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1ball
Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013 10:38:42 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 9/13/2011
Posts: 970
Location: United States
The Scenario

Jeff Bezos, not the wealthiest man in the world but not exactly a piker when it comes to creating wealth, recently happily pissed away an impressive part of his personal net worth to locate and recover pieces of Apollo 11's Saturn V booster rocket on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean in international waters. The US government, choosing to ignore the salvage rights of those who recover abandoned property from the high seas, informed him that those pieces are to be considered property of the United States of America and threatened to tie him up in court on the issue of ownership.

To nobody's surprise, no large outpouring of moral outrage ensued over this legal coercion and Jeff essentially took the path that many take when the deck is stacked against them. He almost certainly would have won his court cases after spending a lot of money, but he still would have been vilified in the court of public opinion as some rich cocksucker who used a(n imaginary) loophole for the rich. So, he plea bargained, promising to donate his legally and morally acquired historically significant jetsam to NASA approved museums in exchange for the promise that some will go to the museum of his choice. To the extent that this is not entirely similar to the actual scenario that recently unfolded, assume or pretend that this is how it really unfolded for the sake of your answers.


The Questions

Was Bezos morally entitled to the scrap/treasure he recovered? Should he have fought the case in court for the sake of future generations of salvors? For those of you who don't want to answer those questions, the alternate question is, will the Apollo 11 engine bell make the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum's ass look fat?


My latest story is too hot to publish. My most recent story before that is Even Stranger In Lust
Monocle
Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 5:01:27 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/19/2007
Posts: 301
"Moral entitlement" is an interesting, but fundamentally untruthful concept. No action is "entitled" based on any particular morality.

Scrapping the treasure would be pretty spiteful and destructive to no purpose, and possibly illegal under the draconian rule of this particular government.

I would prefer Bezos to have fought in the courts in this scenario, but "should he have?" implies a single overarching universal morality that applies to everyone. So, no.

LadyX
Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 8:22:15 AM

Rank: Artistic Tart
Moderator

Joined: 9/25/2009
Posts: 4,813
1ball wrote:

Was Bezos morally entitled to the scrap/treasure he recovered?


I don't know. He was absolutely legally entitled, based on the information given. I don't really understand how morality comes into it. The law states he is entitled, so he is.



1ball wrote:
Should he have fought the case in court for the sake of future generations of salvors?


I can recognize an argument that says he should've, but then again what good is the precedent? You've already established that legally he's on solid ground. But political strong-arming has driven a wedge between Bezos and his own legal rights. What would change by proving what we already know to be true via the court system? What stops the US from strong-arming the next salvor that finds something that the government covets?
1ball
Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 10:30:24 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 9/13/2011
Posts: 970
Location: United States
Monocle wrote:
"Moral entitlement" is an interesting, but fundamentally untruthful concept. No action is "entitled" based on any particular morality.


Then let's rephrase the question as "Would it have been morally acceptable for Bezos to withhold the property from the US?"

Quote:
Scrapping the treasure would be pretty spiteful and destructive to no purpose, and possibly illegal under the draconian rule of this particular government.


Didn't NASA do the spiteful and destructive thing by jetisoning the pieces into the ocean from the edge of Space? The USAF routinely drops fuel tanks from extended range aircraft and makes no attempt to claim them from salvors. NASA made no attempt to recover these pieces. How could it be moral to make it illegal to scrap them?

Quote:
I would prefer Bezos to have fought in the courts in this scenario, but "should he have?" implies a single overarching universal morality that applies to everyone. So, no.


I'm only asking in the context of your personal morality. Put yourself in the shoes of the interested parties and apply your personal morality. He could have auctioned the pieces off on eBay for transfer on the high seas, claimed the income on his taxes, written off the cost of the recovery, fought the case, won, and inspired other salvors with less economic clout to recover more pieces from more Apollo missions, thus creating more global wealth by creating more economic activity. Wasn't he morally obligated to do that?

My latest story is too hot to publish. My most recent story before that is Even Stranger In Lust
1ball
Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 10:47:47 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 9/13/2011
Posts: 970
Location: United States
LadyX wrote:
I don't know. He was absolutely legally entitled, based on the information given. I don't really understand how morality comes into it. The law states he is entitled, so he is.


If he was morally entitled to keep the space junk, then he would have been morally entitled to drive a harder bargain for not keeping it.

Quote:
I can recognize an argument that says he should've, but then again what good is the precedent? You've already established that legally he's on solid ground. But political strong-arming has driven a wedge between Bezos and his own legal rights. What would change by proving what we already know to be true via the court system? What stops the US from strong-arming the next salvor that finds something that the government covets?


This is a quandary of case law. The law of finds is not codified in the US Constitution. That means that case by case law determines results and precedent is used. There is plenty of case law to indicate that he would be successful eventually, but not necessarily in the first court where the case was heard. If his case went all the way to the Supreme Court before he won, then future salvors who lacked the economic clout to fight all the way to the Supreme Court would face lower risk for their investments. Is he, by virtue of his ability to afford the fight, or by any other claim rational or irrational, morally obligated to use his economic clout to protect future salvors from coercive use of the legal system by the government?


My latest story is too hot to publish. My most recent story before that is Even Stranger In Lust
LadyX
Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 11:14:54 AM

Rank: Artistic Tart
Moderator

Joined: 9/25/2009
Posts: 4,813



1ball wrote:


This is a quandary of case law. The law of finds is not codified in the US Constitution. That means that case by case law determines results and precedent is used. There is plenty of case law to indicate that he would be successful eventually, but not necessarily in the first court where the case was heard. If his case went all the way to the Supreme Court before he won, then future salvors who lacked the economic clout to fight all the way to the Supreme Court would face lower risk for their investments. Is he, by virtue of his ability to afford the fight, or by any other claim rational or irrational, morally obligated to use his economic clout to protect future salvors from coercive use of the legal system by the government?


I think it would be of tremendous value to future salvors if he did. Assuming it ever dawned on him what his fight might mean for others, I'd hope he would make that choice. But I think it's overstating it a bit to say he's morally obligated to do it simply because he has the means.
Monocle
Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 4:23:08 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/19/2007
Posts: 301
1ball wrote:

Then let's rephrase the question as "Would it have been morally acceptable for Bezos to withhold the property from the US?"


Yes, given the caveat you're asking "in the context of my personal morality".

1ball wrote:

Didn't NASA do the spiteful and destructive thing by jetisoning the pieces into the ocean from the edge of Space?

Hell no. That question makes you look woefully uninformed on the subject.

1ball wrote:
How could it be moral to make it illegal to scrap them?

I'll let someone else answer that question:
1ballfromtheothertrhead wrote:
What would be the point of making something illegal to do, if it was not considered immoral to do it?


1ball wrote:

I'm only asking in the context of your personal morality. Put yourself in the shoes of the interested parties and apply your personal morality.


The core of my personal morality is 'do not do unto others as you would not have done unto you'. It is _not_ 'do unto others as you would have done to you'. The latter could suggest an obligation toward challenging the salvage law for the good of all. The former does not. If it's not the fight he wants to have, he's not morally obligated to join it. He might have an ethical obligation to fight an unjust law, especially if he has cause to worry about more such laws appearing, but not a moral one.
1ball
Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 9:13:41 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 9/13/2011
Posts: 970
Location: United States
Monocle wrote:

1ball wrote:
How could it be moral to make it illegal to scrap them?

I'll let someone else answer that question:

1ballfromtheothertrhead wrote:
What would be the point of making something illegal to do, if it was not considered immoral to do it?


That's really not an honest and relevant answer. It's a dodge. Why don't you provide and honest and relevant answer?


My latest story is too hot to publish. My most recent story before that is Even Stranger In Lust
Monocle
Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 9:35:09 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/19/2007
Posts: 301
1ball wrote:

That's really not an honest and relevant answer. It's a dodge. Why don't you provide and honest and relevant answer?


We clearly disagree as far as honesty and relevance are concerned, and, frankly, you're way deeper in the honesty hole than I could ever fear being. I think it's funny that you ask those two questions in two different places.

It doesn't have to be moral. Not all laws are based on morality. Some are based on self interest of governments or factions or individuals within the government.

Unless asking in purely technical terms, the phrasing "How could it be moral to do x" implies the asker thinks it's immoral to do x. Why do you think it is immoral for the government to make a law against scrapping salvage?

1ball
Posted: Saturday, August 31, 2013 4:02:00 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 9/13/2011
Posts: 970
Location: United States
Monocle wrote:
Unless asking in purely technical terms, the phrasing "How could it be moral to do x" implies the asker thinks it's immoral to do x.


Assume I'm asking in purely technical terms and please provide an honest and relevant answer to the question.

Quote:
Why do you think it is immoral for the government to make a law against scrapping salvage?


I think we have a right to do whatever we want that doesn't violate someone else's right. Therefore it's immoral for a society to make it illegal to do so. But I want to know what your answer to my question is.

My latest story is too hot to publish. My most recent story before that is Even Stranger In Lust
Monocle
Posted: Saturday, August 31, 2013 4:33:56 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/19/2007
Posts: 301
1ball wrote:

Assume I'm asking in purely technical terms and please provide an honest and relevant answer to the question.



Already answered: "It doesn't have to be moral. Not all laws are based on morality. Some are based on self interest of governments or factions or individuals within the government. "
1ball
Posted: Sunday, September 01, 2013 12:40:55 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 9/13/2011
Posts: 970
Location: United States
The question is, "How could it be moral to make it illegal to scrap them?"

The relevant part of your answer was,

Monocle wrote:




By default, your answer (the one you dare not say) is, "It's not. It's immoral to make it illegal to scrap them because it's immoral to impose control without moral justification."


My latest story is too hot to publish. My most recent story before that is Even Stranger In Lust
Monocle
Posted: Sunday, September 01, 2013 8:18:57 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/19/2007
Posts: 301
1ball wrote:
The question is, "How could it be moral to make it illegal to scrap them?"

The relevant part of your answer was,

By default, your answer (the one you dare not say) is, "It's not. It's immoral to make it illegal to scrap them because it's immoral to impose control without moral justification."


That's an interesting, if incorrect, interpretation of what my answer is and a more interesting, yet still incorrect, interpretation of its meaning. Like countless times before, you judge relevance by your own narrow and unspoken rules, making any divergence from your point of view pointless, and you construct straw men of your own preference and assign them to others. Intellectual dishonesty at its finest.
1ball
Posted: Sunday, September 01, 2013 9:12:54 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 9/13/2011
Posts: 970
Location: United States
Monocle wrote:


That's an interesting, if incorrect, interpretation of what my answer is and a more interesting, yet still incorrect, interpretation of its meaning. Like countless times before, you judge relevance by your own narrow and unspoken rules, making any divergence from your point of view pointless, and you construct straw men of your own preference and assign them to others. Intellectual dishonesty at its finest.


So then, it's the answer you dare not think?

My latest story is too hot to publish. My most recent story before that is Even Stranger In Lust
Monocle
Posted: Sunday, September 01, 2013 9:24:29 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/19/2007
Posts: 301
1ball wrote:

So then, it's the answer you dare not think?


Clearly you think you know it is. You go ahead and debate between you and your assumptions of others. Congratulations on your flawless record.
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