Monday, May 5, 2014

'If you don't believe God exists, how could you be mad at Him?'


'If you don't believe God exists, how could you be mad at Him?' (snicker)

Many theists of various sorts enjoy deriding atheism by asking 'if you don't believe in God, how can you be mad at Him?' or 'are you also mad at Bigfoot?'  Though there may be a few who are actually angry at a specific god, the retort to atheism with such dismissive questions overlooks a crucial point for the issue at hand is greater than any level of animosity at a specific entity/deity. 

Most atheists are as equally mad at God as they are at Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster and the like - meaning atheists are not angry at God for there is no actual object for scorn.  Similarly, most atheists are not angry with anyone's belief in their chosen god.  The issue of anger comes forward not from anyone's belief in God, but from the basis of that belief in God going beyond personal belief and into aspects that affect public life meaning politics and government.

Some examples are needed to show the concern; this is not a left/right wing issue, for both sides have the commingling of religion and State.

"Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant - they're quite clear - that we would create law based on the God of the Bible and the Ten Commandments" - former governor Sarah Palin

Similarly...

"There is no contradiction between support for faith-based initiatives and upholding our constitutional principles." - former senator Hillary Clinton

Following Palin's desire here would include violating the first Amendment for the obvious fact of endorsing a religious system; this is a glaringly obvious conflict with individual liberty when all but two of the 10 Commandments have nothing to do with protecting individual rights, but are proscriptions upon human behavior based upon the Biblical God's wants.

Faith-based initiatives, a repeated calling from ex-president George W. Bush, are also against the first Amendment.  It's deemed okay when the faith presented matches one's own, but when the faith doesn't match there are problems.  An example of 'my faith' is good, but yours is not can be seen in Oklahoma where to match a 10 Commandments monument, Satanists have a design for a statue to be paired with the commandment monument.  Additionally, Hindus have a statue proposal for their religion, and Atheists have erected a monument to no God next to the commandment monument.

"I don't know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots.  This is one nation under God." - former president George H. W. Bush

"Those who are quick to feel disrespected often have a spiritual vacuum in their lives, because they feel disconnected to the love of their Father in Heaven." - Presidential nominee Al Gore.

"If we are practicing Muslims, we are above the law of the land." - CAIR director Herman Mustafa Carroll

"I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.  I am not in favor of gay marriage." - then senator Barak Obama

Each of the aforementioned comments emphasizes a legal distinction between how different people are to be treated.  No legislation (in America) has been passed that states atheists are lesser citizens, and there has not been any legislation stating that Muslims are super-citizens.  There have been laws advanced that repeated Obama's (and numerous other politicians) stance that marriage should be between a man and a woman.  Obama, like most other politicians, has an 'evolving' (politically expedient) stance that changes throughout the years from 1996 to 2013. 

Law, however, doesn't change as easily as one can change one's mind.  Law stays in effect until a new law/amendment is passed that nullifies the original.  What will be the result if the same number, or even more people who pushed for the marriage=one-man-one-woman legislation, advance that Muslims are to be super-citizens or atheists are less-than-citizens?  The precedent has already been set for taxation in who gets taxed what with respect to socoi-economic status, and distinctions are being made outside of taxation.  With precedent, new forms of applying it will come.

"I am a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect, and I believe it should be presented in schools alongside the theories of evolution... call for the examination of all sides of a scientific theory..." - governor Rick Perry

Former senator Hillary Clinton stated that Jesus' resurrection was a historic event.

Any religious text has examples in it that if taken literally are morally repugnant or physically impossible.  Moral issues are related to the ways people can be treated differently for being not of one's group: women, infidels, apostates or just pagans/barbarians.  Regarding the return of the 'Son of Man' in Mark 13:24-25: But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and those powers that are in the heavens will be shaken.  As Neil deGrasse Tyson quipped, that one says the stars will fall from the skies shows that who wrote that had no idea about what they were writing about.

"Doing the Lord's work is a thread that runs through our politics since the very beginning.  And it puts the lie to the notion that separation of church and state in American means somehow that faith should have no role in public life." - current president Barak Obama

As any politician, Obama does speak well regarding not implementing his religious beliefs in legislation - in some areas.  Freedom of/from religion isn't a piecemeal aspect of humanity where it's okay to force some of one's religious preference on others; it is to be an absolute division, leaving individual liberty and self-direction to choose one's course in embracing or rejecting religious systems.  Individual rights transcend any religious law; Nature transcends any religious tenet.  Just because men and women are different, or that another has a different belief system doesn't mean that one has the authority to morally treat them differently based upon that distinction. 

Let us combine some thoughts of those in government with some verses from religious texts and see if the combination thereof is a good one.

"We are a nation called to defend freedom - a tradition that is not a grant of any government or document, but is an endowment from God." - former attorney general John Ashcroft

"God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.  If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them." - president (at the time) George W. Bush.

"The Constitution promises freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.  We are, after all not just another nation but 'one nation under God.'" - former senator Joseph Lieberman

All of the aforementioned examples given are made by those in government, or trying to influence government.  That means they are working with the system that has a legal use of force.  Legal use of force against its own citizenry and abroad.  Segregation, prohibition, eminent domain were each advanced based upon varying degrees of a religious belief; spreading democracy, like sharia, has many who advance religious understanding as the basis for legal/political/police actions.  How closely religion and politics commingle.

When a moral/legal differentiation amongst people is accepted as a base for how to see people outside of moral/legal issues (not based upon how they act, but on something else), the dominant power can exercise force against those deemed not worthy of self-direction.  This isn't just referring to America's distant past with slavery.  Stoke enough fear and groups can be marginalized.  This can be an immediate concern as though they were all conspiring to attack (Japanese and German citizens being interred during WWII), or by association with 'evil' such as being 'witches and sodomites'. 

When one takes to heart as part of their sacred tomes such verses as:

Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination. (20:13 follows with 'they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them').

Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2:191 And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing.  And do not fight them at al-Masjid al-Haram until they fight you there, But if they fight you, then kill them.  Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.

...even if the those who follow those books outwardly differentiates between their political and religious lives, what level of that moral proscription/prescription of actions upon others carry over into other parts of their lives?  If there is part of their religious base that has a literal God that is to be obeyed, instead of a spiritual image that had books written about it to try and explain/review life based upon the temporal/spatial limitations of those who wrote the original books, then there is a part of their beliefs that is to transcend the political goals they are supposedly trying to achieve.  John McCain, Mitt Romney, Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton each were not for the recognition of same-sex marriage.  Homosexuality used to be considered a mental disease. 

The enlightened can regress if allowing irrationality to smolder.  Afghanistan had a more open society for women during the 1970s.  The additions of 'In God We Trust' and 'one nation under God' were both not originally on US money or in the pledge of allegiance.  The change from openness to closed is rarely quick; the most sweeping and lasting is through an extended time.  The issue is not so much (though not wholly excluding) any specific policy advanced that has religious strings attached: it is the principle that those religious strings may be attached at all that is to be addressed.  Any specific politician at any given moment may not be calling for sweeping changes, but as a foot in the door keeps the door open so too does that first principle-setting policy that gets passed allowing the religious/political commingling.  A different politician, or the same one at a different time, after seeing how much more that door can be opened gradually, will eventually swing it wide open and at that point it will be too late. 

All of this will be based upon a philosophical base holding religious convictions prepotent over individual rights.  The end result is one who sees his religious cause to be achieved regardless of the methods - of who is sacrificed (i.e. murdered or enslaved), it is irrelevant for there is a 'greater good' and that is God's will.  So atheists do not hate God; they do hate the belief and the attempt to bring one's individual literal interpretation of a God into political life.  It has its own precedent and natural consequence.

"Remind yourself that in this night you will face many challenges.  But you have to face them and understand it 100 percent... Obey God, his messenger, and don't fight among yourself where you become weak, and stand fast. God will stand with those who stood fast." & "Keep a very open mind, keep a very open heart of what you are to face.  You will be entering paradise.  You will be entering the happiest life, everlasting life." - Mohamed Atta

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Bane of Our Existence


The Bane of Our Existence

 

There is a characteristic of humanity that is not part of our better nature.  It is, in fact, the bane of our existence.  It brings with it repeated trouble through missed opportunities, misunderstandings and even outright conflict amongst people.  It persists because it comes under the guise of our betterment while being more easily engaged in than its alternative.

 

What is this bane?

 

Our bane is that we are existentially observational, but not self-reflective.

What does that mean?  Floating abstractions do not help us and ambiguous claims are equally worthless as definitions are needed.  Our bane consists of two parts.  The two segments are simple, but like most things simple their application is difficult. 

 

Part one - existentially observational - simply refers to that we can see things outside of ourselves and can make value judgments upon what we see.  This by itself does not refer to the validity of those judgments.  But to be existentially observational is to experience the existence of something, whether it is something tangible or conceptual, a physical object or an action, matter or a concept, it is a thing experienced. 

 

Part two - not self-reflective - simply refers to that though we may see something 'out there', we do not process that thing as something that equally may affect us - that based upon its being out there and we are not out there or our bias to it, the same principles observed affecting others or happening elsewhere do not necessarily apply to us.  This may affect individuals or collectives, but are more easily embraced and solidified with more people adhering to it.  Those with similar ideas bolster each other, keeping the thought process maintained through the shared, preferred vision.

 

First we'll look at the existentially observational; second we'll look at not being self-reflective.  The initial examples whereby the existentially observational seem benign and obvious, making their true principles set forth to be overlooked.

 

Existentially Observational: a moral principle states that between two neutral parties (neutral here meaning there is no prior obligation/victimization between the parties), it is wrong to initiate force of one upon the other to take the victim's valuables, and this remains the same even if a third neutral party is involved to 'out vote' the third.  We recognize that we do not have the right to force another to act according to our dictates, or to take from them without permission what they rightfully have earned.  Equally, we recognize that someone else does not have the right to force us to do things against our will, or steal our justly acquired resources - even if we are the minority of a group.  A stranger or neighbor cannot simply and properly, come up and take the food off your plate.

 

Not being self-reflective: as a principle, not being able to force another to give up their property or work against their will applies to all.  However, we allow it - and even expect it nowadays - when it is decreed as part of a government program, when the State says give or obey.  Through various programs being implemented in welfare (whether it is individual or corporate/poor or rich), for health coverage, loan guarantees, or just to 'level the playing field' and for 'income equality', each one is deemed acceptable forced participation or redistribution of one's resources (time, effort and money).

 

Existentially Observational: we not only recognize that we do not have the right to force someone to do something, but that we also do not have the right to use force to deny someone from pursuing their happiness.  In the same manner, we do not recognize someone else having the legitimate right to deny us from pursuing our goals, how we may interact with one another as long as no one's rights are violated. 

 

Not self-reflective: in a similar vein as the first point, it has come to be allowed, even expected that the government may regulate how we interact with one another or how we pursue happiness in our daily lives.  If you want to sell your goods or services to those who have reviewed your work and deemed it worthy of patronage, it does not matter if you did not get an approved license/permission from the State on an expanding range of goods and services.  If we go outside that permission, we can get fined, arrested or worse if we challenge it.  After your own deliberation, if you want to consume something that may have some risks, whether it is drugs, alcohol, raw milk or anything else whereby two free parties may wish to exchange, if it is not approved then you are legally denied it. 

 

Existentially Observational: if you wanted to defend yourself, you have the right to do so and take the precautions to assist that defense.  In a similar manner, you cannot prevent someone else from defending themselves in a manner they see fit.  Not self-reflective: again, following the aforementioned examples (there is a pattern), the State is expected to regulate who can have what type of firearm, where they can have it, and currently trying to regulate how much ammo it can carry.

 

Existentially Observational: killing is wrong contextually, for if someone was coming at you with a knife or weapon with the intent of killing you or a loved one and you used lethal force in return, then killing is justifiable.  Murder, bringing with it its own context of not in response to the use of force is immoral.  We recognize we cannot murder, and expect those who do commit murder to be prosecuted if they succeeded (even, preferably, if they did not succeed). 

 

There is a process, a context outside of self-defense whereby killing is deemed possibly justifiable whether it is through law enforcement such as the issuing of a warrant for the arrest of murderer who may violently resist or through the declaration of war in response to a hostile nation.  In each case it is not up to an individual's whim, but a formal process through the courts for the issuance of a warrant or through congress to declare war because of a threatening nation.  In either case, there is to be an objective panel that is look at the evidence and decide whether it is sufficient for an arrest warrant to bring an individual who violated rights to justice, or the collective action of nation acting against another; it is not just whim of one being the guiding directive. 

 

Not being self-reflective: those in the government, in particular the president (not just one but most since the last declaration of war by congress during WWII) have gone beyond the process of the objective system leading them to be judge, jury and executioner.  Not just individually such as when Anwar al-Alwaki and his son Abdulrahman who were killed in a drone strike, but countless others for anything from 'police actions' to 'nation building' (e.g. Vietnam to Iraq), with all the killing and animosity it brings.  Obama is just continuing the practice established, for congress, as well as 'we the people' have not asserted our roles, allowing one branch of the government to exceed its bounds.

 

In the same manner, we cannot detain someone or search someone, or be subject to someone else's whim to search us, which is existentially observational.  Being self-reflective, we see that we do allow arbitrary searches/surveillance regularly upon us, as well as detentions without just cause based upon the whims of those in authority, whether it is The PATRIOT Act, a TSA search, DUI checkpoint, NSA spying, stop-and-frisk, border searches or the like.

 

Existentially observational: we recognize it is wrong to categorize every member of a group based upon a superficial characteristic (such as race, or socio-economic status) as equally guilty or innocent of the malevolence or beneficence of one member of 'that' group.  We resent being grouped with and be judged as guilty for merely being in the same category as one who did commit a crime.  Not being self-reflective: we allow and expect various authority figures to make such collectivistic condemnations, whether it is the State to punish or benefit the rich through a tax to 'pay their fair share', subsidy to 'help the economy' or bailout for being 'too big to fail', or any group against another not being a member of one's own class/religion. 

 

An existentially observational furtherance with respect to religion, let us look back upon killing: a parent whose negligence led to their child dying is deemed a bad parent, or at least one who is guilty of negligence even if beforehand they were a good parent; a parent who murders their children is properly deemed not just as a bad parent, but as a murderer. 

 

Not being self-reflective: at a secular level, tying back into the aforementioned of not allowing the whim of an individual elected leader be the one who decides when military action would be made (congress being the one who should declare war), we do not hold the president guilty of all the killing done as collateral damage trying to get targets not formally declared guilty or deserving attack.  In Pakistan alone, hundreds of civilians, including more than one hundred children have been killed in drone strikes.

 

On a sacred level, Abraham is held up as model of devotion when he was preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac to God.  He did not actually sacrifice Isaac, so some may say he is an invalid criticism even though he fully intended to sacrifice his son and at the last minute was stopped from murdering him.  If a different example is needed, look no further than General Jephthah who did sacrifice his daughter to God, and was rewarded for doing so. 

 

Regardless of whether it is Stalin or Pol Pot starving the people, God targeting the first born, or everyone outside of Noah's family - millions of children and others were murdered: it is human cleansing of a specific population or humanity entire .  All of these are done in the name of the 'greater good' whether that is to be in the name of one's country or humanity.

 

Lastly, this brings us to our final (non-exhaustive) existentially observational point: a basis for moral upbringing should be part of education.  Not self-reflective: what should that basis be?  Most want to have some religious base.  There is an objective moral base, but most interpret their individually-based cultural norm as the objective moral standard.  As just mentioned, different religions have different standards and examples of proper moral behavior (how to treat women, gays, infidels, apostates and so on), so when one wants religious teaching in school should it be Christian?-Islamic?-Pagan?-Buddhist? 

 

In addition to whatever the believer's overarching religious base may be, exactly what subset of that system should be taught, for each has divisions/schisms within them: each has members that have gone to war and killed members of other religions (e.g. Crusades or more recently the various Muslim/Christian clashes initiated by both sides, in Africa for cross-religious conflict and the inner conflicts such as in Islam with Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis and in Christianity with Catholicism and Protestantism - some included bloodshed). 

 

A true moral system without bias is possible when religion is removed from it.  It is equally foolish to teach a biased religious system in place of an objective moral system in the same way it is to religion as objective scientific fact in Creationism and to 'teach the controversy' that the universe was 'spoken' into existence, just as a stork delivers babies. 

 

Belief systems can be examined at the Existentially Observational level; here they can be dissected.  However, ontology is not affected by the epistemological development of the seeker.  Regardless of whether one believes in an actual entity of God named Yahweh, Allah, Zeus, Krishna or states there is no God, that the individual (or collective) believes it does not have an effect upon the reality of whether or not that Deity (or deities) exists or not. 

 

Likewise, whether one believes a Capitalist, Socialist, Communist, Fascist or Monarchial system is the proper system of government for the best society does not have an effect on the efficaciousness of those systems in being the best for what is it to be the 'best'?-how is it achieved?-who decided for whom?-how is the plan to be the best implemented?  That is at a pragmatic level; how moral each system may or may not be is unaffected by how efficacious it may be. 

 

The key question requiring exact definitions is: what is it to be 'the best?'  The corollary questions include to whom?-and how?  If we only look at pragmatic concerns and efficaciousness, then we can see that the pyramids still stand for us to see, and Jim Jones was beloved by his followers - at least by enough to take care of all the rest of them.  Slavery or brainwashing, both may be effective at achieving an end, but both are immoral.

 

Cultures and beliefs are not equal and many have contrasting if not mutually exclusive belief systems; people have the right to believe in them and participate in them according to the self-direction that they choose as their option.  Whether one is a believer in a Deity or is an Atheist, they each have the right to believe as they so do and as an extension allowing each other to follow their right or wrong conclusions.  If one wants to free himself from his cultural chains, that is his right, just as it is to put those chains on if he actually wanted to do so, or keep them on after seeing one has the option to remove them.  The key point of this is being responsible for one's actions and choices; this is the reason why psychiatrist Viktor Frankl advised having a matching Statue of Responsibility to be with the Statue of Liberty.  You can choose, but own your choice; abdication is a choice.

 

How does a culture embrace science, logic and reason as contrasted to dogmatism and superstition, and most importantly, how is its reason-or-superstition view placed upon the members?-allow its members liberty and self-direction in general, or force obedience/obsequiousness?  Whether one's god is a Deity or the State, the base of belief is the acceptance that this third party/Deity has the authorization and ability to do that which we cannot, such as 'morally' steal from, imprison and even kill us, while also overriding the nature of identity such as ignoring the law of supply-and-demand, ignoring moral laws regarding the initiation of force, and changing a stick to a snake.

 

We cannot properly force another individual to think and behave to live according to our values.  That is the principle of tyranny we do not want forced upon us.  Individually, people do not have this power; if one person acts without any backing, they can be ignored, spurned or retaliated against either individually or with backing.  Individuals acting as a group form collectives.  It takes a system, a collective to implement and force obedience.  Where is this not being self-reflected?-when dealing with other cultures - interventionism, 'spreading democracy' or sharia.  'Our way' is to be imposed upon the other.

 

Collectives fall upon a continuum: based upon ideas on one side, and superficiality upon the other side.  Collectives can be based on morally irrelevant issues such as sports and which team is liked; collectives can be based upon such life-and-death issues such as nationalism.  The crucial distinction to be made is how does the collective 'think', for collectives do not think; individuals think.  It is the difference between scientists congregating to review the results of a study and coming to an agreement based upon the evidence against any group who states that by the fact one was born with a certain tint of pigment in their skin or have a different religion, each needs to be grouped differently and have a different moral value - not just description, but proscription and alienation based upon superficiality.  Any thinking mind can contribute to a scientific theory; only those matching the appropriate demographic may enter the equivalent of a kid's fort with the sign 'girls stay out!'

 

Collectivist thinking is not thinking; it is in fact the lack of thinking.  It is the embracing of a non-thinking characteristic, and giving it prepotency over actual thought.  Collectivistic thinking embraces a non-substantial norm, and that norm becomes dogma. 

 

The bane of our existence emerges from two parts: 1) that humankind is a social animal and we create group dynamics based upon various criteria, such as who is in 'my' family and friends, our culture, who likes the same music, sports team, religion and so on.  There are those who are more like us, and those who are not.  Others may have beliefs or act in ways one's own group does not like.  The further someone is from one, the more their negative aspects will be taken as a personal characteristic - an ingrown/inherent part of who they are instead of people like us growing in a difference social context, in order to justify feeling contempt for them. 

 

2) the valid cognitive task of categorization, but taking it beyond where its proper limits should be.  Categorization is a valid, pragmatic process when kept in its proper place: differentiating Red Delicious apples from Ambrosia and Fuji, those specific apples from other fruits (colloquialism of apples and oranges), and furthermore from ripe or rotten.  Categorization is improper as mentioned when it gets to proscription and allowances letting someone or something be treated differently, or having different capabilities, based on the same superficial level of differentiating between an Ambrosia and Fuji apple. 

 

When this differentiation is made, new standards are created and people act upon them with the necessary consequences that follow.  When 9/11 happened and thousands were killed in a single day with multiple explosions, many were understandably upset, angry and wanted revenge and/or justice.  We were attacked, our innocent people were killed and that is wrong so a response to such an attack is right - right in context. 

 

But what has our response been?  There has been no formal declaration of war by congress; what has been passed are actions in response to an undefined 'War on Terror' and its corresponding high death tool.  In response to the killing of thousands on one day, we have killed thousands over the course of years with multiple attacks and multiple explosions. 

 

It's not self-reflective to think that those who have loved ones killed 'over there' don't feel the same anguish as we do when our loved ones get killed; without a declared war with a State (though for the citizens that would not make too much of a difference), it is people living their daily lives getting killed (family, friends and countrymen) by another group.  It is not self-reflective to see the religious symbols one believes in are real, but 'theirs' are foolish, such as to state that though it is nonsensical to have Athena come from Zeus' head, but it is acceptable to have a woman come from a man's rib.  We recognize it is perjury to lie to the to government, 'bait and switch' fraud when done by a salesman, but it is 'just politics' when elected officials lie and misrepresent.  We recognize that we cannot kill arbitrarily, but allow and even celebrate it if our God does it for us.  And an important conclusion to this point: when we grant God or the State permission to act as such, we also grant its agents to act accordingly to enforce its ends. 

 

Each is an example of going beyond the obvious, and into our bane. 

 

There is an objective good that is beyond any cultural interpretation, for each interpretation attempts to find the objective good based upon temporal and spatial limitations.  Shadows hint, but do not show the actuality of the subject.  This objective standard exists whether or not we humans will be consistent about it.  We need to keep categorization in its proper place, in addition to recognizing that principles do not change because of crossing a cultural border, by a deity's commandments, or by a majority wanting something and stating an elected (or appointed) official makes a promise. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" Right?



You are being watched.

But, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

Isn't that right?  That is what the watchers want us to believe.

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution reads as:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

The NSA's Prism is the latest (and most expansive) program whereby information regarding communication amongst everyone is collected and stored.  The government claims it does not keep the content of said communications, but even if that was true, that should not give us any calming of mind.  The data that are collected includes who called who, when, for how long and from where.  If one of the people in the exchange is not a citizen, then the content can be monitored - even real-time.

The data collection is just the continued progression of the ever-expanding State presence in society.  Though the Supreme Court ruled against it (somewhat in U.S. v. Jones, 2012), the Obama administration and Federal government continue to state that a warrant is not required to affix GPS to someone's car, so that an individual's movement can be monitored.  The increase of cameras in public places, use of drones for police work, checkpoints and stop-and-frisk are various ways that the State already has been monitoring us, invading our privacy.

With technology, the State is able to track everywhere we go, know who we communicate with and for how long.  Again, this is taking those who are monitoring us at their word - that they are not listening to, reading or storing the contents of all those various types of communication.

With that ever-present eye of Big Brother, let's put this issue into context.  Through the various programs, even at the benign level its defenders try to portray it as, is no different in observation than a police officer trailing you, taking notes about where you go, who you talked to, for how long.  The corollary of that is the web of connections inherent in social networks and relationships - who did the one you talked to, talk to?-what about those they talked to?-and so on.

Would a warrant be required for an officer of the law to trail you, monitor you, collect your metadata, even if the contents were not captured?  Would a warrant be required for an officer of the law to enter your house and catalogue your possessions?  Would a warrant be required for an officer of the law to answer the phone for you, to get who you were speaking to, who you were calling, as well as reading your mail before you send or receive it?  Yes, a warrant would be required.

Just because we do not see Officer Friendly camping out in our yards, handing us our mail or our phones does not mean there is any difference between what that would be, and what the NSA is doing.  The data being gathered is being held onto by the government, stored for later use.  The State will look into their database to see who you spoke to, when, how long and the network of who they spoke with, and so on.

Here is where defenders of the invasion decry 'If you don't have anything to hide, then you shouldn't care.' 

This foolish statement gets offered regularly by those who think that security can be purchased at the cost of liberty - after all, if you want to be secure, you shouldn't mind the State invading your privacy because it is for the 'greater good,' that is to combat terrorism.

No, it isn't.

Those people who make such a statement fail to understand the nature of principle, focusing only on the concrete example before them - of that concrete before them, just a small part, not the whole - selective attention and self-imposed blinders.

Through the acceptance of the specific act, the principle that is set is the violation of liberty for the greater good, of those who have done no wrong, violated no rights and are not conspiring to do so.  'It's just a little encroachment,' nothing more.  After all, the laws are there to protect us.

Keep in mind how vastly laws are different or can change from state to state, not to mention Federal law is an ever-expanding mass of legal forms in the way the State may use of force to make citizens capitulate.  How do lawmakers stay busy?-they pass more laws.  We don't need any more of an example of how grossly the State may change its ambiguous stance on a position than to look at then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's corrupt statement: We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.

Terrorism itself is ambiguous - a helpful characteristic for the State to use the term to punish those deemed troublemakers, or to avoid using for pragmatic political purposes. 

Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 13 people and attempted to murder many more.  Prior to his murder spree, he had prompted investigation by the FBI for communication with one the State had formally declared a terrorist; Hasan chanted 'Allahu Akbar!' as he continued murdering.  Hasan's murder spree was deemed as 'workplace violence.'

Brandon Raub, a marine who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, posted comments - including song lyrics - on his Facebook page that were critical of the government; he was detained and placed in a mental institution, being deemed dangerous, needing immediate mental help.  He did not violate anyone's rights.

Senator John McCain advised that the US is also a battlefield.  Such a pronouncement makes it so we all are potential enemy combatants, and enemy combatants do not get rights. It is an excuse to say that the content may be monitored.  It is just the step beyond what Raub already experienced.

Combine the database, the vast social networks permanently linked, along with the selective implementation and finish the concoction with those in the government trying to show how busy and productive they are by passing new laws and see how the government will be able to look back: who was your doctor?-what kind of doctor was he, and did he change his specialty?-what other doctors did you talk to and when?  Did you speak to a gun dealer?-what about someone who knows a gun dealer?  Did you post something critical of the government?-do you know someone who posted something critical of the government?  It may not be critical now, but when a new administration comes in that takes over usage of the database, did you state anything that the new rulers do not like?

The IRS is going to be invested in healthcare; states have passed laws legalizing (to varying extents) marijuana - that the Federal government does not observe; states have different laws regarding how one may own different types of firearms; abortion laws are always under review to be changed.  Have an opinion on any of those issues?  Know people who have opinions about those issues?  Those connections will end up in the database - if not more than just connections.

At the defenders' own words, the system tracks when, how, for how long those communications existed.  Those who are critical of the system (including whistleblowers) state that more detailed data are tracked - contents.

Even at the best case scenario that the defenders try to paint on the invasion of privacy - or as they prefer to call it, just data mining - it does not take away that the illusion of non-intrusion, of not having an actual officer present collecting the data, by its nature sets the principle that without having specific reasonable suspicion and probable cause that the State can interject itself into our lives. 

It does all this without preventing what it was supposed to prevent: forewarned by others, both Hasan's Fort Hood shootings and the Boston bombings were not prevented though the NSA's program was in place.

The State (meaning those composing the government) will do what it wants, when it wants, and how it wants, without our knowledge or consent; the programs were created as such in the first place.

This is the ever-present eye of Big Brother making sure the people are obedient.  With the threat of force, the State passes laws dictating what we may and may not do; with expanding surveillance, we are being watched to make sure we remain obedient.  Making people obedient, removing the options from someone takes away the rational part of the rational animal leaving just an animal, like a sheep; a Shepard keeps his flock safe from predators, but also fleeces all, while even slaughtering some in the herd.

Who is watching you, and for what reason?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Government is NOT the problem - do not mistake the effect for the cause



There is a problem, but the problem is not the government. 

Let us not mistake the effect for the cause.

The oft repeated quote of Ronald Reagan "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem" is currently contrasted to Barak Obama's various goals, regulations, laws and the rest whereby income distribution, healthcare, green energy among other things are to be modified by government to ensure 'fairness' and that people are provided for (How well Reagan followed his own words and that Obama and his administration is not the only administration to push government as the answer will not the focus in this article.)

If we combine the two points of view, we will come to the real issue that needs to be addressed: Reagan's admonition was the criticism of the sign of the sickness that gives rise to Obama's virulent programs.  Government is not the problem; it is the result of the problem. 

The problem is multilayered: the belief that in some legal form we are 'our brother's keeper' and equally, they are our keeper; that democracy, majority rule, can override moral and economic principles; that there should be a legal base to have categories of people and treat them different legally; that it is proper to use force to make individuals conform to the will/whim of the authorities, whether those authorities are the collective, or the representatives of that collective.

On being our brother's keeper:
The very notion of welfare (corporate and individual) as well as Obamacare and all healthcare permutations (Medicare, Medicaid, et cetera) is that someone is suffering, so the government must step in and help those who need it.

On majority rule overruling principles:
This ranges over the various areas of life whereby it is deemed 'the majority willed it, so all must follow'.  Defenders of such a policy (when their side wins) are quick to decry that in politics 'to the victor go the spoils', though they are quick to contest and protest the results as invalid if their side did not win.  The 'spoils' are not necessarily a specific good, but more importantly the legal use of force to implement a plan, an agenda. 

Two things not answered by majority apologists, since they are quick to defend their vague quantitative measure for 'majority rule'; 1) at what point does the majority overrule individual rights?- 2) how does the majority deciding 2+2=5 make it so?  Examples include: gun control and abortion - at what point is the majority a majority enough to dictate the options to the minority?  More examples include: Obamacare, taxes and subsidies - how much of a majority is needed to overrule the law of supply and demand, ignore the punishing presence of taxes, and the how the otherwise unworthy will flourish when the State/government takes from the sufficient and gives to the insufficient?

On legal classism:
There are only two questions the government should be able to ask for census data: 1) are you alive? - 2) are you legally an adult?  Anything beyond those questions is the beginning on legal classism.  Legal classism is when two groups are categorized, made distinct from one another, in order for one of them to get some form of a legal benefit or punishment; subsidy or tax; permit or license fee. 

Classism is a pragmatic tactic; it is done for an end, whether it is to spur or stifle a given behavior. 

Want to promote 'clean air'?-create 'green' companies and policies that get subsidies, while pushing new taxes and fees to those companies that are not green.  Want to push 'healthy behaviors'?-create 'sin' taxes, and legislate away or limit smoking, sugar, salt, alcohol et al.  Want to get elected?-divide the people along socioeconomic status lines and pit them against each other; there are fewer 'rich' (a relative term for many poor in America would be considered rich elsewhere on Earth), so as a numbers game, it pragmatically pays off. 

However, any form of classism, in embracing a pragmatic end, also embraces a principle: there is to be legal distinction between groups based on a given characteristic.  With one application, the principle has been set and another group wants to emerge and have its boon to be received.  Have a subsidy for corn?-why not wheat, cotton, soybean, rice, et al?  (They each are now subsidized, but there are other crops that are not.)  Does one group have 'too much wealth'?-take some of it away to give to others… who voted for the transfer from the other group to their own.

On legal use of force to make people conform:
The government has the legal use of force initiation, through (only after) due process as in the pursuit and apprehension of a criminal (and properly, should only be after someone's rights were violated - outside of that, what this article addresses).  Everyone has the right to use force in self-defense.  The issue here is in the lack of violating another's rights, the use of force to make people obey the dictates of the law. 

It does not matter the end: whether it is for the forced one's 'own good' or for the forcer's benefit (or the one who hired the forcer - a special interest - under the guise of the 'greater good').  From speed limits, prohibition, caloric restrictions, concealed-carry laws as for our own good, to for the forcer's (or for who the forcer is a proxy of) benefit such as legal requirements of accreditation, licensing fees/permits and union laws.  The goal is to make the chosen ones the only options, keeping others out.

Obama's crown jewel piece of legislation (like the re-ratification of the Patriot Act, passed by both Republicans and Democrats, or similar plans like Romneycare) Obamacare crosses all aspects of the problem: we are each others' keeper, majority opinion overrules principles, legal classism and the use of force to make people obey.  The nature of Obamacare and its creation and implementation has the following: that there are some people suffering; everyone must by the force of law be made to support the suffering group; that can only be done after legal classes have been defined (the haves and have-nots); implemented regardless that adding millions more to the demand, and not increasing supply is supposed to make health care (actually medical care) more available and cheaper, and is placed upon all whether it is wanted or not by each individual.

The problem is the idea itself that government can be turned to in order to resolve individual and social issues.  Life involves constant struggle in small and large forms: food, shelter, healthcare and many other goods each require investment of money, material and labor; there are those who are ignorant, incongruent, or knowingly biased and prejudicial but see it as part of their belief system: the 'other' ethnicity, or women, or homosexuals are inferior.  There is no legislation that can be passed that can override the fact of production of limited goods, using limited resources, just as there is no law that can be voted on that will make people think critically, empathize or feel compassion.  There is no way that any governing body can guarantee bounty, and avoid risk for anyone.  Those who offer such protection and safety only can claim such boons, while what they do is nothing more than 'legally' steal from one to give or pay for another.

None of this takes away from our individual preference to categorize, to classify according to our preferences - weighing, valuing, judging and choosing is a great part of what it is to be human.  Having the government make our choices for us by legal restrictions removes in small or great parts through each law passed, a piece of our ability to act as humans.

"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force.  Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington.

Government is not the problem; it is the sign of the problem.  The problem is the notion that the government should be turned to in order to resolve individual and social issues, forcing all of us to obey.  The answer to the problem is free people interacting freely.  Will the perfect option be chosen every time?-no.  But it will be chosen more often, and adopted to more quickly than the mandated error of slow legislation of government that carries with it the legal force of the State behind it.  That is the pragmatic concern.  Morally, only free choice can lead to moral decisions.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Crisis - Making the Exception the Rule




"You never let a serious crisis go to waste.  And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." - Rahm Emanuel

He is not the first to have such a thought, but he is one of the most recognized in saying it.

What is the nature of a crisis?  A crisis is an unstable interruption in what was taken as the normal flow of things in life/society - generally before all the facts are known.  If we apply Rahm's admonition with the nature of a crisis in mind, we can see the emphasis of emotionalism.  What was known has changed and with that decreased rationalism, to sate fears of the public, a crafty politician may 'do things you think you could not do before'.

Fears trump facts.

What catches our attention as a crisis?  As a disruption of a perceived norm, a crisis is displayed anecdotally with an emphasis on the example being used becoming the new norm. 

'This one case happened, and will happen to us all unless we act'. 

In the rush to act emotionally, the 'noble goals' (that are amorphous and vague) are focused upon, while the real intent is the means, the implementation and methodology, used to assuage the problem, reach the goal.

The 'crisis' moment is truly twofold: one, the actual crisis event - that part is the obvious and seen part; the more dangerous and insidious part is 2) the crisis-response advanced by those crafty politicians who want to use part one to push their agenda.  Part one is temporary; part two is lasting.

Crisis moments are advanced in numerous fields, for the areas where the government may interject itself will match - politicians will try to make it match - every endeavor that humanity tries to branch out into, or may interact with.

One example includes Global Warming, once called Global Cooling, but as it has been fluctuating again is 'Climate Change'… a tautological definition.  Has the planet been warming or cooling?-both.  What can we do about it?  The nature of what is actually happening and what can be done depends on operational definitions.  However, that doesn't remove politicians from trying to implement new laws and taxes upon the people in order to 'combat' Climate Change.  Crisis: the planet is dying; emotional reaction: we can fight it if we just try.  That the facts are not laid out, or the specific plans on how one would fight Climate Change: what is the cause; how much does humanity contribute; how much do those who will be impacted by the law contribute; what will be the cost and benefit; are there better plans?

Those questions don't matter, as Hillary Clinton said "Never waste a good crisis… Don't waste it when it can have a very positive impact on climate change and energy security."  The veracity of Climate change is secondary; the agenda is prepotent.

After the attacks of 9-11[-11], there was an influx of emotional reaction, and appropriately so - to an extent.  However, what has come from the attacks show the triumph of emotionalism over rationalism in legislation.  The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism [USA PATRIOT] Act has many lofty goals, among them: strengthening U.S. measures to detect, prevent and prosecute financing of terrorism; establishing secure networks; enhancing domestic security against terrorism.  However, what is needed (is being used and expanded upon) in methodology for implementation shows what a more rational mind would have refused to sign: vast new bureaucracies, warrantless surveillance and searches, arrest and detainment without charge - even assassination.

Healthcare was another crisis through which Obamacare, and various other laws were enacted.  Stories of sick mothers and children filled the airwaves as politicians bandied about to gather support for enacting new legislation.  Emotionalism: there are sick people who need our help.  There is an 'obesity crisis'; here's Michael Bloomberg and "We're not taking away anybody's right to do things, we're simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision…"  At least he used the correct term 'forcing' for it isn't a recommendation when the State passes a law: it is a legal order with punishments for violating it.  Pelosi has the most infamous, and dangerous statement with "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." 

Think on what she said.  As the Speaker of the House, leader of those who write the laws - legal commandments that carry the legal use of force by the State - she said that we'll find out what it was they passed when the police can legally use force against us.

Agenda first.

Is anecdotal evidence ever valid for passing a law?-it can be.  What is needed to be examined is the congruence of what is being advanced with the story used as representation of why a thing is being advanced.

With the murders at Sandy Hook the gun control debate has come to the fore again.  Cries of how new laws are needed to prevent such attacks are heard from various sources: bans on certain guns, bans on 'high-capacity' magazines, more extensive background checks, licensing of guns as well as restricting who may purchase firearms.  How good of an example does Adam Lanza's murder of all those at Sandy Hook make for gun control?  It makes for a poor example for how gun control would have saved those lives.  The weapon used was legally purchased and owned; the owner (Lanza's own mother) was killed, and the weapon was stolen.  He fired 154 bullets in less than five minutes, using a weapon that had 30-round magazines.  With practice, anyone can change a magazine in just one second; without practice, it can take a couple seconds; 154 bullets could still be fired within five minutes with low-capacity magazines - it will only take more magazines.

Another example of gun violence that supports what was being advanced in legislation was the massacre of Luby's diner where 24 were murdered; the murderer crashed his truck through the building and then methodically walked about executing his victims.  Suzanna Gratia Hupp's parents were among the victims; she herself would have been as well, but she escaped.  Where this story is a good example in how it represents a change in legislation is in that Suzanna was armed - she was carrying a pistol.  However, to be a law-abiding citizen, as there was a law preventing her from bringing her pistol inside the building with her, she left it in her car and was unarmed as her would-be, and her parents' murderer, walked about killing his victims.

The Lanza case does not support the new restrictions on guns for everything was legal until he murdered his mother, took her weapon and fired it in a manner that low-capacity magazines could match.  The Hupp case does support the removal of gun restrictions by that if she didn't have to break the law (have the threat of legal punishment) to carry her pistol to protect herself, she could have fought back - [having her gun] "Sure as heck would have changed the odds" - Suzanna Hupp.  The Lanza case would not have been changed with new laws; the laws being changed to allow Hupp to carry her pistol in her situation would have also given the victims at Sandy Hook a chance by one who was armed having a chance at firing back at Lanza.  Jacob Tyler Roberts is an example where would-be shooter Roberts did murder two, but was stopped when confronted by armed citizen Nick Meli.

Crafty politicians don't want you to be self-sufficient and able to defend yourselves; they want you to come to them for help.  Trusting people to fight for themselves against those who want to do ill, doesn't benefit a politician; acting as a guardian who will protect your family, and the children gets people on the politician's side.  Emotionalism of fear-stoking is the bait, regulations and laws are the leash and the State is the master holding the leash.

The seen crisis is the break, the change.  The seen is finite in its scope; the unseen crisis is worse in its scope.  The seen is short-term; the unseen is long-term.  The seen is local; the unseen is widespread.  The seen, being an anomaly burns itself out after it's done; the unseen crisis remains in laws that have legal punishments long after the seen crisis burnt itself out.  

The unseen crisis is the result: the State dictating what we can or cannot do (allowances not just on 'sins' but on ounces of soda, and calorie counts), what we cannot or must buy (taxes, licenses, Obamacare and subsidies), with what or how we may defend ourselves (gun control), and loss of Constitutional rights (liberty, privacy and even life).  Each of these State intrusions upon our lives are done to remedy a crisis of some sort - all for the 'greater good' - all to make us supplicants to the State.

If we are to save ourselves, then it is to us to keep our emotionalism coupled with rationalism - not to loose one, but give each their place.  Emotionalism belongs in private life of an individual, not the public life of the State; rationalism belongs in individual life, and should be the only guiding factor in the public life of the State.  Emotions fluctuate; principles do not.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Actually Paying the National Debt



Numbers never lie, but they can be used to misrepresent.  Even if with a clear definition, numbers may be unfathomable: how big (or small) is a quark?-how long (or short) is a unit of Planck time?  How could one actually write out the numbers in a googolplex? 

On a more practical level for most people, let us look at money and more specifically imagine actually setting a schedule to pay off the national debt (as it stands now) at a mere 3% interest rate, to be paid off in 30 years:
$16,500,000,000,000 debt
$8,543,280,000,000 total interest
$25,043,280,000,000 total paid
$69,565,000,000 in 360 monthly payments

There is a point when numbers can become so large, that they no longer seem real.  Picture an egg, and it is an easy task.  Now picture two eggs, and it is still an easy task.  Continue to add eggs so there are three, four, five, a dozen - even a dozen can be pictured without too much difficulty for we're used to a dozen as a marketable, and a grouped amount even though it is composed of 12 units. 

The normal amount that we humans can track in individual units is 7 +/-2.  We're still physical entities (organisms), and have necessary biological and cognitive limitations.  This affects man and animal, for even crows have been found to be able to count to three.

What happens when what we're supposed to be paying attention to goes beyond those seven individual units, or goes beyond such understandable groups?-how many measure in Plancks?  

Try and picture 1,651 individual eggs, or picture the units that compose a million, and then how to transport them.  Those individual units cannot be visualized; they can be theoretically understood, but not seen.  (Theoretically here to simply mean though a definition may be clear, the actual amount may be different, such as an operational definition of 1,651 eggs for a shipment may be definite, but counting them to fill that definition - how many were missed, double-counted or broken may not be considered and reflect the actual amount). 

How much space do 1,651 eggs fill?-how much do they weigh?-how can that mass be transported?  It's possible for one who deals with eggs en masse to be able to answer those questions and use logistics to ship the eggs about, while minimizing loss.  For those who don't have such experience with eggs, we can only guess.  And that is with only 1,651 eggs - how would we deal with a million eggs?-what about more than a million eggs?

Let us now change the focus from eggs to something that affects us all: money.  Going to a fast food restaurant to use a dollar to buy something, and we can easily see the single dollar and the item we are buying.  If we go to the store to buy a book, we can see the number of bills exchanging hands, though it is becoming more difficult to visualize individual bills - that's why we have other denominations and not just singles, like in the way we have a dozen for eggs.  As we continue to get larger purchases, the individual units of money are lost and we return to theoretical units that we do not count individually for we know what they represent: hundreds, thousands etc.  (Theoretically, money is supposed to represent a stable value).

To further confound things, we don't just buy eggs, but also kitchen furnishings to store the eggs and cook them, living and dining room furniture to eat and relax in, bedroom furniture to sleep in, clothes to wear, cars to drive about, a continuous supply of food to sustain ourselves and families, and we pay bills to keep water and electricity, among the multitudinous factors that require money that we continue to need to earn to pay for things. 

Is each and every individual unit present and accounted for?  If you were good enough to count what you touched (not skipping or double-counting), what about those who also have an effect, whether a spouse, other family member or business partner?-can the same be said for every single unit they touched?-what about when you or them are rushed, sick or are multitasking?

Now, let us look at earning and more in particular spending - not just our family, but the country as a whole.  While we consider earning and spending, let us keep in mind the time and scope: decades, and across millions of people (billions if we consider foreign entanglements).  Earning is part of the issue, but the greater issue is the spending; that is why we have a debt - we (we here referring to the State) spend more than we take in. 

(The [im]morality of State actions is a valid concern, for another article).

The issue is then further compounded by blending the duration with the millions affected as well as political promises being offered that increases the amount of spending from an undefined spigot.  Some of the spending is legitimate and according to what the State should be doing, and some of it is not legitimate; the difference between national defense and nation-building or policing the world.  Some of the spending on some people is proper, and some of it isn't; the difference between giving people back their money that was taken (a process that needs to be stopped, such as returning one's income tax) and welfare (corporate or individual).

Let us return to the first numbers: a snapshot of the debt under the fanciful idea that the debt would not increase.  Again, at the improbable 3% interest rate with the goal of actually paying off the debt over 30 years (like a home loan), the results would be:
$16,500,000,000,000 as an initial loan (debt)
$8,543,280,000,000 total interest charged on the loan
$25,043,280,000,000 total paid of principle and interest
$69,565,000,000 each month for a total of 360 monthly payments

If the percentage rate increased, say to 6%, the results would be:
$19,113,301,000,000 total interest charged on the loan
$35,613,301,000,000 total paid of principle and interest
$98,926,000,000 each month for a total of 360 monthly payments

These numbers are TRILLIONS of dollars in loans and interest paid, with approaching $100 BILLION paid monthly.  This is if the debt doesn't increase from the current $16.5 trillion that it is, and doesn't include unfunded liabilities that raise the total debt over $100 TRILLION.

We now return to the numbers deception - the seemingly 'unreal' numbers that have very real consequences.  The deception happens in two ways: 1) by dismissing the amount that a thing starts out as, or how much a thing increases, such as the top income tax rate when the income tax was created, was 7% and is now in the 30s; 2) by dealing with numbers so large that people will not be able to fully comprehend the amounts, such as the thousands of pages of tax code and the numerous exceptions and qualifications for those exceptions.  If anyone does have a concern, they themselves can be disregarded through ad hominem for having those concerns about the spending when the costs tomorrow are to be ignored in favor of gains today - if one isn't for Obamacare it's because they 'want people to suffer.'

There is no way to pay the debt.  If it was just $16.5 trillion now, and we would not increase it, we would pay between $25 & $35 trillion.  The debt limit has been raised before, and there are talks about raising it again.  This is all on top of the unfunded liabilities, and continued political promises of more.

The debt amount isn't the only thing to consider, for the debt grew to what it has become for a reason.  From the 'small' amounts that some pay, to the small amounts that everyone expects; from the small-scale actions of repressing a dictator at one area, to bolstering an entire country elsewhere; from handing out money to the single mother who refuses to get a job, to the corporate executive who refuses to let his company take the loss from his mismanagement for his company being 'too big to fail', and the ever-increasing amount that all of it adds up to, it only adds to the height the whole economy will have to crash from.

Our crash is coming; our debt is unsustainable and is not payable.  However, we can prepare for the crash and protect against it returning - at least in our lifetimes.

We must not let those who want to rule deceive us with the small changes, or discount the large numbers.  Even if we don't know what the consequences are, their effects are still felt; gravity and thermodynamics were every bit as efficacious before our ignorance of them was removed.  Removing our ignorance and naiveté leaves us in a better position after the correction to not let those who want to bribe us with our own funds convince us they know better, that they can override economics, or that it will only be a small piece that they will take, or allow them to guilt us into following their path as the only way to help.  Their way isn't the only way, and is likely one of the worst ways for in a small step the whole process will begin again.