Monday, August 15, 2011

A thought on Bachmann

Bachmann keeps giving reasons as to why she shouldn't be president, and they keep being added to, including and most importantly by her own words.

Byron York's question was on her 'submission' to her husband's admonition "now you need to go and get a post-doctorate degree in tax law." Her thought was "I hate taxes. Why should I go and do something like that?" (Quotes are her own words)

After a few seconds of empty booing from the crowd, Bachmann replied equating submission with respect and that husbands and wives are to respect one another. Very good, but that wasn't the question. Paraphrased, the question was: who makes your decisions?-you or your husband? She could have closed any question about this if she simply, decisively declared: I make my own decisions. Instead she waffled and answered a question not asked. The presidency is too important to have someone who isn't direct and self-directed.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

O'Reilly (among others) misses the point

O'Reilly recently was talking about freedom and political choice, with the right and freedom to be liberal, conservative, libertarian or a tea-party member. He made the same error that many others have made: confusing/blending political and philosophical ideas.

Tea-party members are more amorphous, while libertarian is a little more specific. But the dominant groups in modern politics are conservatives and liberals. How the difference can be seen, and the crucial nature of the difference between a philosophical belief and a political belief, though crucial, is simple.

A political belief/ideology being applied in politics and into law removes the freedom to choose. Whether it is a current liberal redistribution plan that increases a tax rate, or whether it is a conservative plan to define marriage, the effect is the same: the people losing the freedom to choose for themselves.

At philosophical levels, these ideas do not take away freedom, but are in fact expressions of freedom when people act upon them: the liberal may donate more if they choose, and the conservative may keep their marriage according to their dictates, while not infringing upon one who keeps their money to spend, invest or save it as they see fit, or for another couple to get married according to the dictates of their beliefs.

It is the crucial difference between a positive and a negative law: negative laws punish violations of rights; positive laws seek to guarantee things to be given/enforced that have nothing to do with defending rights, but at base to be implemented violate the rights of the citizens.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

On Making Assumptions

With any goal to be implemented, there needs to be a series of steps toward that goal. Those steps, and of course the goal itself, are each based on assumptions that form the foundation that the beliefs are created from, therefore how the actions are to be implemented.

For example, increasingly common in modern industrialized societies, and under a new banner of 'social justice' there is the goal of raising those with less to a higher level. The goal is equality, or, as the colloquialism goes: to spread the wealth around.

To spread the wealth around, what must first be decided is the line of demarcation from which to judge where one should receive; i.e. who is to receive. Is that level where one it to receive to be based upon net worth, income level, number of dependents, number that they may be dependent on, or something else?

Next, what needs to be decided is exactly what is to be equalized, or to be spread around. Is it money, an amount of goods, percentage of employment, representation in government or business leadership?

After finding out who is the one to be receiving something and receiving what, there is a flip-side to be considered: if a proper amount has been decided from which one should not be below, what exactly is too much? Who is considered to have ‘too much of the pie’ in the aforementioned areas?

But we come back to a deeper assumption in order to look at who should receive what: what are values? This is not asked a nuanced level of Smith or Anderson should receive a how much of a value from their mutual interaction, but before that. What must be looked at is whether or not a value something that belongs to individuals who can act in a collective or do values belong to collectives who can act upon the individual. So, the question may be rephrased: who should have values?

For the sake of argument, let’s go with the social justice argument that some have received too much, while others have not received enough, and we also have our line of demarcation wherever that may be. In answering these questions, we have stated as a primary that values are social goods, for if they may be transferred to equalize a social system, any personal value is of a distant, secondary consequence to the social good that must be equalized. The ‘haves’ are to loose something so the ‘have-nots’ may gain that thing.

An example: we have decided that wealth should be taken from the haves, and given to have-nots. We must back up briefly. Who are the ‘deciders’?—the deciders are the group who looked about, decided who should receive wealth, who should have wealth taken away, and how to take and give away wealth. The deciders classified who are the haves and the have-nots. If wealth was a personal value, then the haves could give it away as they saw fit. But with wealth being a social good, the deciders can take it away, by force if necessary for the collective good is better served if individual haves are forced to equalize the rest.

To put the decider’s plan into action, as society is large, there would have to be various components of implementation: firstly, the deciders, then after that, the logistical side: collectors, sorters, distributors. These groupings would have to be repeatedly created for ‘the public’ is a formless mass. These would be decider-collectives and would be staffed by numerous individuals of a shared vision to implement their plan. Numerous collectives would be created for the decider’s plan of redistribution.

We must also briefly look at the deciders and the collectives the deciders created to implement the redistribution. It is an assumption that things will proceed without a problem, but the very nature of said work is problematic. With the legal use of force being used to change the possession of value only the State can implement any actions. The nature of the position would make it implemented by those without competition, not elected, and not overseen by others than those in the system that takes wealth. The nature of the work includes being without competition, unelected and not overseen invites corruption. The assumption is that those working for the State are the faithful public servants working for the public good, and are beyond ‘selfishness,’ but this ignores that these people are still individuals who became public servants, and their motivation for society’s greater good is an assumption placed upon them. The nature of the legal use of force as a tool to implement an agenda attracts those of a specific mindset who see wealth as a social good; there are those who also enter public service of protecting individual rights, but they are a minority. Without competition the deciders collective could perform poorly and remain inefficient, if not fully corrupt. And, with the model of inefficiency, the nature of their work would take away from the wealth so it could pay for the program itself, as well as assisting other State programs that need wealth. Even if not corrupt, the bureaucracy would siphon funds.

With the legal use of force behind what they decide, the deciders would be better entitled dictators; the decided and now dictate others what is to be done.

Two more assumptions that need to be considered: 1) that one who is not in the nuanced situation knows more about what needs to be done than those who are in it; 2) an assumption of Ceteris Paribus, that after a change has been implemented that those changes will not bring forth new changes.

These last two assumptions, however, are obviously false. We know principles, e.g. 2+2=4 and freezing cold and water will make ice; the specifics change for though the principle may be immutable, the specifics in a different place may change to a different principle, e.g. 2(rulers)+2(yardsticks)=8 feet of distance. Only those nearby are those who can verify which details are important to the formulation; the distant one who still continues 2+2=4 is right in the general principle, but wrong in the specific circumstance. A greater problem emerges when one takes his local principle and applies it to all, such as 2(rulers)+2(yardsticks)=8 feet of distance and stating it has to be used in an area that is based off the metric system.

New changes come about for though freezing cold and water will make ice, if one area introduces a red dye to make red ice, there won’t be a significant change; if another area introduces alcohol, then there won’t be ice, but a cold liquid.

One more thing about change, is that it is always constant. Of the infinite variables interacting in life, they are continuously interacting in the various ways that their principles (their identity) dictate: will the water freeze or not?—what are the components interacting in this situation?—the new principle to be considered?—is the change relevant enough to require a new principle to be considered? But, with society, there is the additional constant change to be included in that man ages, the population cycles and demographics fluctuate. Those who make up the bulk of a society and consume more, or produce more will change.

Even if one was foolish and arrogant enough to believe they had all the answers to the aforementioned questions and can remain up-to-date with all the changes, everywhere, all the time, there is one more assumption, and that is that aid/redistribution actually helps. Helps who, how and with what are generally unanswered in specifics for it is the general idea that is desired of helping one without, receive. Aside from the morality (a very important issue), let’s look at the taking by force, one’s wealth who earned it to be given to another who has not earned it: that wealth should be taken from the haves, and given to the have-nots. In principle it is rewarding behavior that has failed to meet the reward-level where receiving it was just; in principle it is punishing behavior that put forth the right work. On a pragmatic level, as aforementioned, the model of work includes being without competition, unelected and not overseen invites corruption, or at the least, inefficiency.

Now, some may come forth with the declaration of the specifics being of a bigger importance, like was mentioned with the 2+2=4 example: making the exception the rule – anecdotal evidence to justify a rule. That is nonsensical, for the exception by its nature showed there was an unknown variable affecting a thing, changing the principle to be applied. But to find out how that variable is affecting a thing, it would take an examination of the specific instance which would be local application of the general principle, fine-tuning it to get to its reality. The smallest unit who can best know how to act with what is theirs is an individual, which makes values personal goods.

A final assumption to be examined is that of perspective. Perspective may color how one sees what is valuable. Someone who is born into wealth may look at the man driving a ‘junker’ car on his way to a minimum wage job in order to pay for his family, may see someone who is without what he needs to survive; the same man driving a junker on the way to his minimum wage job would be looked upon with envy by the man in a third-world country who mines all week for what the minimum wage-earner makes in one hour, while his family, including his children also work in order to earn what their society can offer.

Assumptions are important for they form the unconscious base from which we act consciously. They are, however, damaging when faulty. Faulty assumptions affect our individual lives, and when one has more reach, their faults reach further. That red fruit is good is a general principle, but the locals who have cherries, and not butcher’s broom, will get nourishment, while the others will get quite sick. Now, consider if the dictator commanded all red berries to be eaten. The universe is not affected by the ignorance those who act in it, but allows ignorant consequences, with their pain, come to those actors; the universe also rewards those who act rightly.