Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Faith and Reason

Religion has a long and troubled history upon earth. Nonetheless, there have been numerous individuals guided by reason who have attempted to reform the brute by moderating or rejecting it's worst aspects and amplifying those aspects that are deemed proper by a reasoned conscience.

Then there is the fundamentalist. Rejecting reason completely, the fundamentalist says "The flaws are an integral part of my faith, and I'll die on this mountain before I let you take it!" For the fundamentalist sect, there is such a perverse desire to preserve error at the expense of all else, that indeed, error becomes that which such a system comes to revolve around.

The evidence of faithfulness can be found in justice and humility, but error shows itself in misanthropy and arrogance

Friday, November 11, 2011

Money and Politics

Here in Washington state we recently had a ballot initiative to end the state monopoly on liquor sales. While I am not sure if it will do good or harm (and am not prepared to go into that at the moment) the measure passed, perhaps in part because of the massive amount of money spent by various retailers to influence the public. While such use of money may be argued to be unseemly from a purely moralistic point of view, I cannot join in the collective outrage that some feel in this particular instance.

In the case of direct democracy, where each vote cast is a direct proportion to public sentiment, governance by may be truly be said to such as the people deserve, and as the majority believe right. So long as no individual's rights are denied by means of this collective action, the objection to monies being spent to influence the public mind to that extent that they allow themselves to be so influenced, seems to fall flat.

The matter of representative democracy is another matter entirely. That intermediary between the people, and the laws that govern them, can not be said to be a direct measurement of their sentiment, or subject to the influence of money in a manner that could be remotely described as simple. When the coercive force of either the favor of monied influence on the one hand, or of the unmitigated destruction of reputation on the other, there is no possibility that the public servant who is subject to the unregulated influence of monied interests can serve the interests of a the remaining majority of constituents with any significant degree of faithfulness.

But in treating all influence of money in politics equally, we allow this obvious maxim to go unnoticed. And in our haste to knee-jerk reaction to what we may find distasteful, we miss a fine opportunity to explain the obvious maxim, by means of showing this glaring distinction, to those who wish to label us hypocrites

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Process Due (dedicated to the victims of the increasingly violent police-state)

The way he was raised turned his heart hard
and left his mind testosterone scarred

He learned to enjoy seeing others cry
his worst instincts became amplified

Not much for labor or serving customers
so he chose to become society's curse

Not much for reasoning or using his head
he took the oath and pinned on a badge instead

He feels so at home under a darkened sky
So no one sees the gleam in his delinquent eye

I wouldn't trust him even to mow my lawn
Why should we trust him with a gun and baton

We are all equal before the law. In theory that is true
But is there any law at all when the anarchists wear blue?
Process due! So long overdue...

A call comes from dispatch one fateful night
Mistaken identity. prejudiced fright

He arrives on scene chan'ling Dirty Harry
That night the Rule of Law would be disparaged

Salivated stalking his prey into a store
beat his helpless victim until down to the floor

the thrill of killing is all that he lives for
His blood is pumping now he feels engorged

We are all equal before the law. In theory that is true
But is there any law at all when the anarchists wear blue?
Process due! So long overdue...

Backup helps finish the kill then congregate
bask in the afterglow and get stories straight
good old boys at precinct look the other way
hoping for a taste of that action someday

Cheif lies to the press and the citizenry
Honor among swine is no greater than theives

cover for each other like corrupt brothers
bad fruit in the bushel rotting the others

We are all equal before the law. In theory that is true
But is there any law at all when the anarchists wear blue?
Process due! So long overdue...

every day that passes
deferring just retribution

testifies to non-stop
systemic collusion

if we can't stop self-appointed
judges and executioners

then it is about goddamned time
we started a revolution here

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Markets and Prohibitions

There has been much said about the theory that a social safety net inevitably leads to totalitarianism. Though quite enough can be said to the contrary, the complete lack of historical examples says much in itself. It is well to note, as well, that even under an iron fist, markets come about spontaneously in accordance to demand for goods and services. Under totalitarian government, such activity is naturally limited to the criminal underworld, and indeed, the lasting legacy of Soviet Socialism is the Russian mafia.

Two lessons can be taken away from this analysis:

1). That markets are genuinely most just when access to both sides of the market are available to as many as is practicably possible, lest lawlessness be rewarded

2). That outright prohibitions will generally lead to corruption of government and society

In answer to the first, markets should be as open to new competitors as practical. Legal structures that perpetuate meritless accumulations--thereby stifling competition--should be limited in every instance practicable. In those instances where the required capitals must be of such size to carry out a necessary or public spirited function, the owners of the capital ought to protected against the corruption of those officers who are employed to labor on their behalf. This should either be by means of some democratization of the decision-making with regard to compensation of the officers, or other matters that pertain to the long term profitability of the company( As presently, this is generally taxed by the short term gain of unfaithful servants). Or, short of this, the appropriate functions should be enumerated by a charter, for which officers should be legally responsible to abide by.

With answer to the second lesson, those goods and services which cannot be demonstrably tied to the direct harm of innocents ought to be let be and let pass. By "innocents" I should include those who are unaware of ill-effects or who are likely to be harmed by the irresponsible use of others. It is well to require advisements be included upon a label, or to forbid false advertising or false promises. However, the informed consumer ought to be free to decide and take responsibility for their own safety, so long as in does not present a hazard to others. As such, it ought to be understood that prohibitions on those activities which are likely to harm innocents (such as the impaired operation of automobiles or other heavy machinery, manufacturing in such a manner as presents a public hazard, recklessly spreading contagious disease, etc) are a just and proper object of laws. But care should be taken as well, to not encourage black markets any more than absolute necessity demand, so that not only can people freely choose their lifestyle as much as possible, but that enforcement and response is available for those most urgent measures -- this last object being spoken to, in different instances, by BOTH answers!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

When the zealots aren't batshit crazy enough...

I recently stumbled across some opinion pieces by hatemongers who are outraged by the comparative sanity of Rick Perry of Texas, or more specifically, his signing a hate-crimes bill (1) back in 2001. Having noted the crazy zealots who sponsored Perry's "The Response" (2) this would seem to be next-level craziness. One author, Gary Glenn, President of American Family Association of Michigan, compared the Texas bill to one Obama signed, saying of both:

"As lead plaintiff in a federal civil rights lawsuit asking the courts to declare the Obama-signed law an unconstitutional and chilling violation of religious free speech rights, honesty requires that I be equally critical of Gov. [sic] Perry for signing into law the exact same type of legislation, which — it’s clear from the enforcement record of such laws in Europe and Canada — poses the greatest single threat to religious free speech rights in America today."


Now, whether one agrees with stiffer penalties for crimes that are motivated by prejudices, or not, the above statement must be rather troubling. Not because it is true in any sense of free speech that members of civil society observe, but because it NECESSARILY presumes numerous violent acts to be free speech merely because the perpetrator holds a religious conviction that their action is just. The text of the federal law above mentioned states:

"(3) CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS.--Nothing in this division shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment and peaceful picketing or demonstration. The Constitution does not protect speech, conduct or activities consisting of planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence."


"(4) FREE EXPRESSION.--Nothing in this division shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual's expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual's membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs."


Therefore, we MUST conclude that Gary Glenn, President of American Family Association of Michigan DOES believe "planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence." is legitimate religious expression. There is no other possible explanation. After all, if he was lying about the whole thing, he would be thrown into the Lake of Fire at the End of Days, right?

Further reading:

(1) http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/77R/billtext/html/HB00587F.htm

(2) http://www.examiner.com/political-buzz-in-national/uhj

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Possessions and Society

I got to thinking recently, about what possessions people gather in order to establish social esteem or rank. As well, I wondered what people would gladly do without if such possessions were frowned upon society.

It would seem that there are two orders of possession;

> Those that we possess solely for our own gratification

> Those that we possess because others may esteem us more for having such

Obviously the gratification that we receive from the esteem of others is independent of material objects. If the rest of society were to frown upon the first order of possession, we might hide them from view, or at the least, would unaffected in our ownership. If the rest of society were to frown upon the second order of possessions, we would most likely choose not to own them at all

In this sense, we are all responsible--to a certain degree--with what the rest of society chooses to possess, or gives value to. In the same way we have a certain degree of power over what the opulent possess, or at least what they are willing to flaunt before society

A Bellyfeel Defense of Goodsex

I recently had the amusement of reviewing the controversial "THE MARRIAGE VOW A Declaration of Dependence upon MARRIAGE and FAMiLY[sic]"

Before we even get to the slavery part (perhaps a future post) let's start and finish with the first paragraph:

"Faithful monogamy is at the very heart of a designed and purposeful order – as conveyed by Jewish and Christian Scripture, by Classical Philosophers, by Natural Law, and by the American Founders – upon which our concepts of Creator-endowed human rights, racial justice and gender equality all depend."

um... okey dokey then... you betcha

Judeo/Xtian Scriptures: While monogamy IS mentioned in one of the epistles as being on of the endearing qualifyications of Deacons, it is NOT featured prominently in the scriptures in general. King David, who is described as a man after God's own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22) had a RIDICULOUS number of wives. It is said that the Judeo/Xtian deity commanded Hosea to marry a whore. And of course in the new testament, marriage is only recommended for those burning with desire (not Xtian counselors looking for a "beard" or the uninterested girl who thinks that God is commanding her to marry him... but I digress)

then there are "the American Founders." For the sake of argument, I am going to assume that rather than meaning the Puritans--who would flog women who weren't performing their wifely duties (which would of course be contrary to the pledge's later "Rejection of Sharia Islam and all other anti-woman, anti-human rights forms of totalitarian control")--instead it is referring to the U.S. Founding Fathers. Men like Benjamin Franklin--who admitted to having "intrigues with low Women that fell in my Way", Thomas Jefferson who carried on a romance with the married Maria Cosway while in France, and Alexander Hamilton, who had an extra-marital affair with a woman to whose husband he paid hush-money.

So, the pledge's opening paragraph frames the rest (and by extension, anyone foolish enough to sign it) in a ridiculous disregard for reality. But, hey, it makes great bellyfeel for the Party faithful :P

Saturday, April 2, 2011

An Objectivist In Sunday School

A fictitious satirical dialog :)

Jenny was a rather ingenious girl, something of a prodigy at age 12. She had read many long books. her favorite author was Ayn Rand. Having recently finished "Atlas Shrugged," it was a rather unfortunate time for her to watch Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" with her grandparents.

As the ending credits began to roll, Grandma wiped her eyes beneath her spectacles, and turned to Jenny, and was taken aback to see the cross look on the girl's face. "Did you like it?" she asked.

"It..." Jenny began, "It's just so irrational"

"Well, dear" There aren't real ghosts of course, "it's just to show the moral of the story"

"The moral of the story is irrational! It isn't RIGHT!" she exclaimed

Later Jenny's grandmother had a talk with her mother about the incident, and it was decided that her moral instruction had been neglected, so the following weekend, Jenny was sent to Sunday school.

Miss Franklin was a kindly woman who dressed a bit frumpily, in Jenny's opinion. She carried a drab, well worn little bible with several ragged paper place-markers of various colors hanging out the top. Her body language was timid, her manner was pleasant but not vital in the least. Jenny wasn't at all sure that she had anything to learn from a person of such lacking self-confidence.

"As I mentioned last week," Miss Franklin began, "our church will be starting our Christmas food-drive this week, and we'll be looking at some passages from the Bible about our responsibilities to the less fortunate, and what you as children can do to help" She opened her bible to a crinkled blue place-marker. "In Proverbs 3:27 tells us 'Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it's in your power to help them.' " Jenny raised her hand, "yes, Jenny?"

"But how do we know who deserves it?" Jenny asked skeptically

"Well, these can be complicated things for children to understand, but I have a few more passages that can hopefully help us understand..." she turned to a ragged pink place-marker "In Luke 6:20, we read 'God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh.' That is a rather hopeful thing for those who we aren't able to help. But there we have a responsibility to help as many people as we can. As Jesus goes on to say 'What sorrow awaits you who are rich, for you have your only happiness now. 'What sorrow awaits you who are fat and prosperous now, for a time of awful hunger awaits you. What sorrow awaits you who laugh now, for your laughing will turn to mourning and sorrow.' You see, when we have more than we need, and others have less than they need, that is a situation that deserves our help. Does that make more sense now?" miss Franklin smiled meekly to Jenny

"But that situation has causes..." Jenny was becoming indignant.

"Yes..." Said Miss Franklin, "...perhaps this will help..." She flipped to yet another page marker,

"'As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, 'Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'
'Why do you call me good?' Jesus asked. 'Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: 'You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.' '
'Teacher,' the man replied, 'I've obeyed all these commandments since I was young.'
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. 'There is still one thing you haven't done,' he told him. "Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'
At this the man's face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, 'How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!'
This amazed them. But Jesus said again, 'Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!'
The disciples were astounded. 'Then who in the world can be saved?' they asked.
Jesus looked at them intently and said, 'Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.'"

"But that isn't fair," said Jenny, "He followed all the rules. Above and beyond the laws of the land. How can he say that it is imperfect for him to have his reward?"

"Maybe we had better talk about this later, with your parents," said Miss Franklin

"But you're telling everyone here to follow this mysticism, and they won't be able to reason for themselves." said Jenny, her self-esteem welling up inside her, "It is rational thinking that is perfect, and you are telling them to ignore it, because some old mystic said they have to share what they have earned with those who didn't earn it. Then THEY will have to rely on force to make people who do think rationally give them what THEY haven't earned!"

"I'm going to have to have you go sit in the sanctuary until we're finished with our lesson. This has been enough of a disruption."

"Always the use of force to stifle reason, and to keep people mindlessly sacrificing themselves!" groused Jenny as she defiantly left the room.

As the door slammed shut, Miss Franklin turned back to the class and sadly said "Lets all say a prayer for Jenny, for 'What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?'"

And they all bowed their heads obediently...

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Whether from the nature of birth, or the result of conditioning, there seems to be the tendency of some members of society to objectify the rest of the members of society, and perhaps even to objectify themselves by the same standards. This tendency to view humanity as a mere commodity, that may be assigned a value based upon productive value or aesthetic appeal seems indeed a rebellion against that very essence of what separates humans from the brute creatures and against that refinement which the progress of time and effort has helped to nurture in our beings.

It might be wondered what incidents have led to this movement toward seeming devolution. Or has this throwback toward primitive concepts been ever present in our genetic code, ripe for exploitation by those in whom the tendency predominates their very nature. Regardless, it need only require patient observation of the other creatures that inhabit the earth to come to the conclusion that it is indeed a movement toward devolution, and one which ought to meet with our deliberate defiance.

When we examine the behavior or other highly evolved animals, they tend to display altruism or empathy more frequently than simpler creatures. Examples of the human species tend to display such behavior more frequently. Mankind has even attempted to design elaborate systems to the nurturing of altruism, empathy, sympathy and related virtues, though all too often objectification rears its ugly head in such institutions such that the virtuous are subjugated or alienated from such systems entirely.

Other institutions which seek profit not in stealth of virtue, but as the substitution of it, tend also to nurture the objectification of the species, and again in such institutions those who cling to virtue over the instinct for survival become subjugated or alienated as well.

Though the species as a whole tends toward what is rightly called humanity, it is inhumanity that prevail in those principalities that we call "human institutions." What can be done to combat the evil? To limit the power of humanity before it's institutions? Or isn't it the way of progress and virtue to limit the power of institutions by humanity? I should think the latter...



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"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men: Therefore the people alone have an incontestible unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it." -- Constitution of Massachusettes (1780)