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

Brett Paatsch bpaatsch at
Sat May 21 06:21:32 UTC 2005

Mike Lorrey wrote:

> --- 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 am aware that you aggitate strongly for your views and I do respect
you for that. We're you to die today it could not be fairly said of Mike
Lorry that he went quiety into the good night and he was not concerned
with the important ssues of his time.


Do you think you have been *effective* to date in plugging "the right
to clone" as you call it? Do you think you could be still more effective?

Do you think that I could help you be more effective?

>> >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).

If you want me to look at those cases you'll first have to tell me
why they are relevant, and then, preferably give me a link to them
to same me chasing them.  I don't have the time to spend sourcing
three cases that for all I know you are only citing above because
you have heard about them from second or more hand sources.

>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.

I'd be very interested to see where if anywhere you think the constitution
prohibits embryonic stem cell research.

>  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.

You say "even if" indication that you are not sure.

Please show me the basis of your legal assertion here so that I know
that you are not just making this stuff up. I suspect that you are relying
on what you may regard as "authoritative" sources or experts and that
I might not share your confidence in those authorities.  This is a 
between Brett Paatsch and Mike Lorry, I am interested in what Mike
Lorry thinks but not in what Mike Lorry guesses or assumes on the
basis of accepting undisclosed authority.

>> >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.

That seems ludicrous to me. Do you actually think that all political
discussion aimed at influencing policy about how taxes revenue can
best be spent amounts to encouraging people to rob others with a

>If it were a mob boss or drug gang leader you were
> going to, your actions would constitute conspiracy to commit larceny.

I am not doing that, I am talking to you.

>> (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. "

Please tell me that you took a look at the link and whether you found it
persuasive.  I will then feel more confident that I am not wasting the time
I am investing in you.

>> > 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
> such.

Roughly, I don't believe that, I hold that. The distinction between
believing and holding matters to me.  I would be ashamed to assert
a belief.

>> > 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?

No I don't *believe* anything. I reckon. I think. I reason. I assume
some things sometimes (at my risk) but I do not believe things.

I hold that two or more people can make a contract with each other
that amounts to mutual assurances that promises will be kept. Were
there no laws or governments those two people could start to build
them (laws and governments) up again.

If the whole world underwent a disaster and you and I found ourselves
back in the stone age then you and I could start to rebuild civilization
if only you and I thought that we could trust each other to keep our

> 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.

There is merit in you view but it is limited I assert and therefore
mistaken. You are decoupling rights from the principle of keeping
promises which at basis is the source of both rights and duties (or
responsibilites) and so ultimately, of society and of law.

Rights exists today only to the extent that people keep their promises
to other people. As a matter of historical fact and of evolution some
promises, some social constructs, some government forms, "emerged"
and evolution was involved in that but there was nothing essentially
inevitable about the particular forms of those things that evolved.

The rights that exist today and tomorrow will only exist to the extent
that persons agree to accept particular responsibilities as part of
the exchange of promises.

>> 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.

Were you to find yourself standing alone in a universe of persons
asserting that you had a right, then either you would or you would
not depending on whether or not some promise had been made you.

If no promise had been made you then you would have no right.

You might fight for your imagined right with all the passion of a
brute fighting to survive or dominate but if no promise had been
made you, you'd have no moral claim to call in allies to assist you.

> I do not lose the ability to sail around the world if
> society believes it is flat.

True but irrelevant.

>> 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?

Without really straining I can't imagine it Mike. Too many things that I
know are real get in the way of me imagining it.  A 16 - 18 year old
healthy human body could not grow in any artifical womb that I think
that both you and I can conceive of.

>> > 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.

So you *do* recognize that we do need to have some laws.

Please understand I was not claiming to be a libertarian I was claiming
to have sympathy for leaving discretion in some places out of practical
necessity because more harm than good comes of having too many
laws with too fine a granularity.

>> > 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.

I don't understand this comment.

>> [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 ]

I note that you did not split the thread into separate ones as you
might have. I am taking that as evidence of how much time you
are prepared to commit to this and responding accordingly with
how much time I am going to commit.

>> >> 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.

This is simplistic. The judiciary has to do more than just that Mike.
There was no single originial intent of the Constitution, how could
there have been, it was a document put together by multiple people.

Further the Constitution is a high level construct with provisions
for lower level constructs to bolt into it - things like statutes etc.

> 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.

I can't from memory recall exactly what they swear. But this sounds
about right.

> When they become an enemy, by  violating the Constitution, they
> violate their oath of office.

And that is a breach of promise. Like you, I'd find that morally

>> >   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.

Essentially yes.

> 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.

I don't know about that.

>> > "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.

You not just reading though, I thought you were trying to persuade
me (and perhaps others).

> 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?

No I don't assert that.

> The case files are
> filled with instances of persons being unconstitutionally taxed.

So you assert.

>> 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.

This rings true.

>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 rights true.

> 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.

I do live in Oz, but I have given serious thought to emigrating to the
US so I am interested in the US for personal reasons as well.

> 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
> Australia.

No changing the constitution in Australia is substantially harder
than simple majority rule.

> If a law is ruled unconstitutional, Congress must pass a new law which
> does pass constitutional muster, or that one will get tossed too.

Same here in Australia.

Brett Paatsch 

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