Androids’ Rights?

I ran across an interesting question on Quora: When we do start making humanoid androids, should they be afforded civil rights?

I answered this way:

Not unless you can be sure they are sapient— or at least sentient. But even if they are, they would be a separate species, and rights don’t really transfer across species lines. A mouse has no right to not be caught, tortured, killed, and eaten by a cat, nor does a human have the right to not be mauled and eaten by a bear. (Both have the right to fight back against the attack.)

So, the androids would need to first demonstrate that they have rights by the way they interact with each other (ignoring the outliers like we would hope they ignore human bad guys), then maybe we could reach an agreement between our two species where we agree to respect each other’s rights as though we were the same species. I would be willing.

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Accept Everyone You Can

I try to be accepting of everyone. This doesn’t mean I’m accepting of everything everyone does.

Not every behavior is OK. There are lines in the sand I can’t cross, and that when crossed by others, I can’t support.

If someone continues to make crossing one of those lines an integral part of who they are, I can’t keep accepting them. It’s why I admit there can be no such thing as a “good cop”, for example. There are some “jobs” which require– as a condition of employment– the crossing of those lines. Some “jobs” require archation. That’s never OK.

There are also people who simply refuse to see that the line exists, and they’ll cross it without noticing. Just because they are doing what they want, and no one else matters to them. They have no regard for the rights of others when respecting those rights would be an inconvenience.

I’m sure you know people like that.

I’ve never been perfect, and I never will be. But I do the best I can. Part of that is being civil to anyone who is making the slightest effort to live among others without being a thug or an overt parasite.

Yet, this makes me an extremist? I doubt I’ll ever understand why this seems to be such a controversial, radical stance to some people.

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Election 2020: Biden Gets One Thing Right, But it May Cost Him

On June 5, former vice-president Joe Biden’s presidential campaign confirmed to The Hill that Biden still supports the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal taxpayer funds for abortions (with exceptions). His opponents instantly piled on, hoping to erase his commanding lead in the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential primary polls.

Abortion is shaping up as a key election issue to a degree we haven’t seen in decades.  Republican state legislatures are pushing increasingly draconian bans in a play to put Roe v. Wade before what they hope will be a more pro-life Supreme Court bench than in the past. Democratic states are pulling in the other direction, attempting to protect abortion choice over as wide a time frame as possible.

The center isn’t always the best place to be, especially in a party primary cycle. Nor, says my most cynical self, is Joe Biden especially well-known for clinging to principle over party. But in this case that’s exactly what he’s doing … and in this case he’s absolutely right.

“I will continue to abide by the same principle that has guided me throughout my 21 years in the Senate,”  Biden wrote to a constituent in 1994. “[T]hose of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them. As you may know, I have consistently — on no fewer than 50 occasions — voted against federal funding of abortions.”

Whatever you think about abortion as such, that SHOULD be a position most of us can agree on. Even Congress has agreed on it  — 44 times! They passed the Hyde Amendment in 1976 and have renewed it every year since, regardless of whether the House and Senate were controlled by Democrats or by Republicans at any given time.

Who doesn’t agree?

The National Abortion Rights Action League, which defends “access” to abortion but re-defines “access” as meaning “everyone else pays for it.”

Planned Parenthood, which wants its half a billion dollars in annual corporate welfare from Uncle Sugar dispensed without conditions.

Most of the other 2020 Democratic presidential nomination candidates, who want endorsements from NARAL and Planned Parenthood, and the campaign contributions that they expect such endorsements to encourage.

Above, I mention that the Hyde Amendment includes exceptions. Those exceptions are for rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life. The only procedures covered by the federal funding ban are purely elective abortions, and not even all of those.

Obviously pro-life Americans have good reasons to support the Hyde Amendment. But so do pro-choice Americans, if they’re really pro-choice.

Whether or not to have an abortion is your choice.

Whether or not the rest of us pick up the check for your choice should be our choice, not Planned Parenthood’s or NARAL’s.

Stick to your guns, Joe.

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Instead of a US Peace Plan for the Middle East, How about a US Peace Plan for the US?

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo describes the Trump administration’s plan for peace between Israel and Palestinian Arabs as “unexecutable.” President Trump says Pompeo “may be right.”

Good! As addiction counselors say, the first step is admitting you have a problem.  With addiction, the way out is not “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” It’s admitting that the thing you’re addicted to will never solve your problems and giving up that thing.

The United States suffers from a long-term addiction, since at least the end of World War 2, to trying to run the world.

That addiction has cost American taxpayers trillions of dollars.

It’s cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans and millions of citizens of other countries.

It’s empowered evil regimes to suppress human rights both at home and abroad.

And it has never, ever “worked” in the sense of bringing about lasting peace, any more than booze saves marriages or methamphetamine repairs mental anguish.

In fact, just like booze or methamphetamine, the US addiction to world “leadership” wrecks the lives of everyone around the addict too. Which means that if the US gets its act together, everyone else, not just Americans, will be better off.

Here’s a four-step peace plan that addresses the roots of the problem instead of just unsuccessfully trying to treat the symptoms:

First, the US should shut down its military bases on foreign soil and withdraw its troops from the foreign countries they’re currently operating in.

Second, the US should end economic sanctions on, and extend full diplomatic recognition and trade privileges to, all the countries it’s currently bullying.

Third, the US should end all foreign aid, especially military aid.

Fourth and finally, the US should dramatically decrease its so-called “defense” budget to levels consistent with actual defense.

Cold turkey withdrawal may be out of the question, but the US can and should wean itself off the damaging drug of foreign interventionism.

Let the Arabs and Israelis settle their own hash. Quit taking sides between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Stop pretending North Korea is or ever has been a threat to the United States. Step back and let Venezuelans, Syrians, and Libyans decide who’s going to run Venezuela, Syria, and Libya.

It won’t be easy, but it’s not complicated either. The US can continue drinking itself to death on the poison of foreign meddling, or not. Not is better.

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Don’t Advocate Against Property Rights

Libertarians who support the Big Government “border security” welfare program don’t understand property rights. Property rights are the foundation of all rights, so if you don’t understand and support property rights, how can you credibly claim to be libertarian… or to value liberty at all?

“Taxation” is a violation of property rights. If you advocate funding “border security” through “taxation” you advocate violating property rights.

“Eminent domain” is a violation of property rights. If you advocate taking property through “eminent domain” for “border security”, so as to place a wall, fence, or other structure on this property against the true owner’s wishes, you advocate violating property rights.

If you make up rules which prevent people from employing whomever they choose, trading with whomever they want to trade with, associating with whom they prefer, or renting to whomever they reach an agreement with, you are violating property rights. If you support these kinds of rules you are no friend of property rights. You are just as bad as any other thief or trespasser.

Respect– or lack thereof– for property rights doesn’t depend on where a person was born. Those most threatening to my property rights have always been home-grown archators. This doesn’t mean others can’t also be a problem, but to focus on “others” while supporting those who are actually committing the violations right here right now is to miss the point. It looks statist.

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The First Amendment Protects Ex-Politicians Too

Most Americans loathe “lobbyists,” and most Americans think “bi-partisanship” sounds like a good, moderate idea representing compromise and common ground for the public good. So a surprise “bi-partisan alliance” between US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), with the proclaimed goal of passing a bill to ban politicians from working as “lobbyists” — maybe for life, maybe just for some long period — after leaving Congress was bound to get some good press.

It’s a bad idea. It’s an unconstitutional idea. And it’s yet more evidence that “bi-partisanship” is almost always less about the common good than about the one value that America’s two largest political parties share: The desire to have the heavy hand of government make everyone else do things their way.

What’s a “lobbyist?” Someone who “lobbies.” That is, someone who attempts to influence public policy.

If you call your district’s US Representative or your state’s US Senator to ask for a yes or no vote on a bill, you’re lobbying that official.

If you write a letter to the editor hoping to bring public pressure on government officials on an issue you care about, that’s lobbying too.

Suppose you make a sign with a slogan on it and join a crowd in front of a public building to have that sign read by the media and, hopefully, by politicians with the power to act on it? Yep, lobbying.

It’s lobbying if you do it on your own. It’s lobbying if you do it as an activist with a grassroots group. And it’s lobbying if you’re paid to do it by a corporation, a theoretically “independent” policy institute, or a foreign government.

What’s the problem with banning former members of Congress from “lobbying?” Try this on for size:

“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

That’s most of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. It clearly protects your phone calls, your letters to the editor, and your public protest outings in one fell swoop. It includes no exceptions for former members of Congress, or for people who are paid to speak, write, or protest.

Yes, powerful entities with lots of money like to hire former members of Congress to lobby on their behalf.

Yes, there’s a “revolving door” between Congress, the federal bureaucracy, and those lobbying jobs that lends itself to corruption and sweetheart dealing.

Yes, that’s a problem.

No, a ban on those practices isn’t the solution. It’s unconstitutional, it won’t solve the problem, and a threat to the rights of one American — even a former member of Congress — is a threat to the rights of all Americans.

The only practical, constitutional, and moral way to reduce the influence of powerful lobbies over Congress is to give Congress less  power over the things those lobbies care about — a prospect sure to elicit “bi-partisan” horror among politicians.

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