Category Archives: Books for Conservatives

Apologists and revisionists are beginning to annoy me…

It’s always a little sad when a publication or web site you otherwise respect and trust starts publishing drivel. Regrettably such was the case over at the RealClear websites when they published (not just linked, but published) an article preposterously entitled, “Religion didn’t kill science in the Middle East” And while I tend to just ignore most historical revisionism as something utterly not worth my time, this article not only justifies the anti-intellectual attitudes that run through the “religion of peace” but it completely dismisses historical truth.

The article does correctly point out that at a certain point in history—the article conveniently says between the 9th and 13th centuries (I’ll come back to these dates)—the Islamic world was the height of civilization in terms of science and mathematics. This was the era that saw the invention of Algebra, and advances in chemistry, medicine, and astronomy. Okay so far. Then the author goes onto to point out why Islam began falling behind: like most historical revisionists he blames the Crusades in the 11th century and Columbus in the 15th century (easy punching bags for every lightweight pseudo-intellectual hack) as things that hurt the Islamic world, it’s ability to trade (and with it the prosperity to allow a culture to indulge in scientific research). Ridiculously, Genghis Khan and the fact that you can’t put Arabic into a printing press are also blamed.

The problem with all of this – the reasons given for the decline of scientific research were was in fact in decline before a Crusader ever set foot in the Middle East. In fact if we look at Charles Murray’s book Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950 we find that there is not a single major scientific advancement to come out of the Arabic world after 1025.* In fact we not only see scientific advancement disappear from the map but even art. Literature in the Islamic world goes from a massive output of quality work that still stands the test of time, to almost nothing past 1050**. As the First Crusade started in 1096 (and all the other points the author brought up occurred after that) I find it very hard to blame any of them for the death of intellectual output in the Muslim world which seemed to happen at least 50 years before that. It also seems to be very disingenuous of the author of the article to say the scientific achievements continued until the 13th century when really they died off in the 11th…it’s as if he picked a date that allowed him to blame the Crusades, to hell if it had no relation to facts.

Also if it was only the lack of prosperity and constant conflict that was the cause of the death of science in the Middle East…Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Qatar, are all rolling in cash and have been fairly stable (by standards of the region they’re incredibly stable) yet at best we’re seeing them use the resources of Western intellect instead of breaking new ground. Something seems to ring very false. And if the argument of the article is false, is Islam and it’s core teachings to blame?

So what really killed the science in the Islamic World? Well the answer to that can be found in one simple name: Aristotle. In the 750’s the Abbasid Caliphate took control of the Islamic Empire and with them came a branch of Sunni Islam called Mu’tazilism (don’t be too shocked you haven’t ever heard of them, they’re all dead). The Mu’tazilites were the branch of Islam that actually bothered to read the works of the Ancient Greeks when the Islamic armies conquered all the cities in their new Empire. And there they found Aristotle, a man who wrote about physics, psychology, politics, ethics, biology, metaphysics…who held reason and logic as the guiding light for all of human existence. Despite the fact that Islam was never too hot on reason*** the common sense nature of Aristotle won out with Mu’tazilites who decided that reason not blind unthinking faith needed to be the guiding light. And for a couple centuries they were guiding force of culture (or at least a force in the 10th and 11th century) that you saw the major output and advances in mathematics, science, literature, and art. However in 1063 (you know around the time when everything stopped), as stated in The Closing of the Muslim Mind by Robert R. Reilly,

“Nizam al-Mulk, the power vizier to Seljuk sultan Alp-Arslan, had the curses [against the Ash’arites] stopped.   According to British Islam scholar W. Montgomery Watt, al-Muk also ‘began to implement a policy of supporting and strengthening the Ash’arites against the other theological and legal schools.’”

Who are the Ash’arites? They’re pretty much the archenemies of the Mu’tazilites (you may not know the name Ash’arite, but you’re more than familiar with their attitudes). They believe in faith as the only guide and reason as merely hubris.

They believed in following the Koran without interpretation, just following what it said. Their most famous scholar al-Ghazali published a book The Incoherence of Philosophy which among other things set out to destroy the usefulness of reason at anytime in any place for any purpose. Sharia Law is a direct outgrowth of Ash’arite belief. As the Ash’areites

It is the presence of the ideas of these two that creates scientific and cultural prosperity…it their lack which causes stagnation. This is true not just in the Middle East, but the world over.

came into power they not only challenged the Mu’tazilites, they had them killed and their works burned. And low and behold when this belief came into power, the intellectual output of Islam just dried up over night. Amazing how when you deny reason the fruits of reason disappear. All the advancement that apologist like to talk about for the Golden Age of Islam came from the time when the Mu’tazilites, who downplayed religion, were in power.

So is religion to blame? Yes, yes it is. Because the fact is that while my sympathies will always be for the Mu’tazilites I can also admit they were terrible Muslims. A good portion of Mu’tazilite writing is trying to explain away the contradictions between reason and Koran. The Bible starts with a statement that God gave man dominion over Earth (thus it might be intelligent to know what goes on here), praises intellect, and implies that the reason and free will of God exists in the human soul. All of this matches up very well with Aristotle…which is why St. Thomas Aquinas found it so easy to graft Aristotle onto Christianity in the 1300’s (you know right before the time that science and research were coming back into style in Europe). The Mu’tazilites had to do everything but outright deny the Koran to prop up the common sense reason of Aristotle. The Koran dismisses reason, allows for no room for free will or even the laws of physics as everything occurs by the will of Allah (you roll your pen off the table, it falls, according to Ash’arties it fell not because of gravity because there is no such thing…it fell because Allah willed it to fall, the god of Ash’arism is the micro-manager to an infinite degree…things seem to fall at a constant rate of 32 feet per second per second not because of laws of physics, but because God is a creature of habit)… please go read The Closing of the Muslim Mind if you think this is just my interpretation. Right, wrong, or indifferent, religious liberty aside, Islam is a religion that at its core is dead set against the mind/reason/logic. Other religions are more ambivalent, you can find evidence supporting faith and evidence supporting reason, but no sides come out a winner, but in Islam, and especially the Ash’arite interpretation which is still in fashion, reason always loses to faith…in fact there isn’t even a contest.

And it should be noted that while other religions don’t make it as hard to work with it is the Aristotelean spirit that drives culture and science to thrive. Now it may be as the author argues in The Cave and the Light that it is the battle between Aristotle and Plato that drives civilization and that even when you have too much Aristotle things get a little stagnant…be in The Closing of the Muslim Mind, Human Accomplishment, The Cave and the Light or the recently released The History of the Renaissance World: From the rediscovery of Aristotle to the conquest of Constantinople if you are going to judge what drives civilization to improve it is Aristotle. And the RealClear article which tries to free Islam of blame by ignoring what caused the growth of the Islamic world and how it was religion that got rid of the works of Aristotle, is intellectually baseless, trying only to relieve the only religion liberalism actually likes of it’s participation in hurting the advancement of civilization.

*There is one major figure in the field of medicine from the 1200’s but I think it’s safe to say his work in medicine was due to the Crusades more than hurt by them.

**It should also be noted that until the modern era the vast majority of literature that came from the Islamic world came from Sufi writers. The charges I make against Islam later in the article almost never apply the Sufism which philosophically does little more than pay lip service to the core tenets of Islam.

***The problem is this. In Islam there is no story that God made man in his own image, in fact the Koran states that nothing can be compared to Allah (112:1-4) and if we lack in the image (usually interpreted to be will and intellect) in common what good are those things in us, and unlike the Bible which in the old Testament praises Solomon for his intellect and the Gospel of John states “In the beginning was Reason, and Reason was with God and Reason was God.” (yes, that’s a more correct translation than what you’re used to reading)…there are no such lines praising reason and logic in the Koran, only faith. Blind, unthinking, unquestioning faith.

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Basic economics lesson #4: Ricardo’s Law and why we should drop Social Conservatism

republicans

If we don’t start having a unified message we will keep losing time and time again.

It’s amazing how quickly I’ve seen the god-awful resurgence of social conservatism.  Somehow the fact of the combination of social conservative Santorum undercutting Romney at every chance, social conservative Akin and Mourdock undercutting the whole party with their mentally handicapped statements, and more instances of voter fraud than I know what do with, all led to the downfall of Romney…the social conservatives have taken from this that just running on economics doesn’t work and we need to focus on social issues.  It must be interesting to live in the Bizarro universe where social conservatives being part of the reason we lost is a reason why we should focus on social conservatism—but I don’t live in that world, I live in reality.

(…stay with me here it’s going to take a little while to get back to social conservatism…)

And in reality we have this economic principle called Ricardo’s Law or the Law of Comparative Advantage.  While the best explanation of this law is found in P.J. O’Rourke’s Eat the Rich: A Treatise on Economics (best books on economics ever) I’ll quickly sum it up here.  If you can do two things for a living, let’s say be a carpenter or write computer code you should do what you do better….even if you’re above average in both.   It doesn’t matter if you’re good at both, when you split your time between two things you’ll end up producing less, even though in either field you’d produce more than anyone else could.  Just trust me that the math works out that everyone should do what they’re best at to create the highest yield of goods.*

When you split your time between two things you always get less of things you’re looking for.  Focus on what will give you the highest yield of what you’re looking for and only that.

So what does this have to do with social conservatism?

Well, most social conservatives in the Republican Party are probably also fiscal conservatives (certainly not all, Rick Santorum for instance never met a tax, a regulation, or moment of crony capitalism that he didn’t love) but for the most part the vast majority of social conservatives are fiscal conservatives.  Now basic level common sense might seem to suggest that, as a party (ignoring that the party is actually made up of social conservatives, moderates, and liberals) we should try a dual attack of both social conservatism and fiscal conservatism and thus try to get the most voters to come in.

And this is one of those rare times where science/math/economics actually don’t converge with what may seem like common sense.

We can focus on two narratives (that are not always in agreement) trying to pick the most voters, or we can devote all of our time and money into one narrative, which if we apply Ricardo’s law to this situation, and find even greater results than working on both. (Yes it’s always dangerous to apply principles from one field to another, but if you stay with me here you’ll see it does work).

So which narrative should we focus on?
Well let’s look at social conservatism first.   First off social conservatism holds a very small appeal (only 18% want abortion completely outlawed, and only 44% consider themselves Pro-life , and the majority of people also favor gay marriage).  Further, while you can make excellent arguments for the corrosive effects of low marriage rates on society or this or that point, the issues of social conservatism will, probably more than any other field of public debate, come down  to deal entirely with emotion and faith.  You can’t argue emotion or faith.  You can have the grandest proof in the world, with all the stats and figures and charts you could ever want…still won’t have any effect on emotion and faith.  Would any argument convince you to be in favor of abortion?  I doubt it.  Why do you think the other side will be different?  Listen to the stories of people who changed their minds on this issue, it’s not because of some argument, it was because of some personal, emotional experience.  Arguments of the social conservative kind only rally those who already believe, the do not attract more voters.
Next let’s assume, by some miracle you win with that argument and that argument only.  And just looking at, say abortion, let’s say somehow Roe v. Wade is overturned by a new court (and the problem with that is that conservative judges hate overturning precedent, they hate it, so the likelihood is very low)…guess what, it’s still not going to matter.  Why? Because the federal government, while it may have to power to prevent laws, it can’t outlaw things that don’t cross state lines—thus without Roe it just becomes another state’s rights issues.  And guess what you may win a few states in the South and a few in the midwest, but with 52% saying they support abortion to some degree and another 28% want it legal in all cases, you would be lucky to get 20 states to outlaw abortion…and they won’t be the states where most of the abortions are occurring already.  So for all that work, it will pretty much be the same as it is now.  The results are similar for just about every other social issue you can think of.  To have the federal government do ANYTHING directly about social issues would require us to ignore the 9th and 10th Amendments (which as good conservatives, we never could).

And let’s just ignore how many people the social conservatism pushes away.

Few votes, few results for a lot of time and effort.

Doesn’t seem like a good result.

Now what if we just made the case fiscal conservatism.  Well if you just made the argument for fiscal conservatism (taking a good, conservative, social issues are at best a state’s rights argument and have no place in a federal election)  what happens with votes.  We gain the real libertarians (ignoring the anti-war leftists who have invaded the party) and moderates who are primarily fiscal conservatives and social moderates.  Figure a 6 point gain in the voting for conservatives.

Would wining be the only advantage?  No.  If you got conservatives in both houses of Congress and in the White House…and I do mean conservatives not wishy-washy RINOs like McCain and Bush…and what will happen.  Well the economy will boom as regulation, bureaucracy, red tape and taxes go down.   This part we know.

And what else? Welfare will also get reformed, shrunken and possibly sent entirely to the states.  And then a funny thing happens.  As taxes are no longer written in such complicated ways as to discourage marriage, as welfare no longer incentivizes single parenthood to a brood you can’t afford, strangely enough people will start turning to more socially conservative practices in their own lives.  When you take away the incentives to stay single and remove the disincentives to marriage more people will get married.  When you take away the incentives to be pregnant for as long as possible before getting a government-funded abortion strangely fewer women will have abortions. When you don’t reward having enough children that you could start your own sports league people will have fewer people having litters they can’t afford.  People at all levels of society are terrible at long term planning, but they’re also very good at understanding short-term consequences and rewards.  If we remove the perverted set of incentives put in place by the New Deal, the Great Society and Obama you will not only have economic prosperity you will have far, far more people acting in the pattern that social conservatives praise.

And as icing on the cake, as numerous studies have shown, married people are more likely to be conservative as they have less of a need for a government to take care of them, so fiscal conservatism will breed socially conservative practices which will create more fiscal conservatives.

Social Conservatism does not lead to economic growth (France is very opposed to gay marriage, all the economic good it does them, dozens of nations are socially conservative, it does nothing for them).

Fiscal conservatism leads to people making the choices that social conservatives like because it makes good economic sense.

And the only people the economic conservatism is likely going to offend is a few wacky social conservatives who, in addition to social issues think the government should also be in charge of financial ones.  A small minority in the Republican Party indeed.

And here’s the point of why I brought up Ricardo’s law. Making the social conservative argument only alienates people, and gains nothing long term…it only helps the left.  So any mixture of the two arguments actually works against the goals of social conservatives.

Scream to the heavens all you want about abortion.**  It won’t help you win.  But discuss how low taxes and low regulation can help the poor, how less bureaucracy can increase opportunity, and how capitalism increases equality not the other way around and you can actually win people.  And in that win you create the habits that you actually wanted to see in people.

*Yes this doesn’t take into account things like the needs and wants of the economy, or that in reality you should do what makes you happiest, not what gets you the most money (although that’s really just Ricardo’s Law looking at ethical goods not monetary ones), and a lot of other variables.  Economics has a great term for this, “all things being equal,” if all other variables are controlled for you should do what you do best at, and only that.

** Just give up on gay rights.  It’s going to happen.  There’s nothing to stop it.  On the other hand without liberal funding in education and other various forms of funding the crazy extreme of homosexuals will no longer have the pulpit, and the vast majority of gays who are as boring as the rest of us will take over.

war

In a war the goal should first and foremost should be winning. Social conservatism isn’t a winning message.

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Movies for Conservatives: Les Miserables

Les Miserables Posters

“Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of angry men.  It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again.”

Les Mis a movie for conservatives?

Yeah.

But let’s first talk about the qualities of the movie apart from political or philosophical points.

The High Points

This is the play in all its glory.  And the play is a truncated version of one of the most moving books ever written.  All the passion, all the empathy there.  You will cry for Fantine.  For Eponine.  For Gavrouche.  For the revolutionary Friends of the ABC.  For Javert. And of course for Valjean.  Bring tissues this is movie that you will cry at, a lot.

And this movie has a few truly wonderful scenes that supply motivation that was missing in the play.  For instance it has Javert arrive on the same day that Fantine is dismissed from her job, which gives a reason for Valjean not taking a more serious interest in her case.

The movie also supplies little moments from the book that were never in the play, like Grantaire standing by Enjolras at the moment of execution.

I think director Tom Hooper created something truly genius with the live singing way this movie was made…however it appears in the early scenes that there was certainly a learning curve involved in using this technique (I wish this wasn’t the first movie to do it so Hooper could have had something to reference).  But for any inconsistency it brings up at some moments, it adds deeply to the rest of the film and emotional impact of the songs.

Les Mis HathawayAnne Hathaway deserves an Oscar.

And Russell Crowe’s singing was a pleasant surprise.  He added more humanity to Javert than any actor I have previously seen.

The Low Points.

I feel there was a lot that got left on the editing room floor. At 2 hours and 37 minutes this was pushing it for most movies nowadays and I’m pretty sure if all the little things that were taken out were put back in it would be well over 3 hours.  And since Hollywood has no intention of returning to the idea of an intermission (to me this makes no sense as most of the money comes from concessions and if there is a break at an hour and a half we would be more willing to buy soda since we wouldn’t have to worry about running out to the rest room and we would buy food at the halfway mark as we would be hungrier by that point…but at least it seems that way, real data I’m not privy to might show otherwise) they were probably forced to make some heavy cuts to the movie.  This creates some odd pacing issues, where certain parts feel a little rushed.

Also, and it may be a personal issue that others may not have a problem with, I was not overly impressed by Jackman’s singing. It wasn’t bad, but I’m used to a deeper more sonorous voice for Valjean.

On the technical points, the movie is one of the best of the year, the acting and visual work was spectacular. The editing needs work (or at least a director’s cut DVD…please.) and the directing while exceptional still could have been just a little better (I think the high cost of production may have prevented doing reshoots that other films might have done)…Hooper gets an A not A+.

The Political/Philosophical Points

Did you know this was Ayn Rand’s favorite book?  It was.  Kind of puts any thoughts that Les Mis is liberal out of the “obviously” category doesn’t it.

Okay let’s look at some of the points. On their own merits.

“I am the master of hundreds of workers, they all look to me.  Can I abandon them, how will they live if I am not free. I speak I am condemned, if I stay silent, I am damned.”

Jean Valjean is a convict, yes. But while that’s all that Javert sees, we’re supposed to see more.  We’re supposed to see the successful businessman who not only created a whole industry in a town, bringing it out of poverty and into an economic renaissance, but who also out of Christian charity (not guilt, it should be noted that if you read the book Valjean is motivated by a desire to be a better person, not by guilt about his prior actions) creates hospitals and schools for the poor.  In a day and age when lesser writers like Dickens would just recycle the terrible image of the robber baron, Hugo gave us a noble businessman as an example of what others should be. It should also be noted that in a very Atlas Shrugged kind of way, Hugo has no illusions that once Valjean is forced to run the industry and the town is not able to survive in its thriving state without Valjean’s leadership. The book to a great degree, with touches still in the movie, shows that prosperity is driven by captains of industry.

“Take my hand I’ll lead you to salvation.  Take my love, for love is everlasting.  And remember the truth that once was spoken: to love another person is to see the face of God.”

Further it should be noted what a deeply religious story this story is.  It is God and the Bishop of Digne, not government that redeems Valjean.  God and faith permeate all levels of this story.  Faith ironically is what drives both Valjean and Javert.  And it never condemns any form of faith, showing that all those fallen (except sadly Javert, whom I’m sure Hugo would have placed there) together in heaven.

The novel, the play, and now the movie praise faith.  It’s a rarity these days in serious well produced films.  And given the desperate need for spirituality in our modern world, something like this must be embraced.

“Let us die facing our foe […] Let others rise to take our place until the Earth is FREE!”

And dare we forget that much of the second half of the story is taken up by an uprising by Republican revolutionaries, seeking a return to law and not the capricious whims of a king.

“But, but, but” some liberals will complain.  The book is about helping the poor, and how unjust the criminal justice system is.  Those are liberal issues. And what they fail to realize is that these are different times and different issues.  The poor in 19th century France were starving (a problem with accuracy is that even the slums of France look too pretty in this movie…honestly we wouldn’t have felt comfortable actually watching what the “The Miserable” of 19th century France looked like…it wasn’t quite Nazi Concentration Camp, but certainly not as pretty as this film depicts it), the poor in 21st century America are suffering an obesity epidemic.  Hugo critiqued those who were lazy and those who felt entitled.  Poverty of the kind Hugo witnessed in France was what he wanted us to feel empathy for, modern poverty would not likely bring as much empathy from Victor.  And he would be horrified by the lack of the churches and religion in the government welfare that modern liberals champion.  And don’t even get me started on the fact that you can’t compare the legal system that punished Valjean for 20 years and hounded him for life for stealing a loaf of bread to our modern system…yes we have problems, but we have the kind of problems Hugo would have only dreamed of.

“Then join in the fight that will give you the right to be free.”

Of course for me one of the most revealing passages in Les Miserable is when Hugo takes a moment to critique communism.

(It should be noted the terms Socialism and Communism at the time do not have the same meaning now…what he calls Communism would be more in line with modern European Socialism…the term Capitalism was first used in 1854, 8 years before Hugo published Les Miserables—it took him nearly 20 years to write—and its usage as a economic system did not begin until Marx used it in 1867, 5 years after Les Miserables was published.  So he could never expect to hear him use the term capitalism even thought that seems to be what he’s calling for.   He certainly did not have the term cronyism which describes the economics of 19th century France better than anything.  So pay attention to the systems and practices he is referring to, not the titles, as he had no access to the title we currently use.)

“The reader will not be surprised if, for various reasons, we do not here treat in a thorough manner, from the theoretical point of view, the questions raised by socialism. We confine ourselves to indicating them.

All the problems that the socialists proposed to themselves, cosmogonic visions, reverie and mysticism being cast aside, can be reduced to two principal problems.

First problem: To produce wealth.

Second problem: To share it.

The first problem contains the question of work.

The second contains the question of salary.

In the first problem the employment of forces is in question.

In the second, the distribution of enjoyment.

From the proper employment of forces results public power.

From a good distribution of enjoyments results individual happiness.

By a good distribution, not an equal but an equitable distribution must be understood.  The highest equality is equity.

From these two things combined, the public power without, individual happiness within, results social prosperity.

Social prosperity means the manhappy, the citizen free, the nation great.

England solves the first of these two problems. She creates wealth admirably, she divides it badly. This solution which is complete on one side only leads her fatally to two extremes: monstrous opulence, monstrous wretchedness. All enjoyments for some, all privations for the rest, that is to say, for the people; privilege, exception, monopoly, feudalism, born from toil itself. A false and dangerous situation, which sates public power or private misery, which sets the roots of the State in the sufferings of the individual. A badly constituted grandeur in which are combined all the material elements and into which no moral element enters.

Communism and agrarian law think that they solve the second problem. They are mistaken. Their division kills production. Equal partition abolishes emulation; and consequently labor.

It is a partition made by the butcher, which kills that which it divides.

It is therefore impossible to pause over these pretended solutions. Slaying wealth is not the same thing as dividing it.

The two problems require to be solved together, to be well solved. The two problems must be combined and made but one.

[…]

Solve the two problems, encourage the wealthy, and protect the poor, suppress misery, put an end to the unjust farming out of the feeble by the strong, put a bridle on the iniquitous jealousy of the man who is making his way against the man who has reached the goal, adjust, mathematically and fraternally, salary to labor, mingle gratuitous and compulsory education with the growth of childhood, and make of science the base of manliness, develop minds while keeping arms busy, be at one and the same time a powerful people and a family of happy men, render property democratic, not by abolishing it, but by making it universal, so that every citizen, without exception, may be a proprietor, an easier matter than is generally supposed; in two words, learn how to produce wealth and how to distribute it, and you will have at once moral and material greatness; and you will be worthy to call yourself France.”

[Emphasis added]

You will notice he is proposing such things as universal education, due process of law, and property rights.  He condemns any attempt for everyone to have their fair and equal share and envying the wealthy.  He proposes that people be paid just wages for their work (which was an issue then, not so much now). He proposes to make every man his own master, that everyone may earn wealth.  I can’t speak with certainty what political path Hugo would take in the modern world, but I can be fairly certain that if a modern day liberal went back to see him, Hugo would try to slap the stupid out of the Occupy trash.  I can also be mildly sure that Hugo might encourage the building of a few barricades against some of the government overreaches of the modern world.

All in all, the story is one of the value of liberty, of the individual, of redemption through works and of God.  Those are conservative themes if I ever heard them.

“Do you hear the people sing, lost in the valley of the night

It is the music of a people who are climbing to the light.

For the wretched of the Earth there is a flame that never dies,

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.

We will live again in Freedom in the garden of the Lord.

We will walk behind the plowshares.  We will put away the sword.

The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade?  Who will be strong and stand with me?

Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?

Do you hear the people sing, say do you hear the distant drums?

It is the future that we bring when tomorrow comes!”

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Reflections on the Election: Why I was wrong, Why Obama Won, and what the GOP needs to do. Part III

It’s been a month since the election…and as you can tell from the limited number of posts, I’m still kind of depressed Obama won, America Lostabout this (and overworked at work, but that’s another story).  I’m still shell-shocked that people could be that stupid—even I, who believe the masses are idiots, can’t fully comprehend that people are so fucking stupid as to vote in a tyrant not once but twice.  It baffles the mind.  If you care about only what you can get you should have voted for the guy who would guarantee a higher chance at raises and better jobs: Romney.  If you cared about other people you should have cared about the guy who would have done the most to improve the middle class: Mitt.  If you care about character it would be the guy who personally does charity whenever he can: Willard Mitt Romney. Intelligence, that would be the guy who got his J.D. and MBA in the same 4 years: The Governor.  Experience, class, vision, leadership, surrounding himself with qualified people.  On every criteria you can come up with it’s a no brainer, but, but, but…

People are really fucking short sighted, envious and dumb.

But are we just powerless to do anything? Are we at the mercy of party leadership to pull us out of this tailspin the country has voted itself in (dear god that’s a depressing thought)?  Luckily no.  Unfortunately I’m not promising anything easy either.

So what can we as individuals do?

Well first I would like to turn back to the exit polls.  Now looking at ethnicity or gender or even age is pointless because there is nothing we can do to change that.   People are what they are.  (Yes, age changes, but it’s not like we have any actual control over it).

2012 exit polls education

Now education can change (complete shocker that Obama the no intelligence/no high school bracket and the no real world experience/postgraduate bracket) but unless you’re a parent most of us can’t really affect people’s education.  If you are a parent, I might suggest that you state you’re not paying for any kind of college education unless they get a degree in the Math/Science area and thus have marketable skills (if they want to get a dual major and have a liberal art as well, well you can negotiate) but parents do not pay for Sociology degrees they are worthless and breed dumb liberals.

2012 exit polls single

Next we turn to gender and marriage status.  A lot of to do was made about women in this election, but as you see it wasn’t really women so much as single women.  And I have seen conservative writers talk about how the single women pose a threat to liberty as they seem to look to the government for the security nets…but it if you look at the data single men are also pretty dumb. The conclusion I’m drawing here isn’t that women are liberal, it’s that single people on the whole are liberal and need to be stopped.  (Yes, I as a bachelor, may not want to throw stones in a glass house, but I’m not as dumb as my fellow singles who voted for Barry…but if you are or know any single, intelligent, conservative, spiritually open women in the Phoenix area…well…my email address is posted…).  Now does this mean we should all go out and get married without standards or relationships, that marriage is an end unto itself. No.  One of the reasons we have a high divorce rate is that people don’t take the time to plan and make sure they’re making a right choice.  So really unless you want to start playing matchmaker which some of us are more qualified than others (this would certainly not be a skill of mine).

2012 exit polls religion

And then we see that Obama did well with the non-religious crowd* and Romney did well with the religious crowd.  Let me put these last two points in context. It doesn’t have as much to do with faith or companionship.  For a lot of people it is an issue of safety.  If you have a spouse, if you have an active church community you have someone you know you can fall back on if things go bad, if you don’t have these things, then the psychology of most people is to seek something you can fall back on: the government.  Now I would rather people evolve and see themselves as their fallback (or at least maybe God) but if we’re going to get there we first have to have an economic system that allows people to take care of themselves (i.e. we need to get rid of liberals and progressives at every level).

So what does this have to do with religion?  Well it means that if you’re a member of a church you need to encourage, push for, and if necessary demand, that your church be more active in the community—charity, public works and improvement projects, fundraisers not for the church but those honestly in need. This should have nothing to do with demonization or dogma.  Only about helping the community and strengthening the bonds of community.

If you’re not in a church, say a New Ager, it couldn’t hurt to find a non-pushy church out there and see if they would like help with those charity projects.

If you’re in a church that does do these kinds of charity projects then see if you can invite people you know to help, don’t proselytize, don’t make it about belief, only about helping others.  (Also may I suggest making your charity functions known to the local middle and high schools—students, especially college bound students, are more and more looking for community service on their resumes—and let them know their parents are invited as well).

This has nothing to do with dogma, it has to with a core tenet in every religion I can think of, charity, community, compassion.

Show people that government isn’t the only source that they can fall back on.  Look at it this way, the way people talk about others often shows how they themselves think.  I call it the “I am the world” fallacy, and I’m guilty of it myself sometimes, we all are.  We tend to make assumptions about the way people act based on our own habits and thoughts.  Conservatives naturally tend to think that the government isn’t needed because we ourselves are more generous and just assume everybody does the right thing.  Liberals assume others are avaricious, cruel, irrationally selfish, and miserly not because they’re saints and know everyone else is stingy, but because they themselves are not compassionate at their heart—they fear they will have no one to fall back on because in their heart of heart they know they won’t help other either.  (Liberals give to charity less than conservatives and they volunteer a hell of a lot less than conservatives, see Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks).

But if we get people who might not usually attend church to come to charity events we can show them that people do care for people and that we don’t need government to care for us…and maybe we can even show them there is personal joy in compassion and charity.  Trust me, a person who does charity out of the joy it brings them never votes liberal, liberals give out of guilt not joy.

So get your church (or any other group that has the resources) involved in the community (if you’re not doing at least 3 events a month, it’s not enough), invite people to come just for the charity aspect, and watch their belief that the government is the only one looking out for them disappear (also with more human contact and larger social circles we might fix that single problem listed above).

Also this process will help destroy that one thing that Obama did well in “He cares about people like me.”

2012 exit polls key points

Charity and a strong community teach us that we are capable of caring for people who aren’t like ourselves.

But that can’t be all we have to do.  Liberals have done a great job with controlling the media.  News, movies, TV shows, you name it there are liberal messages.  But we cannot give in on this.

So there are a few things we can do.  The first is that we can try to pull their funding.  Here at the Conservative New Ager we’re going after that Goebbels style propaganda wing MSNBC.  We encourage people to write to their advertisers and pull their ads.  It works.  If a company just gets a hundred letters asking them to make sure the shows they are advertising on are only reporting the truth, they will either pull the ads or they will use the power their money buys them to get results.  We have already heard from P&G and UPS.

The next thing is that we need to expose people to the truth.  I would recommend everyone use all the social media they have to expose their friends to the truth.  Now you don’t have to repost a thousand articles every day, but don’t be afraid to share something for fear of losing a friend.  For everyone you lose you’ll likely help push a two or three that much closer to the truth.  (And if you’re like me you don’t have many liberal friends left anyway, it’s the middle we’re trying to win, not the ones beyond hope).

Also if you get a real newspaper (there aren’t many left: The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times…if it uses AP articles don’t bother) take it to work and leave it in the break room every day.  It can only help expose people to the truth.

But on that note we need to share the media that is conservative we need to focus on the stuff that isn’t the news and isn’t explicitly political.  Liberals have tried to infect every book, every movie, every show with liberal messages and just habituate people into thinking in liberal terms.  The problem is that most good literature is more conservative in its themes.  Self sufficiency, rational thought, ethical behavior, connection to God.  These subtle themes are in literature everywhere, even when it’s written by artists who are liberal themselves.  George Orwell was a socialist, but 1984 and Animal Farm are scathing critiques of the very state Orwell would likely have supported.   Given time, the truth will out, as a conservative writer once put it. What conservatives make the mistake of doing is trying to give people Atlas Shrugged and Ann Coulter and Thomas Sowell.  It doesn’t matter that we enjoy those, those books only preach to the choir.  If someone isn’t open to those ideas, if they’ve been indoctrinated to think conservatives are evil, Rand was psychotic, Coulter is vicious and Sowell is an Uncle Tom, it doesn’t matter if the facts are there, their emotional reaction to those works will prevent them from seeing the facts.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t share books and TV shows with friends, family, acquaintances. I’m sure we know lots of people who are not conservative but if they were introduced to those ideas the logic and reason of it would come out.  That is why I am putting together a list of books, movies and TV shows that depict the conservative themes and that we agree with, without being explicitly conservative.   The Individual, reason, ethical behavior, long term thinking, the truth.  These are things that bring people close to conservatism.  I would take a look at this list (and keep coming back as I hope to keep adding to it).  Lend these works out to people who you think might be open to them.  Give them as gifts for any holiday and any excuse you can.  And then discuss them with the person after they’ve read or watched it (never give out something you’re not familiar with already!  You don’t want to get caught where they make some silly liberal interpretation and don’t have a comeback for it).  It seems silly but ideas have power, and once they’re in a person’s mind they spread not just to affecting the other ideas of that mind but in the way they behave to others and the way they influence the ideas of others.  And if they get more conservative in their thoughts introduce them to the more explicitly conservative works…but don’t start with those, they’ll just shut people down.

Finally it’s the old stand-bys.  Write a blog or letters to editors.  Donate to organizations that promote your beliefs (right now I would focus on Heritage and Freedomwork because they do not seem overly obsessed with the social issues which are dragging this party down and giving the left too many easy targets), volunteer for campaigns, get involved.  We have four years where we can do next to nothing to save the economy or well being of our allies across the sea.  Nothing.  We have this idiot tyrant in charge and he will wreck the place as much as he can through a combination of stupidity and malice.  Focusing too much on that will be somewhat fruitless for us as individuals—but as individuals we do have the power to influence those around us and help bring them to our side.

*Also Obama did exceedingly well with people who aren’t not affiliated with any religion but are spiritual  you know, the kind of people the Republicans and Reincarnation was written specifically for.  If you know some of these people, could it hurt to give them a copy?

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Why I’m A Conservative and A New Ager

[I had a request to turn a comment I made on a previous blog into a blog of it’s own…so if this seems repetitive…that’s why…]

Recently a commenter left the following post:

I was really hoping to find a softer side of Conservatism here. I can’t seem to find that wherever I look. I also can’t understand how you can call yourself a New Ager and harbor so much anger? Completely hypocritical, as is most of the right… New Age = Love

It’s not hypocritical at all, and I’m sorry you feel that way.

New Age belief does not encourage or require that I turn off my brain or reason…and reason has a way of getting outraged when confronted with policies and actions that hurt others–you see it in the actions of Christ whipping the money changers, of Krishna telling Arjuna to slaughter his unjust relatives, in Lao Tzu talking about war needing to be conducted with the aim of peace, and in the actions and words of numerous other saints and enlightened beings in religions all over the world.

Yes New Age belief does believe in unqualified love of the soul…but not of the actions of the ego which hurts that soul. Those actions and the ideas that create them must be challenged both in ones own soul, one’s mind, and outside in the physical worlds. I cannot love the soul, and support the left which hinders the growth of the soul. And I cannot say obsequious appearance of concern for someone in the transitory moment is love, even thought the left tries to say it is. Love is caring for the true nature of the person, which is the soul and the soul’s journey to enlightenment.

May I ask you what you would consider “the softer side of Conservatism?” because is seems like all that term means is “a conservative who is willing to give in on any and every point, sacrifice any value, and capitulate on any policy just so liberals like you can be happy.”

If you’re repeating the liberal line about social conservatism, you’ll find none of that here. Social conservatism is simply liberal desire to control others by another name. As for my unwavering defense of capitalism and liberty, which parallel the New Age belief in free will, my support of charity over welfare, which parallel’s the New Age belief in spiritual growth…any moving from these points (other than in terms of practical compromise) to appear “softer” is to give into the manifestations of the ego in the physical world. I can’t be true to my beliefs in the New Age and not support them, defend them, and advocate for them. Yes I’m a little overzealous, (if you’re a New Ager you know it’s a habit of Indigoes to be passionate in the extreme)…but is there anything wrong in zeal for what is right and true?

Love is not opposed to reason, love and reason go hand in hand

But I would like to challenge your comment of “Completely hypocritical, as is most of the right…”
New Age belief believes in the free will. To support the leftist belief in government over the individual, entitlement over personal charity, control over choice…that would be hypocritical to support.
New Age belief believes that life is spiritual journey of learning. To support the left’s call for over-regulation that seeks to keep people from making mistakes takes away the ability to learn…that would be hypocritical of me to support.
New Age believes that every soul must make it to enlightenment on its own…thus the left’s call to force equality holds back individuals, and thus retards the day when all will make it to enlightenment…that would be hypocritical of me to support.
New Age belief believes in the quality of life, not the quantity…the left’s concern with income redistribution and entitlements of physical things places the focus on life on the wrong thing…that would be hypocritical of me to support.

In fact on every central tenet of New Age belief I can think of, New Age belief matched up with conservative economics and conservative foreign policy.

Almost every point of the left in economic and foreign policy is opposed the principles of New Age belief. And every belief of the left on social policy takes the correct idea to an illogical extreme. (I disagree with the social conservatism…but if you actually read a bit of my blog you would see that there are more than enough articles opposing that).

Is the right perfect. Nope. But it supports the individual. It supports choice and freedom and liberty. It supports my ability to grown and learn and develop. These are the bedrock principles of New Age belief as I understand them.

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From Republicans and Reincarnation: Part of the Ethical Argument for Capitalism

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul vs. Peter giving to Paul

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.” —Winston Churchill

            Let’s look at two hypothetical systems.

System 1:

Peter is rich.  Very rich.  The government takes what it considers a reasonable amount of money (which has nothing to do with what a reasonable person would consider a reasonable amount).  Let’s say 31 cents on the dollar.  The government then takes that money and spends about 18 cents, of every dollar Peter makes, on Paul.  So what is the point of this system?  Supposedly it’s to help Paul improve his station in life.  We take money from Peter because Peter can afford it.  So now let’s looks at this.  Through the questions we established earlier.

  1. Is the action leading to a positive, neutral, or negative end?
  2. Is the action unethical or ethical?
  3. Is the benefit this action is providing removing a material or spiritual obstacle, or both?
  4. Is this a long-term benefit or short-term benefit?
  5. Is the action benefiting a large number of people or a small number?

I’m going to take these in reverse order, so bear with me.  This is hurting at least on face value a smaller portion of the population (not really, Peter as representative of “the rich”[1] is actually a fairly large portion of the population) to help a larger portion of the population (again not really, Paul as representative of those on the dole is a relatively small portion of the population[2]…but we’re going to play in the opposition ballpark for the moment).  So at least the argument (no matter how flimsy it is) is that few people are hurt and lots of people are helped.

But how are they helped?  Is this a long-term benefit or a short-term benefit?  When we talk about this we have to think about what Paul will do with that welfare check.  Now I couldn’t find figures on how many welfare checks are spent on capital investment or college tuitions, but given the fact that until the 1990’s welfare reform the number of people leaving the dole could not be described as a mass exodus, I think it’s a safe assumption that not much of that money was being used to better Paul.  Quite frankly it’s human nature.  People value things by what they sacrifice to get it, by the amount of work that goes into it, by what had to be done to earn it—thus money just thrown at you without strings has little value.  As such it will be spent on things of no lasting value.  Yes there are numerous examples of people who climbed their way out of welfare, and I applaud these people for the strength of character to fight human nature’s more lazy and apathetic tendencies, but no one can be foolish enough to say that these few examples are indicative of the whole—nor ignore the fact that many of these people who have gotten themselves out of the cycle of poverty are some of welfare’s harshest and most vocal critics.  Thus welfare in general is at best a short-term fix; it by no means attacks the root of the problem.[3]

So it helps lots of people, but is only a short-term solution.  Now obviously this has material benefit (at least for Paul, to hell if it actually depresses the economy as a whole) but does it actually have any spiritual benefits?  Sadly, and rather obviously, the answer is no.  Peter gets none of the spiritual benefits described in the previous chapter that come from giving, because he did not give by choice, the money was taken from him against his will.  Nor is Peter also likely to give to charity now, or at least not as much, because human nature is that once that money has been taken, then that person feels that they’ve already given, when they haven’t.  In fact if anything this leaves Peter more negative and bitter toward humanity as he now sees money stolen from him and given to people who are less than deserving and not using said money to better themselves.  This is likely to make Peter more bitter toward humanity around him, more cynical, and overall a worse human being.  So it’s actually a spiritual negative.  How about for Paul?  The answer is again in the negative.  Paul feels no need to earn this act of charity; it was given to him by an unfeeling, cold, heartless institution, not another human being.  The insult to self-esteem alone comes as a spiritual negative.  More often than not the psychological effects of such a handout will make Paul feel even in less control of his life than before because now that he must depend on the government for his existence—this increases his feelings of powerlessness, increases fear that he is not in control of his existence and rather a mere victim of fate and circumstance.  In short another spiritual negative.

Finally is it ethical?  No!  The phrase is “to rob Peter to pay Paul” for a reason.  It’s stealing money from a human being by force.  I know I don’t pay my taxes out of the goodness of my heart; I do it because I don’t wish to go to jail or have a standoff with the FBI and ATF.  I’m pretty sure that’s the same reason you pay your taxes.  They have jails and guns, a lot of them—certainly more than I would like to make a standoff against.  So in the end it’s theft.  A clear violation of “Thou shalt not steal” or its numerous variations in every religion on earth, and New Agers are no different on this point.  Stealing is stealing; it’s a complete and total violation of any conception of ethics I can think of.   Now we do honor the myth of Robin Hood, but not because he was a thief, as someone once tried to disprove my point that we never believe theft to be a good thing.  Notice that if you actually look at all the legends, it wasn’t that he robbed from the rich and gave to the poor (a more modern socialist reinterpretation) but rather robbed from the robbing tax collector and gave back to the people who had actually earned the money.  His heroism isn’t in the theft, it’s in putting his life on the line to get back for people what was stolen from them, what was originally theirs (which is what we would like to think the police do when they put their life on the line for us).

But don’t the ends justify the means you ask—to which I respond: did you read the previous paragraphs?  Even if there were cases where the ends justify the means, I can’t see how stealing hard-earned money from people is justified by short-term material benefits and long-term spiritual and economic harm.  The welfare system in all its myriad forms is actually harming the spiritual growth of everyone it touches.  Unless you were an atheist you couldn’t possibly support it, and even then to believe that this system pragmatically worked you’d need to be an atheist and a moron to… (Or am I being redundant there?)

System 2:

            So let’s say that starting today we started reducing all welfare entitlements.  Making them harder to get, requiring more oversight of the people who get them, and requiring even further time constraints in regards to how long you can be on the program.  In terms of social security this would be cutting benefits, raising retirement ages and begin to either privatize or simply eliminate[4] through a phased out process.  Now you might be wondering why I’m not suggesting this second system as being one of completely wiping welfare, social security, Medicaid, and Medicare simply off the face of the earth.  The answer would be that for better or much much worse, these programs have unfortunately become part of the country’s society and while they do eventually need to die, just cutting them with a machete, while greatly satisfying, will cause short-term chaos, and long term societal scars.  Welfare, like heroin, is not an addiction that one just quits cold turkey.[5]  There does need to be a large initial cut to show we mean business of somewhere in the ballpark of 10% cuts right off the top—but this needs to be followed by a 10 to 20 year plan of phasing these programs out of existence.

So assuming we do the right thing, and cutting these programs back with the intention of eventually leaving them only as significantly smaller local programs or just out and out killing them.  What are the benefits and losses?

First, how many people are helped?  While I’m sure we all agree that supply-side economics doesn’t work quite as well or as quickly as everyone thought it did back in the ‘80’s, but it does work, albeit its effects take time to work through.  When the economy improves everyone benefits, and when you cut government intrusion the economy improves…eventually.  But the fact of the matter is that more money in the hands of the people is still more money circulating through the economy and not being lost in some bureaucratic nightmare land that creates nothing but red tape and paperwork and thus doesn’t really add anything to the flow of the economy.  More money, more things being bought.  More things being bought, more profit.  More profit, more investment.  More investment, more jobs…you know how this goes.  So certainly this will take time, but then again that’s what we conservatives like—long-term fixes, not short term band-aids.  Further if we do this properly as a long term rollback of funds people receiving these handouts should have time to plan and adjust to the changing environment (like doing things of such a radical nature as getting an education, getting a job, or actually saving for retirement…I know it’s radical thinking, but I believe it just might work for most people).  So there is no harm to this group either.  So everyone makes out with the status quo if not better.

As I already said these are long-term benefits.  Long term the economy does better, more people have jobs, more people have control of their lives, and if we don’t fall in the trap of socialism again, this is a self-perpetuating system.  Yes, long term we will have recessions, can’t do anything about that, but they will work themselves out, and if people begin to learn how to save properly and educate themselves properly to be able to move from career to career if needed they will not need to worry.

But more than these advantages, this puts the control of a person’s life back in their own hands.  A major spiritual benefit.  For both Peter and Paul, the government is no longer butting into their lives more than it needs to.   This will reduce the likelihood of fear in their lives.  It will also increase the feelings of security since for Paul survival depends on himself now, and for Peter there is less worry about how much the Brownshirts at the IRS will be taking this year.  Further, as I pointed out previously, more money in Peter’s hands will increase the odds and amounts that Peter will give to charity, and this charity will come from living human beings who care about people not the cold, mechanical system of welfare.  With this charity to Paul comes the emotional and ethical ties that will force Paul to in some way to be worthy of the gift he has been given and improve himself.

So materially, psychologically, spiritually this provides long-term benefits to the majority of people.  But is it ethical?  Well we’re not stealing from anyone, so there it’s ethical.  And as I stipulated this program has to be carried out slowly, so were not just uprooting people from the system they have become accustomed to…But I hear one last objection about it being ethical coming from the far left: That people have a right to health care or a livable wage, or a right to care from the government in old age and that to deny them that right is unethical.

The crux of this argument is that everyone has a right to these things.  If you believe this you A) have not the foggiest conception of what a right is and B) are just as confused about ethics.  No one has a right to health care or a livable wage or even happiness.  What you have a right to is that the government will not overtly deny you the chance to achieve, to earn, or to buy these things.  But neither the government, society, your neighbor, nor your brother owes you these things.  You have rights to what you come into this world with: Life, Liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness (emphasis on the pursue).  Nor is anyone ethically required to provide these things to you just because you exist (except for your parents as long as you can’t provide these things for yourself).  First and foremost a person is ethically bound to seek their own happiness, not yours.  Now we are ethically bound to help those in immediate need; the Parable of the Good Samaritan comes to mind, but notice that in that case the story revolves around people who are not victims of their own laziness but literally victims to the violence of others or circumstance completely out of their control.  Yes we are ethically bound to help those people.  We are even ethically called for to be generous and charitable, but keep in mind the entire concept of generosity and charity are dependant on the idea we are not bound to help people out of duty, law, or right…if we were it wouldn’t be generosity now would it?  Further generosity does not call for us to help everyone who would come and demand our help—that would bankrupt anyone and certainly lead to personal unhappiness, a very unethical end.  Charity, to have true meaning and worth, must be to those who will use it for their own long term benefit and betterment, not merely short term waste, and anyone who demands the work and property of others as their own isn’t someone who cares about personal betterment because this is indicative of a character that believes in not doing anything for themselves.  Anyone with this sort of entitlement and need for instant gratification can never better themselves, because they cannot even conceive of what is required to better themselves[6].  Hence they are not worthy of the generosity or charity you would give.

Charity is ethical.  But its generosity must be coupled with a desire to improve one’s self, otherwise whatever work or money that is given is merely wasted.  The claim that one has a right to other people’s works is an affront to that belief and merely helps to instill a feeling of helplessness and that is irresponsible.


[1] Of course this isn’t accurate as it is more like the top 50% of wage earners that liberals like to define as “the rich”…so ask yourself do you personally make more than $45,000…if you do, then many in Congress define you as “the rich”.

[2] Unless you count all those elderly people who were somehow too stupid to have any understanding of saving for retirement, and rather chose to live like leaches off people who actually have jobs and know what the stock market is for, but one has trouble feeling sympathy for someone who had over forty years to plan for the inevitable and didn’t do anything about it.  And if you tell me they expected the government to be there for them…well that makes me lose even more respect for them. Even the Sheriff of Nottingham wasn’t dumb enough to think Robin was going to give the money back to him when he retired.

[3] I’m actually going to exclude all job training and education problems from this critique as those do actually attack the root of the problem and do exhibit long-term thinking.  I have no problem in theory spending money on those…although I’m sure the money itself could be spent more wisely.

[4] Even privatizing the system is the government still saying you’re too incompetent to handle your own money…which I’ll grant you, a good portion of America does fit into that description, but it’s still the government calling you stupid…this from an organization currently run by some of the biggest buffoons the world has to offer.  A statement about pots and kettles comes to mind.

[5] Interestingly enough, welfare also shares the quality of heroin of leaving its users emaciated, soulless shells of their former selves.

[6] I would like to point out that this critique is not aimed necessarily at those who are poor, but rather at the demagogues and activists that propose such a system of entitlement and character flaws, who in effect create a system that encourages the poor to stay victims and not seek a better life.

To read more Republicans and Reincarnation: The Conscience of a New Age Conservative is available at AuthorHouse, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble 

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The Ethical Argument for Capitalism

Now for a more detailed argument for what was on this video you could read the book this video is based on, Arthur Brooks’ The Road to Freedom which came out this year (I have not read it yet, but know Brooks’ work and know it will be a good read…right now I’m working my way through Milton Friedman again so I have all the data to eviscerate Paulbots, and that takes time)…

Or…

You could read Chapters 5 &6 in Republican and Reincarnation which also offer the ethical argument for capitalism.  (I may bit biased in recommending which one you should try first).

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Only 100 days to go!!!!

Only 100 days to go until the release of Atlas Shrugged Part II. I’m still not sure why they felt the need to replace the entire cast, but I assume there is method to the madness.

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Books for Conservatives: Adler’s “Ten Philosophical Mistakes”

So someone I think is an idiot recommended that I read Robert Nozick’s book Anarchy, State, and Utopia.  Now my expectations weren’t high, as I said the person who recommended is in my informed opinion an idiot’s idiot, but I’m willing to look at other arguments…and the title alone really lowered my expectations.  Sadly my expectations were not low enough.  The preface to the book suggested that Nozick provided the intellectual basis for modern libertarianism…and I can now see why I think most modern libertarians are utterly impossible to deal with.  The short version is that Nozick takes Kant’s hideously flawed ethics and tries to shoehorn them into justifying limited government.  Now an intelligent person (i.e. someone who doesn’t spend their life in academia) might understand implicitly (even if they don’t always articulate it as such) that just looking at means is stupid…and they also tend to understand that just looking at ends is stupid.  Ends and means must be taken together and to focus on one to the exclusion of the others is preposterous at best.  I initially resisted the temptation to hurl the book into the trash even though the entire foundation of Nozick’s arguments were trash piled on trash…but by the halfway mark I couldn’t stand the terrible logic anymore, threw the book away as no one should be subjected to that claptrap and turned back to an old favorite of mine which I haven’t read since college: Mortimer Adler’s Ten Philosophical Mistakes.

 

The book sets out to describe where most of modern philosophy made its mistakes when breaking from classical realism (From Plato and Aristotle to Aquinas).  Adler, one of the most well spoken philosophers of the 20th century, although a bit dry, always does an excellent job in explaining why things are the way they are.  I will someday get around to most of his major books on philosophy, but let me give you a brief overview. Adler was known as the philosopher for the everyman. Not because his ideas were simple or plebian but because he recognized the massive importance of correct philosophical ideas in everyday life and tried to state the complex idea in terms that someone who is not a philosophy major can readily grasp.  Not to say that this makes the books he writes on par with the simplicity of Dr. Seuss, Harry Potter or Obama’s understanding of, well, anything…but he does put it in as simple but still precise terms as he can and he tries to give examples that are readily accessible.  As you can guess this makes him really unpopular with the intelligentsia who like to pretend that philosophy or an understanding of it isn’t something for the average person and thus spend an obscene amount of time trying to obfuscate any understanding of it under mountains of jargon

The under appreciated philosopher of the 20th Century

 

The problem, especially with this book is that the errors made by many of the philosophers in the modern age are very technical and more often in the metaphysical or epistemological area. Don’t yawn.  The reason why this is important is that those little technical errors compound into massive cracks in ethical thought and politics and in turn have a disastrous effect on our lives.  And because of this it is important to understand the mistake, what the correct opinion is and why.

 

Now I’m going to go over a brief summary of these ten categories of mistakes, but understand, yes my justification of why certain ideas are right and others wrong is going to be lacking…go read the book if you want the full justification.

First category:  “Consciousness and Its Objects” Adler deals with the mistakes of Locke, Descartes, Hume, and Kant, skepticism, solipsism, and subjectivism.  In dealing with our ability to use our minds, these philosophers made the gross mistake of driving too deep a wedge between our minds and the outside world.  Skeptics claim we can’t be sure if what we’re experiencing and the solipsists claim that we don’t actually experience in the outside world and really just experience in our minds with no connection to the outside world.  It may seem stupid to go over a category that seems so common sense…but the problem is that the attack on the correct idea–that your mind perceives a world that exists outside of your mind and that the things in our minds (ideas, sense, memories, imagined ideas and things, conceptions, other objects of thought) and the two are very related—is a more common problem than you think.  Ever have someone tell you “Well, you can’t know that” or “well that’s your opinion” after you state an article of fact.  It may seem like a rather esoteric issue, but in fact it is the root of many problems in ethics, politics, psychology, and human existence. *

 

David Hume comes out looking like the idiot he was in this book...

Second Category: “The Intellect and the Senses.”  If you thought the last one was esoteric, this one is even more so.  Common sense and reason tell us that there is a difference between our thoughts and our senses.  One is informed by the other, but they are not the same thing.  And you would think it would take a real moron to mistake the two.  Well, let me introduce you to Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, George Berkley, David Hume who basically thought they were one in the same…and Plato, Descartes, Kant and Hegel who thought that they had little to nothing to do with each other.  The reason this becomes a problem is that it begins to degrade the nature of language (I’ll spare you the steps on how this works, trust me this is what Adler points out)…and that this is also a basis for the arguments of crackpots who think that humans are not superior to animals. So if PETA has ever annoyed you, you can blame this logical error as being part of that problem.

 

Third Category: “Words and Meaning”.  Locke seemed to argue that words are useless in communicating ideas (one wonders why he wrote so much) and Hobbes and Russell seemed to think words can only be about real things and that reference to non-tangible things is to be just speaking gibberish (if you can’t touch or see it, it’s not real).  Common sense may immediately dismiss these preposterous ideas, but if you’ve ever gotten into an argument of semantics with a moron who thinks they know more than you do (when they don’t) you may begin to understand why this issue might become relevant.

 

Fourth Category: “Knowledge and Opinion.”  You know something when you believe something to be true, you have a reason to believe it is true, and it is true.  You could teach a child that 2+2=5…but they couldn’t know that 2+2=5 because it’s not true…similarly a child can repeat the phrase 2+2=4 but until they understand why that is, they don’t have knowledge.  Without reason and truth it is merely opinion.  And in common usage of the term knowledge we can know things we have evidence and reason for even if we don’t know it in the same way with the same absolute certainty of arithmetic.  For instance, I know that capitalism within a Classically Liberal society is better than any other system yet conceived, and I have mountain of evidence, logic and reason to back this up…although if you wanted to be really strict it is merely highly justified opinion…but for the common philosophic usage of the word, I know this for a fact. I’m guessing again this seems pretty obvious…but let me introduce you to David Hume who thinks you can’t know anything beyond math and since nothing can be known you can’t even really have justified opinions and thus all ideas are equally unfounded…oh there’s Immanuel Kant who tried to get around this by filling our mind with an out of the box operating system he calls a priori knowledge.  Adler takes several pages to really dig into the stupidity of Kant’s lacking understanding of how we know things, but let me share with you my favorite passage from the whole book:

Kant, justifiably, comes out even worse than Hume

“How anyone in the twentieth century can take Kant’s transcendental philosophy seriously is baffling, even though it may always remain admirable in certain respects as an extraordinarily elaborate and ingenious intellectual invention.”

Which has to be one of the best back handed compliments I’ve ever read.

Why do Hume and Kant lead to such problems with their inability to know anything about knowing?  Well because in one way or another it leads to destroying the value of scientific falsifiability and reasoned argument and reduces all knowledge to nothingness…which leads to a complete abdication of personal responsibility to know the truth of things.  Look at any organization that requires mindless following (Nazism, Communism, the Democratic National Committee, Islamofacism, numerous individual churches) and all the problems they create to see why this is an important issue to understand.

 

Fifth Category: “Moral Value.”  Hedonists (Epicurus, Mill) ethical skeptics (Hume, Russell, Ayer) and wacky deontological Kant get beat up in this.  The hedonists fail to make the important distinction between wants and needs and mistake the former for the latter.  Skeptics, deriving from the earlier mistakes believe foolishly that you can’t make any meaningful statements about ethics and so whatever is popular at the time goes (see the lack of ethics is sociology departments, multiculturalism, and ignoring the barbarism and oppression of women in Islam…not to mention backing a lot of evil in the recent history of the world by governments). And what evil isn’t backed by the skeptics usually can look to Kant and his categorical imperative which Adler states “is an empty recommendation.”  From the detached and survey nature of the book Adler simply states proper ethics is “We ought to desire whatever is really good for us and nothing else” and work toward that true good…but he points you to Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics for more details.

 

Sixth Category: “Happiness and Contentment”  Tied heavy to the last chapter is the true good in life: Happiness.  And happiness is collection of virtues in action not just material contentment as utilitarians like Mill and Dewey might mistake it as (or you know the current government).  And while not a very common mistake Adler as tears apart the Stoics (and Kant) who didn’t understand that while doing the right thing is very important, you also have to succeed some of the time to actually be happy

 

Seventh Category:”Freedom of choice.”  You have free will and anyone who says otherwise (determinists and scientists, those who say that there is only the physical world) have no reasonable grounding for their beliefs.  Although while your will is free, it is informed by the outside world, nature and nurture.  This one is actually important to understand because you wouldn’t believe how often I am seeing arguments that people are mere victims of their computer like minds and its programming, with no will of their own…and it shouldn’t take long to figure out what kind of government that will lead to.

 
Eighth Category: “Human Nature.”  The fact that this book was written in the early 80’s didn’t allow Adler to be familiar with the term multiculturalism, but he was shooting down the stupidity of that dumb idea long before it took hold. Human beings are human beings and their nature does not change by race, culture, time, or upbringing and this means that rights are the same and inalienable for everyone, they do not change for any other group.  Also, he tears apart those ideas of PETA in raising animals to the value of humans.

Ninth Category: “Human Society”.  In this section, Adler takes aim at Rosseau, Hobbes and Locke for their arguments about the state of nature.  His argument is that these three treat the state of nature as if it was a historical reality and not a thought experiment.  To be honest I’ve never heard anyone take this extreme stance (but I will admit I’m more familiar with Locke than the other two…but I also admit that academia is an odd place and easily see this chapter coming out of an argument with some professor at the University of Chicago where Adler taught.  He argues, as would any historian or anthropologist that society and government have grown over time because humans are naturally social creatures.  He then attacks anarchists who believe that mankind can ever be molded into a being that doesn’t need society, like Marx’s communist utopia.

Tenth Category: “Human Existence.”  This chapter really required a full understanding of the previous chapters to go into any detail…and since I wanted to keep this blog “manageable” (at least by my long winded standards)…so let me just say Adler maintains life has a purpose and meaning.

 

Again I realize I’ve glossed over a lot, but I highly recommend this book to anyone who deals with any kind of discussion of ideas (politics and religion especially), understanding the underlying premises that Adler goes over is infinitely important.  Adler is not as simplistic as Rand who makes a good primer in philosophy, but lacks practicality and depth, but nor is he as dry as the works of his beloved Aristotle or Aquinas.  He’s dry but not so much that it’s almost unreadable for pleasure, he has meat on the bones of his philosophy, and while a few decades out of date it is still modern enough that the languages used doesn’t suffer from the kind of gap you get with a lot of the older philosophers.  Oh, and he’s right ninety-nine times out a hundred.  Really you should read this book.

 

Now let me counter some obvious and addle brain responses I expect to get because I’ve reminded people that there is an excellent attack on all the BS philosophers so beloved by the Ivory Tower…

(1)“Adler isn’t respected by philosophers!”  Well, the philosophers you read must never have mentioned in their worthless tomes that popularity doesn’t equal truth.  All that matters is if the argument is a reasoned one and conclusion is true or not.  If every philosophy professor in the world said Adler (and by extension Aristotle and Aquinas, since Adler is more about reiterating the correct philosophies of others and adapting them to modern issues than coming up with his own ideas) was an idiot, it still wouldn’t prove that he was wrong, only truth and reason would do that.  (Now please don’t think that I think everything Adler said is true, he’s human, he’s wrong sometimes, but when compared to Descartes, Hume, Berkley, Foucault, Satre, James, Kierkegaard, Leibniz, Marx…you get the idea, he’s on a far more solid grounding of reason.)

(2)“Well you didn’t disprove (such and such philosopher] and their statement of [such and such bullshit] in your blog.  Thus you’re wrong.”   It’s a book review, it’s 200 pages long, of course I can’t get into specifics.

(3)“Well Adler didn’t disprove…”  Yes he did, you didn’t read the book.

(4)“I did read the book and he didn’t…” actually he did, see page…

(5)“I did read the book and he didn’t…” You’re right he didin’t. He did tear out all of the idea that that specific point is based on though which kind of makes tearing that point apart silly and redundant.

(6) “You didn’t accurately describe [such and such BS philopher’s] ideas correctly”  Probably not.  Do you get the concept of a book review or a blog?  If I made this a 200 page discussion why not just post all of Alder’s book?

(7) “Adler’s biased”…you mean he has a reasoned opinion and while he admits that there is grey in the world will not back down from self-evident truths because there is also black and white in the universe. Yes, in that case he is biased…Although you might then like his 1,000 page tome “The Great Ideas” where he actually discusses all of these philosophers and their ideas quite dispassionately.

(8) “I did read it and I don’t agree with anything he had to say!”  Why are you telling me this?  Like I care.  Don’t listen to my book reviews if you dislike them so much.  Really I don’t understand people who keep coming back to be infuriated because they disagree with me and want to express their displeasure.  I can understand trying to keep up with people you disagree with so that you can consider new idea…but I just don’t get the childish need seek out and bully those you disagree with.

 

*There is some important hair splitting to be done here in relationship to my views as New Ager, and if I get any requests, I’ll go into that…but (1) I can see where you might see some contradictions between this point and New Age belief that I would agree would constitute a prima facie case against my spiritual beliefs (2) I have considered them and I believe that while there is a prima facie case to be made it does not hold up under scrutiny.

**On another side note you may want to watch Lost before reading Adler’s book…otherwise you may have a knee jerk reaction into hating half the cast from day one…and I really love Hume on Lost.

 

 

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Books for Conservatives–Faith of the Fallen

Possibly the best book in the series

Once again I come back to my favorite series of books Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series.  Partly because I’ve gotten away from this when I shouldn’t have…and partly because we have a lull in election season so I can concentrate on something else for a little while.  So, as I’ve done the first five books, here is book six, Faith of the Fallen.

This is probably my favorite book in the entire series.  As I have said I love this series for not only providing a well paced and character driven fantasy series, but because each book is thematically tied to what the author has the Wizard’s Rules…a series of 11 short simple ethical statements. These 11 wizard’s rules that are actually possibly the best set of rules I have ever seen for living one’s life, because they don’t discuss specific acts, which are always dependant on situations and variables, so myriad that no hard rule on behavior can ever fully cover them.  But Faith of the Fallen is probably my favorite, not just because the plot is even more character centered than most of the other books in the series, but because I love the wizard’s rule more than any of the others.

Wizard’s Sixth Rule:

The only sovereign you can allow to rule you is reason.

Explained as:

The first law of reason is this: what exists, exists, what is, is and from this irreducible bedrock principle, all knowledge is built. It is the foundation from which life is embraced.

Thinking is a choice. Wishes and whims are not facts nor are they a means to discover them. Reason is our only way of grasping reality; it is our basic tool of survival. We are free to evade the effort of thinking, to reject reason, but we are not free to avoid the penalty of the abyss that we refuse to see. Faith and feelings are the darkness to reason’s light. In rejecting reason, refusing to think, one embraces death.”

–Faith of the Fallen pg 319

Again, I’ll be vague in the plot summary so as not to spoil anything if you haven’t read the books to this point (but really this is, hands down, the best book in the series).

The hero of the story Richard Rahl is forced to leave his wife Kahlan to save her life.  He is blackmailed by the sorceress Nicci subject of his enemy the Emperor Jagang, that he must travel with her into the heart of Jagang’s Imperial Order and do exactly as she says or the lives of his beloved will be extinguished.  And while you might expect torture or mind games you find something much worse in the Imperial Order: communism.  Complete, total and utterly inefficient communism.  Government control of everything. Government corruption rampant.  Starvation.  Misery.  Masses living lives under a crushing totalitarian regime that makes life not worth living.  Nicci’s plan to crush Richard’s will and let him see the evil nature of mankind and turn him to her side…I will put in one spoiler: this plan fails (but that was kind of obvious).

I’m not sure but I suspect that Goodkind did an extensive amount of research on life in the USSR, Soviet Blocs and Maoist China as the world depicted in the Imperial Order could have easily come out of any textbook or autobiography on life in those nations.  The inefficiency, the corruption, the lack of basic needs due to stupidity of a system that is at every step controlled by an overarching authority.  Every aspect of life, from care of the environment to daily quality of life to even being able to enjoy sex is polluted and destroyed under totalitarianism.

What does this have to do with the idea that reason is the only thing that guides your actions?

It has to do with the fact that there is this thing called human nature.  Human nature is always trying to find the best in life.  We are naturally selfish from the most rational of us to the least rational of us; human nature has this odd behavior of caring about our needs first.  Now granted the more rational and educated a person is the more they think toward long term and spiritual and emotional benefits to themselves than the immediate but we are all motivated by self interest, it is simple basic fact.  And everyone agrees that it cannot be changed, from the radical atheist that sees us as nothing but being motivated by a biological imperative to survive to the wises of spiritual masters who tell you to love yourself as much as you love any other person, who tell you to reach enlightenment as your primary goal, who even tell you that you are connected to everyone and that the good you do for others is good done to you, every person with even the smallest fraction of intelligence acknowledges that human beings are motivated by self interest. Now you can accept that fact and accept that it cannot be changed, or you can choose to deny it.  Now if you accept the fact that mankind is motivated by self interest then you would try to make sure that your nation had laws that would try to move that self interest in the most useful ways, encouraging policies and practices that benefited not only the individual pursuing self interest, but also everyone they associate with.  Or as Adam Smith observed, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”  Capitalism is that system.  Or you could try to deny facts, deny reason, and suggest that both the biological and spiritual imperative toward self-interest can somehow be destroyed by government fiat and try fascism or socialism or communism or some odd mixture of all three (I think it’s called Obamaism).  You can accept something about human nature to be true and work with it or you can deny facts and try to change what cannot be changed. Which plan is guided by Reason and which is guided by only irrational faith and feelings.

And at every level of the economy from the individual level to the nation wide Faith of the Fallen shows how this rejection of reason is a rejection of humanity.  At first it merely leads to inefficiencies but will soon corrupt and destroy whole systems and lives—killing hope, drive, happiness and in the end, life.  And in opposition to this an embrace of self-interest is an embrace of life in all it’s glory (the book makes this point very clearly near the end with artistic point).  Now I know that any liberal that has stumbled upon this review is probably having seizures by my praising self-interest trying to list all the terrible things that self-interest can lead to.  Yeah?  Duh.  Self-interest is a fact.  The question is whether you are using reason to guide your self-interest or if you let your feeling guide it.  Reason by nature thinks long term and by nature looks for win-win scenarios. Even without compassion or empathy guiding it, reason is a benevolent force. It is only when you let compassion or empathy rule instead of informed reason that you do things because it feels right, ignoring whether or not it will actually work.  And the book makes this very clear. Self-interest in itself is neither good or bad, it is merely a fact. You can either choose to let it be ruled by reason, which seeks a win-win, or you can try to deny it which builds nothing but misery, resentment and a viciousness to lash out at others. But then again to judge between the two requires reason to guide you.

And the other greatness of the philosophy of this book is that it shows how this principle permeates not just economics, politics, and military strategy.  It extends to even issues of art.  Inevitably art that embraces the denial of reality, the idea that self-interest must be condemned, must at all time deny the existence of heroes or greatness in the individual for to have such examples would be to give something for people to aspire to which in itself is another example of self-interest driving us, we want to be like the people whom we admire.  Thus intelligence, strength, character of both the hero and the common man must be denied and only suffering and inadequacy highlighted.  Charity is also perverted from an act of personal humanity and an acknowledgement of the potential in others, to nothing more than a duty from which no one should take pleasure in.

As always the relationship between the characters is even more enjoyable than the philosophy in Terry Gookind books…but as I said I don’t like giving away too much…although I would add that watching the character of Nicci go from being only motivated by the illogical desire to destroy self-interest to embracing life and reason is a hopeful one.

My one caveat on the sixth rule as Goodkind writes it is a small one.  He suggests that faith is opposed to reason. I would say that there are two kinds of faith, rational faith and irrational faith.  Faith about things that are not contradicted by reason (a belief in God for instance or what drives most people that they can do something that others say they can’t) is not a flaw in human reasoning but one of its greatest abilities.  It is only faith about something that reason directly contradicts (like the belief you can change human nature into something better than it is through laws and government power) that should be opposed and resisted.

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The Super Committee Failure is a good thing…

So the Super Committee failed.  Yay! Mandatory cuts at last! And Newt and Rand Paul are right that this is a good thing.  It’s only with future spending.  That’s bad.

Now some conservatives are having a knee jerk reaction to spending cuts in defense…but let’s be honest here.  We all know there’s waste.  We all know that there are useless expenditures.  There is the half a billion to buy a jet engine the DOD doesn’t want …and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Redundancy.  Poor spending programs.  Too many officers not enough enlisted. R&D in areas the military doesn’t actually want or know how to conduct (please go read a book entitled “The Pentagon Wars” by Col. James Burton if you want to how bad military R&D can get…and although it takes some liberties the movie also gives you a general idea of how bad it really is).  Knowing what I know about Federal spending I promise you if you got real accountants and real military personnel in there to go line by line over the budget, you could cut not just future spending but 10% of current spending AND have enough to buy every soldier brand new body armor.

 

And cuts to future spending in entitlement spending is a good thing.  But it’s certainly not enough.  Entitlement spending is like most government programs, it sounds good in theory, “let’s help the poor and needy”, but in fact all it does is make the situation worse.  You want to help the poor, cut the budgets for Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Welfare, Food Stamps, and Unemployment benefits by AT LEAST 50% over the next 10 years…not future spending actual spending because the more you cut the better people will actually be.  We spend $250,000 a year per poor person in America (the fact that they’re still poor tells you how much overhead we have in government waste)

Of course that’s still not enough.  We need to cut, cut, and cut some more until we can say that at least 15% if not 25% of each year’s federal budget is paying off the principle (not just the interest) on the debt.  Then and only then will you see real growth in the economy.

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The wisdom of the Great Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is one of the best economists of the last few decades.  (I might be a toss up between him and Walter E. Williams).  He is apparently going around promoting his new book “The Thomas Sowell Reader” which I’m sure I’ll love when I get around to it…but for the moment, let these words of wisdom on Occupy Wall Street and teh entitlement state.

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Idiots, Ethics and God

So, against my better judgment I have been engaging in a comment war with a real moron on a friend’s blog. A moron and a troll. What really pisses me off about this useless f!@# is that he is the kind of prick who likes to use big words, Latin phrases where the English would actually be more appropriate, and quote obscure philosophers to make himself sound really smart when he clearly knows nothing. You know, the kind of ass who likes to ask questions of subjectivity and postmodern philosophy that makes even intellectual people in college want to just punch repeatedly because he clearly isn’t mentally qualified to engage in the actual conversation at hand but wants to sound like he knows more than you. I know I shouldn’t have argued with him, there is nothing to be gained from arguing with idiots, because you can’t even humiliate them because sarcasm and insults are beyond their feeble little minds, ( I know this because irony, wit, and blatant petty mocking actually went right over his head…it was sad actually, made me feel like I was making fun of a retarded kid) but I had a couple of glasses of wine in me and my intellect was not at its peak (still well above the moron’s, but not at its peak).

But what really pisses me off is this idiot keeps referencing ideas and philosophers of deontological and utilitarian ethics as sources and people to challenge. And this really pisses me off.

But let me go back a step because I realize most people aren’t familiar with these philosophies (although they are far too often in practice). I myself do not read much from these philosophers because the I am familiar enough with their bullshit beliefs to not only know that they don’t meet even a prima facie case, but that when you get into the depths of these philosophies there is nothing of value to them. But let me give you the short and simple summaries of why both belief systems are beyond stupid.

Utilitarian philosophy might actually be familiar to most educated people. It’s the idea that the ends justify the means. It states that so long as you usually come out with a good end (usually for the most amount of people) then whatever you have to do to get there is justified. It’s stupid for both theoretical and pragmatic reasons. It’s stupid for theoretical reasons because it views people as merely tools to an end. Need economic growth then using people as a cheaply paid slave class is justified because it leads to growth (as China will more than testify to). Need a better class of people in your country, just kill all the inferior people (yeah, we know how well that one goes). Any and every major evil of the 20th century is justified by this belief. Because anything can be justified if you say that you’re doing it for the public, for the people, for the state, for the race. Ironically since any justification based on utilitarian principles has never resulted in anything but genocide, economic disaster, tyranny and suffering, utilitarian ethics would demand that utilitarian beliefs never be used. You cannot have any ethical beliefs without believing the basic inherent value of human life and the human soul, and that immediately throws out the basic premise of utilitarian beliefs that helping the many justifies hurting the few. If classical liberalism is correct, and human beings inherently have value by virtue of being human, then nothing can be justified by the principles of utilitarianism which demands that humans have no value in and of themselves, only in the respect that more is better than few. But that hasn’t it stopped this abhorrent belief system from being used time and time and time again.

There is probably only one evil worse than utilitarianism…and that’s the philosophy of deontological ethics. If utilitarian’s believe that the ends justify the means, then the deontological school believes the equally, if not more, evil idea that the means justify the ends.

Deontological beliefs were never really championed seriously until the advent of Immanuel Kant (please read “the most obscenely immoral person in the history of human civilization–If he had been given the power to do so he would have made Hitler, Genghis, Mao, Attila, Stalin, and Pol Pot put together look like choir boys.”). I do not believe in the Devil or the existence of absolute evil…but the existence of Kant makes me constantly question that belief. If there were ever books that deserved to be burned, they would have the name Immanuel Kant on them (not that I advocate book burning, but Kant comes damn close). As you can guess, I hate Kant…and the fucking excuses for human beings who follow him. Why do I hate him so much, well first because his entire philosophy is based on the idea that the purpose of human life is not to be happy but rather to fulfill our duty. I’ll come back to this in a minute, but for now just accept the fact that it allows a justification for causing human misery. Second because his rule, while a favorite of academics and the root for all post-modernist’s bullshit, is not only immoral but blatantly illogical and preposterous…but since he put it in such impossible to understand terms idiots who like to think themselves smart glorified it because the rule of a moron is
“if I can’t understand it, it must be smart.” Here is Kant’s entire basis for ethics and the grounding for all of his philosophy that followed:

“Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction.”—Immanuel Kant, The Groundings for the Metaphysics of Morals

In human terms that means do something only if you want everyone to do that thing at every opportunity. Don’t lie unless you want every person to tell a lie at every single time they speak and/or write. The classic example for this is you’re living in 1930’s Germany, an S.S. officer comes knocking and asks if you have Jews hidden in your basement, which you do. Do you lie? According to Kant you are an evil human being if you lie. You must tell the S.S. officer that you are hiding Jews and condemn them and yourself to death. According to Kant that is the only way to be an ethical human being. (One wonders how this sick little excuse for a human ever survived to be able to write such filth…oh wait he wrote in Prussia, a country not historically known for its morals.) For me, there is only one ethical way to not lie to the S.S. officer, and that is to get him to come inside the house long enough to shove a knife into the base of his neck. Again Kant would say that killing a Nazi is morally wrong. Human beings on the other hand view the cold blooded murder of any Nazi not so much as wrong, but more under the category of “DUH.” But ignoring the obvious Evil (yes the capital E is intentional) of this so-called ethical idea, is how it’s actually quite useless. What if, when the S.S. officer is standing there, I don’t ask “Should I lie?” but instead ask “Should I support tyranny?” “Should I betray the innocent?” “Should I follow the law?” “Should I follow an unjust law?” It’s useless as a rule (and further utterly pointless as the basis of a philosophy) if it yields different answers depending on how I formulate the question. If something is a rule it should tell me what to do in a given circumstance, the categorical imperative can’t do that because most actions involve multiple levels of action (lying, helping tyranny, following the law, and protecting the innocent). Still, given the fact that those who would believe in the categorical imperative can’t even see this obvious problem I can’t expect them to formulate the right question. But the worst is, like utilitarianism, it denies the value of human life. This is only concerned with the actions, not with how those actions affect something of value. Every person can be sacrificed if the categorical imperative says that to do otherwise would be wrong. There is no question of justice, of value, or right…only of duty to a poorly formulated idea from an immoral autistic soulless Prussian.

You see the problem is that most of ethical philosophy was settled back around 400 B.C.E. in Athens. Plato and Aristotle pretty much came up with the core basis for all ethics back then and realized quite correctly that happiness was the end and goal of human existence. Christ added a little humanity to the cold rationalism, and Aquinas made sure those two branches worked together. Yes there were still a lot of political and economic philosophical questions to be answered, but for the most part ethics was a complete philosophy with only the minutia to be debated and obvious errors to be corrected–for instance if Aristotle had just applied his own logic to his culture’s racism and misogynism he would have seen them to be wrong, but it’s unfair to blame a man who was centuries ahead of everyone else in a myriad of ways for not being ahead of his time in every way. After all what beliefs do you hold now that 2,000 years from now you’ll be laughed at for believing? (Hint if you believe in Kant, you should be laughed at right now). However, rather than take this rather well versed theories you had what the Renaissance laughably referred to as philosophy (starting with Descartes) had the idea that instead of refining the existing philosophy they should completely ignore all the previous learning and start from scratch. Now this can be helpful strategy to test existing beliefs and come at something from a new angle, but only when you compare what you come up with against the old ideas and see which one is more convincing (which modern philosophy has never done, because if it had it would have abandoned so much of the tripe that has been stated in the last five hundred years). And rather than building on ideas based on reason and truth modern philosophy first centered around the false dichotomy of empiricism vs. rationalism, then went to the insanity of Kant, and to call anything after that philosophy is an insult to the word. Useless academics spent the last five hundred years more worried about saying something new than saying something true. Part of this is because nothing in modern philosophy (with the exception of Locke, but he more or less drew the idea from Aquinas) has given any credence to the value and worth of the human soul.

And this is probably why even deists and believers who doubted the divinity of Christ (i.e. Jefferson, Adam, and Franklin) who did not subscribe to any particular denomination of belief, along with the rest of the Founding Fathers, believed that America (or any nation) could not survive unless it has some kind of spiritual belief. (“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”—John Adams). Without a belief in God and the soul, there is no value to humanity and thus nothing to stop institutionalized misery and evil. Atheists will try to say that statement is wrong (but I dare you to find any kind of atheistic regime in the whole of history that has not quickly degenerated into madness and destruction. Religious civilizations are 50/50 for being evil. Atheists have a 100% evil track record. Hmm tough call.)

I bring this last point up only as a tangential explanation of both utilitarianism and deontology are grievously wrong. However because I dismiss these so-called philosophers because they’re based on such a preposterous idea, one certainly would assume I’m some kind of philistine as if I don’t understand the genius of these philosophies. I reject them because I do understand their idiocy and evil.

And why else are they completely wrong (and arguably rather interchangeable since they’re both 100% wrong) is because they only focus on half the picture. One looks at means the other ends. Both are an incomplete picture. One must look at both to act ethically and rationally. Some means are wrong, like lying. But lying to save an innocent isn’t wrong. Murder is wrong, but it’s the height of ethics to murder a tyrant—its fact, it’s actually a moral imperative if you don’t have the ability to imprison them. (As I know that I occasionally have readers in Iran get to this blog…take a hint.) On the flip side sacrificing the rights of the innocent is never justified no matter how good the end you intend. However it would be foolish to say that those rights can never be violated, as sometimes the alternative is far worse even for the innocent (which is why the necessary evil of limited government is ethical. Very limited). Now this can only be achieved in Classically Liberal Democratic Republics that rely almost exclusively on capitalism (liberals out there capitalism requires laws and government, it’s not anarchy, but it doesn’t require a lot either).
Now, as it is pointed out in my favorite book, Republicans and Reincarnation, the best you’re going to get in the highly dependent on circumstances and surrounds for a calculus of ethics is the following five questions:

1. Is the action leading to a positive, neutral, or negative end?
2. Is the action unethical or ethical?
3. Is the benefit this action provides removing a material or spiritual obstacle, or both?
4. Is this a long-term benefit or short-term benefit?
5. Is the action benefiting a large number of people or a small number?

(Notice that this is the other reason you have to believe in the soul to be ethical, because if there is a soul then there is a difference between what is good in the material sense and what is good in the spiritual sense. To not make this distinction will always lead to unethical and unproductive behavior.) And the basic way to interpret the these five questions is (again from the book, there was a 3 page justification for these conclusions, but I fear I’m boring you already as this is a blog not a book):

No negative ends, even if it means unethical means. (Such as war to end tyranny)
No negative spiritual ends, even if it means negative material ends. (Quitting your job rather than violating your principles)
Unethical means only to prevent a negative end.
Long-term goals over short term. (The needs of the minority must never be sacrificed for the wants of the majority.)
The needs of the minority must never be sacrificed for the wants of the majority.

You’ll notice how both the foolish ideals of utilitarianism and deontology violate almost every one of those points, which is why they are wrong, which is why they must be opposed, which is why I dismiss the fools who originally formulated them and why I have no respect for the idiots who continue to follow them.

There, now I have something in writing that I can send to people every time they make such ridiculous arguments. If you also run into such an idiot send them this way. They probably won’t learn, but you can now mock them for their further lack of understanding.

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Books for Conservatives: Demonic by Ann Coulter

So I just finished reading Ann Coulter’s Demonic.  It follows the same enjoyable pattern that all her books do, including the flaws.

Ann Coulter articles are about 40% facts and 60% sarcasm and satire. For conservatives who actually know how to read we have no trouble separating one from the other.  For liberals who do not know how to separate sarcasm from fact her writing just drives them nuts, and we enjoy laughing at how they’re getting upset over nothing.   She refers to herself as a “polemicist,” that should tell you right away that most of what she says isn’t to be taken completely seriously.

Now her books fall into two categories.  The first is her collections of articles from the last year or two (a practice I fully intend to follow…and given how much I seem to write on a daily basis for this blog, I should have no trouble getting a book out of the last two years of writing…said volume will of course be published after “Republicans and Reincarnation” hits the bestseller list and not a moment before).  The second kind of book she writes are her more serious topic books, Slander, Treason, Godless, and of course Demonic.  As with these books the formula is more 70% facts and 30% sarcasm.  As usual just about everything she says has numerous citations and references so it becomes very easy to see that everything she says is factually accurate, except of course for the sarcasm.  All the books follow a well thought-out pattern.  Coulter lays down a central thesis.  In the case of Demonic it is that the liberal masses are ruled by the psychology of mob rule.  Here she quotes heavily from classic psychology and sociology texts on the way mobs work (and fail to think) tying each and every point that makes a mob a mob to the way the modern liberal movement works.  She then goes over this historical nature of the phenomenon.  In Treason she went back to WWII and worked her way up to the present looking at ways liberals consistently undermined this country.  In Demonic she goes all the way back to the French Revolution and looks at how the mob rule destroyed the nation.  Now, I would like to think I’m a better reader than the average person when it comes to history, but even I picked up quite a few new points I never knew about the French Revolution.  Namely in how sick it was!  This only had to add to my general dislike of the French.

After the historical side however, as with all of her books, she launches into modern examples of the phenomenon she is describing.  For Demonic this involves looking at how mobs go by slogans not depth, are driven by emotion not reason, hold blatantly contradictory ideas, are violent, base, and vulgar and always without question and exception destructive to the society they infest.  The first third of the book proves this.  After that, if you’ve followed the news, her examples while to the point and excellent, get a little repetitive as she is just brining in evidence that you’re already familiar with and have already made the connection to her thesis without her help.  The problem is that she is laying out a case for the opposition (who will never read the book) and preaching to the choir (who already knows all of this).  But there is her sarcasm, and the joy of that will get you another 20%-30% of the way through the book.  But by the time you hit two-thirds of the way through you’re just skimming looking for the flippant remarks.  This is the problem I find with all Coulter books—the case gets so repetitive that is becomes pointless to read.  I realize she’s writing for her critics, for whom no amount of proof will make them stop, but she makes sure that their denials are farcical when she has so much evidence against.  (It’s like watching the O.J. trial, after the first week we all knew he was guilty, but someone how the jury never got that fact.)

 

Overall I would say read the book, but if you can, borrow it from a friend, as I’m not sure if the repetition at the end is worth the full cover price unless you’re a fan of Coulter’s vinegar prose.  If you’re familiar with Ann’s work you can wait for the soft cover.  If you’re not familiar with it, but conservative, borrow it from someone.  If you’re a liberal and have the guts to truly challenge your beliefs (and mature enough not to try and throw her flippant sarcasm back at me for proof of how she is wrong) then I would challenge you to read it and tell where, in the serious parts, she is wrong.

 

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Books for Conservatives: Soul of the Fire by Terry Goodkind

So as I try to get through the 11 (Perhaps 12? I don’t know if the new book is as philosophical as the rest yet) book series that is Goodkind’s Sword of Truth in as short a time as possible I come to the fifth book, Soul of the Fire.

The book itself is more toned down than the previous volumes in the series. There are no major battles between armies, and few even between individuals. As a whole the thing reads more like a political thriller than epic fantasy as our heroes Richard and Kahlan try and convince the Kingdom of Anderith to join their D’haran Empire (the people dedicated to freedom, choice, capitalism, and individual rights) instead of siding with the invading Imperial Order of Emperor Jagang (the people dedicated to savagery, communism, genocide, dehumanization of the individual, and slavery…you know like socialist government in history). Strangely enough this is a difficult choice for the people of Anderith. Oh and Richard has to deal with the problem that magic is disappearing from the world. So there’s that problem too.
And while the story is exciting as is, as always, the theme, the Wizard’s Fifth Rule, that raises the Sword of Truth books above mere epic fantasy.

The Wizard’s Fifth Rule is:

“Mind what people do, not only what they say, for deeds will betray a lie.”

Further elaboration in the book states,

“People will lie to deceive you from what they truly mean to do. Watching the actions they take will prove their true intentions.”

This is a lesson that society has very sadly, and very dangerously forgotten. What people say and what they are, are often two different things. This is true of all levels of our lives. The friend who says they’re always there for you, but never is; the boss who says he has your back, when he does everything he can to undermine you; but nowhere is this more an important fact of live than in politics. Politicians are the poster children for the violation of this rule.
Politicians will say one thing and then do another.  This is not a shock.  Yet the way people the world over, it is more than apparent that people listen more to the words and the campaign slogans more than the actions of the politicians they are voting for.  This would be a good time to remember the Wizard’s First Rule: People are Stupid.  (The Second and Third Rules also seem to be in play here as well).  But while there is the obvious contradictions between words and actions suggested in on the first reading of this law that we should all pay attention to there is something more here.  There is the long term view suggested by the rule: “Watching the actions they take” actions, plural, are what need to be watched.  Why?  Because sometimes the most villainous of people will perform some actions that are in line with their words only to cover their long term goals.  It’s their true intentions that you have to look for, to look for the intent behind the actions.  That can sound a little paranoid, but it doesn’t need to be as you just have to look at the whole career of any politician to see if there is an obvious pattern of lying and corruption.

As this rule deals more with personal actions over a period of time, it requires that my examples focus more on a single individual than on a more general concept.
Case in point John McCain. A so called Maverick. He says he’s a conservative but his key piece of legislation is McCain-Feingold a piece of legislation that limits the first amendment right of the average person while only allowing for an increase in the rights of big money special interest to create and fund multiple PACs. A Maverick literally to this day owned by alcohol special interests and who was involved in the Keating Five scandal back in the 80’s (he took millions of dollars in campaign contributions to tell regulators to back off of a corrupt S&L). Mind what he does not what he says.  A man of such high character that he divorces the wife who waited for him while he was sitting in a prison for the first rich floozy who came along. Yes this is a man whom we should all support. He’s in the pocket of special interest, takes bribes from them, influences regulators and passes laws for them and cheats on his wife. Indeed this is a man who lives up to the image of character and principle that he presents in every single commercial. Such deep abiding principles that his position on how to deal with illegal immigration seems to change with the ocean tides. “Watching the actions they take will prove their true intentions.” Not to mention such acts as supporting the cowardly withdrawal from Somalia without first trying to defeat the warlords there. At the same time he argued to supply Kaddafi with weapons through the early 2000’s but then back the genocidal butchers who oppose Kaddafi, thus giving moral support to the worst president in history. “Deeds will betray a lie.”  And dare we forget that he let every single one of his campaign people go out and blame his VP choice for why he failed. As a politician there has not been a single thing this man has done that even remotely shows intelligence, character, ethics or even human decency. In his personal life leaving his first wife is bad, the idiot of a daughter he raised is even worse. There is nothing to like, admire, or even tolerate about this man.  But then again maybe they saw what this country failed to see, a bleeding heart liberal that will always support evil whenever he finds it.

But he says he’s a Maverick. He’s says he fights for the common people [while limiting their rights]. He says he stands for conservative values [while having never supported a single one]. He says he is worthy of bearing the Republican mantle, while supporting not a single one of its supposed principles (there are a lot of weak willed liberals in the Republican party, but none worse than McCain). A Maverick (who will do anything to gain the praise of the liberal press…he’d even sell his soul, if he had one).

I go off on him because he actually got the Republican nomination (and to go off on Obama’s hypocrisy would just be too easy). The same people who are “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” in the Tea Party are the same ones who voted for this degenerate excuse for a homosapien. And they may say they didn’t vote for McCain in the primary…well fine then they voted for Romney who did nothing to portray himself as a conservative or Huckabee a liberal on economics and lunatic on religion (the worst both worlds). And people wonder why I have my doubt about the long term success of the Tea Party for bringing about conservative values (however any comments about the Tea Party being racist are beyond ridiculous.

Why? Because they believe what he said, not what he had done.

Liberals are just as bad. They heard “hope” and “change” and voted for the dimwit over a woman whom, while I don’t agree with everything she does, had a track record for results and you knew where she stood.

The moderate are the worst. The ones who say Obama ran as a moderate. Are you kidding? Just because he said he was a moderate, give me one act, just one that would suggest such a thing.

The problem is that, because of Wizard’s First Rule, people listen to what people say.

Of course the worst is when you have a mixture of results. I am going to go to the most extreme example to make a point, not because I don’t have more moderate examples.

Adolf Hitler. He gave Germany a solid economy. He gave Germany a well built infrastructure that stands to this day (even after being bombed to hell). He gave people jobs, a purpose, and a passion for life. This is the worst example of the Fifth Rule the person who provides results with his words…but at what cost? In “Soul of the Fire” it’s a control of the lives of a kingdom for a generation…with Hitler it was only at the cost of enslaving entire ethnic groups (followed by killing them) and invading and butchering every surround country. A small price to pay for economic stability….or so the German people deluded themselves into thinking. In personal charity the right hand should not know what the left hand is doing, but in politics the two cannot be separated.

Venezuela supports Hugo Chavez because he gives them cheap gas, to hell if it’s at the cost of their freedom. Bolivia supports socialist Evo Morales because he doesn’t take a large salary, to hell if he’s destroying what little economy the country had. Russia supports Putin because he reminds them of when they had a myth that they were a strong and relevant country, to hell if it’s at the cost of all the freedoms they wanted. America supported Obama because he promised them stuff, to hell if he can’t deliver.

In each of these cases they may say or do thing that say they are honorable people who are doing what is right…but to look at the consequences in each case reveals nothing but destruction and chaos.  Whether it’s intentional or just incompetent doesn’t matter, people, and especially politicians, need to back up their words with action and results, nothing else matters.

Actions and their results are the only thing that matter when judging a person, and especially a politician. Yes there are exceedingly few examples of people we can point to who always do the right thing for the right reason, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care about such things.

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