Thursday, January 26, 2012
Paying One's Fair Share For A Piece Of Something You Barely Use Or Want
Analogies are not statistics -- not that statistics offer air tight cases for anything -- but I like them.
Perhaps you're familiar with the scenario I'm about to describe. You or someone else goes to a party at a restaurant. You've already eaten or you're not feeling well so you don't want anything to drink. Or, you arrive late after having been to another party. You eat one slice of pizza and have one beer while most at said event have downed several appetizers, several slices of pizza, and at least a pitcher of beer. When you're all about to leave and people are getting their wallets out, you offer to pay the same as everyone else but sane people recognize that you've had a mere fraction of the party's food and drink and tell you, "Just give us ten bucks and we'll call it even." You make one more polite offer to pay a full portion and others insist that you don't. After the etiquette dance you end up paying "ten bucks" and no one feels you've somehow cheated them or somehow been greedy or sinister. Of course, on rare occasions you'll be dealing with some clown who fully expects you to pay what they consider to be you're "fair share." It's doubtful that anyone would actually say, "you know, you ate and drank a fraction of what we did but you're richer than us so you should pay more."
Only in the bizarre world of "progressive" politics is it seen as an affront to decency that a person who is part of the group that pays 40% of all federal income taxes is somehow "not paying their fair share." The argument that "you should pay [an arbitrary amount] more" because you have more wealth doesn't even address the issue of what the money is being spent for. Imagine being at a restaurant where they've ordered sardine flavored ice cream with pickles and chocolate sauce and insisted that since you're comparatively rich you should pay more than the already large amount you were going to pay (for something you didn't want).
It's probably an instinctual reaction among most people to want the guy with "all the stuff" to pay for everyone's [the state's and politicians] everything but, come on! There's fairness and there's stupid.
You know we've entered surreal times when the state is full of sardine flavored projects and it's considered a testament to fairness that those who pay the most be forced to pay more. It's even more pathetic that a good portion of our population have been so easily swayed by demagogues to believe that one is selfish, "greedy," or even evil for not wanting to fill the state's ever growing list of pathetic Vote buying schemes and dependency traps.
When we freely choose the goods and services we want and pay for them at a mutually agreed price we are "paying our fair share.". When we submit to the commands of politicians and bureaucrats and fork over large percentages of our earned wealth we are "On the road to Serfdom," as Friedrich Hayek put it. "Fair" isn't fair...no matter how good someone thinks the sardine flavored ice cream is.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
They Hate Us....So
This is an excellent article that examines many European's favorite pastime -- hating the United States.
"'Most of the Germans,' insisted one reader, 'followed the rules and fought a civilized war.' Another agreed, saying that America 'is way worse then Nazi Germany ever was.' A third asserted that during the Vietnam War, the US, that 'sanctimonious and arrogant s*** country,' had outdone Hitler. A couple of readers cited the Allied bombing of Dresden as proof that America and the western Allies were at least as bad as the Nazis; one recalled having 'seen videos from WWII of P51 planes mowing down German farmers in May 1945.' Several readers insisted that it wasn’t the Western Allies that whupped the Nazis and freed Norway, but the Soviets: 'America would have been a**-f***ed in a one-on-one against Nazi Germany.' Much of the article made me cringe, not because I'm particularly patriotic or blind to my county's flaws and misdeeds but because it's an issue I've been exposed to many times personally."
There are so many expats in Japan where I live who, in addition to a passionate hatred of capitalism and conservative values, absolutely despise America. Their rabid hatred is bordering on the bizarre and always leaves me believing that there must be some deep psychological motivation far beyond reasoned disagreement with a country's actions or collective character.
My own observations regarding rabid anti-American sentiment is that it stems from a very snobbish and elitist worldview. It's not really about Germany, France, or New Zealand (for example) "vs." the U.S., it's about an archetypal leftist snob who has conjured images of a hybrid monster; half uneducated and classless hillbilly and half cunning capitalist predator. The U.S is neither. It's a very diverse, dynamic, and creative nation with a major positive impact on modern history. Skeletons in the closet...of course (actually, less closeted than most countries as it is under constant critique).
When I hear the usual cliche' bitterness toward the country of my birth my impulse now has become one of simply rolling my eyes up at the arrogance of anyone who would portion so much of their passions at a country so unlike the cruel, oppressive tyrannies that have covered so much of our recent history.
...how does one roll their eyes up in script?
Sunday, January 15, 2012
The Anti-authoritarian Personality, and Dictators Large and Small
Sorry for my recent extended period of non-posting. I want to at least put something up here so the site doesn't seem be completely dormant so I fished this out of my documents. It was probably posted on this site at some time fairly long ago. If I ever take the time I'd like to add to my "Big Rants" links (on the left side of this page -- sometimes near the bottom in some browsers) with more articles like the following. Of course many educated people are familiar with Theodor W. Adorno's writings on "the Authoritarian Personality" who he concluded was -- Ta Da! -- conservative. The part most college professors will leave out when they mention this Phd's B.S. is that he was -- TA Da! (again) -- a devout Marxist. Anyway, I've seen more than my share of Authoritarian types and they're often -- typically -- statists of one type or another. They're definitely not free market/limited government types. I think one would find considerably more authoritarian types among the rabble of "Occupy Wall Street" than among "Tea Party" protesters. May the following entertain or spark contemplation:
I once heard a socialist express his hatred for free markets because corporations were -- to him -– like thousands of “little dictators.” This is a response we can expect from left-land when we decry the horrors of real dictatorship; mega-states and cult figures dedicated to monolithic all-consuming power and oppression. We note Castro's one man rule over everything on his island prison and the left retorts the horror that trendy coffee shops are expanding in capitalist societies.
It is, indeed, true that large corporations have power and are, in a sense, authority figures, but do they really pose the same threat as a single person, group or ideology that seeks control of all industry, labor, information, cultural expression, and ideals?
The socialist worldview inevitable shares with libertarians distaste for authority -- on the surface. The apparent difference lies in the left’s actually favoring authority when it is invested in the state and directed to their cherished purposes. The right favors business as a default condition of its favoring the individual freedoms that promote prosperity and private commerce in general.
A significant difference between government authority and “power in the hands of business” is that government, by its nature seeks to become monolithic in its interests and goals – business does not. A free society has other power centers besides those of business, though one would never know this from a socialist’s rant (i.e. the National Education Association is hardly a business and can not be called “weak” and ineffectual by any definition). The interests of a dental clinic are hardly the same as those of a toy store. The interests of an aircraft manufacturer are hardly the same as those of pet food suppliers. They of course can all be expected to favor a political / economic order that allows for their freedom to exist, succeed, and excel, but this hardly constitutes a conspiratorial plot for monolithic authority, or a shared scheme to “oppress.” The average soap company doesn’t dream of a day when their insurgents will seize control of state capitals to create a new world where their company will rule over all aspects of society.
Government’s goals are; to govern, everything from children’s education to who is permitted to cut hair and under what conditions. The private sector’s goals are to be as free as possible to pursue infinitely diverse and contending interests and, yes, those in the private sector also usually “want money” (as if the government doesn’t?). Regarding the capitalists themselves, while most of them certainly favor the system that allows for their own existence and opportunity, it’s clear that there are more than a few who actually don’t favor a free-market. While this is certainly counter intuitive, it has occurred none the less throughout the history of capitalist society (e.g. Marx’s side-kick, Friedrich Engels, was quite the capitalist, and used portions of his profits to advance the cause of socialism as well as provide financial upkeep for his less than hard-working friend, Karl).
There may indeed be thousands of “little dictators” out there in the corporate business world (varieties of authority figures exist as well in daily life in general under any system) seeking to sell more dog food or convince you to buy a newer and better television, but lets consider this in a realistic light.
Common sense should allow for an ability to distinguish the difference between “threats posed” by a million and one authorities and, often conflicting, special interests, vs. a single dominating spirit with an obedient bureaucracy and punitive legal apparatus at its disposal (e.g. the state). At the core of this basic conflict lies one’s degree of tolerance for (or allegiance to) authority in forms either concentrated or dispersed.
It is one thing to oppose authority and “little dictators” and quite another to oppose the authority and all-consuming power of the state. Among authority figures large and small, I’ll tolerate the small ones and recognize the reality that there will always be degrees of power and authority present in others. A philosophy that believes it can end the reign of all the “little dictators” that inhabit daily life is one to be most careful of. The mere desire to sell stuff and “make a buck” is a “dictatorial” condition most of us can live with…and, we may even buy a new and better TV as part of our condition as “oppressee” in such benign circumstances.
Anyone can be “anti-authority” or repelled by the presence of “little dictators,” just as anyone can fear the power and authority of an omnipotent state. It seems that not everyone can equally perceive the more potent or dangerous threat.
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Observations, Quotes, and Reverie
Please have a look at my Promethean Observer blog to see a mass of my own comments (some stupid, mundane, or cliche -- and I'd like to think, some grand, insightful, or reasonably imaginative) and quotes by others, which are definitely grand, insightful, and imaginative.