and is told she cannot travel to Bermuda. Travel to Bermuda is not allowed. She disputes the decision and is soon thrown into a state jail. Two woman exercised their freedom two couldn't, yet each held the same value.

If our original premise is they all have equal freedom, why are the results within these two distinct states similar? While the answer is obvious can we then say a person (or a child) with limited resources is free?

with apologies to Adam Swift


Use this handy parable to understand politics

Conservatism in a Nutshell

A man is lost in the woods and it starts snowing, off in the distance he sees a cabin. Slowly he makes his way only to find a locked gate, he rings the bell and a voice asks what he wants. He tells the voice his plight and is told by the voice that there is a church down the road and that they will pray for him.

Libertarianism in a Nutshell

The snow continues and growing more tired and cold, the man sees another cabin, struggling he barely makes it, he knocks and finally opens the door to warm himself. There is a full kettle of hot soup, he helps himself. Soon out of a back room comes a man, he scolds the man and tells him to leave as this is private property. The man stumbles out the door.

Liberalism in a Nutshell

Nearly exhausted the man sees a third cabin. Slowly he makes his way, opens the door and warms himself. There is soup in a kettle and he helps himself. From a back room a woman enters, she sits down next to him and they talk. He sleeps the night on the floor and the next morning goes on his way.

(with apologies to Jeremy Waldron)


Would you buy an al Al-Qaeda made car?
Are you crazy!
Well, would you?
No, they attacked us on 911.
Do you drive a Japanese car?
Yes, why?
They attacked us at Pearl Harbor killing thousands in the Pacific.
That's different.
Well, it happened long ago.
OK then, will you buy an al Qaeda car in a few years.
Go away.
Because you are crazy.
But I am only asking questions.
The Japanese are civilized people.
Then why did they kill so many?
Go the F away!

Walks over to an Amish man?
Would you buy an Al-Qaeda made car?
We don't drive cars.
Would you buy an al-Qaeda made carriage.
We are a forgiving people who do not judge all by one.


One day an insane person woke up from their insanity, they look around and wondered what it all means. They had no idea they were once insane; they had no idea what it meant to be not insane. So walking by a fruit stand they picked up an apple and start to eat it. They smile at the owner who held out his hand for payment. Since the apple was almost eaten the sane man handed the owner the core. The owner shouted this man is insane. The police were called and the man is taken away to an insane asylum. At the insane asylum he is asked several questions to determine if he can be left back into society. What are the questions?

Libertarianism in a Nutshell III

Joe lives in Lalaland. Lalaland is governed by libertarian philosophy. One spring a dreadful sickness starts to take the lives of lalalanders. It is a slow painful death. All the citizens in the capitol meet and argue over the cause. Various theories are put forward: Some argue it a virus, others argue it is a lifestyle problem, still others say it is contaminated food. A vote is taken to form a taskforce to investigate the cause and possible cure for the illness. The taskforce involves all sectors of the economy and will increase their small government budget substantially. Arguments are given on who should run such an expensive endeavor. Meanwhile Joe leaves on a trip to Taxemtodeathland.

Companies in lalaland meet with their boards and debate whether to invest the great sums of money it will take to find a cure. Others claim the illness will run its course and be over soon. Others say profits are down and they just cannot do it. Government officials meet and put forward the proposition they will gather together the teams and help organize the task - but first they must raise taxes. Lalalanders balk at any such use of their taxes or an increase in government size and revenues.

Joe's visit to Taxemtodeath is a success, he finishes his business and mentions the illness in his homeland. A business person asks for the symptoms, Joe describes them and it seems taxemtodeath had a similar illness but a government grant (Think Jonas Salk) provided the monies to find a cure. Joe calls lalaland to give the great news, no answer, he hurriedly rushes home. When he gets there the streets are empty, the cars are quiet, only yellowing posters grace the landscape, 'Shrink Government No More Taxes.'


Libertarianism in a Nutshell IV

The Tortoise and the Hare.

One day the Hare comes out of his hole full of bluster singing that he has just finished 'Atlas Shrugged.' I am the master of all I survey. I alone am important. The Tortoise looks at him confused and asks what is it about, and the Hare tells him that his own happiness is the most important value.

The Tortoise puzzled says, but don't we need each other sometimes to mend a dam or move the earth. And doesn't that make us happy too? Bragging loudly, the Hare says, no Tortoise, I am a free, self sufficient rabbit and you a lowly, slow footed Tortoise.

The Tortoise thinks for a moment and says if that is true then surely you will be able to beat me in a race. The Hare laughs loudly. Why of course I can beat you any time, name the time and place and I will destroy you. Tomorrow Hare meet me in the field, and we shall see who is fastest. The Tortoise hurries home and tells his brother a near look alike his plan. He will stay at one side of the field in a furrow and when the Hare arrives say 'I am here already.'

Next day the two meet and they wager the Hare's new car. The car has made the Hare very happy, but he has no fear of the outcome of the race. So are you ready to lose asks the Tortoise, the Hare laughs loudly and says, I will even give you a head start, go. The Tortoise starts and soon ducks down as the Hare races by. But when he gets to the other side the brother looks up and says, 'I am here already.' The Hare can't believe it, he wants to race back, the Tortoise obliges and soon he is greeted with, 'I am here already.' This can't be says the Hare and so he tries again and again and soon exhausted admits defeat. Unhappy he crawls back to his hole.

The moral of our fable is sometimes happiness comes in twos and reason can trick us. btw the Tortoise never took the car as he cheated but he proved his point at the expense of the Hare.

with apologies to Grimm

"My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute." Ayn Rand




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