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What Is the Foundation Of Your Economic Beliefs?


Guest Fritz

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Here is a column that I found very thought provoking. It is a series of questions that we should probably ask ourselves regarding how we feel about various issues that could influence what we expect of our governments and is written by Bill Frezza. Here is a brief excerpt.

Do you admire highly paid sports figures yet disdain highly compensated business executives? Why? Does it matter whether the shareholders in the companies that employ these executives feel they are getting their money's worth? And if you're not a shareholder, what makes this issue your concern?

If you find the excerpt thought provoking, read the whole thing at the link. It's only a page long and caused me to examine some reasons why I favor government pursuing certain economic policies and not others. Obviously we will not all agree on the answers to each of the questions, but thinking about them should help each of us decide which government programs we, as individuals, support and which ones we oppose. It may also help you in deciding some issues on which you are undecided because in many ways it makes you think outside of the typical liberal or conservative box and instead evaluate a program on your basic economic beliefs rather than simply by your political affiliation. It should also help you in recognizing when your favored political party is advancing policies which you may disagree with.

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Gee Fritz, I really don't know about this article. I am going to look at again tomorrow when I am more awake, but at the moment I have alarm bells ringing that some of the questions seem to be manipulative , somewhat preemptive by the nature of their direction, if not their premiss.

I'll think about it.

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Des, I wouldn't say it is manuliputative unless you allow it to be. My first thought was that the questions were from a libertarian point of view. My second thought was that the questions were aimed at the current healthcare debate going on in the U.S., but the more I looked at it the more I came to believe that the questions, while probably from a libertarian, are actually designed to show you whether you lean towards capitalism or socialism and the degree to which you lean.

I don't think there are any 100% capitalists or 100% socialists. It is not that some people do not say they are one of the other, but when pressed on a given issue they will go against what they say they believe. There are instances in which those who claim to be capitalists will say that the government needs to do something, and the socialist will say that they own something, be it ever so modest. Remember, in absolute capitalism the government will never help anyone no matter how dire the circumstances, and in absolute socialism all things belong to the state be it your mother's picture or your false teeth if you happen to have them. Put another way, in capitalism it is every man for himself, and in socialism it is every man for the state.

Cole, rather than say it depends, I would suggest that you are like me. There are some questions there that I am not willing to answer because I have not yet decided what my core principle is for them. I'm still holding mental debates with myself on some of them, trying to decide what my core beliefs are.

For anyone reading this thread. I see the questions as starting out with a simple question in which the answer is supposed to tell you what your core principle or belief is, and then throwing in complications that are designed to make you dig deeper into that belief and see if you actually believe it or if you simply adopted a position on a given topic without thinking it through. I see the link as more of a philosophical discussion you hold with yourself in order to discover what your true beliefs or principles are. Perhaps Des is right and it was designed to be manipulative and the only reason it didn't come across to me that was is the mood I was in when I read it. It actually strikes me as consisting of the type of questions you might get in a college philosophy class where the prof was trying to make you think through the consequences of your beliefs. Anyhow, back to contemplating my navel and trying to decide just what it is I believe. A couple of those questions have already loused up what I thought I believed.

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My gut instinct, upon reading anything written from a fiscal libertarian viewpoint, is to shout "CLASS WAR!" and throw a brick through a window. But I'll refrain from doing so, for now. Heh.

I see a lot of begging the question and strawman arguments.

He starts out be equating economic beliefs to religion, and asking why we aren't equally accepting. Two things come to mind:

1 - Many people are NOT accepting of others' religious beliefs. In many cases, tolerance is the best we can aim for. As in, "I disagree with you completely, and I wish you would change your mind, but I guess we'll have to live with each other."

2 - Unlike economics, no one (in America, anyway) is FORCED into a religious system. We are going to be in an economic system, however, be it a free market, a regulated market, a state system, or even a barter system. You don't really get a choice, there. As such, it isn't a matter of "You go your way and I'll go mine." It's a matter of trying to convince others so that they will vote (or revolt) with you in order to reform or maintain the current system. That's how democracies work.

His next premise seems to be "If the poor don't like being poor, why don't they just get rich, already?" (Now, why didn't I think of that when I was standing in line for food stamps with my parents? Jeez, if only there had been some libertarian venture capitalists around at the time to set me straight.) This is followed closely by "Illegal immigrants come to America to be exploited."

The author asks "Do you admire highly paid sports figures yet disdain highly compensated business executives?" My response is a resounding "Hell, no" on both sides.

"Does it matter whether the shareholders in the companies that employ these executives feel they are getting their money's worth? And if you're not a shareholder, what makes this issue your concern?"

It's not a matter of "Those execs make too much money." It's a matter of "Those execs make too much money when compared to their workers." If an exec is making a million dollars a year in "bonuses" while the average worker gets a twenty dollar gift card to Wal-Mart and is forced to buy their own health insurance, it's everyone's concern, because those particular execs ARE making their fortunes on the backs of the poor. The way I see it, if an exec wants a raise, he'd better give everyone under him a raise, too. Can't do it? Earn more money, or be content with what you've got. That's right - contentment. It's a dirty word to capitalists, I know, but I happen to like it.

The author then wheels out my old favorite, the "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" argument. Nice, in principle, if you ignore things like generational poverty. Children growing up in middle-class homes with professional parents are familiar with THOUSANDS more words by the time they enter Kindergarten alongside underprivileged children. This alone is enough to put them at an instant disadvantage, from which many of them never catch up. Add to that the fact that schools in poor districts are often underfunded, understaffed, and ignored until it comes time to flog them for not measuring up to the standards set by middle-class, middle-age, suburban white people working for a standardized testing corporation. States then use these numbers as an excuse to deny more funding to these very schools, leading to a cycle of under-education of the poor. In simpler terms, you're shouting "pull yourself out of that hole!" while setting fire to the rope.

"If a poor person becomes rich through hard work then resists handing his money over for the benefit of the poor, is he a traitor to his class? Should he be treated differently than someone who inherits great wealth? How about someone who wins the lottery? Why?"

Yes, no, and no. Why? Because a person who becomes rich due to the opportunities given them in this country should give something back to it.

The author's next point is awesome in that he contradicts his own earlier viewpoint in an essay about challenging contradictory viewpoints:

"...does it matter to you if the attendant incentives and disincentives reduce the total amount of wealth available to be shared? Is making all people equally poor an acceptable solution to inequality?"

Earlier, he said:

"Is there a fixed amount of wealth in the world for all to share? If so, where did it come from and how has mankind been getting richer for the past 200 years?" With this earlier question, he is implying that there is no fixed amount of wealth (a common libertarian viewpoint, and a necessary premise to the "bootstraps" argument mentioned above - 'the rich aren't taking all the money, the poor just need to make some more!').

He then argues that progressive taxation disincentives will reduce A FIXED AMOUNT OF WEALTH, leading to everyone being "equally poor." But, Mr. Author...if venture capitalists start becoming "equally poor", they can pull themselves up by their bootstraps, right? I mean, you have no problem telling poor people to do that, now (via the coded language of "taking responsibility").

He then goes on to equate taxes to stealing from children, Big Brother spying, racism, and gangs of thieves. Nice.

"Do you resent being asked to justify your economic beliefs or the moral foundation they rest on? Do your ends always justify your means? Do you feel entitled to having your beliefs respected solely because they are yours? Would you feel the same way about your mathematical beliefs?"

If you can't justify your beliefs, you should get some new ones. Seems simple enough to me. No need to "resent" a challenge - you should view it as a way to get your point across.

"Are you comfortable holding contradictory beliefs? When was the last time you questioned them?"

Question everything. It is my strong belief that one should not hold strong beliefs.

"What do you do when you discover you hold two beliefs that contradict each other?"

The whole world and all of life is a big, flying mess of contradictions and confusion. That's what makes it so damned beautiful. Hail Eris.

And, of course, the author shoots himself in the foot by throwing all sense of impartiality out the window with his closing sentence: "What other outcome would you expect when moral foundations crumble?"

And here I thought capitalists were OPPOSED to begging. No wait, they don't like begging for money. Begging the question is cool.

Overall, though, I thought it was a fun read. Not the best pro-capitalism challenge I've had, though. I've got a friend who I swear was possessed by the ghost of Adam Smith. Now THERE'S a guy who can almost convince me to support a tax cut for the rich. Almost.

...CLASS WAR!!! *windowbrick* :lol:

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Fritz writes:

Cole, rather than say it depends, I would suggest that you are like me. There are some questions there that I am not willing to answer because I have not yet decided what my core principle is for them. I'm still holding mental debates with myself on some of them, trying to decide what my core beliefs are.

No, that wasn't what I meant. I'm very comfortable with all my answers to those questions, my positions on the points he brings up. I strongly object to the way he tries to lead you to the answers he encourages from you. Which is reflected in why my "It depends" is such a frequent answer.

Because how I answer each question depends on the specific circumstances extant. I can imagine circumstances where I would agree with his assumed premise and answer the way he wants me to, and I can envision ones where I'd violently disagree.

I have a brother who's a committed libertarian. When I sent him the questionnaire, he wrote back to say, "Hey, a libertarian questionnaire!" EleCivil labeled it that, too. I agree with both of them. This is presented to further the libertarian agenda, to make people see things from their perspective. That agenda is frequently seductive. You should enjoy the fruits of your own labor, for example. Who can possibly argue with that thought? But following that agenda also takes us places that are not only wrong, they're vile. Like believing people are poor because they simply don't try hard enough. That we can all succeed to the same degree simply by working as hard as the guy who does succeed. Sure. Of course.

Not only wrong, but evil, and incendiary.

The questionnaire does ask legitimate questions, but phrases them to extract certain answers. It certainly is manipulative, as Des stated. It isn't written, in my view, to encourage us to examine our core values; it is written to suck us in to a party line.

C

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Ele and Cole, all I can say, especially since I seem to be a minority of one, is that it goes to show how mood can affect ones view of something. I was feeling pretty laid back when I read it(I'd just finished a long phone conversation with an old school friend and we had spent close to a half hour of it laughing about the times we had spent an evening with our friends, a case of beer, and some snacks discussing how to save the world) and I explained how it came across to me. After thinking about your comments, and Des's also, I can certainly see why you would come to the conclusions you did and that they are most likely a better reading of it than mine was. I got hung up debating the underlying principles of my answers with myself and forgot to see the forest for the trees. I also lean somewhat libertarian although I've never heard an actual Libertarian politician who made good sense and certainly never one I would dream of voting for. There have been a number of tests that are supposed to tell you where on the political spectrum you fit and the answers I give always tell me I am a mild libertarian very slightly to the right of center. In truth I would describe myself as a classical liberal, not to be confused with today's Democrat or Progressive which are far from liberal in my opinion. I suppose that is why I'm never very happy with either your standard Democrats or Republicans. I come closer to agreeing with many of the Democrats' social policies and the Republicans' government policies, but mostly dislike the vast majority of the elected Democrats and Republicans because they don't come close to representing the policies they and their respective parties claim to support. However, even though I say I come closer to supporting certain aspects of both major parties, both support policies with which I vehemently disagree.

When I posted the link it was never with the idea of debating the questions contained within the link on the forum because there is too much chance of such a debate devolving into a shouting match. I found it interesting because it asked questions that made me think about what I believed and why I believe it. I remember taking a class at the Naval Academy on morals and the instructor frequently asked questions in a similar manner and then made us defend our answers when presented with additional details, many of which did not seem related to the original question, but in the end were. When the debate was over he would explain what core value he was trying to make us understand. The purpose of the class was to help us understand how moral beliefs affect decisions and that we needed to understand certain core concepts so that we could make command decisions that did not run afoul of military or international law. While I was washed out of the Academy for medical reasons before completion of the course, I never heard anyone come up with the explanation he was after on the initial question although several times one of the class would come close. It was an interesting class; one which I would enjoy taking today simply for the intellectual challenges it presented.

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I also lean somewhat libertarian although I've never heard an actual Libertarian politician who made good sense and certainly never one I would dream of voting for. There have been a number of tests that are supposed to tell you where on the political spectrum you fit and the answers I give always tell me I am a mild libertarian very slightly to the right of center. In truth I would describe myself as a classical liberal....

As I said, there are many Libertarian ideas that everyone can agree on, everyone who isn't of polemic bent. Libertarians celebrate the individual and his rights. Americans seem to have that fiber within them, the 'Don't Tread of Me' makeup, and so vibrating to the rhythms of Libertarianism is natural for us.

The problem I see with their agenda is they take it too far. They don't recognize that as part of a society, there are elements on togetherness that supersede the needs and rights of the individual. That isn't their problem. And they don't address it.

But much of what they say and preach rings true, and as I said earlier, is certainly seductive. The problem is that when philosophy hits the real world, their ideas quickly find that that slippery slope we keep hearing about.

'Leaning somewhat libertarian' is probably what many of us do. I just don't think it's workable.

C

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I want to first thank Fritz for bringing the article to our notice. Subsequent contributors to this discussion have been enlightening for me, but I'll get to that in a moment.

I thank EleCivil for his post as he saved me a considerable effort by the thoroughness of the analysis in his post, with which I am mostly in agreement. Cole too has contributed worthwhile points. A broader discussion on the points they both raise would be fascinating but very time consuming. I would however look at the wider picture of encouraging individual potential rather than try to comment on the specifics in the article. Sorry in advance if this seems like a hijack, but I think it is the only way I can impart the nature of my economic attitude.

In replying I firstly quote Fritz's concern that:

When I posted the link it was never with the idea of debating the questions contained within the link on the forum because there is too much chance of such a debate devolving into a shouting match.

I know that there are many places that exist on the web where shouting and even downright abuse are permitted. I like to think that even where we disagree we do so elegantly, even eloquently and certainly with respect for each other's rights to hold differing views. So Fritz, I don't believe there is much chance of the post devolving into that shouting match even if some of us do get a little too defensive. Not that there has been any sign of that. :icon1: Fritz, I have learned we can never be sure just what the reaction will be, to anything we post on the Net, that is why it is best to not be too affronted when we are misunderstood.

As EleCivil has summed up my regard for the article to which I add only, that the manipulation I referred to, was of the nature of logical fallacies. I would like to move along to speak on his reference to something that surprised me and caused me to do some research on his use of the phrase, 'fiscal libertarian'. I was disturbed by the use of the phrase.

At first I suspected a US contrary meaning to the use of libertarian in this context.

I should explain that locally, at least for my poor education, 'libertarian' is associated with ...*libertarian socialists (who were) first to adopt the term libertarian in the mid-19th century. It was the use of 'fiscal' that made me suspect something other than this definition.

Sure enough I now have learned about a broader range of libertarian meanings than not only astounds me but seems almost certainly related to the Babel effect of confounding me as well. :lol:

Just to confuse the issue we have the Australian Liberal party which is right wing conservative, and somewhat conservative in similar fashion to the US Republican Party even if much more respectful of secular government in my understanding of them.

The truly liberal philosophy as per the original Libertarian Socialists, I referred to above, is represented in Australia by the closest party to the US Democrats, the Australian Labor Party, which in recent times has moved to the right of centre with some allegiance to Christian influence. In other words it seems to have lost its socialist roots.

I am explaining our political horror so that you may see that my use of the word, libertarian, is very much not the same as understood from the above references by EleCivil and others.

So when I say I am somewhat a libertarian, you will hopefully now understand why I find the article not in the least liberal or of libertarian root. I was thus somewhat confused by reference to libertarian which was so opposite to my own use of the word, coming as it does from the 19th Century origin.

However all is not lost, my research has given an understanding of the US Libertarian Party which is not really the same as the original Libertarian Socialists.

I don't intend to discuss the differences of the various ways that libertarian is used, other than in the above explanation.

Wiki makes it sufficiently clear as to the diverse variations of the phrase, and that is all we need to consider for our present purposes of understanding that one man's liberty is another man's slavery. Which one you happen to be, may well depend on your bent to capitalism or socialism, and in that regard it is important to not confuse socialism with communism. (Sooner or later the capitalist profit system and its inequalities must give way to compassionate influences if we are to avoid worsening poverty in all senses of the word. Means never justify the end, by the way; so riches filtering down from the top to the poor will only ever provide nice funerals at best.)

*Wiki: Libertarianism

Wiki: Libertarian Party (United States)

For those of you who do not know of the Political Compass site, I refer to it here so you can go there and first do the survey and then explore the site. You may well be shocked at how much of an authoritarian or libertine you happen to be. (Me? I'm an anarchist and love it.)

So I find the nature of the questions in the article somewhat manipulative in the same way I regard Fox News manipulative propaganda.

At the risk of being misunderstood even further, James referral to Ayn Rand is interesting. I have read some of her books and found The Fountainhead the most memorable. However the push for individualism in the book was for me, too ego-based and I think the 1949 film is much better at showing how mankind benefits from encouraging the individual to explore his or her own abilities, potential and fulfillment, (which then benefits society.)

W. Sommerset Maugham's novel "Razor's Edge" makes this point most eloquently.

So in reference to Cole's concern for 'togetherness' I am of the opinion that individuals who seek to manifest their potential, rather than their social position, even in defiance and maybe because of such defiance of society, will eventually transcend their selfishness into a selflessness that does indeed enrich society and maybe even mankind in general. Artists and human rights leaders, amongst many others, do this all the time, but the press, the propaganda mills, the media in general popularize the personal lives and egos of such people and often they are rewarded from profits with large sums of money, until they fall prey to the adoration of those who never knew that they too had potential to lead, to create, to contribute in their own unique way, not only to their own lives, but in doing so to the community in which they live.

There does come a time when the individual must make the decision as to whether he will just do the job that is required of him, or whether he will do it to the utmost of his ability, albeit with a conscience.

Even if it isn't workable, it's the best chance we have, and so if I believe in anything and I generally try not to believe in much at all, I have to believe that contributing to the goodness of Mankind is the only legacy that makes sense, the only sane reason for existence. It's called Love, by the way.

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Private sector VS Public Sector

Which one gives you your money's worth?

Near my home are two construction sites: one is a school and the other is a private business. They started building both structures in June and I drive by every day. The private sector site is being built by a small contractor with an incentive clause for early completion. The public school is being built by a large national contractor that specializes in government work.

At the private site, there is one supervisor (white hat) who is there from sun up until after dark.

At the public school site there are a dozen supervisors (white hats) who are never there after noon.

At the private structure the workers arrive at dawn and work until after dark.

At the school the workers arrive at 8 and leave at 4.

At the private structure, there is a minimum of people.

At the school there are about a hundred workers- all sort of wandering around aimlessly.

At the private structure, the foundation was poured within a week of the opening of the site.

At the school it took from June to mid-July to clear the site, lay the forms and pour the foundation.

The private structure the I beams are up and welded- framing is done and the roof is under construction.

At the school the I-beams are up but incomplete.

At the private structure heavy equipment is leased and it is only on site when it is necessary.

AT the school it stays there all the time exposed to the elements.

At the private structure specialists are brought in as needed and leave.

At the school they sit in an air conditioned trailer until needed and return there once they are done.

At the private structure the forms are in place for the parking lot.

AT the school the parking area hasn't even been cleared despite the presence of a 2 1/2 ton bulldozer that has been sitting on site from day 1.

At the private structure the conduits are in for wiring.

At the school... well they aren't there yet.

The school is scheduled to open in 2011.

The business will open September 1st.

Any questions?

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"Are you comfortable holding contradictory beliefs? When was the last time you questioned them?"

This question reminds me of a definition I read in a computer science textbook:

Recursion See "Recursion"

Colin :lol:

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...You may well be shocked at how much of an authoritarian or libertine you happen to be.

Des, I'm curious. Which definition of libertine were you using? :icon1:

From the Concise Oxford English Dictionary:

libertine['lɪbəti:n, -tɪn, -tʌɪn]

■ noun

1. a person who is freely indulgent in sensual pleasures.

2. a freethinker in matters of religion.

■ adjective

3. characterized by free indulgence in sensual pleasures.

4. freethinking.

Colin :lol:

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This question reminds me of a definition I read in a computer science textbook:

Recursion See "Recursion"

Colin :lol:

Yes Colin, recursion does describe the question. However there is a group of classic logical fallacies known as begging the question, petitio principii which includes arguing in a circle, whereby a conclusion is supposed to be demonstrated by inserting the conclusion into the premise. There are a number of forms that fall into this category, the most famous being the plurium interrogationoum, e.g. the famous, question, "Have you stopped beating your wife, answer, yes or no." It does not matter how you answer, you have still admitted to beating the wife.

Similarly with the question, "Are you comfortable holding contradictory beliefs? When was the last time you questioned them?"

you are trapped into admitting that you have not only held contradictory beliefs, but might also have been comfortable with doing so. In my opinion that is insidious. Perhaps somewhat worse is the implication that you have failed to question those contradictory beliefs in a timely fashion.

For further discussion and illumination on logical fallacies I recommend the entertaining book Guides to Straight Thinking by Stuart Chase, though I should perhaps warn that the text is in dated form by today's standards. Never the less his arguments are pertinent and revealing.

On libertine, I was referring to my classic original definition of libertarian, being the antonym to authoritarian, and while I have no problem with freely indulging in sensual pleasures, my reference in this case was more aimed at the doctrine of free will, where making free choices is unconstrained by external agencies. That this was originally inherent in Socialism, seems to have been misconstrued in today's world.

No doubt this will have no appeal to those who are inclined to force others to submit to the status quo, which is the objective I perceive lurking in the background of the article.

James, I freely admit the private sector is not without its efficiency over the public sector, and that is a problem of logistics as well as motivation. My concern is that Capitalism places profit over human needs, over human rights, and all too often does so with little compassion for the human misery that it creates through the greed and avarice upon which its tenet is currently based.

I long for a world where private and public motivation for achievement is founded on solving the dilemmas of our civilization rather than making things worse, but even I am not that naive to think it will happen any time soon.

I will however refuse to submit to tyranny and oppression just to get a result. The means are the end, and if we are despicable to each other in our means, then we deserve what we get, but we can also work in a way that encourages the pursuit of happiness.

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:icon1: Hello Fritz!

I saw where this was heading, and went to the link (that "here" was the link to the link to the site is, to a dork like myself, has all the wonder of a good "now you see it, now you don't...", which we all know is really just the adult version of "peek-a-boo", and like that kid two rows up on a plane, looking back over his seat, I never get tired of being in a state of wonder--I know it isn't magic, but wonder is free, and fun, and my "how-to" age would have me unable to see over the seat...

For anyone reading this thread. I see the questions as starting out with a simple question in which the answer is supposed to tell you what your core principle or belief is, and then throwing in complications that are designed to make you dig deeper into that belief and see if you actually believe it or if you simply adopted a position on a given topic without thinking it through. I see the link as more of a philosophical discussion you hold with yourself in order to discover what your true beliefs or principles are.

This perspective, or my intention toward it, is what compelled me follow the link rather than my usual lazy course which allows the effort of others to inform and enlighten me in one fell swoop. The unreliable expectation of reward without effort is of little concern here, my best effort would not produce what these brilliant characters lay out before my eyes. Lazy has never paid so well. But I was intriqued by the potential for individual exploration on a personal level of what I usually would view in more global terms. I see where there are other interests at work in the questions, but those are being addressed by others in this thread. Haha, the name "Pollyanna" comes to mind, but I assure you, my mission has more than myself in mind.

Specifically I am referring to Capitalism. I have very definite and strong opinions about this issue, which are inherent in the word itself and can it's expression in the world will always be contained within it's definition if one applies some reason to the task. Quite possibly I do my best thinking here. :lol:

So the questions in this article serve a purpose for me in that it aids ferreting out the Capitalist in me, and allowing conscious examination and logical decision-making. You have done me a great service, and again, I get more than anyone bargined on. I'm a lucky girl and I know it.

I pursue my personal campaign, with hope deferred. I see no reason for hope, until the full and far-reaching nature of it's operational aspects and it's presence in and influence on virtually every function of what can be called the public sector, and the US acknowledged by it's citizens to be Capitalism's "base of operation", that it is our beloved Democracy that makes it possible, and where our refusal to grasp the implications makes all of it's dreams come true. Until we see it here, as a society, and as a Democratic society can choose to say NO, we are victims of our own ignorance and the larger world becomes victim of our silence.

And it is in the saying yes or no that the personal becomes public, where the idea of personal choice becomes Capitalism's whore--choose a color while I hijack your privacy and pick your pocket.

Haha, if they want us to believe that their gain is not at somebody's expense, they better call it something else.

Forget Bibles, what the world needs is a dictionary!

Thanks Fritz ,for stating the car, and thanks all, for the ride.

Tracy

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My bad. Next time I'll put the link in link. :lol:

No bad fritz. In fact I think it kept us on our toes. I actually giggled to myself when I found it so don't worry, you made the post fun as well as informative.

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James, I freely admit the private sector is not without its efficiency over the public sector, and that is a problem of logistics as well as motivation. My concern is that Capitalism places profit over human needs, over human rights, and all too often does so with little compassion for the human misery that it creates through the greed and avarice upon which its tenet is currently based.

I long for a world where private and public motivation for achievement is founded on solving the dilemmas of our civilization rather than making things worse, but even I am not that naive to think it will happen any time soon.

People place profit over human needs. When people place profits over human rights it is a crime. Blaming the system is like blaming the sandbox when a cat takes a dump in it.

The real heart of the matter that we are fumbling around is human nature which is uniformly rotten.

Humans on a whole are a nasty lot. They are quick to anger, slow to understand and if they can find an easier, softer way at the expense of someone else, they'll take it.

There are two things that motivate humans: profit and fear. Beyond those two factors, it's all talk.

No one is 100% altruistic and if they are, they'll burn out after they've been used up.

The only way that people can equitably deal with each other is to provide value for value. Other transactions involve coercion or force and limit or eliminate choice.

When you go to a store and pick out a product, you have choices. You can pick one or several or none. That's freedom.

If you are so motivated, you can do the same with charities.

The problem occurs when the government steps in and eliminates your choices: it decides who and how much you are giving your money too. It decides what products you can buy and sets the price.

You are forced to, by taxation, to support causes deemed worthy and people deemed needy by the government.

You can object but they call you greedy. You can call your senator but they are so sold out to special interest that you can't afford him.

It happens slowly at first but then it accelerates. You see good companies forced/regulated out of markets by political manipulation. You see the corruption. You see the votes bought with welfare Cadillacs and then you understand: that this paths makes you a slave to the needs of others and does not consider your own.

I object. I don't give a damn about supporting alcoholics and addicts (welfare, supreme court says you can't drug test them.) I don't care about people that were too smart for school and quit and fucked up their own life. I'm not pleased to be a part of economic manipulation where politicians are bought and sold and rival companies are regulated out of business. I don't want to see my tax money bail out incompetent and corrupt bankers.

But... I have no choice. If I don't send in my taxes, despite the fact that they are collected out of every check, they'll come get me. (Force).

This is the tyranny of collectivism. It stifles the individual. Collectivism says that it is moral to care and have compassion for the less fortunate- as long as you pay for it. Collectivism says that you are subornate to the needs of others.

I Object.

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Humans on a whole are a nasty lot. They are quick to anger, slow to understand and if they can find an easier, softer way at the expense of someone else, they'll take it.

On my first pass of this statement, I thought I had found ONE point I could take exception with. Haha, turns out, two minutes later I realize my reaction is based on what I thought was a long ago abandoned illusion, and a fear-based on at that, that if I was good to others they would be good to me in return. You can imagine how well that worked out. That I hung on to it as long as I did speaks to the power I handed over to fear. Persistance could only carry me so far, however, and every unsupported theory proves itself false given the time to play itself out. The reappearance in my reaction to your statement tells me there's a bit more work to be done. That I didn't make it over here with the illusion still intact is a relief, and there is some humor in it too. I thought it might be usefull as illustration of the danger of imposing ones perspective on the outside world. Perspective in my experience is less reliable than what bounces back from it. :icon1:

For a girl who looks around daily and says "what's wrong with these people", the impulse to defend them is momentarily...frightening.

There are a large number of points being presented in this thread, and my inability to find one I would deem unsupported, or unsupportable.

Conclusions, however, are elusive, and the question of what can be done weighs heavy on my mind. To bring my heart into the matter seems

alternately foolish and dangerous.

It doesn't get any better than this. :lol:

Tracy

p.s. makes "Twilight" look like heaven...

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People place profit over human needs. When people place profits over human rights it is a crime. Blaming the system is like blaming the sandbox when a cat takes a dump in it.

The real heart of the matter that we are fumbling around is human nature which is uniformly rotten.

Humans on a whole are a nasty lot. They are quick to anger, slow to understand and if they can find an easier, softer way at the expense of someone else, they'll take it.

There are two things that motivate humans: profit and fear. Beyond those two factors, it's all talk.

No one is 100% altruistic and if they are, they'll burn out after they've been used up.

The only way that people can equitably deal with each other is to provide value for value. Other transactions involve coercion or force and limit or eliminate choice.

When you go to a store and pick out a product, you have choices. You can pick one or several or none. That's freedom.

If you are so motivated, you can do the same with charities.

The problem occurs when the government steps in and eliminates your choices: it decides who and how much you are giving your money too. It decides what products you can buy and sets the price.

You are forced to, by taxation, to support causes deemed worthy and people deemed needy by the government.

You can object but they call you greedy. You can call your senator but they are so sold out to special interest that you can't afford him.

It happens slowly at first but then it accelerates. You see good companies forced/regulated out of markets by political manipulation. You see the corruption. You see the votes bought with welfare Cadillacs and then you understand: that this paths makes you a slave to the needs of others and does not consider your own.

I object. I don't give a damn about supporting alcoholics and addicts (welfare, supreme court says you can't drug test them.) I don't care about people that were too smart for school and quit and fucked up their own life. I'm not pleased to be a part of economic manipulation where politicians are bought and sold and rival companies are regulated out of business. I don't want to see my tax money bail out incompetent and corrupt bankers.

But... I have no choice. If I don't send in my taxes, despite the fact that they are collected out of every check, they'll come get me. (Force).

This is the tyranny of collectivism. It stifles the individual. Collectivism says that it is moral to care and have compassion for the less fortunate- as long as you pay for it. Collectivism says that you are subornate to the needs of others.

I Object.

Oh James, I can't know what has led you to such conclusions.

Neither can I enter into an argument over your statements. I am not altogether ignorant that some people are prone to seek to profit at the expense of others as opposed to receiving a fair recompense for products and services rendered, or why they do that. Why some people demand with extreme menace that I fear the same fears that they do, is unbelievable to me, as much as it is unacceptable.

I know these people exist. I think they have gone out of their way to convince everyone that all humanity is as evil and as rotten and as despicable as they are; and the way they treat others by instilling fear, is the method by which they teach their lie.

I don't believe you are one of those people James. I think you care deeply. Why else would you tell us what you feel?

And when we defend our human rights as sometimes we must, with peaceful resistance that we have to ply through our tears of love and compassion, they will turn and tell us that we are weak.

Weak, because we do not agree with them exploiting other people for their own comfort, or exorbitant profits, or because others suffer in the wake of their avarice.

Any of the political and economic systems we have developed on this planet, have their faults. Some even have a few worthy attributes, but those whom seek to enforce the idea that it is only possible to prosper by spreading fear and mistrust, doom us all to a miserable existence, unworthy of the potential we all have to dismiss such thoughts in favour of pursuing happiness without infringing on others. Fascism takes many forms and infiltrates many political and economic systems. It precludes compassion, and it enforces authority at the expense of freedom. It denies altruism as much as it denies human rights. Yet it exists, we let the corruption happen, not because it is human nature but because we let ourselves believe the lies.

We don't have to believe the lies of those who would restrict and incarcerate our humanity.

On Friday I was standing at a pedestrian crossing waiting for the green walk sign. It began to rain rather heavily, and a girl of Asian appearance, who I had never met before got out of her car and held an umbrella over both of us. When the lights changed, she accompanied me across the road with her umbrella until I was under shelter, and then she turned and went back to her car. I called out my thanks to her and she smiled one of those smiles that light up the world.

That is altruism at work, that was unselfish compassion, that young lady was not rotten, and I spent the rest of the day feeling inspired to do similar acts of random kindness.

:hug:

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That is about as sweet as it gets, Des. Such a very simple thing, yet the kindness in it is blinding.

It stikes me also that this woman is not only kind, but free of all the things that cause people who are otherwise kind to resist the urge to help, second guessing the moment until it passes.

Polarity is everywhere we look; the extreme ends, the very cruel and the woman with the umbrella might be rare in equal number, but the cruel makes better news; how often do you overhear a conversation that is singing someone's praises? Fault finding is recreation, and appears to have all the markings of habituation. A miracle change of attitude on a global scale could be accomplished if say, for one week, no one could start a sentence with the word "you". :hug:

I can't help but wonder at the timing, Des. Thanks for bringing your experience here to raise our spirits.

Perspective is everything.

Tracy

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