Just when I believe this year, this country, this society, our species can’t possibly get any crazier…….
We are pulling ourselves apart at the seams. And perhaps that’s OK in the end.
From both primary “sides” I hear the calls for unity. Calls for the “Good Old Days” when politicians set aside their differences and worked diligently for the common good.
Come on. Do you honestly believe that to be true? National Unity is a myth. Pure and simple. No different than the idea of Authority itself. It is a myth. An artificial construct that is not objectively real in any sense.
Even during the times that are projected by our public education as having been the most unifying. WWII. The Revolution. You name it, there was no national unity in any real sense. Even those movements were deeply unpopular and were met with tremendously loud dissenting voices.
What’s the difference today? Why does it feel so chaotic?
Individual. Independent voices. And damn is it weird and painful right now. Nobody can even tell what is real or what is truth, even about those topics that are primarily grounded in science.
That should tell you something. The truth is never black and white. Any scientist worth a damn can tell you that. As much as I am not a fan of post-modernist theory, they do get that part right. There are an infinite number of subjective interpretations of reality. True.
The often comical catch is, that almost all of those interpretations are not overly useful with respect to navigating your world in such a way that can actually be defined as productive.
In the age prior to internet and before the rise of social media we had no voices other than those carefully contained and defined by authoritarian structures, with the rare anomaly of an actual case of investigative journalism that might expose a slight crack in the narrative. Just enough to allow people to feel that what they were getting was truthful and oversight existed in the world.
We see now however, that was never the case. With the rise of independent, free thinking minds the world is not anymore chaotic than it’s ever been, it’s just that chaos is now plain for all to see and appreciate.
And just to make things even worse. The rise of these individual voices are consuming market share for traditional news outlets and venues. As their market share dwindles so too does their profit. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you the last time I personally consumed a traditional news show. Gross.
And how does anyone respond to dwindling market share? Aggressively of course. And that response is an effort to attract more consumers. The only way they know how to do that is to produce the most sensational content imaginable. This is the reason you see the traditional news agencies becoming more extreme to whichever political base they appeal. This is the reason nobody just reads “news” any longer. People need to get on air, project their charisma, and make alarming statements and headlines that literally turn heads.
This is where we are. It is painful.
Ultimately, I do believe it’s leading somewhere. Given the long-term trajectory of the human experience I’m still optimistic that it’s leading somewhere positive and constructive. Although this year has tested my personal resolve. I’ve even drank a few beers.
In the end I think this is all exposing a deeply rooted charade. I think our artificially manufactured and religiously adopted centers of violent authority will not survive this evolution in the long run. All Emperors are being shown as they truly are, starkly naked.
So what’s best for our species? What’s the right prescription for the overall collective?
My understanding of Collectivism is a focus on social cohesion, group goals over individual goals whether focused on a smaller group or a larger one, such as an entire nation. As a philosophy it’s easy to buy in to this, it sounds right. The problem is that this line of thinking often draws a very dangerous line where one does not need to exist. It often creates an “us vs. them” mentality that will, more often than not, lead to violent outcomes. These advents of ethnocentric mentalities have led to needless deaths since the dawn of civilization. My largest issue with Collectivism is that I don’t recognize the imaginary lines that have been drawn by so many, OUR country, OUR city, OUR religion.
Collectivist ideologies make a very dangerous assumption; that it understands what is best for any given group. The oversight by so many that fall victim to collectivist appeal is the failure to recognize that the GROUP is not making decisions. The GROUP is not prioritizing needs for itself. Individuals are doing that. Individuals that are perhaps elected or have nominated themselves in charge of any particular group and are making the decisions and aligning priorities upon which the collective should focus. Make no mistake that these individuals are setting these priorities and making decisions largely based upon their own individual values, subjective bias and ideals. They cannot think or act as the “GROUP.” The group does not exist in actuality, only a collection of individuals and the larger that collection of individuals become, the less capable individuals are of representing and making decisions that are truly reflective of the “will” of the people within the collective.
If the stated goal truly is to maximize happiness of everyone within the collective or maximize fulfillment, then the best course of action would be for each and every individual to focus on their own desires and accomplishing their own goals, then naturally the maximum number of people within any collective will achieve that fulfillment and happiness and thus, Individualism approaches more closely the stated goals of Collectivism. Not one person outside the consciousness of the individual truly understands the fulfilling needs of that individual. An individual may identify with particular groups, a Church, a Country, etc, however each individual will separate values upon which they prioritize what matters most to them. It’s your own, individual, intrinsic pricing mechanism.
My points here are not Randian in nature. Many confuse the point I’m trying to make. By stating that people should focus their approach and goals individually, I am not stating that this should or even will be driven in what anti-Rand groups perceive as “selfishness.” I think this is a very misunderstood misnomer. What many fail to recognize is that pursuing selfish ends often results in the most generous and empathetic actions. Many won’t believe that statement, but I know that individually when I provide value or assistance to those around me that cannot provide for themselves, it makes ME feel good. I feel good about myself and the act of helping others selfishly provides individual reward. So you have to ask, do I do these acts because it helps the individuals that I’m assisting? OR, do I do these acts because it is individually rewarding and makes me feel good personally? I don’t know the answer. Probably some combination of the two I would guess.
I believe that most people feel and act the way I do in this regard. I think people love helping others. This belief that people are mostly bad and the only way to provide support and assistance to those in need is through government or collective intervention and the forcing of goodwill is simply…….wrong. I don’t observe it personally in my understanding of the people around me.
Let’s take that line of logic one step further. Let’s pretend you are of the mindset that people, at their core, are inherently bad. I disagree, but let’s run with that. People are bad and can’t be trusted to do what’s right. If that’s so, why on EARTH would you allow people, who are bad, to have coercive power over other people? Such as in any collective?
And for those who feel that people in need wouldn’t receive assistance and support if not for the support of a collective or government, again I strongly disagree, but let’s say that’s the case; then you are left with a situation producing two possible outcomes: Either you are wrong and without collective actions through taxation to support the poor the people within the population have a desire to help those in need and do so in kind. OR, they do not, the poor do not receive support and you must then admit that the collective was not representing the true will of the people. Instead representing the sentiments of individuals within the collective who decided helping the poor was the right thing to do, but only with other people’s resources.
What I know is wrong is violence. And I personally interpret laws and forced compliance as violent. In other words there is the threat of violence against me if I do not comply. Confiscation of property, imprisonment, etc. Violence is always wrong and I will always default against violent intervention. I think if people are left to their own devices they will help those around them to the extent that they can. I truly believe that without government intervention there would ultimately be FAR greater philanthropy and compassion in our culture.
In the end I think we’re all starting to realize that there is no unity. There is a unique experience happening within each and every one of us. Not each of us exist within the same city, country or world. Or even within the same family when you get right down to it. I know for a fact that you can have siblings exit childhood from the exact same home and environment with one describing an otherwise blissful childhood experience while the other interpreted a neurotic hell.
I think that realization will facilitate a crumbling of the centers of authority that have caused so much harm and destruction across human history. From the Church to the Courtroom. In actuality one is no different from the other.
Every time in history that people have attempted to move forward collectively by force we have witnessed death and destruction.
Funny thing. We recognize as children and are instructed by our parents that we have no ability to control anyone other than ourselves. Why do we forget that when we get older and somehow don’t think that applies to politics, government, religion?
The path toward peace is through acceptance. I used to always say that to struggling couples as well. The path toward a successful, long lasting relationship is acceptance. Never through change. If you can’t accept them for who they are, then part ways now.
Same logic applies to society as well. With the rise of social media we’re now laying bare all that exists within our individual minds. To some it’s shocking. Neither these tiny details of one’s worldview nor the combative interactions between individuals simply never took place within the arena of polite conversation or family gatherings.
Frankly they still don’t when you actually get a chance to interact with people in person these days. People are still ordinarily polite.
Eventually we are all going to stop fighting so hard to be heard. Fighting so hard to be right. Fighting so hard to be perceived as virtuous.
Eventually we’re going to accept the fact that out of 7 Billion humans not one single other is quite like you.
Eventually we’re going to realize that that observation is not only OK. Not only acceptable. But, it’s beautiful.
We’re all beautifully divided and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s that very division that brings us all so close. We all know, deep inside, that we don’t understand the suffering that person next to us is experiencing. But we all would like to help if we could. Even something as simply as a smile or the investment of five minutes to listen to someone talk through a frustration even knowing that we aren’t going to have a solution for them.
It’s reassuring to know that so many, even strangers, are there for us as well when the time might arise.
Our individuality is the foundation of our existence. It’s also the foundation of our successes so far in this world.
Divided we Stand.
Together we fall…….
If you could, please take a moment to sign this petition to end the Afghan War. So many are suffering, at home and abroad. While all the wars need to end, let’s start here, with this one. I’ve even committed to one push-up for every signature. I like pain.
April 26, 1992. There was a riot on the street, tell me, where were you?
I get the feeling the majority of you rioting right now were either too young or not even born yet when that song made its rounds. Didn’t quite have the ability for those events to make their mark on your worldview.
Something tells me this event ends the same as that event.
I’m curious to see the ways in which this year gets neatly packaged and scripted into an overlooked little chapter to be taught to schoolchildren in 2050. I wonder, what will be the foundation of the narrative? What lessons will the government run public school systems be conveying when they discuss 2020 and the relationship a government holds with its constituency?
With any luck I’ll still be around to witness that. Why do I get the sense that it will be something that supports acquiescence to authority?
This is a bad time to write this piece. Perhaps the worst times to write something are the most effective? I don’t know.
I’ve been speaking out against and writing about police violence for many, many years. It’s on record. I supported Colin because he spoke out against the violence of the state, period. I supported BLM because they spoke out against the violence of the state. I may not agree with their interpretations of root cause, but regardless, a voice against the state is appreciated either way.
That is why I’m writing today.
The State’s violent enforcement of policies have claimed many, many lives. It always has. It hasn’t been until recently, 2013 I believe, that online resources began popping up to make an effort to officially track and tally these instances of violence. Before that, there was no reliable source of data whatsoever.
If you listen to the news. Most of those victims are black. They aren’t. Not even close. From Duncan Lemp sleeping peacefully in his bed to Kelly Thomas who apologized to officers 15 times while they literally beat him to death, there are heart breaking tales from all ethnicities, including 6 year old autistic boy Jeremy Mardis whose father was unarmed in the front seat of the car and even babies during SWAT raids. Derek Hale in 2007 sitting on his friend’s front porch getting up to help his friend’s girlfriend with her two kids. Stephan Cook forcibly raped by police in 2012. Nick Christie, whose wife mistakenly called police to inform them her husband had traveled to FL and forgotten his medicine, was accosted, hooded and pepper sprayed……to death. James Ahern who was unarmed and shot in the back in 2010. His assailant was promoted to Chief. David Eckert in New Mexico who was forcibly raped for having the nerve to ask if he was free to go.
I can keep going, there’s a never ending supply of these kinds of stories. The abuse is color blind, I promise you.
In the interest of time I decided to look back at the last 3 ½ years solely to see how many unarmed civilians were killed during an interaction with police. Only unarmed. That’s not to say that everyone who was armed deserved to be killed. Not at all. Some did, certainly. If you physically threaten another’s life, any individual has every right to defend themselves. Whether or not they are an officer is irrelevant.
In the interest of consistency, civilians have that exact same right and if a group of humans bust down someone’s door at 2 AM that person has every right to defend themselves as well and has every right to pick up their gun to do so. They don’t know those are police officers busting down their door.
In the last three and a half years I was curious in comparing deaths of unarmed civilians across White, Black and Hispanic lines. This count is not complete. There were quite a few victims who were never identified, and their race not confirmed. I left all those out of the count. I also left out Asians in my tally though there were a handful. Three or Four I believe.
The final count since 2017 of unarmed civilians: 24 Black : 25 Hispanic : 61 White
Now I know, the natural argument is to draw attention to the disparity in relation to population. That’s fair. Black Americans make up 14% of the US population and yet are 22% of unarmed victims. White Americans make up 60% of the US population and are only 55% of unarmed victims. You can make an almost identical observation if tallying all deaths due to police interaction and you can make a similar observation with respect to arrests as well I would bet. I’ve studied crime data extensively but haven’t seen a dataset that simply outlined arrest records by demographic.
That said, are we really stating that disparity is the cause of our pain? Really?
Do you mean to tell me that over the next 3 ½ years if the police have killed 110 unarmed civilians and 15 of them are black, 18 are Hispanic and 66 are White then there will be no riots in the street and you will interpret the world in which you live as just?
We don’t have a race problem in American policing. We have a prohibition problem in American policing.
You want to riot? You want justice? You want change?
We need coordinated action and goals. If this keeps up much longer here’s what’s going to happen.
You’re going to get tired of protesting. You’re going to get hurt. You’re going to get incarcerated. You’re going to lose your momentum. Your anger is going to subside. George Flynn’s murderer is going to be indicted and that’s going to tell you that some kind of justice was eventually served and you’re going to get back to living your life.
Then, we can do this all over again in another 28 years when nothing of substance changed.
How do we not let that happen?
We need to reorient our law enforcement from the profitable and predatory practice of fighting the war on drugs at the behest of federal policies and back toward the actual practice of ensuring the safety of our citizens.
We need to know that the officers in our communities’ employ are dependable and respectable. The types of human beings that we could trust to ensure a safe community.
How do we do all this?
Well, as far as accountability goes, I would say let’s make police officers accountable. Seems easy right? I’m not talking about being charged with a crime after they do something horrendous. Though should they do something horrendous then that is obviously a crime, so please, charge them with one.
No, I’m talking about something much more basic. Personal liability.
If a plumber comes over and floods your entire house due to negligence or incompetence you have the just right to pursue compensation and damages. The plumber is required to carry insurance to cover their work.
If a surgeon paralyzes you due to negligence or malpractice you have the just right to sue for damages. Doctors carry enormous malpractice policies for just this reason.
Why not make police officers carry malpractice insurance? Personally. Fine, go to the academy, get all your training, accept your new role, oh, but before you are able to start on day one, you have to apply for and get approved for malpractice insurance. The monthly rate gets automatically drafted out of your paycheck.
Hell, police departments would even end up subsidizing the cost I’m sure.
But do you know what would happen? Insurance companies would police themselves. Just as they do with doctors and service providers. If an officer does something wretched and gets sued, then just like with your car insurance, their rate goes up. If it goes up high enough, eventually that officer prices themselves out of employment. Bad cops, gone.
This seems pretty obvious and I’m not the only one making the argument. I saw a fantastic article on this site two days ago promoting the same premise.
I’m willing to bet there are quite a few attorneys that are part of this movement no? Did you know the Supreme Court has historically overturned 236 of it’s rulings?
Create class action lawsuits against the United States. Sue against Qualified Immunity. A 1983 Supreme Court ruling that arbitrarily creates impunity for all government employees acting within the official capacity of their role. It’s the same doctrine that allows the people who poisoned me and so many other Vets to walk free.
Stand outside the Supreme Court the day of the ruling on that lawsuit ready to riot.
Create class action suits against the Civil Asset Forfeiture program that began in 1970. Wait outside the Supreme Court.
Create class action suits against the 1033 Program that funnels retired military equipment to local police departments.
Create class actions suits that challenge the legal capacity for police departments to continue with their practice of conducting over 50,000 SWAT raids per year. You read that correctly.
Create class action against Federal drug policies.
As far as the drug war goes, which was initiated around a foundation of systemic and institutional racism, make no mistake, is a little more complex and tricky.
There exists no one size fits all solution for this issue. Other than one aspect; Nullification.
States need to nullify federal mandates and create their own policies surrounding drugs and enforcement that are individually aligned with the communities they police. Beyond that, local cities need to nullify state mandates should they want to try something different as well. This is already happening with marijuana.
I don’t have all the answers, but I do know if 100 people try 100 different things then we’ll learn something as a society. And maybe even make progress.
This issue has always been vastly more socio-economic than it has been about race. I know for a fact that in the poor white neighborhoods where drug use is prevalent those communities are badgered by police to the same degree as poor black neighborhoods.
It’s time to change our relationship with the State and to the degree that law enforcement continues to exist, change our relationship with officers as well.
It is, after all, a decision that is ours to make. You’re the boss. Remind them of that.
Let’s create a new song this year. One that ends in change.
I have many, MANY thoughts on COVID-19. Obviously. Who doesn’t? Mostly non-conspiratorial. Not that I don’t believe conspiracies exist, obviously people come together and conspire toward shared desired outcomes, some malevolent, all the time. But mostly because right now, there’s just not enough data. No overwhelming information. Nothing about any of the theorized conspiracies make enough sense.
Bottom line. The species is combatting a novel virus. Where and how and why it originated? Well…..time will never tell. We’ll never know and honestly, in the end, it’s not the most important element to trudging through this experience. Let’s sum it up with this statement here.
Instead of shaming your neighbors who may or may not be attempting to press on with their lives, we should instead shame virologists who find themselves in the employ of any state government. If that describes you, look yourself in the mirror at night. Self-evaluate. Resign your position and get out there in the market and design products and services that align with your education and expertise that a consuming public would find so valuable they voluntarily elect to consume. If you believe your work would never be used toward malevolent ends, you are wrong. Period.
In the short term. I fall on the side of the fence that our current manic response will have second and third order consequences in the long term that FAR outweigh the virus itself. That said, we need to get back to living our lives. The virus exists. It’s going to run its course. It’s going to mutate in order to expand its own capacity to survive. (shocking right?) That said, we don’t even comprehend the rate of mortality of the virus right now. Not even close.
Few are getting tested. Experts themselves suggest the spread of this disease is a factor far greater than that recorded. That alone, would drive down the rate of mortality right now, even before mutations.
This virus is not something to fear. We have always shared this planet with constantly mutating organisms. We’re one of them ourselves! And this will never not be the case. The more exposure you have to the world the better suited your body and immune system will be at surviving within it. I’m not suggesting forgoing sanitation or hygiene by any stretch. Clean yourself and your environments! If you’re showing signs of any illness, quarantine yourself. Haven’t you always been doing this anyway? I certainly have.
I remember riding an elevator to my office, probably 2009, with our head of Regulatory Labeling. She’s a PhD Food Scientist. We started chatting about the fact that every floor had a hand sanitizing station as soon as you stepped off the elevator. I can’t remember the conversation verbatim, but it went something along the lines of the fact that people are taking their fear of germs to an extreme, even unhealthy, level.
Everyone is terrified of the projections and data modeling without even taking a moment to consider that our current data on this new virus is sparse and has been shown to be inaccurate. No matter your level of talent as a data scientist, no matter the genius of your algorithms, if the source data you enter into those models is incomplete and inaccurate what do you believe the outcome will be? Something other than a realistic expectation of future states, correct? This is largely the problem with the climate change argument these days isn’t it? Not saying climate change isn’t real, not saying the virus isn’t real, not saying both aren’t dangerous. But these models do nothing but induce panicked response over estimations that are tremendously outside the statistical bounds of reason.
A virus is a living thing. It has a goal. Same as ours. Survival. If it kills its host, it dies too. The virus doesn’t want to kill you. Corona viruses have been around for a long, long time. We can track their historic morbidity. There’s absolutely no reason to suspect this Corona virus won’t have the same level of morbidity as its past cousins. A level that has never bothered humans or created a panic or emergency response.
The virus will run its course through our species, we’ll develop anti-bodies to contend with it and it will be added to the lineup of sicknesses we see circulate year after year. You are no safer at home today than you were a month ago. You are also in no more danger either. The world is a dangerous place.
It’s almost like we’re living in a reality where we discovered germ theory in 1864, and then 156 years later our species grasped its reality as a collective.
I wonder if there exists a principle to describe conditions where technology has blossomed to such a degree that it provides a false sense of confidence in the reality we believe we’re experiencing. In broader terms, when for the first time in history, tools we’ve created begin to knock at the door of capability, but we confuse that door knocking with being present and useful. Or we mistake the fact that since it’s knocking at the door, we take for granted that it’s here, but forget that not only do we need to open the door, we need to invite the technology in. Show it around the house. Introduce it to the family. Train it in how the house functions and most importantly, ensure that its house trained and knows where the bathrooms are.
If this principle has not yet been identified and described, then we’ll deem it officially so now.
The reason I describe this principle is because this is exactly what we’re experiencing today with regard to this virus specifically. Our capabilities to aggregate data have been rising exponentially over the past three decades. Our savviness with that data has been rising along with its collection. That said, this is the first time in human history that we have made an effort to track a virus’s diagnosis, case count and death count in real time and publish that data for the entire world to consume and interpret.
Even the flu isn’t calculated in this way. No effort is made to track cases and deaths day by day and publish those statistics for human consumption. If they did then I can assure you, humans would panic and shelter EVERY year. For instance, last year’s Flu deaths in the US was estimated to be over 34,000. The year before that, over 60,000! This season’s Corona virus current count is under 15,000. That’s tragic, but my point is that if we tracked and published in this way ANY year, it would result in panic.
I’m not immune to the narrative either. I find myself tuning in and checking the numbers and trends across the globe several times per day. It’s captivating. It speaks to our conscious and human experience. It’s compelling.
Sadly, I think we’re a bit premature in our ability to track and understand these metrics in a real way. I think our arrogance has fueled this approach and this response. I find myself utilizing worldometers.com most frequently. Their interface is the most agreeable to my preferred consumption. Right on their site, in plain language, it clearly states that cases published are a tally of both confirmed and presumptive cases. That should cause any human on Earth to stop and ask a few questions. This is the very reason the CDC doesn’t make an effort to track any virus in real time. There’s no way to do this objectively. Those “confirmed” cases are not an objective representation of Corona cases. You are relying on the subjective interpretation of millions of individual human beings across the planet to arrive at that number. The exact same problem especially occurs on the death count.
I’ll share one anecdote that is close to me. It involved my brother in law. I’ve read all the gut wrenching stories of nurses in ICUs, DRs having rough days as well as first person accounts of those who have suffered through horrific experiences with this virus. They’re gut wrenching. I feel those stories.
Also, though, they’re anecdotal and an appeal to emotion. You can’t let those stories blind you from the objective.
My personal exposure to this circus, vicariously through my brother in law, happened a couple weeks ago. He woke up feeling off. By mid-day he had rapidly developed a fever and chills, a sore throat and felt terrible. Overly concerned about the global narrative he called his doctor immediately and scheduled a visit.
Given his symptoms his Dr could have ordered a flu and strep test. Both of these have rapid pathologies and he could have had answers on those tests within an hour. Instead, his Dr subjectively diagnosed him as having COVID-19 and sent him off with instructions to get tested at a nearby drive thru facility. Now, given rapidly changing reporting protocols by the CDC, he was no doubt tallied as one of our states COVID cases. Even though he likely had strep or the flu or even just a cold and could have been administered a known and trusted treatment that very day.
Instead he went home, quarantined himself, and was feeling fine within a few days.
This is irresponsible on part of the Dr in my opinion. And you know this type of circumstance is not an isolated case.
The questions we should all be asking right now.
What percentage of published cases, day by day, are confirmed vs. presumptive?
What percentage of deaths, day by day, are pathologically confirmed to have COVID present?
Of those confirmed with COVID, what percentage can be shown to have died DUE to COVID and what percentage passed away WITH COVID? Even that question brings to bear tremendous subjectivity on part of individual Drs.
In the world’s hotspots how are average annual deaths comparing to any other year? This is a valid question. Especially considering the subjective nature of death reporting and designation.
We’ll leave it at that for now. I really started writing this article to discuss the fact that we can’t sustain a shuttered economy. The consequences will be far greater and far more complex than even the best economists in the world could likely grasp, let alone articulate in a way that would be consumed by the general public. I can’t grasp it; I don’t pretend to.
I really decided to start typing today in response to several repeated lines I keep seeing over the past week or so. Through many comment threads. It’s really stuck with me, so I wanted to provide a rejoinder.
Comments like this:
“If our system can’t handle being shut down for a couple weeks and survive then it wasn’t a system worth saving to begin with”
“The market isn’t everything”
“Putting profits over people is appalling”
Our “market” is not a system. There is no system that either can or cannot be shut down. This interpretation is maddening to me. The market you’re referring to, the system in your mind, in actuality, is anarchy in practice. Obviously surrounded by violent, coercive institutions that attempt to live and breathe within and on top of that anarchy while attempting in vain to steer its course.
The anarchy I’m referring to is your life. Yes, yours. Mine as well. We get up every day and make choices. We choose to live, work and play. We choose to eat. We choose to feed our families and communities. We choose to shelter ourselves from our climate, we choose to shelter our families and protect them from harm. We choose to produce value to someone, somewhere and in return earn a competitive level of compensation that will allow us to manifest our preferences in to a reality. We choose to educate ourselves and our children. We choose to entertain ourselves and our families to pass the time and bond with loved ones. We choose to improve our lives by improving our homes, traveling the world to gain new memories and experiences.
I can keep going but you get the point. This is the market you refer to. This is people living. The market is life.
So, to interpret this as “the market isn’t everything” is to say that “life isn’t everything.”
YES. Actually, it IS everything. That’s all there is with respect to the human specific experience.
There is no system. Whether you see it or not, people can’t shut down and stop living for a couple weeks. Hell, people can’t simply shut down and stop living for even a day. If we stop living, well…….then we’re not living. We’re dead.
I am not arguing “profits over people.” People who interpret free markets in that way have ZERO conceptual understanding of what a “profit” even is or how it’s obtained. (Caveat here for profits obtained via force such as govt contractors earning revenue via taxation) Personally, I find any human who is attempting to coercively force any other human to live in such a way beyond the bounds of their individual preference appalling. What gives you the right? And if you believe you know better how one should live their lives than the actual individual living it, well, then your hubris is showing.
If we have all collectively agreed that we need to shut down the economy in order to protect those most vulnerable among us, then sooner rather than later, we will all have to come to the realization that “those most vulnerable among us” encompass different sets of people depending on how you’re defining vulnerabilities.
We’re already, just within the last two weeks, seeing a rise in overdose deaths, suicides, alcohol consumption, domestic violence and many others I’ve failed to research. When 80% of your population is living paycheck to paycheck, they then become the most vulnerable among us if you shut the economy down.
So now, we all need to collectively understand and agree to reopen the economy, while still taking precautions for pathogens, with or without permission from the government, in an effort to protect those most vulnerable among us.
The world is dangerous. It always has been. We’ve been accelerating average lifespan for a long time and there’s no reason to believe that trend will slow. We’re doing a great job.
Now, we just need to get out there and keep pushing forward!
Barack Obama: “If you’ve got a business — you
didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Bernie Sanders: “I don’t think that billionaires
AOC: “No one ever makes a billion dollars. You take a billion dollars. People become billionaires only by exploiting workers and preying on vulnerable and less privileged people.”
This mindset has become pandemic. It has entered the mind space of virtually anyone left of center and hasn’t let go. So appealing is this argument, so supportive is it of their subjective interpretation of reality that it festers and metastasizes. It won’t let loose. The more they repeat it, the more real it becomes. The more real it becomes the more savage a potential response is validated.
Look, I’m not here in support of billionaires. I’m really, really not. I don’t worship them. I don’t hold them in any higher regard than myself or any of my neighbors. None of us are billionaires BTW.
For all I know every billionaire on the planet is a world class A-hole. It really doesn’t matter. Actually, for argument’s sake, let’s go ahead and assume for this thought experiment that, in fact, every billionaire on the planet and in history is, in fact, a world class A-hole. Just a greedy, malevolent pig who cares nothing about any human on the planet other than themselves.
Let’s just say that’s true. And who knows…..maybe it is?
Let’s also assume that today’s Leftists’ interpretation is objectively correct, economically. Billionaires only amount that level of wealth through unhinged greed and the willful, calculated exploitation of humans less privileged than they.
If that’s true, and we’re assuming that it is, am I the only person in the room who is noticing an immense, once in a lifetime circumstance of opportunity?
If these corporations, led by greedy old white men, are operated in such a manner that those nasty humans have the ability to siphon ludicrous amounts of capital off the top solely for themselves, then wouldn’t a competitive organization, providing the same service(s), in the same market(s) NOT led by a greedy old white man find itself at an historic advantage? Not having to fund the billion-dollar appetite of the 1%er at the top?
Couldn’t you, you being literally anyone, found a company, operate it exactly the same as Evil Inc. and just simply NOT endow the owner (yourself) with billions in capital and the team of apparently white male executives exorbitant salaries, bonuses and stock options and absolutely demolish the competition? Couldn’t you, in a market free from hindrance, absolutely dominate with the competitive advantage you could enjoy by saving literally billions of dollars?
Why is this not happening? Serious question. If your economic interpretation is accurate and true, why is this not happening all over the world?
Even if taken to a lesser extreme. If billionaires have exploited everyone, is there not one single adventurous and daring person out there willing to do the same thing for, I don’t know? Half a billion? Or even just three quarters of a billion? Some amount less than the current manipulative world class A-hole?
Can anyone help me understand this reality? If, in fact, the stated exploitative economic observation is true?
Or, is it really more likely that the people pushing this narrative are economically literate enough to know their statements are over simplified to the point of being untrue, or even, that they are flatly stating realities they know to be false simply for the purpose of playing politics to their base?
In reality. Wealth is created through the most efficient construction of value to any given market and any given consumer with free choice. Profit is a reward for coordinating resources in such a manner as to most efficiently supply the value any market prefers.
Naturally I take offense, like any other free market advocate, to those who have captured wealth by force and fiat (government contractors). But removing those realities from our current argument, wealth in any free marketplace can only be achieved in accordance with the value a service or product provider has created.
Labor itself, is an entirely separate and unique marketplace which is a derivative, but somewhat abstracted from the service or product the company produces.
It is related, no doubt. For instance, no company, anywhere, could afford to compensate an employee to a degree greater than the objective value their role creates for the organization. No company would remain in business. Outside of that however, skill sets and positions are bartered and bid up through voluntary actions of workers and employers within the economy and are just as closely tied to principles of supply and demand as any other product, period.
This really is an open question. For AOC, Bernie, Obama, whomever to answer. If their observations are consistent with objective reality, then where is the competition? Why doesn’t Obama himself (he has free time now, as well as a mountain of seized treasure) create a fulfillment service to compete with Amazon and simply NOT exploit his workers? Because he is, after all, a decent human being who wouldn’t do that, right?
His inherent competitive advantage coupled with his superior drive and intellect should allow him the perfect recipe to literally wipe the floor with Amazon as well as freeing all those poor workers from their existence mired in exploitation.
Why does he not do this? Does he not care? Do any of them?
So really, if you think about it, if these justice seekers really believe in their assertions (I can’t bring myself to believe that they do), then the greatest villains in their own narrative, are themselves.
If you glare zealously at justice long enough, eventually, justice glares back at you.
People today, worldwide, are a wealthier lot than any previous collection of humans that have ever existed upon the planet.
People today are living longer than any previous generation to come before us. A LOT longer.
People today are insanely more literate and connected than any previous set of humans on planet Earth.
People today can be statistically demonstrated to be far more welcoming of humans of alternate ethnicities and far more open to cultures other than their own. Additionally, violent crime rates have been plummeting for decades with no end in sight.
People today survive childbirth and subsequently childhood to a vastly greater degree than children of the past.
Even in the United States, the largest scale experiment worldwide at mixing cultures and ethnicities, is showing a flattening in the gap of child poverty between races and ethnicities.
The Earth is greener today than it was 100 years ago and getting greener every day!
These blanket statements literally have no end. I can keep making them and probably get 200-300 pages of objective and provable claims similar to the ones above. One can find many studies proving these claims. They’re not even hard to find.
Given that reality you would think humanity might be celebrating. We’re not. I would like to say that we’re unhappier now than ever. I suspect that isn’t true though. Having dove deep in the study of history I’m fully aware of the graven conditions heaved upon the many that came before us.
We are damn unsettled though. Restless. Unfulfilled. Scared. Anxious. Polarized.
Well I don’t know. Some of it may be biological, as indicated here and here.
I heard an observation in a podcast some time ago. Pretty certain it was Jordan Peterson. The observation went something along the lines of outlining the rise of the independent journalists and the avalanche of highly consumed podcasts and programs that followed. Leaving aside subjective judgements of value, it seems obvious that this content creation and consumption has a natural declining impact on the consumption of traditional media sources. Something for which Peterson holds in little regard.
I agree with him.
When a business, any business, begins to lose market share and profits suffer, how do they respond? Do they roll over and die? Or do they make an effort of adjustment to recapture lost share and profit?
Obviously, they react and adjust. It’s not always successful or in time nor does it always resonate with an ever-changing consuming public, but they do react.
How does traditional media respond? How else could they? They make any effort at all to gain attention. Views. Consumers. Market Share as a source of advertising revenue. How can they gain extra attention? Well, how does any two-year-old? They resort to their most basic human nature. They get as loud as possible to direct eyes toward their content. How does media get loud, throw a tantrum, scream? They get as inflammatory, abrasive and polarized as they can. No headline is too extreme if it generates clicks and views, right?
I heard Peterson lay out this argument and it resonated with me. It struck me as truth. Something you could intuitively tune in to, witness and even, to some degree, objectively monitor and track over time.
I think this observation correctly informs what is happening in Western politics in 2020 as well. I think the emperor is starkly naked and always has been. I think with the development of worldwide connectivity and the ability for humans to establish trusting relationships with anyone, anywhere, is laying waste to the protective wall that we call government brick by brick.
I think more and more humans are waking up to realize that all of this success and advancement has happened as a result of sovereign individuals developing preferences and other sovereign individuals making a motivated effort to satisfy those preferences. Markets.
I think more people are beginning to see that with an increasingly educated global populace we are now educating more engineers and scientists than exist current professional engineers and scientists in the West. These innovators will work hard to appease natural market preferences. There’s no way to stop progress. There’s no evidence to suggest that progress will ever halt.
The definition of progress, over time, certainly changes and creeps, but it still progresses, nonetheless.
I think the State in the West is not blind to this. I think they see diminishing returns relative to their market share. They’ve creeped in scope so greatly that not even a passive tax base can fund their endeavors. Hence an ever-inflating supply of money. (We’ll pay for that soon, rest assured)
How does the State respond? How else could they? They make any effort at all to gain the perception of relevancy. Laws. Regulations. Brute enforcement. Taxes. How do they react? Well, how does any two-year-old? They resort to their most basic human nature. The State throws a tantrum. They get as loud as possible to direct eyes toward anything they can claim as positive outcomes of their actions, regardless of how weak the argument. They get as inflammatory, abrasive and polarized as they can in an effort to attract the attention of those they feel most likely to pay attention. Their “base.” No claim is too extreme if it generates obedience, right?
I think they’re screaming for attention. Anxiously searching for relevancy. Desperately attempting to convince a population waning in confidence of their importance. The danger they want us to believe we all face absent their divine protection.
This isn’t some grand conspiracy of old, white, malevolent men sitting around a dark room with cigars and plotting the destruction of the Earth. These are well-intentioned, albeit sociopathic, humans of all ages and colors who are personally wedded to the success of an archaic and violent system of authority.
In some ways it’s akin to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Candidates on campaign trails get increasingly dramatic and rhetorically divisive for no reason other than to accumulate attention to oneself as a candidate. You can see, track and to some degree measure this reality over time. Mostly all the tales of suffering screamed from the campaign trail are not actually reflective of the experience realized by the actual citizens of any given country. Now that doom and gloom has been professed and “winning candidate” made promises to address, it’s perceived by systems of authority that action needs to be taken. It’s no wonder none of these agencies ever make progress or solve problems. It’s no wonder they tend to create more problems unintentionally than ever existed to begin with.
It’s rather easy to demonstrate that all of the good news shared above has occurred mostly in spite of the existence of nationalistic, violent governments. Nationalism itself was an innovation, progress defined, progress realized. It was a movement away from archaic systems based solely upon the proclaimed divinity of birthright and wedded violent authority to monarchies.
The time had passed for monarchies as humans continued to grow, advance, learn and progress.
Just as the time had passed for that ancient system of statehood, so too is the time passing for nationalism. So too is the time passing for citizens to go to war in the interest of the State as directly opposed to the interest of each citizen and each community.
I’d love to say that humans will learn to live and love without the existence of coercive authority, though that’s likely not the next step in our journey. However, I am confident, that this next iteration will be at least one degree abstracted and improved upon what we have come to know as national governments.
And that’s progress to celebrate. Little as it may be. We might even be able to realize this evolution without violence. Human progress suggests as much.
Apparently one of the latest things the cool kids are talking about is debating whether or not they would kill baby Hitler. Supposedly this is a bit of a “Pro Life” argument. Parenthesis used since both sides of this debate are so hideously titled.
I don’t know Jim Wright. This Facebook post was the first I’ve ever heard of the guy. Don’t know his political leanings nor do I care. I used his post as an example. Everything written from here forward is not a condemnation of Jim personally. As far as I know, Jim and I might see most of the world quite similarly. Although on this topic, we do not.
This is not a judgmental ruling. I don’t see Jim as a “baby killer” or “monster” or whatever else he refers to being called by the masses.
I understand where he’s coming from. I get it. Given the misdeeds of Hitler and a handful of others he mentions in his post, it’s not as if those individuals didn’t earn such a fate. (though I don’t believe in the death penalty, nothing like teaching people not to kill by killing people…..)
I understand where Shapiro is coming from as well. I really do. Personally, I think abortion is a horrible thing. I do NOT, however, advocate the government intervening in the whole mess. There’s no good to be done here by political will.
Here’s the thing. The “I’d definitely kill Hitler” camp demonstrates the hubris of the Left. Jim himself may not even be on the Left, it’s irrelevant.
The Left is terrified of the “individual.” Purely discounting the demonstrable fact that without State systems of monopolized violence and centers of accepted authority, individuals are laughably powerless.
Without the State, Hitler is a silly little man with a wretched mustache.
Then you get in to the obvious time travel arguments, blah, blah. For sake of argument let’s simply assume all the associated paradoxes work out in our favor. But seriously, once you’ve done this experiment 10, 12, 25 times and you’ve murdered 25 different babies, many that you’re digging in your original timeline to even come up with a reference and yet, the Holocaust STILL keeps happening, you eventually realize that perhaps there’s something more to this thing than the “individual.”
Now you’ve expanded your mind a bit and accepted the associated circumstances that created Hitler.
New plan! Because, you know, it would be really bad ass, if not only you could travel through time, but also come back and be able to say: “Look, I did something. I made a difference! I saved lives.”
Admittedly, that would be pretty sweet.
Let’s make this happen since we have the machine working and we’re tired of killing German babies to no avail.
Germany was ripe for a fascist populous movement because they had been railroaded by most of Europe with the treaty of Versailles.
Okay. How can we prevent that? The treaty was passed as it was because, in the end, Germany had been soundly beaten and forced to legally accept full blame for WWI. Even though, every grown, responsible adult understands that it takes two to fight……or 32, whatever.
It’s well known that fighting was moving to a standstill and all of Europe was rather war weary. Especially for a conflict that most of the populations had expected would only last 6-8 months. Germany was only beaten so soundly because the United States joined the fight at the last minute, tipped the scale and crushed the Germans.
Okay. Why were the Americans in such a strong position as to be able to join the War and make an enormous impact? Well, because they had forcibly unified in 1865 and had worked to build a formidable force for defense for 40 solid years.
Now, you suddenly come to the unfortunate realization that without Lincoln, there quite likely would never be a 3rd Reich or a Holocaust.
So, the tragic question. Would you kill baby Lincoln? If you could prevent the Holocaust?
Of course not, that’s silly too. (though I’m no fan of Lincoln, killing him wouldn’t solve much)
The whole point of this is the maligned view of the Left. Their hubris is what kills them, every time. And sometimes not just them, sometimes a couple hundred million others along the way.
The Left believes in the State (the Right does too sadly, but for different reasons).
The Left believes that individuals need managing and they can be successfully managed with a strong central authority.
Completely side stepping the reality that it’s the State itself, that grants authority and capacity for individuals to carry out the most heinous of crimes.
The Holocaust. Pol Pot. Stalin. 60+ years now of US foreign policy.
In the end, kill all the Hitlers you want I suppose. But until we divorce ourselves from these philosophies of force and control, there will be no shortage of Hitlers to kill. No end to State violence.
You see the symptoms. You’ve simply misdiagnosed the root cause and thus, prescribed the wrong vaccine.
Don’t we all every once in a while? Sometimes I suppose those snakes are far too tempting and you’re just morbidly curious how you’ll fare and if you’ll survive. Better yet, perhaps you might even befriend a snake, wouldn’t that be the greatest feat of all?
After all, in the world of social media, they aren’t really snakes. They aren’t stupid. They aren’t any of the never-ending flurry of insults that we see coming both ways. Nor is anyone able to be understood with a clever meme in response to a serious and nuanced question.
The pit I refer to was Salon. I stay subscribed to quite a few liberal and progressive outlets. I have a strong desire to understand the points that are made within that community and the arguments laid out within their sphere of influence. It’s important to me. Rarely, actually never until a few days ago, do I bother commenting. Really what’s the point? Morbid entertainment? The odds of changing a mind through the venue of social media is surely close to zero.
So why now? What compelled my response? There was an article posted that likened Libertarianism to White Supremacy. Moreover, there was one popular commenter below that flatly stated every Libertarian he’d ever debated was an idiot who couldn’t see past their own selfishness.
Initially it was so tempting to simply point out that championing policy that forced strangers to care for others at the point of a gun, without sacrificing anything yourself, is quite fundamentally the opposite of selfless. But I digress.
To be fair, I don’t see myself as a true Libertarian. If I were forced to box myself in to a definable word, I would have to say the closest word would be Anarchist. I simply can’t justify the existence of the State. I would be willing to tolerate one, at some level and scope, grossly below the current level and scope, but I would still argue if pressed that even that wasn’t necessary.
I jumped in with a request to debate. I acknowledged upfront that I am, indeed, an idiot. I was willing to concede that I was the dumbest person on the thread. Who knows, maybe I was. It’s frankly irrelevant. But here was the premise that I wished to debate. The question put forth for each and every citizen of this country and really anyone living within Western society.
“Every government since the rise of nationalism has grown in power and control to the point of either committing democide or abetting democide with support and acquiescence. If the inevitable result of government is historically proven to be Millions of humans murdered, then wouldn’t it be far less selfish to not have one at all? If the price we pay for having a nice road or decent hospital or even a fire department is the ritualistic slaying of millions of innocent equals across the sea, then I’m sorry, I’d rather not have those things. If that’s really the price it costs. Should you not equally value human life and you feel the price is indeed worth it, then by all means enjoy your road and tax me what you will, but you do not hold the moral position in this argument.”
Did he take me up on my request to debate? No. He didn’t respond. I received a few comments that took the discussion down a slightly different tract which also flatly ended once I brought the basic question back to the one above.
It is a question I would like anyone to answer though. Especially Progressives.
Both sides of our political spectrum adore the Constitution and love to hold it over the other’s head whenever they feel it’s suitable or fits whatever argument they happen to be making at that time.
Here’s the reality of our Constitution. It has failed.
It has either: A. Endorsed our current government through design and intent. Or B. Failed to prevent our current government from metastasizing in to its current size and scope. It’s one or the other and which of those two is accurate is strikingly irrelevant. A couple of the founders would have no doubt adored the Leviathan our government has become. Most, I think, would not.
What is that price that I reference?
The price we currently pay or tolerate for what we refer to as modern society.
The single largest government in the history of our species. An organization that saddles its constituency in multi-generational debt. An organization that has stretched outward and pursued policies of Empire such that we manage and maintain a military presence at over 1,000 addresses in over 80 separate countries with some 138,000 military members stationed around the globe.
An organization that saddled it’s own soldiers with sickness and disease while causing, directly and indirectly, the lives of an estimated 500,000 children and noncombatants in the first Iraq War and subsequently stating for the record they believed that the price “was worth it.”
An organization that sent young men by force to die in Vietnam while killing or displacing millions of Vietnamese over a 10-year stretch.
An organization that has been at war, in some capacity or another, 226 years of the 243 years since 1776.
An organization that has now unapologetically manufactured a 17-year war in the Middle East that has yet to see an end. A conflict that has once again killed many thousands of its own citizens while simultaneously killing or displacing literally millions of Middle Easterners. Sending our own troops home with lifelong injuries whether its missing limbs or having permanently lost a part of their own humanity. We’ve now lost more Veterans to suicide than we have in the active 17-year conflict. We Veterans, we’re not stupid, we see the pointlessness of these conflicts. We understand the pointlessness of the violence you force us to commit and witness. We suffer for you, the political class, not for our fellow Americans. We generally all come to understand this, as I did, far too late in the process whether all of us care to admit it or not.
Meanwhile, as these atrocities multiply, the citizens of the West find ways to distract themselves from this reality. An act of collective avoidance as a means of coping.
How do we do this? We all find ways in which to elevate our personal values. Something upon which we can grasp. Something where we feel we have an impact and believe we can make a difference with something, anything at all.
This is the root cause of the PC culture and victim mentality. This is why we experience a culture where we are literally dropping bombs on children in the morning and by the afternoon there are screams of outrage over perceived micro-aggressions. This is why millions of innocent people are displaced from their homes and the land they know and love one day, and the next there’s a viral video of a human being absolutely losing their mind because an employee at a store mis-gendered them when asking if they needed help. This is why weddings and school busses are obliterated by drone bombs at the very moment our public over here is embroiled over bathroom preferences and wedding cake rights.
I’m not trying to minimize your personal issues. I’m really not. I know they mean a tremendous amount to you individually and I respect that. But you know what? At the end of the day you’re still alive to be upset. Can’t we at least come together and ensure that we’re not responsible for killing innocent human beings before we stop and focus on our micro-aggressions? There’s no way to qualify the importance of one issue over another. It’s all subjected to individual preference. But can’t we all at least start at a broad understanding that losing your life against your will should be at the top of the list? Especially when we as a collective people have the ability to stand up, speak out and make this stop?
I really do believe that the root cause of the accelerated divisiveness in the West is the collective action of our entire population covering our ears, closing our eyes and screaming “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” at the top of our lungs.
It’s too painful to evaluate what’s taken place relative to our foreign policy.
It’s too painful to imagine that in some way we’ve been complicit in these actions.
It’s too painful to empathize with both the Americans as well as those abroad who have lost their children, their Mothers, their Fathers, their brothers and sisters……even their homes.
How do we ease that pain? By focusing our attention and intentional action on some small part of our personal world where we feel we have a voice. Where we feel we can make an impact in some small way. We do this as a sort of vindication.
This vindication is paramount for our individual sanity. This is why heels are so staunchly dug this past decade or so. Sure, the dawn of the internet has absolutely fueled this phenomenon. But at its root, is the necessity of being right about something. Seeing oneself on the side of morality. There’s no longer any give within our culture. There’s little compromise remaining.
As a result, we’re losing grip of the very culture we grew to love so much and cherish so greatly.
That, my friends, is the true price we pay.
And I ask again, one last time for anyone willing to answer.
Is the price we pay worth it?
Or can we possibly find a solution that carries a price we can all afford?
Scott Shearin is a 13-year military veteran having served 8 years enlisted in the Marine Corps and 5 years commissioned in the Army National Guard. He is a serial entrepreneur currently most focused on finding employment for military veterans within private sector employment.
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