organon

A question regarding a particular venue of wealth acquisition, in an ethical context.

339 posts in this topic

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Conclusion: The rational speculator exhibits the virtue of productivity in Rand’s sense.

Correction to the last sentence:

The rational speculator exhibits the virtue of productiveness in Rand’s sense.

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Is there some "physical component" to that thought?

Most thoughts have an emotional (psychosomatic) component or consequence and most thinking is ultimately for the purpose of initiating or directing physical action.

Allow me to emphasize the last part of Betsy's answer. An idea can be very abstract and theoretical, but it is the implications for physical action that make it a value in the sense of enhancing or maintaining one's life. There is a second sense of value for a theoretician or student (qua student): the understanding of the concept or principle, or the solution to a problem, is the goal of his mental action. For instance, Einstein's development of relativity theory was a goal for his effort. My understanding of his theories was a goal of mine as a physics student.

But in a third sense, the theory is just theory until it gets applied. When the engineers and businessmen develop products (like GPS navigation, whose satellites are controlled by software that incorporates relativity into its calculations), then their customers can reap the benefits of these wonderful theories.

An aspect not touch on much in this thread is the connection of production to trade. In order for something to be traded, it must exist in material form. I cannot, for instance, transmit my understanding of physics to another person without making it material in some form, by writing it down or speaking aloud. A theory can also have a material component in that sense.

It is our nature as physical entities that requires values to ultimately be material. It is our nature as living entities that requires that material be consumed (lest we die). It is the fact that something must be created before it can be consumed that necessitates production for sustaining life. It is our nature as conceptual beings that allows abstract thought to aid material production. This is the most fundamental sense in which thoughts can be said to have physical components. It it were to be reduced to a slogan, it could be: "Think -- as if your life depended on it!"

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If he does, then he may feel all warm and and tingly inside just repeating his poem to himself in his own mind. That feeling comes from unleashed endorphins and other chemicals inside his own body. The reason he repeats the poem to himself is precisely for the purpose of achieving that physical/chemical effect.
And that creation is therefore properly identified as 'productive work'?
It definitely is productive since it produces the desired physical effect. How productive it is and whether it is "work" is not all that obvious.
I completed my question after having posted it erroneously. As such, I will ask the missed part again: do the examples I provided (ie the formula and poem) meet the standards of the virtue of productiveness as identified in OPAR - ie that ""Productiveness" is the process of creating material values, whether goods or services."

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...

Let us examine Miss Rand’s conception of productiveness.

And when men live by trade—with reason, not force, as their final arbiter—it is the best product that wins, the best performance, the man of best judgment and highest ability—and the degree of a man's productiveness is the degree of his reward.

Thus, it is the best product, best performance, and best judgment and highest ability that are a measure of productiveness, with man’s reward as a direct indicator of that.

NOTE: I have itemized the quotations below for easy consideration of each element of productivness.

...

3. A constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one's purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one's values

...

Which one item here does the occupation of speculator not fit under? Clearly, he fits under all of them, “in Rand’s sense.”

Item 3 (which is essential to a rational definition of productiveness).

In what way has the speculator, in the context of his role as a speculator, "[remade] the earth in the image of [his] values"? What authentic productive value, that did not previously exist, his he created by means of the trade?

A new way of trading products is certainly a new method of living. To be able to find someone who can find a value for you without you having to search the entire marketplace as one would in a barter system is certainly the function that a speculator fulfills. The speculator is using his knowledge of the marketplace of material values to create a material value for himself: money. He has done much more than just “generate cash.” He has created an entirely new form of marketplace where people trade existential values. Hence, he is productive.

The founders of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, created a marketplace, were productive in this context, and were paid for it.

In what way has the speculator who trades on that exchange, in the context of his action as a speculator, "[remade] the earth in the image of [his] values"?

No rational field may be pitted against any other as "spiritual" vs. "material." All proper fields require thought and action. All exemplify the integration of mind and body.

The speculator is just as rational as the industrialist. Both require thought and action. Both represent integration of mind and body. The speculator is productive.

Rational, yes -- given this is the case, and the trade is not made on the basis of a tarot reading. Is action needed? Yes; to place the trade online, or to call his broker. Has he created anything in this process? Has he "remade the earth in the image of his values"? No, not that I can see.

Is there any doubt that the speculator, (or realtor [JR: real estate speculator?] when it comes to buying a house across the country or around the corner) fulfills that requirement of productivity? He trades values for money, just like an apple producer. He uses his judgment of the value of the products he is trading to determine the price he gets, just like the apple producer would adjust prices if is apples were overripe. There is no dichotomy.

Conclusion: The rational speculator exhibits the virtue of productivity in Rand’s sense.

If the money a real estate speculator uses to buy the house is the result of productive work, then, in the context of that work, he was productive.

But if we consider him in the context of his action as a speculator, I do not see, and do not believe, that he has created anything, i.e., "[remade] the earth in the image of [his] values."

Unethical? No. Virtuous, assuming thorough rationality has been exercised? Yes. Productive? No, I don't think so.

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If he does, then he may feel all warm and and tingly inside just repeating his poem to himself in his own mind. That feeling comes from unleashed endorphins and other chemicals inside his own body. The reason he repeats the poem to himself is precisely for the purpose of achieving that physical/chemical effect.
And that creation is therefore properly identified as 'productive work'?
It definitely is productive since it produces the desired physical effect. How productive it is and whether it is "work" is not all that obvious.
I completed my question after having posted it erroneously. As such, I will ask the missed part again: do the examples I provided (ie the formula and poem) meet the standards of the virtue of productiveness as identified in OPAR - ie that ""Productiveness" is the process of creating material values, whether goods or services."

As I said previously, I'm not sure that is, strictly speaking, Peikoff's definition and I prefer Ayn Rand's formulation, which he includes later ("Productive work, writes Ayn Rand, "is the process by which man's consciousness controls his existence.").

I do think the formula and the poem are productive, as Peikoff characterizes productivesness and as Ayn Rand defines it, to some degree. A person creates something for himself that he values such as an formula he could use in the real world, even if he has yet to do so, or an idea that gives him pleasure (i.e., causes pleasant sensations in his own physical body). The formula will be more productive (i.e., create more material values and control more of existence) when it is used to actually do things in the real world and the poem will be more productive when it is published so that more people can enjoy it. Even if that never happens, one man's consciousness has created some (material) values for at least one person and has exerted some control over, and positively affected, his existence.

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But if we consider him in the context of his action as a speculator, I do not see, and do not believe, that he has created anything, i.e., "[remade] the earth in the image of [his] values."

Unethical? No. Virtuous, assuming thorough rationality has been exercised? Yes. Productive? No, I don't think so.

This is one of the things that a speculator does. If his actions and values do not constitute productiveness, then there is no meaning to the word.

The economic benefits of speculation

The service provided by speculators to a market is primarily that by risking their own capital in the hope of profit, they add liquidity to the market and make it easier for others to offset risk, including those who may be classified as hedgers and arbitrageurs.

If a certain market - for example, pork bellies - had no speculators, then only producers (pig farmers) and consumers (butchers, etc.) would participate in that market. With fewer players in the market, there would be a larger spread between the current bid and ask price of pork bellies. Any new entrant in the market who wants to either buy or sell pork bellies will be forced to accept an illiquid market and market prices that have a large bid-ask spread or might even find it difficult to find a co-party to buy or sell to. A speculator (e.g. a pork dealer) may exploit the difference in the spread and, in competition with other speculators, reduce the spread, thus creating a more efficient market.

(bold added)

A speculator provides a service at his own risk that adds liquidity to the market, thus creating a more efficient market. That is indeed remaking the earth in the image of his own values.

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In what way has the speculator, in the context of his role as a speculator, "[remade] the earth in the image of [his] values"? What authentic productive value, that did not previously exist, his he created by means of the trade?

You must remember that material values are not created ex nihilo. All that is meant by creating material value is rearranging things of lesser value in such a way to make them more valuable. One way to rearrange materials is to change their location, either in space or time. For instance, if I transport a pizza from a restaurant to your home, have I not produced a value? The same is true if I transfer goods from the future into the present (which is a good metaphor for what a speculator does). If you have a crop of wheat, you might be able to sell it for 50 units in 9 months, but you also might end up only being able to sell it for, say, 5 units of value in 9 months. What the speculator would do is to offer the grower the expected future value of the crop now, in exchange for the proceeds of the actual sale of the crops. In just this way, he is transfering the farmers disposal of the value of the crops from the future into the present. The farmer now has more capital at his disposal, as the speculator (given his role in the division of labor) is more of an expert, or specialist, in predicting the future, whereas the farmer now has more means to concentrate on his specialty, that is, growing wheat. It's no different from the pizza delivery driver saving you the time that you would have spent picking the pizza up yourself, thus freeing you up for activities more beneficial to yourself.

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I do think the formula and the poem are productive, as Peikoff characterizes productivesness and as Ayn Rand defines it, to some degree.

...

Even if that never happens, one man's consciousness has created some (material) values for at least one person and has exerted some control over, and positively affected, his existence.

I must disagree completely with this claim. Dr. Peikoff explicitly indicates just the opposite. And that is why I assert the definition of 'material' being put forth here is not the one put forth in OPAR in regard to the virtue of productiveness. As such, I stand by the statements I have made in regard to the virtue and reject those which have contradicted it.
Productive work, writes Ayn Rand, "is the process by which man's consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one's purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one's values .... " As this statement makes clear, productiveness, like every virtue, involves two integrated components: consciousness and existence; or thought and action; or knowledge and its material implementation. Neither of these components is dispensable to any productive man or activity.

Knowledge, as Francis Bacon stated, is power. It is an instrument enabling man to support his life. It is a product of consciousness to be applied to reality: to be followed, embodied, used. This is why productiveness is defined as the creation of material values. The discovery of knowledge is the first step. But the purpose of the knowledge is to make possible an existential value, such as a new type of machine, a new method of transportation, or a new method of living.

...

In a division-of-labor society, a man may properly specialize in cognition. But as long as the knowledge he acquires remains unembodied, it is not yet a productive achievement (nor does it work yet to support man's life). If the scientist or scholar is to qualify as productive, he must proceed in due course to the next step. He must give his discoveries some form of existence in physical reality and not merely in his consciousness—usually, by writing treatises or delivering lectures.(emphasis added)

The point being made here is that the thought in consciousness must be made - by volitional action - into something external to that consciousness in order to validly be identified as 'productive'.

I would thus suggest the prior claims in this thread which indicate anything that remains just inside one's consciousness - any thing that is simply an act of cognition - does not validly qualify as "productive". In other words, no matter how emotionally uplifting - no matter how beneficial it might be IF given form outside the mind - no matter how much one might value them - thoughts which are not given material form by the volitional action of man are not virtuous in the sense of 'productiveness'.

Thus, in regard to this statement:

When a man creates values, he is being productive. It doesn't really matter if the particular value is a good, a service, material, spiritual, or economic. They are all values.
It can be true that when a man creates an idea in his consciousness, it may be a value. But it is not true that it is "productive" simply because he has created it there.

Put simply, an act of cognition may qualify as virtuous in regard to "rationality" but - by itself - it does not qualify as virtuous in regard to "productiveness".

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I do think the formula and the poem are productive, as Peikoff characterizes productivesness and as Ayn Rand defines it, to some degree.

...

Even if that never happens, one man's consciousness has created some (material) values for at least one person and has exerted some control over, and positively affected, his existence.

I must disagree completely with this claim. Dr. Peikoff explicitly indicates just the opposite. And that is why I assert the definition of 'material' being put forth here is not the one put forth in OPAR in regard to the virtue of productiveness. As such, I stand by the statements I have made in regard to the virtue and reject those which have contradicted it.
Productive work, writes Ayn Rand, "is the process by which man's consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one's purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one's values .... " As this statement makes clear, productiveness, like every virtue, involves two integrated components: consciousness and existence; or thought and action; or knowledge and its material implementation. Neither of these components is dispensable to any productive man or activity.

Knowledge, as Francis Bacon stated, is power. It is an instrument enabling man to support his life. It is a product of consciousness to be applied to reality: to be followed, embodied, used. This is why productiveness is defined as the creation of material values. The discovery of knowledge is the first step. But the purpose of the knowledge is to make possible an existential value, such as a new type of machine, a new method of transportation, or a new method of living.

...

In a division-of-labor society, a man may properly specialize in cognition. But as long as the knowledge he acquires remains unembodied, it is not yet a productive achievement (nor does it work yet to support man's life). If the scientist or scholar is to qualify as productive, he must proceed in due course to the next step. He must give his discoveries some form of existence in physical reality and not merely in his consciousness—usually, by writing treatises or delivering lectures.(emphasis added)

The point being made here is that the thought in consciousness must be made - by volitional action - into something external to that consciousness in order to validly be identified as 'productive'.

I would thus suggest the prior claims in this thread which indicate anything that remains just inside one's consciousness - any thing that is simply an act of cognition - does not validly qualify as "productive". In other words, no matter how emotionally uplifting - no matter how beneficial it might be IF given form outside the mind - no matter how much one might value them - thoughts which are not given material form by the volitional action of man are not virtuous in the sense of 'productiveness'.

Thus, in regard to this statement:

When a man creates values, he is being productive. It doesn't really matter if the particular value is a good, a service, material, spiritual, or economic. They are all values.
It can be true that when a man creates an idea in his consciousness, it may be a value. But it is not true that it is "productive" simply because he has created it there.

Put simply, an act of cognition may qualify as virtuous in regard to "rationality" but - by itself - it does not qualify as virtuous in regard to "productiveness".

This last distinction makes a excellent point. Contrary to what I said in my post about creating music inside my head, I agree.

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I would thus suggest the prior claims in this thread which indicate anything that remains just inside one's consciousness - any thing that is simply an act of cognition - does not validly qualify as "productive". In other words, no matter how emotionally uplifting - no matter how beneficial it might be IF given form outside the mind - no matter how much one might value them - thoughts which are not given material form by the volitional action of man are not virtuous in the sense of 'productiveness'.

After further review of OPAR and Galt's Speech, I also would have to agree with this, in the sense of the Objectivist concept of productiveness. The thread did bring a related but distinctly different question to mind that will hopefully be posted and discussed on HBL; if it brings new insight I'll add something to this thread.

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Put simply, an act of cognition may qualify as virtuous in regard to "rationality" but - by itself - it does not qualify as virtuous in regard to "productiveness".

As I wrote, I don't think it is very productive, nor nearly as productive as bringing it into a physical form, but some acts of cognition are made as part of the process of bringing something into physical form at a later time and others to produce a desired psychosomatic state in the thinker. I think one could say they were "productive" if only to a teensy degree even if not to the degree of full-blown, obvious, making Rearden Metal productiveness.

We may disagree about subtle borderline cases, but I doubt if we disagree about whether a speculator is doing productive work.

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The economic benefits of speculation

The service provided by speculators to a market is primarily that by risking their own capital in the hope of profit, they add liquidity to the market and make it easier for others to offset risk, including those who may be classified as hedgers and arbitrageurs.

If a certain market - for example, pork bellies - had no speculators, then only producers (pig farmers) and consumers (butchers, etc.) would participate in that market. With fewer players in the market, there would be a larger spread between the current bid and ask price of pork bellies. Any new entrant in the market who wants to either buy or sell pork bellies will be forced to accept an illiquid market and market prices that have a large bid-ask spread or might even find it difficult to find a co-party to buy or sell to. A speculator (e.g. a pork dealer) may exploit the difference in the spread and, in competition with other speculators, reduce the spread, thus creating a more efficient market.

(bold added)

A speculator provides a service at his own risk that adds liquidity to the market, thus creating a more efficient market. That is indeed remaking the earth in the image of his own values.

This was mentioned earlier in the thread:

Speculation does provide an economic/social function, e.g., in providing liquidity to the futures markets. General Mills values the ability to buy their wheat at a fixed price, and the speculator, if his bet is correct, will profit as the price moves from that at which he obtained the contract.

Given enough speculators, the by-product of their collective action is a liquid market.

The majority of futures traders lose money -- but given that a given speculator's judgment is correct on a given trade, and the market moves in his anticipated direction, his account equity is credited by the gain when he exits the trade.

Is any part of that credit received for the service of adding liquidity to the market, to whatever his individual role in that liquidity could be established? And does that form any part whatever of his motivation?

In the context of any given trade, in the event the trade is profitable, is he to any degree paid for the service of offsetting a hedger's risk? (And in all likelihood, the individual on the other end is another speculator, not a hedger.)

His action does accomplish the offset of that risk, in the (infrequent) event the other party is a hedger. If he is profitable, though, the profit does not in any degree derive from that service. It derives from having bet correctly.

Even were a 'social/economic benefit' part of his motivation in futures speculation, he is not paid for it, even should he be one of traders who is profitable. He is not paid for a service -- he is paid for having bet correctly. In the event he does not bet correctly, he gains nothing -- he loses money.

A speculator enters a trade with the goal of increasing his equity by a virtue of a correct bet, on the basis of whatever judgment informs that decision. The gain is realized when he exits the position.

Market liquidity, though a by-product of the collective action of a sufficient number of speculators, has no necessary role whatever in his motivation; in the context of a given trade, even in the (infrequent) event the party on the other end is a hedger, even should the trade be profitable, that profit has nothing to do with the service of offsetting risk -- it is made from having bet correctly.

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A speculator enters a trade with the goal of increasing his equity by a virtue of a correct bet, on the basis of whatever judgment informs that decision. The gain is realized when he exits the position.

Market liquidity, though a by-product of the collective action of a sufficient number of speculators, has no necessary role whatever in his motivation; in the context of a given trade, even in the (infrequent) event the party on the other end is a hedger, even should the trade be profitable, that profit has nothing to do with the service of offsetting risk -- it is made from having bet correctly.

Fine, but what does that have to do with the subject under discussion? A speculator still has to have physical storage facilities for the product he purchased, which he then has to resell at some point. And that product is the material value that he brings to the market, in the same manner as the person who first produced the product. The value that the speculator seeks is profit, a very material product.

I also have a problem with you claim that a speculator is simply "betting" on the price of goods. I think it is more accurate to say that he is anticipating the price to go up in the future based upon his knowledge of the particular market. When to resell and how much to resell are some of the factors he has to take into account.

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Questions for organon:

1. If a person puts money in a savings account and earns interest, has he done anything productive?

2. If a person buys a stock and it triples in value and he sells it at a profit, has he done anything productive?

3. If a person buys a house, lives in it for ten years, and then sells it for a 50% profit, has he done anything productive?

4. How does your view differ from the Marxist view that only the application of labor gives value to goods and that a financier, entrepreneur, investor, or speculator is exploiting those who really produce?

What I am looking for is not a simple yes or no, but the reasoning behind the answer. By reasoning, I don't mean by reference to definitions but by reference to what the person either does or not do in, perceptible with the five senses, reality.

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To begin with the ending point:

4. How does your view differ from the Marxist view that only the application of labor gives value to goods and that a financier, entrepreneur, investor, or speculator is exploiting those who really produce?

There is no conceivable way in which passive investment can be considered exploitation, in the sense of:

"an act that exploits or victimizes someone (treats them unfairly)" (Dictionary.com)

No party in any case here is being victimized, or treated unfairly. There is no cause to believe this was, or is, being implied in any manner whatever.

[Author: organon]

Can [the passive investor] be faulted in any way? No. Can he take a degree of pride in that money, on the basis of the virtue of rationality? Yes. But in regard to this venture, he has not been productive in Rand’s sense (footnote 1).

Does this mean that passive investment, not involving the personal creation of values, and likely requiring, if successful in the long run, thorough rationality, is not ethical? Of course not! But it does not involve the [direct] creation on his part, by the passive investor, of any values, through the [direct] application of his mind and effort.

Questions for organon:

1. If a person puts money in a savings account and earns interest, has he done anything productive?

2. If a person buys a stock and it triples in value and he sells it at a profit, has he done anything productive?

3. If a person buys a house, lives in it for ten years, and then sells it for a 50% profit, has he done anything productive?

...

What I am looking for is not a simple yes or no, but the reasoning behind the answer. By reasoning, I don't mean by reference to definitions but by reference to what the person either does or not do in, perceptible with the five senses, reality.

Whether the person what the person involved has "done or not done", can be considered "productive", requires a specification of what that word means. How else can one form an evaluation?

Is passive investment wholly moral, given rationality? Is it of unquestionable social/economic value? Yes. Can the passive investor take a degree of pride in the money, given his rationality, and his recognition of the productive virtue of other men? Yes.

Again, no party in any case given here is victimized, or treated unfairly. In cases 1-2, the increase of that value of that (passive) investment, required productive virtue on the part of others, which could not have been exercised in the absence of such investment.

But in the context of the word as including the (essential) of the direct application of one's own mind and effort to "remaking the earth in the image of one's values":

1. No, I would argue he himself has not; Midas Mulligan has.

2. No, I would argue he himself has not; those employed at the company, have.

3. No, I would argue he himself has not; the market value of the property increased, but there was no value created on his part, given no improvements were made to the house.

In the context solely of passive investment, the passive investor has not, I think, himself "[remade] the earth in the image of [his] values."

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1. No, I would argue he himself has not; Midas Mulligan has.

As well as Hank Rearden, or any man of productive virtue that a rational banker's investment supports.

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Fine, but what does that have to do with the subject under discussion? A speculator still has to have physical storage facilities for the product he purchased, which he then has to resell at some point...

Paul, how many futures speculators (do you think) are concerned in any way whatever with physical storage facilities?

They enter the trade (online, or via a call); they exit the trade (online, or via a call). The vast majority do not ever see the commodity, or deal with it in any way whatever.

I also have a problem with you claim that a speculator is simply "betting" on the price of goods. I think it is more accurate to say that he is anticipating the price to go up in the future based upon his knowledge of the particular market. When to resell and how much to resell are some of the factors he has to take into account.

His 'bet' in this context is on anticipated price movement, whether up or down. (And most futures speculators' bets in this context lose.)

(Given that he trades a standardized contract on an exchange, as, e.g., corn, the amount of the commodity is specified in the contract, i.e., 5,000 bushels. How many contracts, given a multi-contract position, he exits at a given time, and what that time will be, is a matter of his judgment.)

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... and that a financier, entrepreneur, investor, or speculator is exploiting those who really produce?

There are much different things going on in the professions listed here.

Financier 1: this is a service of authentic value, for which he is paid, given the work of the recipient of the funds justifies the investment, and returns a profit (as with Midas Mulligan's investment in Hank Rearden).

Entrepreneur: this is wholly inapplicable to a context of passive investment, as with futures speculation.

Investor: is the investment passive? Does it involve the application of his own mind and effort to "remaking the earth in the image of [his] values"? Is he involved in improving the property in any way (in the context of real estate speculation)?

Speculator: given that the speculator's activity does not involve himself "remaking the earth in the image of [his] values", there is no productiveness involved. Faulted in any regard? No. Virtuous to a degree, given rationality in his judgment? Yes. Values created, by means of the direct application of his own mind and effort to the creation of authentic value(s)? No, I don't see how.

--

1. "one who specializes in raising and expending public moneys" (Dictionary.com)

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Speculator: given that the speculator's activity does not involve himself "remaking the earth in the image of [his] values", there is no productiveness involved. Faulted in any regard? No. Virtuous to a degree, given rationality in his judgment? Yes. Values created, by means of the direct application of his own mind and effort to the creation of authentic value(s)? No, I don't see how.

But I already demonstrated quite clearly the specific means by which a speculator remakes the earth in the image of his values. Do you believe that a pizza delivery driver remakes the earth in the image of his values? If you are going to reject speculation as a value producing activity, then you *must* reject transportation as a value producing activity. Do you see why?

Would it make any difference in your judgement if instead of a speculator "betting" on a commodity in a stock market he were paid by a farmer a fixed salary to advise him on how to direct his long term action in a way best profitable for him? Do you consider this as being productive? In terms of essentials, how is this different from speculation?

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... and that a financier, entrepreneur, investor, or speculator is exploiting those who really produce?

There are much different things going on in the professions listed here.

Financier 1: this is a service of authentic value, for which he is paid, given the work of the recipient of the funds justifies the investment, and returns a profit (as with Midas Mulligan's investment in Hank Rearden).

Entrepreneur: this is wholly inapplicable to a context of passive investment, as with futures speculation.

Investor: is the investment passive? Does it involve the application of his own mind and effort to "remaking the earth in the image of [his] values"? Is he involved in improving the property in any way (in the context of real estate speculation)?

Speculator: given that the speculator's activity does not involve himself "remaking the earth in the image of [his] values", there is no productiveness involved. Faulted in any regard? No. Virtuous to a degree, given rationality in his judgment? Yes. Values created, by means of the direct application of his own mind and effort to the creation of authentic value(s)? No, I don't see how.

--

1. "one who specializes in raising and expending public moneys" (Dictionary.com)

What is meant by "virtuous to a degree"? If a man's actions are virtuous (and here we are talking about Objectivist virtue), then they are life-serving, which means that they are productive of life (the values of HIS life). So, you have admitted that a rational speculator is productive, even though you have not said, and probably will not say, that he is so.

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1. "one who specializes in raising and expending public moneys" (Dictionary.com)

Here lies one of your mistakes, Objectivist do not produce primarily for the public but their own benefit. The speculator is productive toward the enhancement of his own life and anything else that comes from his productiveness is a secondary benefit.

What do you think the buyer of the property that the speculator has on the market is paying for if not values? Values that the buyer is willing to trade his values for the value of the property that the speculator has found and demonstrated/created a value that was not noticed by the first owner. The speculator has brought to market a value that was not there before to someone that recognzes the newly identified value.

I have a very nice car that I bought last year for a really good price. Just after buying it I was offered about $13,000 more than I paid for it, but I turned the person down. I value the car for more than the person was willing to spend. But, I could have sold the car and made $13,000 in just a few days. There are only 1,500 of these exact cars made and some people value them for more than what the Kelley Blue Book/market states they are worth, such as myself. Now, if I would have excepted that money which is a representative of production, am I not trading a value for another value and have I not created wealth, and have I not been productive toward my survival by creating wealth? The answer is yes on all answers!

End of Story!

The End!

Good Day!

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Now, if I would have excepted that money which is a representative of production, am I not trading a value for another value and have I not created wealth, and have I not been productive toward my survival by creating wealth? The answer is yes on all answers!

End of Story!

The End!

Good Day!

Well, I thought I was done but I am not. The word high-lighed from above should be accepted. Now I think I am done.

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A speculator is a fully moral and productive person. A speculator is an independent insurance agent holding and transferring goods over space and time, at his own risk.

A farmer can lock in his sales price, or guarantee thereof by selling a futures contract on most of his expected production. Then he knows how much he must be able to pay to produce the goods and make his profit. The speculator accepts the risk, and hopes to make a profit, by providing the guarantee of price. The buyer of a futures contract can lock in his cost of buying the produce and can plan his future activities knowing what he must do to make his profit. A speculator may sit in the middle for a growing season before he can clear his transactions, thereby transferring the goods over space and time. The same is true for any buyer that moves goods from one place to another.

Many decades ago there was a futures market for onions. The farmers and legislators destroyed that, alleging that speculators were cheating the farmers. The result was the closure of the market in onions, and the collapse of the farmers' businesses in onions, the variation in price was so great that buyers waited until crops were in, and the farmers had to take whatever was offered because of the temporary glut on the market.

When banks hedge their exposure to currency fluctuations, they rely on speculators to accept the risks. When banks go beyond hedging their exposure, and start speculating, they are ignoring the fact that most speculators lose.

Accepting a risk that exists in any productive activity is a productive activity, and a moral activity.

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Put simply, an act of cognition may qualify as virtuous in regard to "rationality" but - by itself - it does not qualify as virtuous in regard to "productiveness".

...We may disagree about subtle borderline cases, but I doubt if we disagree about whether a speculator is doing productive work.

Our disagreement is not about the application of the same principle to cases over which, by their nature, we may dispute (ala the hanging 'table' from ItOE). We disagree on the very nature of the fundamental principle itself. Therefore, the fact that we both identify a "speculator" as "productive" is immaterial - since our ideas of "productive" are not the same. To treat such different ideas as if they were the same, simply because the same name is applied to them, would be equivocation.

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After further review of OPAR and Galt's Speech, I also would have to agree with this, in the sense of the Objectivist concept of productiveness. The thread did bring a related but distinctly different question to mind that will hopefully be posted and discussed on HBL; if it brings new insight I'll add something to this thread.
I noted Phil's post to HBL published this evening, and the question raised in it seems to be similar to the question raised here:
If such (non-physical) contemplation is *not* productive, yet it forms the basis of any resulting value, then what is it? A question I'll think about.
And HB responded along the same lines as I responded HERE, repeated HERE, and which I will post once again, since no acknowledgment has ever been made of this answer to the question:
On what basis is this claim [ie the claim that the cognitive effort which went into the creation of a material value is "not productive"] made? Recall that productiveness is the process of creating material values. In other words, productiveness is not limited to just the movement of the pen on paper. It includes the thought that goes into what one is writing. The point up till now has simply been that the process must include that act of writing. But it has never been restricted to just that act.

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