Friends and Fans — I have retired from my work as a public intellectual, so Philosophy in Action is on indefinite hiatus. Please check out the voluminous archive of free podcasts, as well as the premium audio content still available for sale. My two books — Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame and Explore Atlas Shrugged — are available for purchase too. Best wishes! — Diana Brickell (Hsieh)

High Taxes, Infanticide, EMTALA, and More

Q&A Radio: 12 May 2013

I answered questions on taxes versus slavery, infanticide after abortion, emergency medical care, and more on 12 May 2013. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio below.

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life... far and wide. That's why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.

My News of the Week: I attended the hearing of the Colorado Supreme Court regarding the Coalition for Secular Government's lawsuit in federal court. The main question discussed whether a single sentence of express advocacy in our policy paper makes the whole paper a policy paper or not. I'm still working on editing the galley proofs of soon-forthcoming book, Responsibility and Luck (a.k.a. my dissertation). Of course, that's taking longer than I'd like.


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Segments: 12 May 2013


Question 1: Taxes Versus Slavery

Question: Are high taxes comparable to slavery? On Facebook, some friends suggest that America is becoming more like Nazi Germany. Others share images comparing Americans workers to slaves picking cotton in the antebellum south due to our ever-higher taxes. I think these comparisons go way too far: Americans are still some of the freest people the world has ever known. No doubt, our freedom is being chipped away, but are we really like slaves?

Answer, In Brief: Advocates of free markets discredit their cause by likening taxation to slavery. Slavery is the complete and utter violation of the rights of persons. It's a far worse horror than taxation, with differences in kind, not just degree.

Tags: Activism, Apocalypticism, Epistemology, Government, History, Language, Politics, Slavery, Taxes

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Question 2: Infanticide After Abortion

Question: Is killing a baby born after an abortion a form of murder? Kermit Gosnell is currently on trial for murder, due to accusations that he killed infants who were delivered in abortions at his clinic. If the facts are as reported, should he be convicted of murder? What should be done when a baby is born alive during an abortion? What are the likely cultural and political implications of this trial?

Answer, In Brief: According to the testimony at the trial, Kermit Gosnell did not merely perform abortions: he killed born babies, i.e. persons with a right to life. A person who does that is guilty of murder, and he should be prosecuted and punished.

Tags: Abortion, Children, Crime, Ethics, Infanticide, Law, Politics, Pregnancy, Rights

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Question 3: Emergency Medical Care

Question: Do people have a right to emergency medical care? EMTALA (a.k.a. the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act) is a federal law that requires emergency rooms to stabilize any patient with an emergency medical condition, regardless of the patient's ability to pay. Is that proper? Is that the same as a right to medical care?

Answer, In Brief: EMTALA violates the rights of doctors, based on the false premise of a "right" to health care. In practice, it's a disaster for doctors, hospitals, and the working poor. Ultimately, only scammers and advocates of government-controlled medicine benefit by it.

Tags: Altruism, Charity, Egalitarianism, Emergencies, Ethics, Free Society, Justice, Law, Law, Medicine, Politics, Poverty

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Rapid Fire Questions (59:42)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Is taxation a form of racket?
  • Does your house have dignity?
  • Have you ever noticed people mixing up a right to something and eligibility for it?

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Conclusion (1:06:48)

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio! If you enjoyed this episode, please contribute to contribute to our tip jar.


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The vast majority of Philosophy in Action Radio – the live show and the podcast – is available to anyone, free of charge. That's because my mission is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as I do every week to thousands of listeners. I love producing the show, but each episode requires requires the investment of time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value my work, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, regular contributors enjoy free access to my premium content.

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About Philosophy in Action

I'm Dr. Diana Brickell (formerly Diana Hsieh). I'm a philosopher, and I've long specialized in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I completed my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. I retired from work as a public intellectual in 2015.

From September 2009 to September 2015, I produced a radio show and podcast, Philosophy in Action Radio. In the primary show, my co-host Greg Perkins and I answered questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life. We broadcast live over the internet on Sunday mornings.

You can listen to these 362 podcasts by subscribing to the Podcast RSS Feed. You can also peruse the podcast archive, where episodes and questions are sorted by date and by topic.

My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck." My second book (and online course), Explore Atlas Shrugged, is a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to study Ayn Rand's epic novel in depth.

You can also read my blog NoodleFood and subscribe to its Blog RSS Feed.

I can be reached via e-mail to diana@philosophyinaction.com.

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