Why Elections Don’t Make a Difference (and What Does)

TOBY: I think anything tactical makes us look bad.
SAM: Well, we should get used to it. We go on TV, we do a better job at selling it then the other guy. And we win the bigger argument… I also think it’s the right thing to do.

                                        –The West Wing, Season 3, Ep. 64: “We Killed Yamamoto”

This article asked: How can any American not care?

Well, I’ll tell you. Do you know why people (even intelligent, thinking people) show apathy toward politics and elections?

Because the thinking mind shrinks from absurdity. Continue reading Why Elections Don’t Make a Difference (and What Does)

Forget Nations. How Do We Live as a Species?

We know who speaks for the nations. But who speaks for the human species? Who speaks for Earth?

–Carl Sagan, Cosmos, 1980

 

When democratic elections fail in other countries we often hear the quip that you cannot impose democracy in cultures that have no conception of liberty. That chaos and havoc are the natural result of such a clash of ideas. That it will “never work”. Continue reading Forget Nations. How Do We Live as a Species?

The You and I Economy

 

An “unfettered” free (hello redundancy!) market means you and I are unfettered in how we spend our dollar. “Unfettered” means unfettered by government, and whoever profits by our dollar must also serve us by producing exactly what we want to be produced, in the quantity dictated by us and our spending choices.

So where is the evil?

Well, what if businesses invest unwisely? That brings harm, doesn’t it?

Because government invests more wisely?

When an individual or a company makes a bad choice only the individual or the company is affected, and they lose by it, learn by it, or go out of business (assuming they aren’t bailed out by government.) When government makes a bad choice it does not go out of business–it lives to make more bad choices. The negative consequences of those choices are felt across entire industries, or across the whole economy from one side to the other.

So, how can you be afraid of business malinvestment, but not government malinvestment?

The nonsense of government incentives to hire

We already use our money to provide incentives to hire… by spending.

All government does is reallocate money that would have been spent to do precisely that, away from taxpayers. Consumers already encourage hiring. Every time you spend a dollar, it encourages the recipient business to do more of what it’s doing: produce more of that product, provide more of that service to more people, etc.

More, at some level, means the need for more work. There is no such thing as a limit on the work that needs to be done. For that to be true there would have to be a limit of things that consumers desire. But  I think you and I both know… there is no such limit. 

An economy where you and I make the decisions

The free market is the only truly consumer-centric system. It is purely democratic. In such a system, government doesn’t dictate what to produce, or how much, or what price to make it available at. But neither does business. The consumer decides, by spending his dollar one way or another. Businesses exist to serve those needs. That’s all they do. The ones who serve us well thrive. The ones who don’t serve us don’t get our dollar.

All that government interference into the economy accomplishes is to divorce the consumer’s dollar from what we would collectively pay for and spend it on something else instead. All it can accomplish, therefore, is the exact opposite of what we, collectively, would have accomplished by our own choices. It keeps businesses alive that we don’t particularly care for. It prevents innovation, by continuing to produce things which, if the funds were left in the channels that we had designated for them, would have been made obsolete or irrelevant. It hires people we would not hire, and prevents the hiring of people we would hire.  It creates artificial demand for things which we would be more careful or frugal about putting our money into, and prevents wise investment into longer-term investments and savings (things which actually empower us).

It does all of this based on the ancient notion that the government is our ruler, wiser than, and ethically-superior to, us. But do we really believe that? Under a non-monarchical, non-dictatorial system we are supposed to decide what is best for us, and government merely act as our representatives to protect us from crime and foreign aggression.

Are there evils in a free market? Of course! No one cries out louder than me at some business engaged in wrongdoing, or using deceptive or fraudulent tactics, or manipulative advertising, or has bad hiring policies, or uses toxic, chemical-laden products. But herein lies the power: in a free market, we can withdraw our dollar from that company and cry out for others to do the same. Then, when that company’s profits begin to slide, it can either change its ways, or surrender market share to new companies who do things better and give consumers more of what they want.

Would a government-run company or department or bureau do the same? Would they even care? What would be our recourse, if we no longer wanted to do business with that department?

Sorry Shirley, you’re stuck with them.

Businesses might do unwise, or inefficient, or unethical things, sure. But they pay for that. There are consequences. They are answerable to us.

When government does something unwise, inefficient, or unethical it blames it on its supposed “opponents” and carries right on the next day, doing more of the same, and there’s not much we can do about it. So under which system do you feel more empowered?

What Do You Think of the Environmental Movement?

Well, in short, it’s a mess. There is no such thing as a cohesive “movement”. What we have is a grab-bag of politicians, entertainers, corporations, and bought-science combined with a public that refuses to think for itself and seems willing to spout the platitudes of anyone who uses pleasing (or inflammatory) rhetoric.

The crucial question is the science. Are humans contributing to warming? That seems undeniable. Is it catastrophic? Well, that remains an open question. Continue reading What Do You Think of the Environmental Movement?

On the supposed clash of civilizations between Muslim world and the West

I don’t see a clash of civilizations at all.

Civilization (singular) is a human creation, and one of its greatest. Civilization is nothing more or less than the organization of society under the rule of civil law. It is the enforcement of rights. On the personal level, it is the implicit understanding that we get what we want from other people by entering into discussions and agreements with them, not by putting guns to their head.

Civilization is the understanding that the opposite of rights is the monstrous wrong of using physical violence to obtain our ends, and the legal protection against it.

The very word clash seems to imply an unresolvable impasse between two equal forces. Well, there can no more be a “clash” between civilization and its opposite, than there can be between food and poison. Only one sustains life. Continue reading On the supposed clash of civilizations between Muslim world and the West