Tuesday, November 22, 2011

'The Land of Opportunity'

America is often called ‘the land of opportunity.’ But, what exactly does it mean to say that America is the ‘land of opportunity?’ That saying is a colloquialism summarizing that each individual has the right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ But, of course, that itself needs to be examined. (This will be outside due process in criminal investigations).

What is the right to life? Simply, the right to life is not to be murdered. This is different from being killed, for killed may include accident, sickness and age and there is no such right or possibility to protect one from each of those situations; only certain types of accidents may be criminal. Murder brings with it, its own context through a willful, intentional and unlawful killing of another.

What is the right to liberty? Simply, the right to not have undue restrictions placed upon one.

What is the pursuit of happiness? Simply, in following one’s right to life, and with the liberty to act, one chooses the path that is seen best in life to each individual. There may be nature and nurture influences, and those may be embraced or rebelled against, but the emphasis is the choice in/on that pursuit.

Who has rights?-a collective of any size (family, community, corporation, State) or the individual? The options here are mutually exclusive, for if the individual has rights then the collective may not impose upon or sacrifice the individual; if the collective has rights over the individual, then regardless of individual desires, they may be positioned or used for collective ends.

Regardless of the type of collective, and regardless of any size of a collective, it is nothing more than a collection of individuals. Individuals who have something categorizing them together, regardless whether it is meaningful or superficial, inherited or willfully joined in to, make up a collective: e.g. blondes, family a religious/political group.

Any grouping by its increased number doesn’t gain extra rights. Just because one may be in a larger group doesn’t negate the rights of the smallest group, or most importantly the individual. If 99% decide they don’t like the 1%, they don’t have any more authority, with their numbers, to murder, enslave or steal from the 1%.

So the individual has rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If the individual has the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, what does the State, or collective have to give the individual?

We must first make one more distinction, and that is between collectives, for not all collectives are equal. There are two types of collectives: the State, that has the force of law behind it: all others that do not have the force of law behind them. This is the difference between someone (or group) legally being able to force another to obey or punish according to any law that they may enact, contrasted with any group where though in a collective, the punishments (outside of voluntarily entered into legal contracts) are not punishable by law. One may leave the dictates of a private collective while one cannot walk away from the dictates of the State.

Returning to the question of what the collective is to give the individual; the aforementioned difference must be examined. Is it up to the collective to assist the individual with their respective rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? As private collectives are willfully joined, they may assist their members, but the State as a public collective cannot assist people with those rights. The State is to protect through enforcing the laws the individual pursing their rights, but not to assist them in achieving those rights. If the State did assist one in pursuing rights, what would it look like and why would it be wrong for the State to act as such?

A couple examples are needed to show why the State collective is not to assist. The first amendment right to free speech is a specified form of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness as speech is an extension of thought, speaking one’s mind is an act of liberty and pursuant to one’s goals. Each individual has the right to speak. What is it to assist an individual with their right to speak? A private collective, being willfully belonging to, may through those voluntary actions as a whole assist anyone. FOX, CBS, Discovery, OWN or any other television channel may offer someone an audience through giving time, or selling time on their broadcast. The State is funded by taxes, which are taken by force, and it doesn’t own these networks. To assist people in speaking, to say as broadcasting their speech, the State could only force those who can broadcast to give access to their networks. That violates the rights of those broadcasters on who they choose to allow to assist in broadcasting their speech.

On a more general level, there is no way to assist in the right to life. There are ways of assisting various facets to preserve one’s life, such as with food, housing and healthcare. Private collectives may offer one assistance in these various facets, which are implemented voluntarily. The State giving any of these is by force. The State doesn’t grow food, build a house or offer any health services outside of what it has taken away by force from someone else.

In order to ‘give’ away anything, the State must first violate the rights of another. This isn’t equivalent to where each member of society contributes to that which enables the State to work in areas that it should be active in: e.g. military, judicial system. The giving away of goods is through the act of legal plunder, the taking away from those who made wealth, in order to give it to another; the one who produced the wealth receives no benefit from having the wealth taken.

There is no such thing as free wealth; it may be free to the receiver, but that is because someone else already paid the cost. Whether it is food, health care or some other thing that was produced, it was done by one who vested their own wealth (financial and labor) into the production of that good. As they live their life, through their liberty to act as they pursue their happiness, they create. As they created, it is up to them how to sell, or give away their creation. Private collectives, being voluntary may receive donations or discounts (or not) that may be offered to their individual members. The State doesn’t ask; it mandates. The State through legal force takes the wealth, depriving the liberty and pursuit of happiness of the producer.

Some will state: what about the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of those who receive the ‘free’ goods? We must see the common link in those rights: they are from the individual to act on their own in society; they are not guarantees that are to be given, that is first stolen from another to be given to a second. There is no right to violate the rights of another. No one comes into existence holding a claim as a master over another’s life; the State cannot offer someone a whip in order to take something from another.

This is the land of opportunity. The land of opportunity is of the individual to pursue his own life, liberty and happiness. This includes those who work to create a better good, or help those who are not able to help themselves through voluntary interactions. The land of opportunity is that where the individual may make a life as big as he can with what he can create, but not by forcing another to be the tool to assist him. There are other restrictions in life and they are inevitable; one may not be as strong, smart, be born in the wrong area, among various other factors that may hinder attaining one’s goal. But, these hindrances have a possibility to be overcome; the State’s hindrances are legal restrictions upon the individual who may be fined or imprisoned for violations. Not everyone will succeed, or can succeed. The opportunity is not freedom from the restrictions life and nature create, but from undue restrictions man may create. The land of opportunity is where anyone may have the chance, that is the opportunity, to try.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book edit addendum

Confirmed with my publisher: the electronic format has already been updated, and the hardcopy format will be finalized next week. Orders afterward will have the corrections.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Barak Obama’s ‘faith’

A concise definition of faith: 1: confidence in the value or truth of a thing, idea or person; 2: belief that doesn’t rest on logical proof or empirical evidence; 3: loyalty to a thing, idea or person; 4: body of a religion or set of beliefs.

When one is speaking off-the-cuff, their values come to the fore as they advance those values without a conscious filter. However, there are two sides to the value ‘coin’ as there is the side that one sees – the explicitly declared values – and there are the implied values that show one’s base value system that the conscious and explicit values are based upon. To say that any given thing is ‘good,’ that good is based upon something.

Most politicians speak of goods, but leave them undefined: what exactly ‘affordable housing, health care’ or what is ‘fair’? Those ideas are the seen side of the coin; the manners by which those goals are to be achieved constitute the hidden side of the coin. What methods are to be implemented to achieve the undefined affordable whatever, or fairness?

Obama’s faith can be seen in two key exchanges, both widely televised, but not much connected. The two exchanges involve when he was campaigning and he spoke with Samuel ‘Joe the Plumber’ Wurzelbacher, and in a debate moderated in part by Charlie Gibson.

With Joe the Plumber, after Obama talks [rambles] about justifying progressive taxes, he then makes the (in)famous ‘spread the wealth around’ comment. That comment was important, but more relevant and showing was in the democratic debate when he was asked about the capital gains tax (when rates decreased, revenues increased; when rates increased, revenue decreased), Obama’s response was that “I’d look at raising the capital gains tax, for purposes of fairness…” Two separate comments about the goal of fairness; two separate comments implying his real value of fairness was redistribution through force – by legal plunder.

Fairness is never defined, it is just left floating around so that any politician may come along and try and blow it in the direction they desire for the time. But the hidden values of legal plunder comes through. Even with the premises that revenue goes down when the taxes were raised, and revenue rose when taxes were decreased, Obama still wanted to increase taxes for fairness, that is plunder the wealth from some to give to the others, and that is to punish the more successful for their success.

This is Obama’s faith. It has nothing to do with religion, outside of the religion of the State to rule as a god, with the arrogance and false belief that they can command the laws of nature and economics. There may be some religious base to how he forms his ideas, but in action Obama’s faith calls for the sacrifice of value of the wealthy (notice how wealthy isn’t clearly defined so it can be changed), to be given to others. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t even financially pragmatic, for he didn’t contest the premises of the negative relation of taxes and revenue; for the purposes of his faith, value must be plundered from those who worked for it, and handed out to those who didn’t work for it. This doesn’t mean that people don’t work, for many do. But hard work isn’t enough. Obama’s faith doesn’t care about that, though. It calls for others to sacrifice their value.