Stem Cell politics was Re: [extropy-chat] Proposal: was-AChillingThought.

Mike Lorrey mlorrey at
Thu May 19 17:58:06 UTC 2005

--- Brett Paatsch <bpaatsch at> wrote:

> From: "Mike Lorrey" <mlorrey at>
> But I'm not sure if you understood what I meant by "plug it". I
> meant take action in the real world with a view to influencing
> and changing policy by influencing and changing the views of
> voters and politicians. To be persuasive on an issue like this
> that is very controversial you'd have to be or become pretty
> knowledgeable so you can share your knowledge with others.
> The way to plug therapeutic cloning is not to browbeat people
> but to engage them in conversation and to inform them of facts
> that they may not currently know and that might once they are
> known cause them to re-evaluate their moral positions to take
> account of those facts.
> Having a good understanding of biotechnology, which is the
> interface between the life sciences and commerce could give a
> person a good knowledge base from which to educate others.

As you might be aware, I'm already rather involved politically. I
already plug the right to clone, the right to GE, as corollaries of the
rights to reproduce, self-determine, and pursue happiness.

> >I don't think that is the debate here. The debate is whether
> > others can be forced at gunpoint to pay for something they
> > may not use, will enjoy no profit from the investment, and
> > morally regard as manslaughter or murder.
> Whether others "can" be, or whether others "ought" be? Are
> you making an argument about morality or about capacity?
> I suspect that you intend to make a moral argument but I'd
> like to be clearer on what you mean.

I speak on both a moral and a legal basis. There are clearly defined
limits as to what sort of laws congress is authorized to pass and what
congress is authorized to spend money on (See US v Lopez, US v Stewart
(9th Circuit), for some choice examples). Last time I checked,
subsidizing the intentional mass slaying of millions of innocents with
no national security objective was clearly not part of the US
Constitution's authorized congressional powers. Even if taxing income
and/or earnings were legal and constitutional, spending those taxes on
subsidizing abortion or the destruction of human blastocysts/embryos
for medical research clearly is not.

> >If you are going to seek to use the gun of the state to fund your
> > research bandwagon, you need to be prepared for those you
> > intend to rob to use the same tool to tell you "hell no".
> I am not interested in robbing people with a gun I am interested
> in persuading them with arguments about public policy.

If you want to pursuade taxpayers, voters, or elected representatives
to pay for such research with public funds, you are interested in
robbing people with a gun. It may not be your gun, and you may not be
doing the robbing, but you are certainly asking that someone do some
robbing with a gun. If it were a mob boss or drug gang leader you were
going to, your actions would constitute conspiracy to commit larceny.

> (Aside: I hope that, as a result of checking for yourself  the link
> that
> up until two weeks, (14 days), we are talking about an embryo not a
> fetus. 
> The distinction matters because a fetus has far more structure and
> development
> than an embryo.)  Its also very small at less than 0.2 millimetres in
> diametre (see the 17 days example at Stage 6).
> By looking at that example I think you can see how Amara must be
> right when she said
>    " *Some* women know very soon when something has changed in their
>     body. Many women do not know, until the next MONTH (at least),
> that they are pregnant. "
> > The real problem is that pro-abortionists base their demands upon
> > their 'right to feel less unpleasant', their right to not be
> > inconvenienced by a child. Except in cases of rape, the woman
> > and man got into that
> > situation in the pursuit of happiness.... you don't get to avoid
> > the hangover of your pleasures.
> Perhaps *some* pro-abortionists do. If so I would not agree with them
> that there is a *right* to feel less unpleasant either. Such a notion
> of rights would be poorly grounded imo.
> >
> > I'm not a contractualist like you might be.
> Actually I do not think of myself as a contractualist. That is not a
> term I can remember hearing before so its not negatively loaded for
> me, and it might be an okay one word stereotype of my standpoint.

A contractualist believes that rights only exist as entities created by
contracts between persons, rather than as a means of the natural
capacities of the individual human animal. The social contract is one

> > I recognise the
> > preexistence of a natural right to live that takes on increasing
> > prominence with the age of the fetus.
> I think rights only arise in a social context.  There would have to
> be a
> God for me to think there were natural rights. Nature isn't an agent.

So you believe that unsigned and/or implied contracts (as in the social
contract) are binding. Utter tyranny. Who gets to define that contract?

There is no need for a god for there to be natural rights. Natural
rights are a consequence of evolution, and therefore, objective truth
as evinced by scientific fact and physical law. As all humans are the
same evolved species, all humans possess the same natural rights.

> This doesn't mean that I couldn't agree in a social context to grant
> some rights to embryos or other forms of living things like animals
> etc,
> but it does mean that I have to balance the books such that there can
> be no rights that are not underwritten in principle by reciprocal
> responsibilities accepted.
> I wonder to whom a person like you would appeal for the upholding
> of a natural right if no one else thought you had that right? Would
> it be G/god?  

That a society denies the existence of my right does not negate its
existence. I do not lose the ability to sail around the world if
society believes it is flat.

> I think that with but one other willing person I can create
> rights (and responsibilities) that did not previously exist. This is
> where your characterisation of me as a contractualist isn't too bad.
> > Is the actual life of the mother more important? Of course it is.
> Agreed.
> > Is her convenience or career goal more important? Definitely not.
> Probably not.
> > At what age does the fetus's right to live override the convenience
> > or plans of the mother? I am almost positive it doesn't happen at
> > two weeks. I know for a fact that it has happened by six months.
> Agree and tend to agree. For me what rights the six month fetus
> has is a matter of law. But what the law could be in future always
> remains a matter of negotiation.

It shouldn't be, unless technology evolves faster or slower gestation
times. Imagine the science fictiony concept of cloning bodies to
physical maturation (biologically 16-18 years old). Is that clone not a
person so long as it is in the artificial womb?
> > Honesty and openness with all parties is all I ask. If DNA checking
> > of such a young fetus is impossible, and the woman is so
> > promiscuous as to not know (i.e. multiple partners per day), it
> > is likely a good choice
> > if she chooses to abort early. I doubt her partners are looking for
> > the responsibility either.
> I respect your desire for honest and openness. But I think you have
> to be practical too. It is not possible to have a set of laws or
> rules to govern every possible contingency sometimes we have to make
> do with guidelines and leave some discretion to the relevant parties
> involved.  In fact leaving as much discretion as possible to the
> relevant
> parties involves where there is not very good reason to override
> that discretion is a pretty libertarian outlook and I have a lot of
> sympathy for that.

Leaving this cool and loose for individuals to kill each other without
legal exceptions, like self-defense, is not libertarian.

> > Honesty and openness versus manipulation and skulduggery.
> Nice principles. But they don't amount to practical policy.

Intolerace of fraud is a practical legally recognised policy.

> [This section seems to be about your views on tax, and why you
> shouldn't have to pay it, and what the various organs of the state
> are.   This also should be a separate thread ]
> >> You seem to be equating taxing you with the crime of theft.  You
> are
> >> calling the state "criminals and accessories to death", but "the
> >> state" makes the law.  The state is not just the executive
> >> government.
> >
> > You are right, it is the legislature that ignores the will of the
> > people and authorizes the theft, it is the courts that legislate
> from
> > the bench to fit their own agendas, and it is the Constitution that
> all
> > three ignore as much as they are permitted to get away with by the
> > citizenry.
> I don't buy this. I don't know that you know what the real role of
> the judiciary is. Its not obvious that you do from what you say
> here.

It is the role of the judiciary to judge the law for compliance with
the original intent of the Constitution, then to judge those under
those laws which pass muster by constitutional means.

Those who take office do not swear allegiance to a flag, or to that
government, they swear to protect and defend the constituion against
all enemies, foreign and domestic. When they become an enemy, by
violating the Constitution, they violate their oath of office.

> >   Let us look at a few things in that document:
> >
> > Article 1 Section 9:
> > "No Capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid unless in
> proportion
> > to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken."
> Okay, I'll take your word for this much.
> > The Federal gov't can't constitutionally issue a tax bill to a
> citizen
> > directly, they must always collect from the states, or through
> > corporate person enterprises in direct federal jurisdiction (in
> federal
> > territories or engaged in international trade). They must tax
> > 'sources', which, given the next section, can only be on federal
> > territories, or american owned enterprises or investments in
> foreign
> > lands, or foreigners doing business in the several states.
> This sound like you giving a legal opinon. Why should I trust that
> your legal opinion is sound?

The Constitution was written to be understood, not to be parsed and
contorted by technobabble and mandarins on high. The concept of an
American Bar Association was anathema to the founders, which is why the
original 13th Amendment was passed and ratified and why the attorneys
of the US, Canada, and Britain have tried so hard to rub out any record
that it ever existed.

> > "No tax or duty shall be levied on articles exported from any
> state."
> Noted.
> > This means the $200 transfer tax on my machine gun is
> unconstitutional,
> > federal and state cigarette duties are illegal, alcohol duties are
> > illegal (if these are produced in one of the several states), gas
> taxes
> > are illegal on gas refined in the US.
> Again this is you giving legal opinion. It does not necessarily
> follow from the material you show me.

No, this is a normally educated person reading the clear language as it
was written and established by precedents which have been fought for.
Neither the federal government nor the states can impose taxes,
tariffs, or duties on interstate commerce. This is why mail order sales
are non-taxable.

> > You might say, "ah, the 16th Amendment changed that". Wrong,
> > the SCOTUS has ruled that the 16th created no new tax or tax
> >  power/authority.
> >
> > I, a private sovereign citizen domiciled in my freehold in one of
> the
> > several states, doing no business for gain in a federal territory
> or
> > foreign nation, do not have 'income'. I do earn a living. You
> figure
> > out the difference.
> >
> > Mike Lorrey
> It would be crazy for me to take on blind faith that your legal
> opinions are valid Mike without doing a lot of work to check them
> out.
> Its possible that some of the terms you use like "sovereign",
> "domiciled"
> "income", "sources" just to name a few have special meaning within
> the legal structure you are operating in and that you don't have the
> legal skills to tease out that special meaning.
> Please do not misunderstand. I am not a lawyer either. I think it is
> good that you try to understand what legal documents mean but if
> you are going to try and persuade me using them you'll have to
> have either a lot of skill to excerpt the right bits or you'll have
> to find a strong reason for me to care enough to do the research
> myself.
> Is it possible that you are being taxed in a manner that is not
> constitutional? For all I know it is possible. Is it likely? No.

So now, after upbraiding me for not being a lawyer, you assert to be a
professional tax attorney, licensed in the US? The case files are
filled with instances of persons being unconstitutionally taxed.

> More to the point even if you are being taxed under laws
> that are invalid what would be the political consequences of
> succeeding in making that case in the relevant court? Wouldn't
> it be that the laws or the constitution would just be changed?

The laws can't just be changed, they are made as if they never were if
they are ruled unconstitutional. If an unconstitutional law is enforced
for a long period of time, then found unconstitutional, objectively the
damages wrought in that entire period are supposed to be repaired or
otherwise compensated for. This is why the Japanese internees got paid
50 years after the fact for their unconstitutional internment during
Congress can't just change the Constitution (I see you liv in Oz, so
you may not be familiar with constitutional law here), it takes a
supermajority vote of Congress plus ratification by 2/3 of the state
legislatures to do so. Many a Constitutional amendment has failed in
this process. This is quite unlike the simple majority rule of UK
"constitutional law", which I assume applies equally to Canada and
If a law is ruled unconstitutional, Congress must pass a new law which
does pass constitutional muster, or that one will get tossed too.

Mike Lorrey
Vice-Chair, 2nd District, Libertarian Party of NH
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
                                      -William Pitt (1759-1806) 

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