Friday, March 27, 2015

Why do we need government? To protect us from government of course!

Study central banking, and this caricature ceases to be clever.
From moneycrux.com
Listening to this Peter Joseph critique of Stefan Molyneux helps me understand the problem I have of conveying ideas about the market. The desire for justice, fairness, order, etc. is projected onto the state by default. 

A mythological ‘They’ as savior

Not really the state, but some ‘They’ should be there to fix things, and this privilege goes to those with the illusion of being officially representative of people, and this is perceived as more legitimate than the manner in which non-crony market leaders represent consumer wants.

Politicians as higher species?

All people are flawed, and having a flawed minority elected by flawed voters could not solve the perceived flaws of markets. In fact, political mandate enables the monopoly behavior responsible for such shoddy services perpetuated by the state and carelessly associated with the market.

Mentalities

An overnight abolition of the state without a corresponding better understanding of the implications of coercion on human interactions would just lead to a new replacement state. However, such a hypothetical situation is unhelpful, as in reality, the obsolescence of the state would occur gradually, so much so that government offices won’t suddenly disappear, they would just be too incapacitated to require people to pay for services under pain of imprisonment , and when competitors pop up who can provide such services more satisfactorily, these competitors won’t be shut down. 

In that way, no mass unemployment will occur, services won’t be interrupted by complete industry newbies, and for a long time thereafter people will call ‘the state’ as such even without its primary characteristic of coercive monopoly.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Viral Sto. Niño Parochial School speech NOT about free speech

There is no violation of ‘free speech’ in the viral issue of the salutatorian of Sto. Niño Parochial School being prevented from finishing her speech. It was the (private) school, following its administrative rules, that had a final say on what students were to discuss.

That is not to say that there would not be consequences to the school officials’ refusal to allow the student to say what she wanted to say. It turns out, the issue of alleged cheating that they wanted to cover up has been all the more publicized, and the backlash will take years to undo, if at all.


People are held accountable for a lack of transparency. That is all one could take away from this story. To make this an issue of curtailment of speech is misleading, giving people the idea that they can say whatever they want, regardless of venue and the wishes of those who do have a right to dictate a venue’s purpose. This is no less abusive than government restrictions on the use of private property for expression.

Looking back at Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy

Society, even at a municipal level, is not built by one man. At most, there can be certain figures representative of the prevailing mentalities in a populace. So when we consider the recently late Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, he does not deserve too much of the praise nor of the blame for the emergence of this city-state with its paradoxical mix of free-flowing capital and violently suppressive authoritarianism.

The apparent contradiction between this combination of capitalistic and fascistic forces stems from a disregard of the processes that make for ‘good’ society. For Lee Kuan Yew, and those who submitted to his vision, it was assumed that the discipline required for market players to succeed was reflected in ‘cleanliness,’ even if the latter was imposed by the threat of harsh penalties.

Lee represented, not created, prevailing mentalities

Little thought is given to the (very likely) possibility that Singaporeans gave Lee their consent, to the degree that his values, wrong or right, mirrored theirs. It wasn’t strict prohibitions per se that made for the fabled order and organization of citizens, but rather, these citizens already believed and practiced as Lee decreed.

Underground

And in fact, the imposition of petty prohibitions is indicative of Singaporeans’ lifestyles, the dullness and unhealthiness of which make for an inevitable implosion. The strength of the country’s criminal underground is already a sign that this prohibitive mentality is corrupt.

Even though the Singaporean government’s totalitarian practices have not made for a backlash of upheaval, the consequences of rejecting freedom as a means of order must occur.

Free markets > Making money

Singapore is considered a ‘capitalist haven’ mainly because capitalism is associated, inadequately, with money, specifically, international finance. But the country could not quite be considered a ‘free market,’ until people recognize the market as including seemingly trivial consumer choices such as chewing gum.


Sustainable society requires an implicit understanding of markets, not just in the sense of acquiring material goods, but in determining all that one does. A ‘strongman’ can only do so much good to the degree that his subjects welcome the consequences of their free acts, and not by how limited they are in action by him who thinks he knows best.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The two-way test of justice

From hollisbrothersauto.com. Mine is better.
How do you tell if a policy is just or unjust? There’s what I call the two-way test: If you impose a policy on one party, say, ‘greedy profiteers,’ you must also consider imposing a complementary policy on the other party, say, ‘the little guy.’ Turns out, many of the policies we accept as ‘karapat-dapat’ are... not pretty.

1.       If you impose a minimum wage to be paid by an employer, you ought to impose ‘minimum amount of labor’ to be done by an employee. Well, that seems fine, right? People ought to do the jobs they’re paid for. But, is it fair to require a minimum amount of work, or minimum quality of work, under pain of imprisonment and/or fines? Incompetents and people still gaining experience would not just have a hard time finding work, they could be imprisoned. What justice!
2.       If you require stores to allow returns of purchased items, the store should have the same right to demand to return a customer’s money, even if the customer is perfectly satisfied with their purchase. What justice!
3.       If an employer is not allowed to fire an employee at will without a supposed good reason, then an employee should be required to stay in a job even without good reason, however horrendous the working environment and incompatible the job entailed. What justice!
4.       If obsolete industries are protected on the basis of ‘saving our jobs,’ consumers should be required to stick to passé services and technologies, however counterproductive these may be. For example, don’t send mail through your smart phone! Go find an internet café and send your messages through a desktop computer. Or better yet, because internet cafés themselves did replace post offices and libraries, we should be forced to go to these places regardless of their inadequacy relative to the internet. What justice!
5.       If a country can inhibit immigrants from finding work, then other countries should likewise set inhibitions. Say, anti-immigrant sentiment results in regulations contra immigrants seeking employment. These same anti-immigrants should be barred from availing of opportunities abroad, not just jobs of course, but also imported consumer products, outsourced customer service, and vacations. What justice!
6.       If you charge someone for using ‘your’ idea, then, right now, stop whatever you’re doing. Don’t even breathe. Because it’s all been thought of before.* What justice!
7.       Now for the big one. If the state can tax, then anyone can offer a service and demand payment for it. Similarly, if anyone claims the right to determine quality standards, be this the FDA, the SEC, etc., then anyone can claim this same right, however unrealistically high their expectations, and on this basis reprimand those who fail to comply.** What justice!

Positive legislation, when driven to its logical conclusion, is absurd. Under prevailing views of ‘the law,’ unique people with their own various views and preferences are reduced to either ‘have’ and ‘have not’ entities, which determines how society prejudges them.
‘Social justice’ is most dehumanizing, and makes for very arbitrary, and counterproductive, social systems. In connection with this, the only worthwhile legislation seems to be that which repeals previous legislation.
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* Looking at it this way, what constitutes ‘intellectual property’ is very arbitrary. The matter boils down to inherently non-conflicting thoughts.
** Sure, everyone wants the highest quality of anything, but to demand this under pain of shutting one’s business down or imprisonment, rather than ensuring the conditions that allow quality products to flourish, e.g. competing quality certifiers, defeats the purpose.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Child abuse and political obedience

My parents spanked me as a child.
As a result I now believe that might makes right.
I’ve occasionally seen the meme that goes: 
“My parents spanked me as a child. As a result I now suffer from a psychological condition known as ‘respect for others’.” 

As undoubtedly disagreeable this would be to most people, I’ve not seen it criticized or commented on much. I’m guessing this has to do with, apart from not wanting to confront friends on Facebook, an inability of people to elaborate their opposition, which they nonetheless feel to be justified. Plus, the mocking irony of the meme might even elicit agreement in those who never thought much about it.

So I came up with the following alternate memes:

My parents spanked me as a child.
As a result I now get what I want 
by imposing my will on the helpless.

My parents spanked me as a child.
As a result I now take my revenge 
on my parents, or failing that, 
on those physically weaker. 
Failing even that, I take it out on myself.

My parents spanked me as a child.
As a result I now submit mindlessly to authority.

My parents spanked me as a child.
As a result I now question no wrong.

My parents spanked me as a child.
As a result I now am politically ignorant.

My parents spanked me as a child.
As a result I now would rather fear, than be free.

***

Just because fostering discipline in non-adults is difficult, does not mean force is ever an option. Education by putting someone in a position of less power, creates bullies, tyrants and an unthinking herd.

Related article:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The problem in Mindanao, among other places

From abs-cbnnews.com
There are plenty being blamed for the botched arrest of the Marwan dude that resulted in 44 policemen being killed. The president. The police chief. Cabinet members. And of course, the MILF. But there is a more fundamental problem which is, incidentally, related to other social ills.

I am referring to a system that allows a small minority, in the name of ‘the people,’ to acquire and divide spoils. This is a system most tempting and beneficial to those inclined to impose their wills on others.

We grieve for those who, in dealing with threats to society, pay most dearly. In a sense, they die for their country, a country captured by monopoly interests, to be sure, but their country nonetheless. However, the existing monopolization itself creates threats, whether from within, or from those most capable of challenging – and negotiating with – such a monopoly. The people lose out either way.

Mindanao will achieve peace to the degree that this is realized.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Christ, Resurrection necessarily true

From http://rsc.byu.edu/
I hadn’t seen my Facebook news feed dominated by anything as much as Pope Francis, since the typhoon that wiped out Tacloban late 2013. During the pope’s visit, we witnessed both the bad – herd hysterics – and the good – individuals’ renewal of devotion to that which makes their lives meaningful, whatever that may be.

The pope’s visit basically left no impression on me, but apart from that, in the last few months, I’ve been experiencing a revival of faith of sorts. There have been two primary catalysts for this: Immanuel Kant, and Johann Sebastian Bach.

I have been approaching Bach’s greatest work, his B minor mass, from a Kantian perspective, wherein the significance of the mass’ creed is elevated by not being a mere profession based on what I want to be true, but rather a necessary aspect of my consciousness.

I once said in this blog, that faith has nothing to do with reason. I’d like to amend that, in that faith is a distinct matter from practical reason (what we perceive). That is, phenomena that we perceive could not be understood in terms of faith, a believing for its sake.


However, we could not help but believe the inescapably human, individual conditions that determine our sensibility, our conception, our understanding of the world. Faith is in fact a matter of pure reason (how we perceive). And Christ, depicted as eternal yet of flesh, is the a priori.

How is this assuring?

Why should anyone care about this ‘Christ as a priori,’ depicted in such cold, nitpicky language? What relevance does it have to how we go about life?

As I see it, it strikes at the very heart of the Christian creed, as exemplified by the ultimate lines, “We believe in one baptism for the remission of sins, and await the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”

Christ makes possible all of human existence, makes possible that which we value either as good or bad. Christ precedes experience, yet remains amid all change. The Resurrection, in this sense of ever-new becoming, determines all that we can know. Without the Resurrection, not only is all in vain, as Paul says, but all is not possible.

So this is actually what underlies the feeling of empowerment, when contemplating Christ. Reality is no less real, yet transfigured. As Krishna says, the infinite spirit, that which neither is born nor dies, pervades all experience. Of course it does. The infinite spirit is itself a necessity of being. Space and time do not exist in themselves, but exist only as they precede that which occurs in space and time.

Again, how is this assuring?

By recognizing existence as both fleeting and eternal, we are more capable of letting things go. We can better forget pain, forgive perceived trespasses. But resignation is not the whole story. When we let go, we also let in, on which we can then discharge our energies, before replenishing ourselves once more with the forgiveness of sins. It is no wonder forgiveness and the Resurrection are so entwined in Christianity, even without most people dissecting such principles.

Failure and death are less formidable subjects of our fears when we realize that all that is good, all that we love, all that makes sense to our physical existence, could never leave us, just as there will always be stars born to replace supernovae. And knowing this, we are less inclined to impose our wills for the assumed good of others. Political freedom, of purely voluntary interactions, is just one aspect of freeing others from emotional debt*.

Human evolution has been a matter of much trial and overcoming failure, of expanding time frames wherein the enhancing of our health is a matter of mastering time. Increased foresight also means greater longevity. Cosmically speaking, we may be a backwards species, our consciousnesses still trapped in these biological vessels, our fingers still picking our entry points of oxygen. But realizing our a priori, Christ-like nature is the right step in our cognitive development.

Final words… Or are they?

Kantian Christianity is just the beginning in a reevaluation of my understanding of spiritual matters, and how they connect to my life.

There is also the matter of music and humor being celebrations of subjectivity, allowing us to recognize our ‘obvious’ means of cognition as inescapable, yet absurd. I leave it to you to experience them for yourself as such.

__________________

* Holding another to economic obligations, as in a loan, is not cast aside completely, but rather emotionally detached from. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Is Islam a religion of violence?

If judgment is to be made, it should be of individuals, based on their actions. Ancient texts, particularly religious ones, can be interpreted in so many ways. 

No one is ever able to follow the bible, ethnocentric verses and all, literally and to the letter. Attempts at such would leave one insane, if not murderous. Islam does not hold a monopoly on crimes committed in its name.


What does the Koran say?

The Koran verses on which prohibitions of visual Muhammad depictions are based go like:

[Allah is] the originator of the heavens and the earth... [there is] nothing like a likeness of Him.
and
[Abraham] said to his father and his people: 'What are these images to whose worship you cleave?' They said: 'We found our fathers worshipping them.' He said: 'Certainly you have been, you and your fathers, in manifest error.'” 
None of us take Exodus’ “No other gods besides me” as forbidding under pain of death depictions of the Judeo-Christian God, right?

Acts, not words of violence, beget violence

And as Ron Paul says repeatedly, much of Muslim vengeance has to do with politics, whether among Muslims or including interventionists. Including the recent Paris incidents.

Bottom line is, if you try to impose your beliefs on others, whether about politics, religion, music, etc., you’re a dick.
_____________________

Related articles:

Thursday, January 8, 2015

‘South Park’ is the most important show of this age

Over the past two weeks I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘South Park’ is the most intelligent show in history, or at least, the most intelligent show I’ve ever seen. For the longest time, I thought of the show as one of shock humor, with the occasional social commentary and controversy.

Now I get it. The crudeness of the cartoon itself is a mask for its message, that of the beauty of free, aware, human life (Not that Trey Parker or Matt Stone would ever phrase it that way).

No other show extols reason like ‘South Park’ does. When Stan, or Kyle, or whoever, gives an intentionally trite speech with piano music in the background, he/she speaks truth that goes above the heads of those without ears to hear. 

And of all the shows in this era of humankind, I think it is ‘South Park’ that will remain relevant in a more civilized age. This is in spite of the show tackling very contemporary issues such as the Muhammad drawings (so courageous, so courageous), evolution/creationism in schools (‘Go God go’ is one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever seen), protectionism, copyright, and even more recently the fucking Uber app (Timmah!).

What shines forth, beyond these inevitably-to-be-dated references, beyond the literal shit-spewing, talking vaginas, and sadomasochistic catchphrases (Oh Jesus… Jesus Christ!), is a beacon of critical thinking.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Is Uber's fee hike during the Sydney cafe hostage-taking exploitative price gouging?

Higher prices reflect greater urgency of a service for some people; the ones who will pay the higher fare are also the ones who need it the most. This is a problem if such a sum could not be afforded by those in need, but the fact that drivers respond to higher salary bids for their services, is simply reality. 

Ignoring the supply/demand dynamic just because of something like the Sydney hostage-taking emergency would make for more wanton rides at the expense of those who really do need the ride on that occasion.

Outrage and incomprehension over (non-inflationary) price increases also discourage other entrepreneurs from entering the market to serve as alternative competition, which is essential to bringing down prices without running into a supply problem.

But we can learn from this situation that customers via financial institutions, and/or Uber itself can pool an emergency fund by which passengers with little means to pay are helped during emergencies. But as any fund costs something, this will be reflected in higher prices during normal times.

Sans curtailment of freedoms, high profitability equals high value/satisfaction of wants. And this principle helps us see a form of regulation more effective than what is legislated by supposed people’s representatives.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The OECD, against inequality, wants more of the same

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently came out with a paper showing that inequality leads to weaker economic growth. Most people, including the OECD itself, take this to mean a failure of ‘trickle-down’ policies of which the Reagan and Thatcher administrations of the 1980s are supposed to represent. Governments must then step in to redistribute wealth, which the OECD asserts does not hinder growth,
provided these policies are well designed and implemented.

Redistribute how?

The OECD does not provide guidance as to whatever that means. It really does seem that the OECD merely presumes state redistribution to be more effective in growing an economy.

Why the inequality? 

The paper casually brushes off the cause of inequality as the natural outcome of free exchange. It is as though we have to take for granted that all this time, the market, in its leaving by the wayside those with less means, created this growing disparity in incomes. Only now is the state going to come in to save the day.

The state all along

What would the OECD make of the then-record federal spending during the ‘trickle-down’ Reagan years, a record long and far surpassed by succeeding presidents? Or Reagan’s appointment of Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan who took the ongoing policy of inflation to new heights? The fact that the established corporate interests (the ‘1%’) are the primary recipients of this expanding liquidity could be argued to be the single largest contributor to inequality.

The state is the opposite of the solution

Before increasing taxes on the cronies who feed off the middle class and poor, how about first get rid of the (legislated) cronyism itself? Less sources of corruption that way. But then, what is to fund the OECD?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Foreign workers don't steal jobs

Foreign workers don’t ‘steal jobs.’ The current employment level is not an impassable barrier where one’s employment means another’s dismissal.

Immigrants in developed countries get jobs because they often don’t bid as high for salaries*. This allows employers to hire more, and the added employment makes for greater productivity. This in turn results in higher real incomes for wage earners and greater capital to invest for employers, some of whom will happen to be foreign.


Open borders is a two-way thing!

Just as one community is open to jobs for foreigners, another community is open, or should be open. Funny how one could lament foreigners job theft in one instance and in the next bemoan ‘brain drain.’ Opportunity does not stay put.

Protectionism as a way to ‘get even’ for the protectionism of another country only doubles the harm. 

Imagine if you were limited to employment/purchases in your street. Would it make you feel richer to “keep the money locally?” 

There’s a reason why people acquire services from other streets, other cities, other countries. It’s because it maximizes the division of labor.


The real problem (not those foreigners)

What you should look at are real barriers to employment, including minimum wages, union abuse of state privileges, and all taxes and regulations, including misguided anti-foreigner protectionism. Basically everything you’ve been conditioned by the politically privileged to believe was good for society. 

These all inhibit capital accumulation and make for less specialization, and we see an endless cycle involving poorer-quality products/lower real incomes/less profits/less capital/less
  jobs/cries for state protection.

_______________

*But salaries in one community don’t go so high or so low that employers, whether locally or abroad, don’t take advantage. This process of evening out is as natural as osmosis.