Thursday, April 11, 2013

Gun Control: Hidden Consequences

Any restrictions on gun ownership must take into consideration the long term implications of a disarmed citizenry. What allowed the horrific genocides of the past two centuries (Ottoman Turkey 1915-17; Soviet Union 1929-1953; Nazi Germany 1933-1945; China 1949-1976; Guatemala 1960-1981; Uganda 1971-1979;  Cambodia 1975-1979)  to occur, was a populace that was disarmed by their government.

I have no doubt that the majority of gun control supporters have only good intentions in their hearts. But many Americans take for granted the freedoms they have, not because they are bad people, but because that's all they have ever known.

Inevitably, with these types of controls, guns are taken away from one group (citizens) and given to another group (government). [Does government really have your best interests in mind? Whose interests does it serve? Government may be composed of good people at an individual level, but at the macro level can evolve into something much more insidious!]

When one group is armed and the other isn't, what is stopping the armed group from forcefully imposing its will on the disarmed group? Trust? Faith in human goodness? Such centralization of power is very dangerous as trust is something that can very easily be broken. After all, it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch.

This is what the founding fathers had in mind when composing the second amendment of the constitution. This is the seemingly irrational fear that drives those "crazy gun nuts" to grip their guns so tightly. But is it really irrational when you look at the track record of the governments of the world? If it could happen in Germany, arguably a pinnacle of "civilized" society, what would prevent it from happening in the U.S.?

These things MUST be taken into consideration when dealing with the issue of public safety.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety"
- B. Franklin

"The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise they will win and the decent people will lose."
- James Earl Jones

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson

"One man with a gun can control 100 without one."
– V Lenin

"A system of licensing and registration is the perfect device to deny gun ownership to the bourgeoisie."
- V Lenin

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Response to "Rugged Individualism as a Myth"

The reality is that, for most of us, the world is a cruel, unjust and uncaring place. This is because as humans, we only have a finite amount of resources to satisfy the infinite amount of desires and needs that each of us hold.

The fact is that there are very few people on this planet who have your best interests at heart; if you are lucky, you may have a caring family and a close knit circle of friends that you can trust. Many people do not even have this luxury. Think about it, more people would not care if you died tomorrow than people who would. Others would even go so far as to kill you to take what you have. This is a reality that many of us living in "prosperous" and “peaceful” industrialized nations have not been exposed to on a large scale for several decades. Death, conquest, war, famine, disease goes on across the globe now as it has since the beginning of history. Homo sapiens are a species of war, as much as we are a species of peace. For the purpose of my argument this is undeniable, and you only need to look at our history books to see that this is true.

This harsh reality is not necessarily due any inherent human malice, but rather, and I repeat myself, due to the fact that, on this planet, we only have a finite amount of resources to satisfy the infinite amount of desires and needs that each of us hold. No amount of fantastical idealizing can change this fundamental truth about human nature. Try “getting along” with the asshole who is mugging you at gunpoint, or the foreigners pillaging your home, and see how far it gets you.

I, as an individual, am the one who is in the best position to make decisions regarding my well-being, not the members of the politico-banking apparatchik, i.e. my “elected representatives”. This is because none of them see the world through my eyes, know the challenges that I face, the desires I seek to fulfill, or the strengths and weaknesses that I possess. Furthermore, I know that it is human nature to be greedy, so I am not surprised by how corrupt our institutions are. Power brings out the most ruthless and Machiavellian traits of man. So even though their slogans may be really catchy, with slick rhetoric that pulls at my patriotic heart-strings, I know that politicians do not have my interests at heart. This is because the politician’s principle function is to gain more political power. The good ones are amorphous creatures that charismatically reflect the desires of wants of the populace in exchange for votes.

I do not buy into the farcical charade that passes for "politics" these days. The left-wing/right-wing dichotomy playing out on television caters to the primitive human "us" vs. "them" mentality. This is a great strategy for the powers that be to divide and conquer the voting population on minor issues. But I am not fooled; Republicans and Democrats alike are two heads of the same monstrous war mongering, freedom suppressing, corporate welfare leviathan. To label me along that spectrum is to miss the point that I am trying to make.

As a "rugged individual" my goal is to be self-sufficient and autonomous. I wish to accomplish my goals from my own blood, sweat and tears, because the fruits of my own labor are sweeter than any fruit given to me without. Do not make the mistake of believing that I view myself as living in a vacuum, for I do not dismiss the great works and achievements of the forefathers and foremothers before me. Rather I view myself as a carrying the torch and nurturing the fire which I will be passed onto the next generation.

As a “rugged individual” I extend my interests, not through force and coercion - the method of choice for governments around the world - but rather through the mutualistic symbiosis which characterizes the principle of the free market. I use reasoning to develop ideas that are my own, adjusting and often reversing my stance on an issue in light of new evidence. I do not like being told what to do, how to behave and how to think. I have a disdain for authority, because authority does not treat an individual as a free-thinking rational being. As an individual, I know that I must fulfill my own needs before I can consider the needs of others. This means that, first and foremost, I take care of myself, and then I take care of my family, then my friends, then my neighbors - in that order.

All of this to say, Mr. Spindell, that I am insulted when you say that I do not exist and am just a myth! But I forgive you sir because I understand that nowadays, men and women of prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude such as myself, do not come by very often. I as a “rugged individual” understand that any promise of a utopia is a lie. Nobody will make my dreams come true but myself, and I will take on all the pain, suffering and ridicule that is required to do so. No chains can shackle me, no cage can hold me. I would rather die standing than to live on my knees… All very cliché I know, but true nevertheless.

A Message to advocates of government (Social Security, Military, etc.) spending

Though I do not question your good intentions, your fundamental misunderstanding of basic market principles undermines your argument.

Whether it is the financing of (questionably justified) wars overseas, the financing of welfare entitlement programs for the poor, or welfare entitlement programs for Wall Street, this reckless spending is unsustainable in the long run.

We need only to look across the Atlantic at our Club Med friends to see the most recent example of social security spending gone wild.

The U.S. can postpone this fate due to its global reserve currency status by issuing more debt. BUT, this economic hegemony exists due in large part to the U.S. global military force projection.

Using any type of metric, dollars, euros, ounces of gold, etc., if the amount of non-productive spending outweighs the amount of productive spending for too long, economic turmoil ensues. Which is exactly what we are seeing right now!

The laws of supply and demand exert their influence, and the higher this fiat bubble gets blown, the bigger the pop will be when it finally bursts... The pages of history are filled with numerous examples (but never on such a massive scale).

It would be naive of me to expect that my words would change anybody's opinion on the matter... So I'll let the unfolding reality take care of that!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Society's Meltdown

My theory is that the speed of deterioration of our institutions is following a parabolic trajectory. Right now we are at the beginning, where decay is generally overlooked because it occurs during time spans above and beyond society's television induced 30 second attention span. A sovereign debt crises will NOT unfold at lighting speed, because to the attentive eye, it is, and has been, visibly and steadily doing so since 2008. What will occur at lightning speed is the collective realization of desperation when the population realizes the depth and extent that the Government-Finance-Frankenstein's phallus has ravaged and pillaged their assholes. That's when we will see all the revelous riotry that has infected the Med Club Nations spread here in North-America... That is, however, if the administration, with its overstock of tear gas, tasers, and rubber bullets allows it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Capitalism and Democracy: Can they Coexist?

Many people are out of work right now and struggling to make ends-meet. They may be questioning the fairness of an economic system that is presently increasing the income gap between the rich and the poor. For example, many in the United States took to the streets last summer in protest during the “Occupy” movement. I was alarmed at how many people seemed to be simplistically blaming capitalism for all of the global economic problems. I interpreted their message as being a democratic uprising to end capitalism and install a more egalitarian societal system. But I will explain to you why I think this reasoning is flawed.

In this essay I argue that Capitalism and Democracy are entirely compatible with each other. More precisely they are two very distinct concepts that complement each other very well. The two concepts shall be broken down into their constitutive conceptual elements so that we may compare and contrast them to see how I postulated my conclusion. You, the reader, will notice that although Capitalism and Democracy deal with different domains of society, they share many fundamental features. Where Capitalism deals with the creation and exchange of products and materials, Democracy deals with the creation and exchange of ideas and opinions. When you are finished reading, hopefully you will see that both concepts possess central tenets that rest on the idea of liberty, choice, and decentralization, and that they are indeed absolutely compatible with each other.

Democracy is a special form of societal governance because decisions are not made by a single individual or group. Democratic societies view their citizens as independent and autonomous entities with their own unique drives and goals. This is known as individualism. Citizens have free will and are knowledgeable enough to make choices that benefit them. As such, they view coercion and other such assaults on free will as something undesirable that should be avoided. Violence and the threat of harm is the most ancient form of human coercion, so democratic societies have laws set in place to discourage it among the population. These are generally known as Human Rights. Citizens are free to do as they so please as long as they are not interfering with other citizens’ Human Rights. Individuals are generally united in their common goal to achieve prosperity, happiness and good health, despite the fact that they each may have their own unique ideas about achieving it. As an extension of free will, all citizens must be involved in the matters of the state/society/group. This occurs through public discussions where every citizen is given the chance to have their ideas and opinions heard. In modern societies with large populations, citizens elect leaders to represent their interests during these public discussions. Through these exchanges of ideas and opinions, citizens discover new and innovative ways to cooperate with each other to achieve their goals. Ideally, group decisions must be made with group consensus, meaning that every single individual agrees to the decision. When consensus cannot be reached, decisions are made by the majority or through compromise. Individuals seek power not through violence or coercion, but rather, with political influence. What this means is that a person in a position of authority (i.e. the president, politicians) is dependent on the support he receives from other citizens. In this sense, power and influence is decentralized. If a Politician begins to do things that the citizens do not like, the citizens simply withdraw their support and the Politician can no longer influence public policy. This is usually done through the process of voting. A skillful politician finds the common ideas that unite the citizens and gains their trust by reflecting those ideas back on to the citizens.

Capitalism is a special economic system for very similar conceptual reasons as Democracy. Capitalism is the production, trading and proliferation of commodities to achieve profit and growth. Commodities are essentially modified and refined resources which have value, meaning they improve the quality of life of its owner. They are analogous to ideas in democracy.  Quality of life is an umbrella term for prosperity, happiness and good health, which as you may recall is one of the common goals among citizens of a democratic society. In fact, among the many Civil/Human Rights stated in democratic constitutions you will find something called the “Right to Private Property”. The Right to Private Property allows individuals to own commodities which are protected in ways that are similar to Human Rights, and can be considered as an extension of the individual. As such, an individual can accumulate commodities which serve to increase her quality of life. In this way we see that Capitalism benefits Democracy and vice versa.

The act of trading is when one party gives away a commodity in exchange for another commodity of equal value (may also be referred to as buying and selling). Value is usually measured in currency, a universal yardstick. The value of a commodity is determined on the free market through the homeostatic balance of supply, demand and competition. If the supply of the commodity increases, it is more accessible and thus becomes less valuable. Similarly if the demand increases, it is less accessible because more people want it and thus it becomes more valuable. As such, the scarcer the commodity is on the market, the more valuable it becomes. Businesses are entities whose main goal is to achieve profit and growth by selling commodities on the market. Profit is achieved by selling a commodity for a higher price than it cost to produce. Businesses cannot sell their commodities for too low a price otherwise they are not profitable and fail. They cannot sell for too high a price neither because buyers will simply buy from another business for cheaper. This is competition. As such, businesses must find a middle ground that is profitable yet cheap enough for buyers. This drives efficiency and innovation as businesses find ways to cut costs and increase profit margins. If you understand the concept of the free-market you also understand that these free-market forces are decentralized just like political power in a democracy is decentralized.

However, some folks may argue that Capitalism goes against democratic ideals of quality of life since it produces commodities that are harmful, like guns. Guns are a tool for causing violence and are against the principles of Human Rights because they are used for coercive purposes. I would respond that, although democratic ideals are against violence it does not change the fact that the world is a dangerous place where many people do not accept these principles. Guns improve the quality of life of their owners by enabling them to protect themselves, their families and their property from people who mean them harm.

Other critics may point out that Capitalism often uses exploitation to increase profits and growth. Exploitative techniques such as cheap labor are harmful to individuals because it is oppressive and creates profit at the individual’s expense. How can something which promotes exploitation be compatible with democracy? I respond that, even though capitalism may be exploitative, reckless and at times blind to human suffering, it creates choice. Through this choice it creates opportunity and growth in the long term. For example, a subsistence farmer in sub-Saharan Africa is given the choice to go work in a sweatshop. The working conditions in the sweatshop are terrible for her (judging from our comfortable Western standards). But are they really much worse than her conditions as a subsistence farmer where she experienced uncertainty, droughts and starvation? This textile factory, mechanistic and exploitative as it is, offers a choice.  A choice that can lead to something more, a choice that can lead to growth. She may still be starving while working long hours under terrible conditions, but at least her children are near an urban center where they may get some sort of education. Although she may never escape the miserable conditions within her lifetime, at least her children will have more choices than she had, and thus a better chance of escaping poverty than she did. And if you recall, choice and free will are the central tenets of democracy.

With this brief conceptual break-down we can see that Capitalism and Democracy share many of the same fundamental ideas. Democracy deals with the exchange of ideas and opinions, whereas Capitalism is concerned with the exchange of commodities. Both are based on a system of decentralization and individual liberty. This is strong evidence in support of my statement that: Yes, Capitalism is compatible with Democracy. I would even venture further to say that, like two soul mates, Capitalism and Democracy were made for each other. In fact, if we look back in history we can see that they were both thrust onto humanity at the same time. I believe that more conceptual, social, and economic research would confirm my statement. It makes me think that some of my fellow citizens exercising their democratic right to protest against Capitalism (of all things!), really do not understand Capitalism at all! In fact, if it were not for Capitalism, they probably would not be allowed to protest in the first place! Although I agree that the present economic system could use some substantive improvements, I whole-heartedly disagree that Capitalism is the problem! 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The World is a Stage

Put on a mask, be charismatic, and manipulate your image to reflect the population's desires. If done properly, gain power and influence to attain a wider field of control over outside circumstances. Shape the world to your own mental image.

Such is the game that a politician plays!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Getting people to do what you want.

Throughout our lives, we navigate a confusing maze of social interactions to achieve our goals. Dealing with other people is an inevitable part of every day life. After all, humans are highly sociable creatures, and all of our accomplishments as a species are the result of exchanges of ideas occurring as a result of the process of socialization.

This is my point: to achieve anything you want to accomplish in life, you will have to deal with other people. So it makes logical sense to try to figure out how other people function, what the motivations behind their actions are and what their behavior signifies. This is the study of Psychology!

Unavoidably, we will all be faced a situation where we want somebody to do something that benefits us. But a problem that I see with a lot of people is that they fail to put themselves in their target's shoes. They try to force, or coerce their target into doing something, without giving thought to the other person's motivations or desires.

In my opinion, it takes a lot of energy to coerce somebody to do something against their will. It's analogous to trying to bang in a screw with a hammer. It's doable, but you'd be fucking retarded if you were to try building an entire house that way. You can usually see personal level coercion when people yell, use threats and hurl insults. Your typical inept mother howling at her children in the Shoppers Drug Mart is what comes to mind. Or perhaps the United States posing sanctions on Iran? We've all been guilty of this primitive form of social control at some point in our lives. Any intelligent person should seek to minimize instances where it is used. 

A better way, I think, is to put your precious energy into getting the person to actually want to do what you want them to do. Your target is an individual, just like you, and will not do anything unless it benefits him/her in some way, just like you. Find a way to make what you want your target to do mutually beneficial. Both parties must derive some clear benefit, but this does not mean that you cannot benefit more than your target. Avoid the winner/loser bifurcation. Avoid making your target act in ways that are detrimental to his/herself (unless of course you are at war, in which case a whole different set of rules applies).

To summarize: make the people around you benefit from your presence, and they will actually want to help you achieve what you want to achieve. It's simple to do in theory, but very hard to do in practice! Next time you find yourself stuck dealing with an asshole/jerk/bitch/cunt, try a different approach than simple-minded coercion. Use a little finesse!