San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Friday, January 24, 2014

Are You Epistemologically Self Conscious?

The next time you are milling about at a cocktail party while desperately trying to think of something witty to say, try this.  Ask the first person who will sustain eye contact with you if he/she is epistemologically self conscious.  Then wait for the reaction.  It should be fun.  The most likely reaction to your query will be a puzzled stare.  That is because most people will not have a clue what you are asking them.  So try changing the question.  Ask the poor soul who is now being forced to engage you in conversation if he is fully aware of why he believes what he believes. At this point the lights will come on and you will likely receive an answer to your question.  Now the fun begins.
Do you know why you believe what you believe?  I am going to show my hand up front and assert that the great majority of the citizens of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika have no understanding of their thought processes whatsoever.   People make the decision to believe various things usually for reasons that they do not want to admit.  To become aware of the various reasons for our various beliefs is embarrassing and hurtful to the ego.  So most folks will just suppress that part of their lives and continue going on "blindly" believing what they believe.  To actually become aware of your reasons for belief requires a degree of emotional security that is not found in most people.  That pretty much guarantees that it will rarely happen.
Why do people believe what they believe?  I have pondered that question all of my adult life.  Over the years I have come to see several consistent reasons for belief in something.  Let me lay them out for you and see what you think.  By an overwhelming margin, when compared to the other reasons for belief,  the primary reason people believe what they believe is because whatever it is they decide to believe in makes them feel good.  I have labeled this the "I like it, I don't like it" criteria for truth.  Just listen to the way people talk.  As conversations ebb and flow you will constantly hear the pronouncement of "I like that" or "I don't like that" in regards to the issue at hand.  No attempt is made to explain why something is liked or disliked.  It simply is the way it is.  And, to make matters even more confusing, the mere assertion that something is liked or disliked is regarded as all that needs to be known about that idea.  I like that idea so I believe it is true.  End of discussion.  Don't ask me anything more.  Questions about why a person likes or dislikes something are generally met with additional statements about what is liked/disliked or, in some cases, anger.  Neither response is a good one. 
Closely related (perhaps just the other side of the logical coin) is the "it makes me feel good" criteria for truth.  Once again listen to the way people talk.  Nobody says "I think" or "I believe" anymore.  All you ever hear is "I feel this" or "I feel that."  All that matters is how a person feels.  Just as in the situation with "I like", "I feel" is an assertion of alleged fact that goes unchallenged and undefended.  Merely saying that I feel a particular way about a particular issue is all that is required to advance an argument these days.  Any attempt to disagree with my argument will be couched in terms of how the other person feels.  Quite clearly, no rational discussion can take place under these conditions.  All that we are doing is sharing our feelings.  Although there is a time and a place for sharing feelings, the midst of a rational discussion about issues is not one of them.
Something all human beings share in common is the fact that our presuppositions determine our beliefs.  When I begin with the presupposition that men should be free to do what they want to do it is quite necessary that I will believe in the Bill of Rights.  I will believe that people should be free to do whatever they want to do so long as it does not violate another person's life, freedom or property.  On the other hand, when you begin with the presupposition that you know better than I do what I should do with my life it is quite necessary that you will see hundreds of reasons to suspend the Bill of Rights.  You will believe that "we", as a "society", "need" to make "laws" to "level the playing field" and give everyone an "opportunity for success" and that goal will sometimes necessitate the suspension of "individual rights."  We will never come to a meeting of the minds if we only discuss our conclusions.  Our only opportunity to have a real discussion comes about if we look to the reasons why we believe what we believe.  We need to become epistemologically self conscious.  The question should therefore be focused upon our presuppositions, not upon the logically necessary conclusions that flow from them. 
As I have considered the nature of our fundamental presuppositions over the years I have been driven to the conclusion that there are really only two issues involved.  There are those presuppositions that men hold dear because they are vainly attempting to deny that the God of the Bible exists.  The Bible tells us that all men know God exists and that He has made moral claims upon our lives.  However, due to sin, both original and actual, man spends all of his days consciously suppressing that truth.  The unregenerate man (non-believer) refuses to acknowledge the truth and does everything he can to suppress it.  He begins with the basic presupposition that he is the measure of all things and he easily manages to exclude God from the equation thereafter.  This form of spiritual suppression, however, is not my point today.  Today I want to consider our intellectual suppression of the truth.
Just like all men are dominated by sin, so all men are also dominated by emotional insecurity.  Unlike sinfulness, there are some exceptions to the rule that all people are emotionally insecure.  You will always be able to recognize emotionally secure people because they are always considered to be "arrogant" by the masses of insecure people.  These are the people who march to their own drummer.  They are not concerned about the opinions of others about them because they are more concerned with finding the truth for their own lives.  These people actually think about thinking about things.  They actually can tell you by what process they have conducted their thinking and how they have arrived at the conclusions they have come to.  They can defend their positions and, if necessary, explain your position to you and show you why it is wrong.  The emotionally insecure person is utterly incapable of explaining how he came to his conclusions and it is completely impossible for him to ever be able to explain your position to you, himself or anyone else for that matter.  Try this the next time you are in a debate.  Stop in the middle of the debate and ask your opponent to explain, to the best of his ability, the fine points of your argument.  If he is unable to do so he is epistemologically blind.  Then, if you are able, explain his position to him in ornate detail.  If you can't do it you had better stop talking.
As a direct result of the massive amount of emotional insecurity tied up in the mind of the average SDA citizen, it is the case that the average SDA citizen will spend all of his time thinking about how he can control the behavior of others.  Whereas the emotionally secure person seeks to control his own behavior and better himself by doing so, the emotionally insecure person seeks to control the behavior of everyone around him so that he can always feel good about himself.  You all know that what I am writing here is true.  Think for a moment about how just about everyone you know is so easily offended the moment you have a rational disagreement with them.  Having your opponent in discussion take offense at a rational argument is a prime indicator you are dealing with an emotionally insecure person.  You say, "I don't think that conclusion necessarily follows from that premise" and the insecure person hears, "you are saying that I am stupid and that you don't like me."  How can these two ever communicate?  Clearly, they can't.  The emotionally secure and the emotionally insecure are separated by a chasm wider than the Grand Canyon.  Real communication can only take place if the insecure person somehow manages to grow up. That rarely happens.
It is not always possible to get into the heads of the emotionally insecure.  Sometimes they have created elaborate constructs to hide their insecurities from themselves and the world.  But it is always possible to know who they are.  All we have to do is look for the defining characteristic of all epistemologically unaware people who are desperately insecure.  What is that characteristic?  They all seek to control those around them.  They are busybodies.  They live, drink and breathe the affairs of others, to the complete neglect of their own.  They are always victims of what others have done to them.  In their own minds they never victimize anyone around them.  They are always talking about others in a negative light.  They are always thinking of ways to control the behavior of others.  They convince themselves that their attempts to control others are always in the best interest of the one they are seeking to control. They never mind their own business and always mind the business of others. Sound like anyone you know?  Anytime you are dealing with a business-minding busybody you know you are dealing with a person who is extremely insecure with who she is. 
By now it should be obvious that those who are most "qualified" for "public service" are those who are as emotionally immature as a new born baby.  It should also be obvious that the political life is best suited to those who are constantly suppressing their knowledge of the truth in order to justify their own desperate need to control others.  This is not a healthy combination.  This state of affairs ensures that those who rule us are those who are least qualified to rule us.  This state of affairs guarantees that those who make the laws by which we must live are those most inclined to make bad laws designed to do nothing more than control our behavior so they can feel good about themselves.  Does this sound familiar to anyone besides me?  Does this sound just like the SDA?  Laws about smoking, drinking, marijuana, child safety seats, seat belts, cell phones, 32 ounce cups of Coke, free speech buffer zones, gun control, salt, sugar, goose liver, cholesterol, the need to spy on SDA citizens to protect "national security"  and myriad other restrictions on freedom are just par for the course for the meddlesomely insecure person with no epistemological self consciousness.
So can you answer my original question?  Let me help.  If you spend most of your time thinking about how to "help" others (always for their own good, of course), you are probably grossly emotionally insecure and completely unaware of where your thoughts come from.  On the other hand, if you mind your own business and strive mightily to improve yourself you are probably emotionally secure and fully aware of where your thoughts come from.  Another way of putting this question would be like this:  are you mad because of what you have read here?  If so, things don't look so good for you.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Myth of No Demand, No Production

I read a couple of letters to the editor of the Denver Post today that continue to stupidly repeat the erroneous economic maxim that the production of capitals goods and services is brought about by consumer demand.  I can almost understand how people come to believe in this crazy concept....almost.  If you just sit in your chair and think about the nature of economic reality it is possible you could confuse the end result for the cause.  Peter Schiff has used the hypothetical example that some people who don't think carefully about the process could actually come to the conclusion that rain is caused by wet sidewalks.  If I just sit on the front porch, sipping lemonade and watching the day go by, it is possible I could connect a thundershower with a wet sidewalk.  The day might be real hot.  As I sit there thinking about how hot it is it occurs to me that it is not as hot when the sidewalk is wet.  I know that when sidewalks get wet there are always rain storms associated with that event.  So, quite naturally (actually it is not natural at all), I conclude that my desire for a wet sidewalk is what produces the rain shower.  Or, more accurately, I benefit from the fact that the wet sidewalk caused the rain which had the effect of lowering the temperature.
This example does not work for most people because most people know a whole lot more about the weather than they know about economics.  Still, the parallel is direct.  Nobody confuses the process of rain production with the end result of a wet sidewalk because it is abundantly clear to all of us that the fact that the sidewalk is wet is not what produced the rain.  Yet when people speak about the economy they routinely believe that the process of the creation of a capital good or service is caused by the mere fact that somebody somewhere wants to buy that capital good or service.  Demand for the production of a capital good or service can no more produce that capital good or service than a wet sidewalk can create a thunderstorm.  Why is this so hard for so many to understand?
I suspect the answer to that question has to do with the generally high level of ignorance that exists in regards to all matters economic within the puny minds of the citizens of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  After all, just think about how many people believe the "broken window fallacy".  Are you familiar with it?  The argument goes that a broken window is good for economic growth because it stimulates demand for glass as well as demand for the services of a glazier.  In the absence of that broken window, we are told, the glass producers and installers would be unable to make as much money as they can when many windows are broken.  Of course, the more money they make the more money they spend into the economy and pretty soon we are all, once again, on the pathway to untold riches as we all spend ourselves to prosperity.
The necessary conclusion of the broken window fallacy is that the process of capital destruction is the best way to bring about capital creation.  If a little destruction is good, a lot of destruction must be better.  In extreme cases it is argued that war is good for a country because it destroys massive amounts of capital that will have to be later replaced.  I am sure you have all heard the argument about how WWII "brought us out of the Great Depression." That belief is a form of the broken window fallacy.  Many people, including many people with degrees in economics, believe that the best way to create economic growth is through economic destruction.  No wonder economics is often labeled the "dismal science."
Austrian economists have exposed the fallacy of the broken window by pointing out that it focuses upon what is seen and ignores what is not seen.  What is seen is the new window pane and the work it takes to install it.  What is not seen is the fact that the money spent to replace the window was going to be invested into a new company that the homeowner was starting.  That money never was invested and that company never produced anything.  The loss of future capital goods and services far outweighs the short term gains realized as broken items are fixed or replaced.  Because people are not very good at thinking about things that they can't see, they fall for the broken window fallacy all the time.
It would not be so bad that so many people believe that consumption creates production if it did not have so many severely harmful impacts upon the economy.  The belief that consumption drives production is behind the current debate on income inequality.  You have all heard the argument.  The middle class needs to have lots of money to buy things.  If the middle class does not have lots of money to buy things there will be no production.  If there is no production we will go into a depression and our economy will collapse.  Therefore it is crucial that the government engage in significant income and wealth redistribution programs to take the wealth of the top 10% and give it to the middle class.  In the real world this program of income and wealth redistribution hits hardest on those who have the money to invest into new productive enterprises.  As their money is taken from them and given to others those productive enterprises never come to fruition and overall economic growth declines.  That, of course, is never seen.  When the inevitable recession arrives as a result of the wealth redistribution programs, career politicians and government employed economists will explain to all of us dunderheads that the fault lies with profit seeking businessmen who are not paying high enough wages to enrich the middle class and, thereby, create economic growth.  What a mess.
The belief that consumption drives production is also responsible for all of the government's wrongheaded monetary programs.  Indeed, the existence of the Fed itself is a direct result of the belief that consumption creates production.  A whacked-out economist from the past by the name of Keynes argued that since demand creates production the government should do everything it can to stimulate demand.  If government economists and career politicians believe consumer demand is too low, it is time for government to create money out of thin air and spend it into the economy like fiends, thus greatly increasing overall demand.  Under this theory the more the government spends the richer we all become.  How has that been working out?  The Fed has been doing this for almost 100 years now and all it has brought about is a decrease in the rate of economic growth in the SDA.  If demand really creates production where is all of the wealth that should have been created by our $17 trillion debt?  I mean it.  Where is it?  The government has spent $17 trillion that it did not have to stimulate economic production.  But today the Gross Domestic Product of the SDA is only $16 trillion.  Given the "multiplier effect" that Keynesian economists rant about excessively, the economy should be worth at least $50 or $60 trillion by now.  Where did that money go? What happened to all of those capital goods?  They don't say.  Instead we have somehow managed to lose a trillion dollars along the way.  What a mess.  Ignorance is costly.
The belief that production and economic growth is caused by people and governments spending money is a myth.  To make matters worse it is a very harmful myth.  If you believe the myth it is extremely important that you try to overcome it.  You need to learn the truth about economic growth.   Your ignorance is hurting you and your country.  Ask yourself if wet sidewalks create rain.  Then ask yourself if your purchase of a television created that television.  Are you beginning to see the fallacy?  Are you beginning to see that you are no more responsible for the creation of that television than the sidewalk is for the creation of the rain?  Then ask yourself this question, "if my purchase did not create the television, then what did?"  You are now on the pathway to economic enlightenment.
The television was created by free people behaving freely.  It was created through a structure of production that you can't even begin to conceive of.  It is too big for anyone to understand.  It is far too large for any career politician or government economist to "manage for the public benefit."  It was created by the amazing free market and the free market feeds, not on consumer demand or government created money, but on savings and investment.  You didn't create the television that you purchased.  Somebody somewhere saved and invested his money.  Somebody somewhere else took that money and used it to produce one tiny part of the television.  Thousands of entrepreneurs around the world came together as if by magic to produce the television you purchased.  Government had nothing to do with it.  You had nothing to do with it.  Abandon the myth of no demand/no production and come into the real world where savings and investment, along with a long term perspective, are making us all wealthier every day.  You will be better off for it, and so will everyone else.  Do you want to be a good patriotic citizen and do something good for your country?  Then jettison the myth that consumer demand creates economic growth and become a productive member of society by saving and investing some of your income.

Update:  Today, January 22

After posting this article to the blog earlier today I ran across an article by a fellow praising people for finally recognizing that jobs are created when members of the middle class purchase things.  However, he was upset that only half of the story was being told.  After praising himself for creating all of the jobs in the SDA economy he went on to bemoan the fact that all of those jobs, at least over the "past 15 years" have been created in China!  How about that.  Apparently middle class consumers are able to create jobs but unable to control where they are created.  That seems a bit odd to me.  Even more ridiculous was the fact that the man writing the article then proceeded to blame profit-seeking businesses for the fact that all of the jobs created in the past fifteen years have been created in China.  He then called for the career politicians to create laws to force profit seeking corporations to create jobs in the SDA.  It never occurred to him that he had just contradicted himself.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

We Are A Nation Of Legalists

Do you know what a legalist is?  It is a term that is used quite often among Christians as one group accuses another of practicing a strict adherence to the Old Testament law.  According to the group of Christians (almost all evangelical Christians) known as antinomians (those who oppose biblical law), any person who believes that any part of the OT law still applies to life in the good, old Socialist Democracy of Amerika is a legalist.  In contrast to the modern Evangelical's position on the subject, there is an actual biblical definition of legalism.  Legalism, according to the Bible, is any state of affairs in which men create additional laws that do not actually forbid immoral activity but are designed to reduce the possibility that a man might eventually commit a sin.  An example of a legalistic law would be a law forbidding a person with a history of drunkenness (a sin) from entering a bar (not a sin).  Another example would be a law forbidding a person from texting while driving (not a sin) because the act of texting while driving might possibly result in an accident caused by inattentiveness (a sin).  Rather than punishing the offender after a real sin/crime has been committed, the legalist creates laws to criminalize moral actions in a vain attempt to prevent sin/crime from ever taking place.  The net result of legalism is a gigantic expansion of laws and a huge increase in the number of people who violate those laws.
The Bible is replete with examples of legalistic behavior.  The Pharisees of Jesus' time were the masters of legalism.  They had written an entire book of law, known as the Talmud, filled with laws to be followed to make sure that the actual biblical law, the Torah, was not broken.  As if that wasn't enough, they then went on to write other books of law such as the Midrash and the Mishnah.  They were designed to make sure that none of the Torah was ever broken.  Layer upon layer of extraneous laws that had nothing to do with true morality were created and imposed upon the people.  So perhaps the best way to properly define legalism is to recognize it as that system of law that is totally separate from actual morality that creates and enforces amoral laws upon people with the intention of keeping them from committing actual transgressions of moral law.  If that is the proper definition of legalism,  the SDA is the most legalistic nation in the history of the world.  Allow me to present some arguments in support of my position.  Some of these arguments may astound you.  You probably do not realize how bad it has become.
What is the first thing you hear anytime something happens in this country that the majority considers to be bad?  "There ought to be a law...." is the standard first response to every perceived negative event in this litigious land.  There were floods in Colorado last year.  Today's newspaper had a long article talking about how "united" the Colorado legislature is this year as they "craft legislation" to deal with the issues associated with the flood.  We are being promised that this new body of law will fix everything that is bad and make sure that bad things associated with floods never happen again.  What happens when the nation experiences a recession?  That's right!  The Congress gets together and puts together an entire package of legislation designed to make sure "it never happens again".  From Glass-Steagall of 1933 to Dodd-Frank of 2010, career polilticians and the silly citizens who elect them believe that simply writing a law into existence is going to resolve the negative consequences of the previous laws as well as guarantee that what happened will never happen again.  The joke is always on us as it always happens again.  Still, we never learn.  Is there a better example of a "stupid human being" than the rank and file SDA citizen?  He is promised, over and over again, that politicians will make laws to create a utopian society.  When that utopia never materializes he continues to believe that it is possible, if only the right man is elected and the right law is crafted. 
There is a lot of popular criticism right now of the most recent Congress because it passed only 56 bills into law. That represented about 1% of the over 5,500 proposed bills that were offered up during the 2013 legislative session.  Has everyone gone insane?  What possible reason could there be for 5,500 new bills that would create thousands of new laws for us to violate?  How has this country managed to survive until 2013 with all of the rampant immorality that had to have been going on because those 5,500 bills had not yet created thousands of laws declaring millions of actions to be illegal?  I have never heard any of my fellow citizens rejoice when a congress is labeled as a "do-nothing" congress.  On the contrary, we cry out repeatedly for more and more law, none of which has anything to do with immoral or criminal behavior.
I was sitting in my rocking chair last night, shawl draped over my shoulders and sitting next to the fire, when the Bill O'Reilly show came on.  I hadn't laughed as much during the day as I typically do so I thought I would subject myself to some comedic entertainment.  I didn't have to wait long.  Bill has been viciously attacking the citizens of Colorado ever since marijuana was decriminalized in our state.  He believes that we are on the slippery slope to utter debauchery.  He believes that our example will be reenacted in other states throughout the union, thus bringing the noble American experiment to an end as communists rush in to take over a nation of stoners and dopers.  In a wildly entertaining moment Bill showed a video clip of arch-liberal Chris Matthews spouting propaganda similar to what Bill spouts.  In reaction to the decriminalization of marijuana in Colorado, Matthews was quoted as saying, "Some people react to freedom differently than others."  Matthews went on to explain that because some people react to freedom differently than others, the governing authorities must continue to criminalize marijuana.  Bill wholeheartedly agreed.
I almost fell out of my rocking chair.  I looked at my wife only to discovered that she was staring at me.  We were both in shock.  We simultaneously asked each other if we had really heard what we had just heard. When we agreed that we had, I immediately rushed to my office and wrote down the quote so I could use it today.  The fact that both Bill and Chris believe that freedom is a dangerous thing that needs to be regulated is shocking.  The fact that both Bill and Chris were oblivious to the obvious consequences of their unifying belief system is amazing.  Read that quote again if you have to.  Let it soak in.  Both liberal and conservative agree...freedom is dangerous and must be regulated.  We need more laws.  We need laws to keep people from being free.  We need laws to keep people from doing amoral things that we don't want them to do.  This unity of mind and heart on display between Democrats and Republicans glaringly reveals the elephant in the room neither party wants to admit to.  The fact of the matter is that Republicans and Democrats are identical.  Neither party believes in freedom.  Neither party wants less law, rules or regulations.  Both parties want to control the behavior of everyone and everything in this depressing country.  The only thing the Republicans and the Democrats disagree on is who gets the power to enforce their legalistic rules on the populace.
When law expands to include behaviors that are amoral we have legalism.  When career politicians and the citizens who elect them see freedom and liberty as a threat to the Amerikan way of life we have a bizarre contradiction that is impossible to reconcile with the founding principles of the USA.  When the body of law regulating a body politic expands exponentially, as our is continuing to do, the citizens of that country become enslaved to a body of law that has nothing to do with the morality or immorality of an action and everything to do with controlling the behavior of others.
There is another serious consequence to an ever expanding body of law designed to criminalize amoral behavior and that is the rate at which the people living under that oppressive system run afoul of the law.  Be prepared to be shocked by what you are about to read.  You will not want to believe what you are about to see but it is true.  Check it out for yourself if you do not believe me.  Any simple Google search will give you the same numbers I am about to give you.  Ready?  Here goes:
  • In 2011 one out of every twenty five citizens of the SDA was put under arrest.  Four percent of the population was arrested in one year.
  • One out of every fifteen citizens of the SDA will serve time in prison at some point during their lives. 7% of us will be imprisoned at some point in our lives.
  • 52% of all SDA citizens will be arrested at least once during their lifetimes.
  • 3% of all SDA citizens will be arrested for a crime that does not involve violence or theft.
  • Nearly 50% of black males and 40% of white males will be arrested at least once on non-traffic related violations of the law prior to reaching the tender age of 23 years old.
  • There are almost 20,000 separate "law enforcement" agencies in the SDA, each granted the power to arrest SDA citizens for millions of offenses not related to immoral behavior in any way.
If rate of incarceration is any indicator, Amerikans are the most evil people in the world.  I posted to this blog previously about how we imprison more of our citizens than any other country in the world. Go here to read it.   Over half of you reading this blog will be arrested during your lifetime.  The odds are pretty good that the thing you will arrested for does not relate to any immoral or criminal activity whatsoever.  The odds are pretty good that you will be arrested for doing something that is moral, or at least amoral, that the career politicians have deemed to be too dangerous for you to be doing.  Your fate will be decided in advance because you will be labeled as one of those people who react to freedom in a bad way by doing things that other, more politically powerful, people don't like.
Just look at the statistics I have listed above.  Over half of us will be arrested but only 7% of us will do prison time.  What does that tell you about what we are being arrested for?  If we are being arrested for crimes of violence against our neighbor's lives and property, why are we not going to prison at a rate commensurate with the rate of arrest?   Clearly we are being arrested for things that do not require or deserve punishment.  If that is true, why are we being arrested? Answer:  because we are a nation of legalists.  Even worse, 7% of us will do prison time but almost half of those in prison are not there for violent crimes against their neighbor's lives and property.  What in the world are those people doing in prison?  Answer:  serving time to appease the legalists who joyfully incarcerate people not for doing anything immoral, but for "breaking the law."  Can't you just hear them saying, "Its the law!"  There are more laws in this country than can be counted.  Check me out on this one.  Do a Google search for the number of laws in the SDA. All you will find is how nobody knows how many there are and nobody is willing to dedicate his life to try and figure it out.  Does this sound like a healthy situation to anyone?  Does this sound like out of control legalism to anyone besides me?
The SDA is a nation of legalists.  The political wars that are waged in this envy-filled land have nothing to do with principle or legitimate differences of opinion about political theory.  The political battles that are fought in this land are fought for the right to hold the reins of the legislative branch and, therefore, to have the ability to micro-manage and control the lives of those who populate this sad land.  I want no part of that system.  I want to be free from the tyranny of legalism.  I want my country back. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

SDA Military Class Demands Special Privileges

It was only a matter of time before it happened.  No matter how noble our heroes are, no matter how sterling their character and righteous their frame, nobody can be continually praised for his greatness without eventually developing a grandiose self image.  It has happened.  I have the proof.  Let me tell you about it.
The law enforcement classes of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika are worshiped by the citizens of this pitiful land.  They are all heroes.  They all lay their lives on the line for each of us every day.  We have the privilege to thank them for their heroic service anytime we see one of them on the street.  Nay, we have the duty to tell them that, apart from their service, we would cease to exist.  They are the great sustainers of all that is good, right and true in the world.  Praised be their names!
Paramount among the law enforcement classes is the military class.  They, more than any other, deserve our admiration, thanks and, yes, our worship.  They have died to make us free.  Only two people, I am told, have ever died for me....Jesus died for my sins and the SDA soldier died for my freedom.  I must do my duty as a patriotic citizen of this militaristic land and praise each and every member of the military anytime I come into the presence of one of them.  They are great.  They are heroic.  They have given me, much like a god, everything that I have or ever will have.  Apart from them, much like a god, I am nothing.
No sinful human being, which includes every human being that has ever drawn a breath, can live under the conditions imposed upon military personnel by our society today without becoming a selfish jerk.  It is impossible to be surrounded by adoring masses and not eventually succumb to the belief that you are a god.  At the very least, it is impossible to be adored by all of your fellow citizens and not come to believe that you should be privileged and that you deserve more than the ordinary huddles masses.  As proof for my assertion I offer the letter to the editor of the Denver Post written by Ronald Thomas of Denver.  I quote it in its entirety:
"I had the misfortune on January 13th of paying full admission at the National Western Stock Show to see the Expo Hall.  I have a military disability, so asked if there was a military discount for veterans.  I was advised that it only applies to active duty and retired military, and not to disabled military veterans.  The discount isn't all that much, but I felt I and every other disabled veteran was being discriminated against.  I have a Veteran's Administration Service disability identification, with a photo on it.  A lot of good that was.  It is a shame to treat disabled military veterans this way."
Poor Ron, he is the victim of discrimination.  He believes that he has been harmed.  He has suffered loss because he was not granted special privilege.  Let's consider his argument for a minute.  He begins by acknowledging that many people associated with the military get a discount to the National Western Stock show.  He simply assumes that that is the way it should be.  I would ask "why?"  Why should a person, merely because he once wore a military costume, be granted a discount to a public event today?  I once engaged in "trick or treat".  I wore a costume and did things that people appreciated.  I made people smile. Therefore, I want a discount when I go to a Rockies game!  Surely my service to the community warrants my special privilege.  While trick or treating I was not vandalizing my neighbor's property.  That makes me a hero.  I didn't do anything bad to anybody.  Praise me, now!
It is telling that Ron only "felt" that he was being discriminated against.  He did not assert that he actually was.  When did we come to this state of communication where grown men are incapable of making a rational assertion about what they think but must resort to mere statements about how they feel about things?  Have we all been completely feminized?  Is rational conversation about objective issues now forbidden?  I don't care how Ron feels.  I don't see why anybody but Ron's wife, and perhaps his children, should care how he feels.  In the real world we deal with thoughts and ideas, not feelings.  If Ron wants to express his feelings he should do so to his wife.  When it comes time to write the newspaper he should try to restrict his comments to objective truths so we have something real to discuss.   So Ron, I am sorry that you feel bad about yourself.  Get over it.  In the real world people are not generally going to gather around you to tell you how great you are.  I know military worshipers do that all the time but that is not the real world.  It is a false creation of the Imperial State.  Don't come to expect it.
Ron admits that the discount he was seeking was "not much".  Clearly the money is not the issue for Ron.  The issue is the praise and the public adulation he expects every time he goes out.  Ron rightly did not care about the few extra dimes he had to spend to get into the show.  What he wanted was a fellow SDA citizen to thank him for his service and tell him that he is a hero.  When that did not happen he became upset and wrote a letter to the newspaper.  Poor Ron, his entire self image is contingent upon what strangers think of him.  His entire self of worth is tied up in the praise of men.  What a terrible way to live.  I can't imagine what it must be like to have my happiness contingent upon the praise of others.  Whatever happened to men who consult their own conscience to determine if what they have done is good, right and true?  When did men lose the ability to do what they believe to be right despite the opinions of others?  My goodness, we have lost so much character and dignity in our times.
Ron throws his trump card when he informs us that he is a card-carrying hero and member of the military class.  His card even has a picture of him on it!  Wow!  Does his writing sound incredibly childish to anyone besides me?  I once had a Ranger Rick badge.  It didn't get me into anything for free but I sure liked pinning it to my shirt.  Ron feels the same way only he is upset when people don't praise him.  Why did those evil, disrespectful and ungrateful louts at the Stock Show not bow down to him the moment he flashed his official government card?  How could they have been so supercilious?  Ron wants us all to know that when a government agent flashes his official government card, especially one which contains his photographic image, we are all to bow down, thank him for his service and, most importantly, give him discounts.
Sorry Ron but I am not buying it.  Merely being a card-carrying member of the military class does not make you a hero.  It also does not make you worthy of special privileges.  You are just like every other citizen in the SDA.  Whatever you did while you were wearing your military costume (did you analyze the morality of your actions while you did?), you were paid for your service.  You have no right to my money today simply because you did something in the past that you have already been compensated for doing.  You should have gone to the Stock Show because you wanted to look at the cows and the sheep.  Apparently the reason you went to the Stock Show was more about you being seen by the adoring masses.  When that didn't happen you threw a fit.  How sad.

Extra Comment From The Funny Papers:

Totally unrelated to the above comment, but found on the same page of the newspaper, I came across the following popular concept that I think is worthy of a brief note here today.  The letter writer wrote:
"In the fall session of Congress, 5,660 bills were introduced and 56 were passed and signed into law.  Why do we continue to send non-working personnel to Congress every two years, allow them to raise their salaries, give them health care for life, a pension for life, and accept this kind of effort?"
Although I give a hearty "Amen, preach it brother" to this writer's complaint about congressional profligacy, I can't agree with his conclusion.  Let me get this straight, Congress only signed into law about 1% of the proposed laws last year.  Still, those 56 bills created hundreds of new laws which, in turn, spawned thousands of new rules effectively turning tens of thousands of things we used to do into illegal activities this year.  Imagine, if you dare, how many more things would be illegal if all 5,660 bills had been signed into law.  Imagine, if you can, how much more enslaved to the federal government we would be if all of those bills had become law.  Rather than criticizing Congress for "doing nothing" in 2013, we should be praising them to the highest heaven for their lack of new law/rule creation.  Here is a suggestion....this year try to do even less.  We would all be better off if you do.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Six Lies About Income Inequality

A knowledgeable reader of this blog sent me some comments that he had read on Facebook about the topic of income inequality.  The author of the comments presented six allegedly negative consequences of income inequality.  The obvious conclusion that the author believed must be drawn from his assertions is that government must equalize wealth and income in order to prevent these six negative consequences from taking place.  Proponents of this new and improved theory of income inequality, like this Facebook member,  allege that disparate rates of income growth and overall differences in net worth inevitably create an immoral situation in which the more "fortunate" (those with more money) exploit, harm and hinder the money making activities of the "underprivileged"  (those with less money).  Morally pristine government agents, armed with omniscience and beneficence, must step into the situation and equalize income and net worth.  Our hope for a safe and secure future is directly related to the efforts of these economic supermen as they equalize all financial outcomes in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika. Allow me to go through the six negative consequences, one by one, and expose them for what they are....ignorant bits of socialist propaganda.
  1. Income inequality "shrinks economic opportunity."  I have no idea what that statement means so I have to guess at what the author is trying to say.  What is "economic opportunity" and how is it "shrinking" when one person simply makes more money than another person?  The author does not say.  I assume that increasing economic opportunity is believed to be a good thing.  If that is true, how can equalizing the wealth and income of all people in the land bring it about?  The author does not say.  Ultimately I believe the author of that statement has adopted some form of the static pie theory of economic development.  Under the erroneous doctrines of the static pie theory, one person profits only by taking money from another person.  Income inequality therefore, could only shrink economic opportunity for others because the wealth of the richer person takes away from the potential wealth of the poorer person.  Read the link to the article on the static pie theory to see just how incorrect that doctrine is. 
  2. Income inequality "undermines the efficiency of the economy."  The author does not describe how "the economy" is somehow made less "efficient", whatever that means, simply because one person has more income or a greater net worth than another person.  It is certainly not an intuitively obvious economic truth.  I would expect that an economy, granted that there is such an artificial construct, would operate at peak efficiency when it is maximizing growth.  The question then becomes, how does making every single person in the country earn exactly the same annual income and exactly the same net worth cause the economy to grow the fastest?  Economic growth is a by-product of savings and investment.  How does everyone having exactly the same income and net worth cause those same people to save and invest more?  The author does not say.  If anything is intuitively true in this scenario, it would be that those who have greater incomes would be more in a position to save and invest.  If incomes were all equalized it would be difficult for most people to have anything left over to invest after paying their monthly bills.
  3. Income inequality results in "the very rich becoming reluctant to spend money on the common needs such as infrastructure."  Now that is a strange criticism of the rich.  The author does not say who make up the very rich.  Can I suppose it is the upper 1% of the income population?  I will.  Now, how is it that those who are in the top 1% are evil and harming the economy because of their emotional response to funding government public works projects?  Notice that the author does not say that the 1%ers don't fund public works.  They are just reluctant to do so.  So what?  Rich people who do not pay their taxes end up in jail just like everyone else.  The author also presupposes the socialist idea that "infrastructure" (never defined) needs to be created by government.  Given that many, perhaps most, government works projects are funded by the federal government and given the fact that the top 49% of the income population pays all of the federal taxes in this country, it is necessarily the case that the rich are already paying for all infrastructure projects, whether they are reluctant to do so or not. 
  4. Income inequality brings about a state of affairs in which "the sons and daughters of the 1% rarely serve in the military so the impact of war on the very rich is minimized."  Why is this a bad thing?  I wish that the impact of war could be minimized on every citizen of this blood thirsty land.  The author does not say why minimizing the impact of war upon a fellow human being is a bad thing.  The sons and daughters of the members of Congress also rarely serve in the military.  Does this make them evil?  Apparently not since the author wants Congress to perform the good deed of income equalization.  Furthermore, what does military service have to do with equalizing all incomes and balance sheets?  I do not see how the two are related.  The military in the SDA is fully staffed by volunteers.  Nobody is forced to volunteer.  Anyone can volunteer.  We would expect less members of the military to come from the top1% of the income population because they only represent 1% of the total population.  What evidences does the author have that shows that children of 1%ers represent less than 1% of the members of the military?  Even if they do, why is that bad?  Even if it is bad, how does equalizing all incomes make it better?  The author does not answer any of these questions.
  5. Income inequality results in the "concentration of power and influence in the hands of a few" and is "a very dangerous situation for a democracy."  Now that is a very strange thing to say.  By definition, democracy is rule of the majority.  By definition, the majority always has 100% of the political power in a country.  How can 1% of the population, represented by those who have the most net worth, somehow wrest political power from the majority? Answer:  they can't.  That is why the top 49% of the citizens in this sad land pay 99% of the federal tax bill. That is why the members of the majority, in the lower 51%, obtain all federal government services for free.  The author is correct, the concentration of power and influence in the hands of a select group is a very dangerous situation.  However, in the SDA, the majority is that select group. It inevitably results in the minority being plundered and forced to pay all the bills.
  6. Income inequality results in "the American Dream becoming less possible for a growing portion of the US population."  This is another amazing assertion.  What is the American Dream?  None other than King Obama has weighed in on the issue.  He defines the American Dream as "middle class America's basic bargain -- that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead."  Wait a minute here!  What does he mean by "get ahead"?  Does he not know that getting ahead creates a condition of inequality?  How can one person get ahead of another without stealing from him?  How can one person get ahead of another without taking a bigger portion of the pie, thus leaving less for others?  According to our King, who rabidly opposes any inequality of income or wealth, the reason to oppose income inequality is so that some people can obtain a position where they have more than others!  Outrageous.  It would be nice if the King would inform the poor suckers who are pursuing the American Dream that the moment they realize their dream and get ahead, what they have made will be taken from them and given to those who have less.  It would be nice if he told them that the mere desire to get ahead, because it inevitably results in balance sheet inequality, is evil.  It would be nice if he would just tell us all straight out that the American Dream is an evil dream and not to be pursued.
 I have a couple of questions for those who advocate the equalization of income and wealth:
  1. What do you mean by equalization?  To me, equal means equal.  Every citizen of the SDA above a certain age, let's say 20 years of age, must have exactly the same annual income and exactly the same net worth.  At the end of each year government agents must recalculate each person's income and net worth and make the proper adjustments to ensure nobody got ahead during the course of the year.
  2. How do you propose to equalize income and net worth?  It seems to me that a gigantic new bureau must be created in the federal government that would exist exclusively to equalize income and net worth.  I would argue that incomes should be equalized annually and that each citizen over the age of 20 should be required to submit an annual equalization return to the government.  The government would take the information from that return (it would include all income and balance sheet information for the person as of the end of the year), add everything up and then divide it by the number of people over age 20.  That would give us the two all -important numbers for the year.  The first number would be what you would make in income and the second would be what you would have in net worth.  Anyone making less than the income number would be sent a check for income.  Anyone making more than the income number would be sent a bill for the amount he made over the moral amount.  The same thing would take place for the net worth figure.  Failure to pay the bill for income or net worth overage would result in confiscation of those funds and imprisonment.
  3. How do you enforce the new laws?  It seems to me that there would be rampant disobedience to the news laws on the part of those selfish and immoral people who made more than the annually determined amounts of income and net worth.  Those people would be prone to break the law.  To keep them from destroying the economy, democracy and our entire way of life, they must be punished fast and hard.  After all, they are evil individuals.  They selfishly want to keep what they earn even though they are aware that doing so harms everyone else in the country.  A new police force would have to be created to arrest, condemn and incarcerate these vicious felons.
  4. What crime have those who made more than the average committed?  The government agents sent to arrest those who made a dollar or two more than the average for that year can't just say they are arresting a person for making a dollar or two too much money.  The federal government will need to create a bureau of propaganda that will spew out endless reams of misinformation about how the evil rich are destroying the poor, the economy, democracy and our way of life.  It would probably be valuable to make some effort to equate these evil rich people to smokers.  If it can be established that they also smoke, whether they actually do or not does not matter, they will then be subject to all of the intense hatred that is already being poured out upon hapless smokers. 
  5. How are you going to deal with the free rider problem?  If I know my net worth and income are going to be equalized with all of the other citizens in this country at the end of the year I am not going to work this year.  In addition, I am going to go seriously into debt with my credit cards.  I have nothing to fear.  At the end of the year I will get an income check and my debts, thanks to the government program of net worth equalization,  will be paid.  Proponents of the income inequality state must specify exactly how much each person must work and exactly how much debt may be incurred before the law is broken.  Since all human beings have unequal earnings capabilities (a rather serious problem for those who want to equalize all earnings) this number will probably differ for each citizen.  I can only imagine how large the bureaucracy will have to be to manage the daily financial affairs of 300 million people.  Not to worry though, all of that government spending will stimulate economic growth and we will become even more rich, if that is possible.
  6. Most advocates of income equalization will now be accusing me of hyperbole.  They will say that I am being unrealistic by demanding complete and total equality.  Why?   If some equality is good, is not total equality better?  If not, how much equality do we need to no longer do harm to each other, the economy, democracy and the Amerikan way of life?  Give me an exact amount.  Tell me precisely how much inequality of income and net worth does not result in economic harm.  Tell me at what point income inequality goes from being a good thing to a bad thing.  I can wait for you to do the calculations.  I am very patient.  I am waiting.....
If income inequality truly is evil, then something must be done immediately.  If income inequality really destroys the economy, democracy and the Amerikan way of life, it must be quashed today.  No law is too rigid.  No action is too extreme.  We are talking about our future and the future of our children.  We must act now.   Commit yourself to a program of total equalization.  Nobody shall ever have a nickle more than anyone else ever again.  When that goal has been accomplished we shall all be living on a financial level unknown to human history.  We shall all be wealthy beyond our wildest dreams.  The economy will grow at dramatic rates and in perpetuity.  Recessions will be eliminated.  Crime will disappear.  All will be well with the world the day no one has a penny more than anyone else.  Won't you join me in bringing this socialist utopia into existence?