Monday, October 22, 2012

Perspective on an Advanced Idea: Foreign Policy and Blowback

An often repeated saying on why we're being attacked is: they hate us for our freedom.  Let us look at that, analogously. 

In a neighborhood there are families with different beliefs and cultural norms: some families may deny the women in their households the options of self-determination, while other families allow it; some families state there are topics forbidden to talk about, while others freely talk about anything.  There are of course many other aspects where families may disagree with one another.  Disagreements may emerge, but if those disagreements are only verbal there is not actual violence between the families, regardless of the animosity.

Not all cultures are equal, and the more liberty a culture has, the better it is enabling each individual to pursue the highest human potential and from that individual achievement, benefit the rest as a consequence.  This will be a source for continuing debate amongst the families, but again as long as words are used, there are no acts of violence.

Let's get beyond disagreement in words: say there was a troublesome raccoon in the neighbor's yard and we our sent our 'family pet', a guard dog out from our yard to get the raccoon and in doing so the dog injured the neighbor's children, killed their cat and tore up their yard.  Our neighbors would be upset.  If our response to their being upset was simply dismissing injured child, dead cat and destroyed property as collateral damage since the dog was trying to kill a raccoon that was hiding in a bush on their property - that'd be little comfort to them.  We'll give our neighbors an extreme sense of patience and say though they were angry, they 'understood' our goal and asked us to be more careful and control our dog.  However, after getting the one raccoon we saw another raccoon and we advised the neighbor that we'll keep sending our dog over to try and get the 'new' raccoon - a 'war on raccoons' and in that war our dog hurt more of their children, killed more of their pets and tore up their property.

Let's also add some other 'neighborly' actions such as propping up more distant neighbors around the neighbor with the raccoon; these distant neighbors try and beat the one with the raccoon into submission.  Our last 'neighborly' action is trying to get them to submit to our will directly by sabotaging their property, denying them electricity and water.

We are no longer having a verbal disagreement with our neighbor, but are actually destroying their property and putting their family at risk. 

Let's get out of the analogy and put this into perspective.

Just from drone strikes in Pakistan the civilian death count in the past few years range from near 500 to near 2,000 (US and Pakistani reported stats); injuries of course are much higher; men, women and children are among the victims with civilian deaths accounting from 50-80% (US and Pakistani reported stats).  Other areas being targeted by drone strikes include Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan and Somalia.

As far as propping up one neighbor to rule over another, there was Mubarak being assisted in his rule in Egypt, as well as the Iranian Shah resulting in the oppression of the people of those respective countries.  Sanctions are cutting off the resources to the family, i.e. country.

If our neighbor was sending their dog into our yard and it killed our pets, harmed our children and tore up our property, would we be upset?  Beyond the analogy, this isn't about pets being killed - it's about men, women and children being killed.  We were appropriately angry with thousands of Americans being killed; is it reasonable to think that those in another country are not angry with hundreds, or even thousands of their people being killed?  Would the killing of those civilians, and especially children, spur the people in those countries to fight back? 

How about if they were propping up someone else who tried to overthrow us, or cutoff our ability to get our resources?-sanctions upon us.  This has been done, or is being done to them - would that spur them to fight back?

If war is needed, we have a process for it and it isn't at the whim of an individual politician who wants to get re-elected, but from the deliberation and vote of the entire Congress to approve war with a specific enemy, plan of action and exit plan - not the amorphous, never-ending 'war on terror'.  Afterward, the war is to be swiftly fought to not keep our soldiers in harm's way, to not continually bolster the resolution against them and not place great war costs on the taxpayers.

This plan of drone strikes (as an extension of the 'war on terror') is unconstitutional and a long-term action.  The Times Square bomber was foiled, as was the 'underwear' bomber in the plane; however, imagine if they succeeded and we had similar attacks periodically for years.  How would we feel and how would we respond?  We'd steel our resolve against, and then want to attack those who were perpetrating those attacks.  It wouldn't be about the beliefs of those attacking us - whether or not they embraced freedom or oppression - it would be about their attacking us, killing our citizens.

Our presence is unneeded all across the planet, does not benefit us and our actions of 'spreading democracy' do not help but actually harm our cause.  If we want to assist in the spread of liberty, it is by example for to force liberty defeats the purpose; liberty cannot be forced, but embraced.  Forced liberty is an oxymoron. 

Through peaceful interactions, our example will spur the people to assert their own self-determination and get rid of the oppression forced upon them.  Malala Yousufzai is an example of the individual standing against oppression as she is an adolescent standing against a theocracy denying her ability to get educated; she was attacked, shot twice for her opposition, but she survived.  The way the people in her country are embracing her and condemning her attackers shows how the people can direct themselves - if they only have the courage and example.  Imagine if Malala was killed by a drone strike; her spark trying to illuminate the darkness of theocratic oppression would be out, while her blood would bolster the people against those controlling the drones that killed her.

If our message of peace and liberty comes repeatedly with a bomb killing civilians, then there is not a message of peace and liberty, but a message of oppression and death.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

In Memoriam

Paul Kurtz

Another lost great thinker.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Fallacy of the Capitalist Dragon

An often repeated villain throughout folklore and myth is the dragon.  The dragon is a giant and ferocious beast; it devours the innocent; it lays waste to the landscape; it tries to slay the hero; and the dragon hoards vast treasures of bountiful precious jewels and gold - not to mention the beautiful virgin.

With a quick examination of those characteristics, some of them are what we could say 'natural' to any large predator: a grizzly bear can be a giant and ferocious beast that has a voracious appetite and will fight those who come into its territory - just like any wild animal.  On a small-scale, even a field mouse can be a terror to organisms comparatively smaller to it as humans are to a grizzly bear.  Wild animals act as wild animals.

This leaves us with the hoarding aspect of the dragon.  Why would a dragon hoard?-and, especially why would it hoard treasure and virgins?  The dragon is not going to shop anywhere and is not going to attempt seduction.  There is no reason for the dragon to hoard the 'boons' it has.

As with any myth or fairy tale, the characters and items are all metaphors; the dragon is analogous to ideas or people in real life.  Let us look at the dragon.

What is it in the real world that gets ascribed as the victimizer, the devourer, the destroyer and the hoarder?-the rich.  They (individuals and businesses that are run by individuals) are the ones that need to have giant leashes placed upon them: leashes of regulations, licenses, taxes, quotas and such.  It is claimed that these leashes are needed for if the dragon was not restricted with them, the dragon would lay waste, consuming, destroying and hoarding without end.  There would be a Chernobyl and Deep Horizon oil spill happening regularly; the dragon would also be keeping the wealth, leaving the rest to starve.

Is that what the rich do?  Granted, there will be some who may - statistically, out of any group there are going to be those with malevolent intentions; however, that is not a necessary and sufficient characteristic of being rich.  Parasites exist in all classes.  What do the rich do?

(The rich, recently are called the millionaires, but that is a misnomer as the new calls for fairness and expanded rules begins at $250k earnings a year.  This 'rich' is only in respect to income, not assets already held.)

First, let us distinguish between those who create work against those who create wealth: the one who digs a hole and fills it back in against the one who creates a good for sale. 

Those who earn money do so by offering something to be sold.  What is this thing?-something that needed to be produced.  Produced how?-by combining resources, labor and expertise (at a minimum) into the given good.  What is does that mean?-through the interaction of individuals who choose (choice is a key component) to interact, they create something through which they each benefit: the one with the resources gets paid for the resources; the worker gets paid for the labor; the entrepreneur gets paid for getting the whole thing together.

This is true with a good being sold, or for resources to be combined with other resources to manufacture later goods - components need to be built before goods can be made from them, or for services.  It requires wealth to begin and wealth to maintain - maintaining meaning continuous interaction and therefore productive work to be performed by each party.

Does that sound like a dragon hoarding?

To add to the aforementioned, there are others who are also in the various fields of enterprise.  Those others may make their own and wholly different good, or create a similar good to compete.  With a whole new good, there is more to be had, and with a competing good there will be more pressure to invest wealth into production to make things more efficiently or of a higher quality so they can remain in business - still more for society. 

Some who do not succeed, or work in fields no longer needed may be out of work, but with production and people being open to create the new, those newly unemployed can find work elsewhere: e.g. we do not have a high demand for impact typewriter parts or service, but we do have a demand for those who can work on computers.

With all of this, the rich do not hoard.  Hoarding is taking what one has and not using it, not reinvesting it - the dragon only keeping treasure in its lair.  The rich do not do that. 

The aforementioned were references to businesses, but even a rich individual who puts the money in a bank is not hoarding it: it goes in a bank to earn interest.  Why does it earn interest in a bank?-because the bank uses the money in loans.  Banks put money to work.  The money in banks goes to loans for those who need help for anything ranging from purchasing a motorcycle to capital for starting a new business.  If the bank did not have the money placed in it, then it could not offer the loans and people would not be able to purchase the motorcycle or begin their business.

The Capitalist Dragon does not hoard, but makes sure its treasure is utilized.

Every dragon has its nemesis, and in the tales that is the noble hero.  We have an equivalent; however, as the dragon is not the same hoarder in the lore, neither is the hero so noble.

The 'hero' that wants to slay or control the Capitalist Dragon is the government.  That government hero does not see, or rather does not care the wealth that is 'hoarded' is not actually being hoarded, but is being put to use. 

Only what can be seen is what is important to the government hero; what cannot be seen is not relevant - the more distant a thing becomes, the less it directly affects the hero and those who praise him (for reelection); the more the long-term consequences will be ignored.  There is only the now: look at the treasure the dragon has - now let's take it, for it has too much.  The resulting harm to the interactions following taking the treasure by force is irrelevant, for it is a distant harm: the important thing is happy people dividing the spoils now.

The ways of taking the dragon's treasure include regulations, licenses, taxes and the like.  Each of these is a chain around the neck of the dragon, placed upon it by the threat of a sword.  These take from the dragon's treasure for now it has to spend its treasure on things not related to the actual production of a good, but to sate the government hero and those who praise him.

There are cries that if the government hero did not at least chain the dragon, that the dragon would lay waste to the people and the environment.  That is untrue: the only thing needed is to enforce property rights, and outside of that it is not anybody's business.  If there was actual harm, then with equal treatment of the law compensation could be made or activities halted.

Businesses would pay as little as they could?  Do not workers try and get as much as they can?  The free market allows people to exchange freely; if they can pay more (most jobs start above minimum wage), then businesses will pay more for a better worker.  And the one who is just starting a business, but cannot afford what the government hero said should be the minimum for employee wages, can still hire but for less - he is able to offer employment, and the employee is earning something where he was earning nothing beforehand, and gaining experience to earn more later. 

The same is true for the rich who puts the money in a bank; in the bank, the money is used for productive purposes; in the government hero's coffers, the money goes to sate bureaucracy where the money is not productive.  For the sake of creating work, one can be paid to dig a hold, and fill it back up; there is work, but not production.  Should the government hero's coffers actually produce anything it is first by the use of force taking it from where it already was productive and now first sating a bureaucracy before the remainder can be put to work.

There is a middleman between the Capitalist Dragon and the government hero.  This middleman is not to be confused with a moral middle-ground (there is no moral middle-ground), but merely as a go-between for pragmatic utility: gremlins.  Gremlins work in human society, but they do not create things - they destroy them.  However, at one time they were seen as beneficial.  With the illusion of beneficence, gremlins convince the people who praise the government hero and the government hero himself that chaining the dragon will bring prosperity.

The gremlins create bureaucracy of the government hero, and corporatism for him and fellow gremlins; they are never sated, never get enough of the dragon's treasure.  As parasites, they grow and continue to do so, feeding off the host, continuing to eat until they devour the dragon, and are left with nothing.

What are we left with?  The Capitalist Dragon does not hoard, but on the contrary, it produces.  There are monsters.  Those monsters are the government heroes who come in with their swords and chains to enslave the dragon or take its wealth, and the gremlins who act as humanity's friend, but work toward humanity's destruction.

Monday, October 8, 2012

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Liberty lost, can be found again

America has been departing from its principles for some time, a trend that has escalated of late: more than $16 trillion in debt, the devaluation of the dollar, wars declared outside of the constitution, government expansion into more areas of the economy and attempts to take over healthcare. Even further into an Orwellian sphere is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), whereby the president may indefinitely detain American citizens without due process, and the TSA's attempts to go beyond the airports as they violate our rights as well.

To counter this disturbing trend, I offer new works embracing liberty, responsibility and the proper place of the State in the life of the individual.

A Social Carol is a modern-day twist on a literary classic. Angry with the system, young and idealistic Evan Sanders engages in a protest that turns violent--resulting in the death of his friend. Resolving to affect social justice on the corrupt capitalists, Sanders seeks the elimination of money to level the playing field for those less fortunate. Eventually arrested for his offenses, the young idealist is visited by the spirit of his deceased friend, warning him to change his collectivist course. To aid in that effort, the spirit advises Sanders that he will be visited by three spirits, sent to show him the inevitable conclusions of his misguided economic desires.

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The Gospel of Reason shows a world whereby the State has been hopelessly intertwined with religion, expecting to be obeyed without question. All aspects of life are directed by the ruling class: economic behavior, individual preference, learning and inquiry, among other aspects of life. Arenos travels among the people, instructing them with the aid of more than 60 parables of a way to better fulfill their lives. These unique lessons span a range of issues, including: economics, personal responsibility, critical thinking, morality, emerging tyranny and the dangers of dogma.

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In short-story form, The Justified Trilogy disputes many notions of moral relativism that have become prevalent in today's society. I refer to these short-stories as 'philosophy in action' as each deal with a threat to good people and how they respond when attacked:

Necessary Means: Former special forces soldier Daemon Justice witnesses the kidnapping of his wife Dominique and their young daughter Danielle. When ransom demands are received, Justice will do whatever it takes to get his family back safely, by any means necessary.


Opposing Force: Dominique and Danielle find themselves in the center of a convenience store robbery by a gang of thugs. Fearing for her and her daughter's safety, Dominique refuses to comply with the criminals' demands. The young mother is soon faced with a grim choice to either keep her family safe or risk the death of another hostage being used as a human shield.


Preemptive Strike: The entire Justice family is set upon in their home by an assault team from a foreign nation. The mercenaries are dismissed as rogue elements by prevaricating politicians; Daemon must take it upon himself to discover and eliminate the source of the aggression. As Daemon leaves the country to eliminate the threat, a second attempt is made on his family's lives. When Daemon returns to tend to his family, he finds his freedom at risk for the sake of political expedience by self-serving bureaucrats. He must defend himself from the State that failed to defend him.


Finally, separate from The Justice Trilogy, Warning is the story of a developer in the midst of creating a technology that will revolutionize the world. He is thrust in a fight for his very survival by one who claims his creation will be used to bring about humanity's destruction.


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Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Lion that Allowed Itself to be Devoured by a Rat

There is a fable that is increasingly relevant today: the mighty lion that was devoured by a rat.

The lion knew itself to be big and powerful, strong and mighty. It knew from its strength that it could trample, crush and devour its enemies. When a lowly rat came up to the lion, it was not frightened; the lion saw the rat of such little consequence and ignored it. The rat bit the lion, but with the lion's fur and mass, it was more amused than frightened or concerned. As the rat tried to nibble, the lion confident in its strength to always protect itself went to sleep.

However, as the lion slept, the rat continued to nibble; canyons are not created quickly, but by the slow wear of running water. The rat nibbled past the protective fur and began to burrow inside the lion. The lion awoke surprised its strength didn't protect it. Time was short for the rat burrowed quickly, but it was painful to try and reach in and get the rat. The lion tried to talk the rat out, but whatever words were used, the rat continued to burrow. Eventually the rat went past where even if the lion tried to reach in and pull the rat out it couldn't be reached.

The rat continued to burrow to the lion's heart, and killed the lion; it then ate the lion from the inside.

Collectively, the lion is America.

Overly confident in our strength, we have opened ourselves to threats and haven't done much of anything to protect ourselves. This is true on multiple levels, but most damaging in our interventionism, on being 'sensitive' and clamping down on our own expression, and in our politics. These are greatly intertwined.

The death knell of the lion is our participation (or lack thereof) in politics and by extension, elections. The Federal Election Commission statistics show election participation ranges from mid-30s (non-presidential election years) to up to around 60% (presidential election years).

The rat is the tyranny that emerges from inaction; this is the same regardless of the issue: crackdown on free speech as not to offend (someone or State), limiting the size of drink you can purchase, the drug war, extra-congressional declarations of war, and the like. From this, we end up with a presidential election between two front-runners getting the media coverage, but have little substantive differences and those are not highlighted.

With how many vote for one of the two front-runners because those are the only seen two choices available, and with how many do not vote at all, imagine the change that could happen if we are proactive and insist upon more than just the two candidates.

It is up to us to demand the media to stop assisting the rats from devouring us and to stop the politicians' own tyrannical actions and burdening debt for there will come a point where we cannot stop the burrowing and our hearts will be devoured and the lion will be dead - we are the lion.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

On being 'sensitive'

As Lenny Bruce advised "Take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government." We can replace the government with any authority figure who wants to control our speech, and therefore our thought; whether that authority is Islamic, Christian, the Politically Correct, or anything else; the what they are is not as important as what they are trying to do - control others - that is the important part.  Fuck those who want to control our words and thoughts.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Advice to Gary Johnson

If you're not invited to participate in the debates, crash them.  By that, I mean go where the debates are being held - make sure to have TV/news crews with you (they'd enjoy a jab at their competition) and if you're turned away, lambast how complicit the moderator/network of the debate is as part of the corrupted election process as you are another option in all States.  If the debate host gives in, you're in the debate; if the host doesn't let you in, it will be broadcast and gain attention from other outlets on the R/D debate protectionism, making Obama and Romney look weaker.

Just my thought.

Cult of (Presidential) Personality

What is the President of the United States supposed to be?

Is he (or she for when it happens) to be someone relatable?  Is he to be someone you can have a laugh, or beer with?  Is the President someone whom after you've met, leaves with the feeling of, as Joseph Campbell said "good fellow well met"? 

We are bombarded with images of a smiling face responding to numerous questions, nominees stating what their 'guilty pleasures' are, appearing on network shows to joke and be 'eye candy', and of course shaking hands and kissing babies.  With all of this, it seems the President should be the good fellow well met.

Is that what the President should be?

The President of the United States is first and foremost the head of the executive branch of the government; the rest of the triumvirate includes the judiciary with the court, and the legislative with the congress.  The President is not to be the one passing laws, or ruling on laws, but to be the chief enforcer of the laws.

This brings us to: what are the laws?  As we have 'progressed' through the decades, there are numerous laws - thousands of pages - and in those pages, laws contradict, overlap and make exceptions.  With that, we must look at the supreme law of the land, the Constitution.  For example, where laws have been passed that may otherwise restrict free speech, we have Cohen V. California: Cohen was arrested for 'disturbing the peace' by wearing a shirt stating 'Fuck the Draft'.  Just over a word, Supreme Court Justice Harlan wisely observed in the court's opinion "This case may seem at first blush too inconsequential to find its way into our books, but the issue it presents is of no small constitutional significance."

The Constitution was held as the supreme law of the land - that it should be held as - and Cohen's conviction was reversed.  There have been times of other violations and those violations come to the highest court to be ruled upon to check the constitutionality of those laws, policies and rulings.  Therefore, the President as the chief enforcer of the country has his first fealty toward the Constitution - it's in the oath of office when he is sworn in.

There is a difference between the power delegated to the President in the Constitution, and that which has become allowable in expanding precedent in actions taken by previous Presidents - and the Congress.  Congress passed the Patriot Act and NDAA, both of which violate Constitutional rights, but have not been heard by the Supreme Court (outside of one statute deemed 'anti-terrorism').  President Obama acted as jury and executioner with the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki (Anwar's teenage son), both of whom were American citizens and had their rights violated. 

Constitutional rights of due process are not to protect the guilty, for if guilty and judged as such they will be punished as judged; constitutional rights are to protect everyone from being falsely convicted.  In a trial, we do not just let the prosecutor provide his evidence and not let the defense have their voice: why would we allow the power of judging to one who is pulling a trigger at the same time?

The President is in essence a magnified and glorified National Sheriff, charged with upholding the laws of the land, and acting as the legal representative of the country.  He is to be judicious and fair in following the laws passed, but most importantly upholding the base the laws come from, being the Constitution, and from that Natural Law. 

Does how much he can smile, or how many babies he can kiss have anything to do with how he will act in the role of President instead of appeaser to the masses to get elected?  Such superficialities may help get him elected, but they won't help him in the role of being President.  Do you want someone you can have a laugh or a beer with in the role, or should the President be more than that and be the chief enforcer of laws?-what is more valuable?

The carefully groomed and manicured front-runner nominees of Obama and Romney… how different are they?  Both want(ed) NDAA, the Patriot Act, auto bailouts, TARP, CISPA, healthcare mandates, the drug war, expanded military interventionism overseas, among various other shared interests.  What is the substantive difference between these two?  In the media, the difference is their personality: though both are rich, Romney is lambasted as out-of-touch and rich, while Obama is the likeable professor-type, but aloof.  However, they both make their rounds on television, their jokes, public contact eating where they can be seen to be 'one of us' and again, shaking hands and kissing babies.

According to the left/right media, Obama claims he'll help the poor more, while Romney will help 'the job creators' more; in either case, it's more of the government getting into the market - remember, both embraced the bailouts and other programs so they're not that different.  The media skips the similarities, focusing on how they each 'look' presidential.  Joseph Campbell advised it's a lessening of the role of the President to be the good fellow well met.

Their presidential look is a Potemkin village; in the role to uphold the highest law of the land, they both embrace policies and laws that violate the Constitution. 

It is up to us as citizens to elect someone that isn't just 'likeable', but is someone ready for the role; the role not to be a cheerleader, not to be someone's friend, but to be the chief enforcer of the supreme law of the United States.  This is true not just for the President, but also for those trying to get into Congress.  We must rise above the tricks and manipulations the politicians and their handlers try to use, and ensure the elected officials follow the Constitution.  If we do not follow the Constitution  and allow them to overlook it as well, then we'll have nothing to base our defense upon when we may be looked upon as the 'bad guy' and be scapegoated, having our property or even our lives taken - we will be Constitutionally insignificant, for the Constitution will be.