Monday, August 4, 2008

ZenTiger Loose Change

All the morality and all the rights in the world plus a dollar will get you a cup of coffee. If you have some means of enforcing the morality or rights, then you might get the coffee without the dollar.
Mike Huben

Could I have a cup of coffee please?

5 comment(s):

nyokodo said...

Nothing is ever free, so if you are not paying then someone else is. The dollar, or simply wealth, is always involved.

Anonymous said...

IMO Zen morality has nothing to do with it. Capitalism will get you a cup of coffee. Force will get you a cup of coffee. Rights may get you a cup of coffee.

Capitalism is not necessarily moral, force definitely is not.
An no one has a *right* to a cup of coffee.

Just my opinion.

ZenTiger said...

I found this quotation interesting precisely because it provokes such discussion as outlined above.

If the problem is getting a cup of coffee, then we can sit back and watch people use all sorts of reasons to get that cup of coffee.

Those reasons invariably are backed by the the stone tablets of rights, morality, social democracy, or whatever.

This may not be an issue of morality, per se, but that will not prevent others from declaring this an issue of morality.

The quickest, easiest, most productive way of getting a coffee has always been trade.

But I think the morality comes in at a different level. How did party A get their dollar? How did party B front up with the coffee?

Nothing is ever free (as Universal says), and mostly the payment comes later. Even for the first person to peg out an area of land and say "this land is mine. I have invented property" they may have got something for free, but the payment comes later when they devise methods to protect that property. Have they ever truly owned the land, or just what the land, through dint of their efforts, has produced for them?

Now I'm diverting to Rousseau, or even Locke. I think I'll save that thought for another time!

nyokodo said...

Luckily Zentiger, we live in a society which assumes innocence. And it's a wise assumption because the vast majority of people gain wealth primarily by their own labour, or the labour of someone else who chooses to hand over that wealth voluntarily. So asking where they got their wealth is moot. That goes for both subject A who had currency and subject B who had coffee.

Coffee is a luxury so whoever composed that quote thinks we have rights to luxuries which is patently false. We have a right to everything necessary to life and maintaining the most fundamental levels of human dignity. Coffee does not come under any of that.

For the sake of argument we could say that Coffee was necessary for life. In that case if someone were without coffee and had absolutely no ability to work for it nor any recourse to charity then it is not immoral to take some by force from someone who has more than they need. However this situation is very rare and should be the absolute last resort because it can have very nasty ramifications.

Essentially private property rights are sacrosanct up until the point where someone else's utterly fundamental rights are definitively and perpetually not being met by no fault of their own.

ZenTiger said...

Coffee is a luxury so whoever composed that quote thinks we have rights to luxuries which is patently false.

Now I get a different interpretation from Huben's quote.

Firstly, I think he picked coffee as simply a common thing that people buy.

I don't think his quote is justifying rights at all. He is saying only "a dollar will get you a cup of coffee". Everything else before that is immaterial to that one point.

This is backed up by his next sentence: If you have some means of using force, then you can get the coffee in other ways than paying a dollar (trade). I don't think that means he condones taking the coffee by moral right or otherwise - it's simply an observation that it takes force (the threat of force) to take some-ones coffee.

Is this different than your interpretation?

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