Here in the United States, we are absolutely in love with this thing that we call “public property.” It sounds like such a great and noble idea–have the state take control of property and resources, and use them for the good of “the people.” Never mind that this is a verbatim description of socialism.
The Federal Government alone owns nearly 28% of all land in the United States, and much of it is in the west, where it owns nearly fifty percent. In Alaska, the situation is even worse, and the Federal Government owns nearly 90% of all land, even though, by all rights, the whole of Alaska was a private purchase. But never mind that, too. This handy resource incidentally lists “Public Land Ownership” by state.
“Public land ownership.”
If you add “state government land ownership” and “federal government land ownership” together for each state, you get figures that are absolutely shocking.
We colloquially call this stuff “public land,” in the same way that we say “We are the government.” After all, if the government owns all that land, and we are the government, then we own all that land. It’s a simple step of logic. Resting as it does on the assumption that “we are the government,” it would follow that, if it should turn out that we are not the government, then we do not own that land–some third party called “the government” does. So let’s move to Rothbard and have some logic dropped on the subject.
First, there is the argument of self-harm: if “we” are the government, then anything that the government does to us is considered voluntarily, and it is taken that we did it to ourselves. Quite to many people’s surprise, Hitler’s Nazi regime was democratically elected. By this reasoning–that in a democracy, “we are the government”–the Jews were not systematically murdered by the government. Instead, the Jews committed suicide.
This is not some word game. It is the logical conclusion of the fallacious notion that “we” are this third party entity that does stuff. Most assuredly, I am not the government. I have no hand in governance, and my votes to do so are routinely thrown away entirely. The people with government power–they are the government. Not you and me.
Then there is the argument of voluntary conscription. If “we” are the government, then if the government institutes conscription and sends many young men against their will to fight and die in foreign countries, then nothing untoward has happened. Because “they” are somehow the government, they weren’t conscripted; they volunteered to be sent, against their will, to foreign countries. I would hope it isn’t necessary to point out the absolute absurdity in saying that they volunteered to be forced to do something against their will.
Moreover, if the government criminalizes homosexuality, then the homosexuals who are arrested and imprisoned “did it to themselves.” After all, “they” are the government, so “they” somehow voted that they should be considered criminals and imprisoned against their wills.
It’s painfully obvious that we are not the government. In fact, this is so obvious that it wouldn’t be necessary to point out at all if this banality hadn’t propagated largely unchecked throughout western society. Those people who make up the city council? They’re not me. They and I are different people. Those people who make up the state legislature–they are not me. They and I are different people. Those people who wear badges and enforce the rules of the state and federal legislatures–they are not me. They and I are different people. We are not “them.” We are “their subjects.”
“Fine,” the American liberal begrudgingly admits. “We aren’t literally ‘the government.’ But we do elect our representatives, who act in our best interests. Obviously, every single person can’t be their own government agent, and this is why representative democracy [what others would call “a republic,” of course] exists. So while you aren’t literally ‘the government,’ you are in control of it, because you pick your representatives.”
What a statement of astounding privilege. It must be nice to be so firmly within an ideological majority that one is assured representation among the government that rules us and that we have agreed “we are not.” Let there be no doubt: if you want to know what genuine privilege in the United States looks like, that is it–the notion that because we vote for our representatives we are represented.
As a Nietzschean Anarchist, I am an extreme ideological minority. In fact, I’m the only person I know who is a Nietzschean Anarchist. My ideal form of governance cannot be enacted by a third party representative, because the representative himself would be ruling me, and, as a Nietzschean Anarchist, I reject his authority to do so. So even if there were ten million other Nietzschean Anarchists out there, we could not be represented within the government, and the idea here is that if we do not think the governance system in place is compatible with our worldview, then we are not entitled to have the governance system that we want.
“Some exclusions apply,” would be a fitting end to the statement that “We elect our representatives.”
This state of affairs, where minorities of whatever flavor are not allowed a seat at the governing table, is entirely democratic–the rule by the mob, by the majority. Whoever has the most numbers makes the rules, and anyone who isn’t in that majority can get over it. Because I’m a minority of one, I am not entitled to self-governance as they are, and they are entitled to rule over me, whether I like it or not.
Already, the idea of “representatives” is on shaky ground. Some people have representatives. Have we not heard throughout the last 9 months that “Donald Trump doesn’t represent me”? Welcome to my world, where none of these people represent me. It doesn’t feel very good, does it, to be ruled over by someone with whom you disagree fundamentally? This is what you force upon me every time you elect your representative. You force me into the exact position that you are in right now because you are ruled by a government entirely controlled by Republicans. And those Republicans who felt this way in 2008, when President Obama was elected with a largely democratic congress–you are forcing upon liberals and people like me governance that we do not want. So it quite obviously isn’t “self-governance,” because it’s “governance by representatives.” And these representatives quite obviously do not “represent us.” They “represent some.” Those not represented… can just get fucked, as far as the ruling power is concerned, and this is ubiquitous throughout human history and American history, regardless of whatever political party or political ideology controlled the government.
As if all that wasn’t enough (which it should be), there is a deeper fallacy underlying the idea that, just because we can elect people to government, these people constitute “representatives” and are actually bound to do anything that we want them to do. Senator John McCain’s voting against the bill to “slim repeal” the Affordable Care Act is incontrovertible proof that “representatives” are what we already knew them to be–individuals with their own predilections, preferences, and concerns. They act in accord with our wishes only when our wishes overlap with theirs. It is a simple matter, when our desires conflict with theirs, to smooth over the matter and hold onto power anyway. If this was not true, then we would not have terrible approval ratings and such absurdly high re-election rates. While these ratings and rates are exaggerated on social media, there is still truth to them. As much as Mississippi despises Roger Wicker for being a typical neo-con, he’s not going anywhere.
We cannot, in this chapter, develop the many problems and fallacies of “democracy.” Suffice it to say here that an individual’s true agent or “representative” is always subject to that individual’s orders, can be dismissed at any time and cannot act contrary to the interests or wishes of his principal. Clearly, the “representative” in a democracy can never fulfill such agency functions…
If these don’t sound like the “representatives” you think we have, then I would suggest the “representatives” that you think we have are not “representatives” as much as they are “people elected to power whose desires theoretically overlap with the electing individual’s to some degree, and, ideally, this overlap would cause the elected person to behave in a way the elector desires.”
In practice, however, the government and its members do, more or less, whatever they want. To restrain them, we produced a piece of paper and called it “The Constitution.” It is not “the highest law of the land” as people often suggest; it is more than that. It is the document that defined our government. It is the charter that defined our government. It is also completely meaningless today, with every single part of the Bill of Rights lying tattered and buried beneath 6,000 pages of legalese bullshit. Because if a judge can produce such an argument about how stopping and frisking people “totally” doesn’t violate people’s Fourth Amendment rights, then the government can freely violate the Fourth Amendment with impunity. The sheet of paper does nothing to stop them. It basically says “You must not do that.” Yeah, but they do that, so…
Back to Public Property
So if we are not “the government,” and if our representatives do not represent us, then what is the government? It is a cabal of people with the power to rule over us all. We are not those people, and those people only do what we want if it happens to coincide with what they want to do anyway. If this is sounding less and less like the “land of the free” that you think we’re in, I’d suggest that you probably attended a public school. Of course, their goal is not to create free-thinking, independent, autonomous citizens. That’s the last thing any government would want. Do you expect Wal-Mart to open up seminars and education programs on how to become self-sufficient? Of course not.
If this “government” is not us and is, in fact, some external thing that rules over us, then it follows that property it owns is not “public property.” It’s government property. If this was true, then we would expect the government to create all sorts of rules about how its property can be used, we would expect severe usage limitations on it, and we would expect it to use its enforcers–police–to ensure that “we the people” who allegedly “own” this property abide its rules and regulations. And, in fact, that’s exactly what we find.
Ostensibly, the American people are taxed to pay for roads that snake across the country. Supposedly, these roads belong to us, and we can use them as we want. Except that’s obviously not true, is it? Sobriety checkpoints, random insurance checkpoints, vehicular registration, drivers’ licenses, inspection stickers, and all kinds of other shit are required to use these roads that supposedly belong to us because we paid for them. And this state of affairs is supposedly okay because “we are the government,” so we imposed these rules on ourselves. Except we know this last statement is untrue, because we already proved it to be untrue. The government imposed these rules on us. It doesn’t matter if you agree with them or not–you didn’t impose them, and you cannot depose them if you have a change of heart.
Imagine that for a moment, if you truly think that we imposed these regulations on ourselves. Put yourself in the position of becoming a Mormon and having the epiphany that insurance is tantamount to gambling (which it is), and that you cannot, in good conscience, participate in the scheme (because it is a scheme–imagine if everyone was required to go to a casino and spend $100 in a slot machine every month knowing that “the house always wins”). What can you do about it? What can you do about it once you have decided that these laws imposed upon us are unjust?
Because you didn’t impose them, and you don’t control them. You are at their mercy, and the only reason this is somewhat escapable is because so many Americans reflexively have decided that the insurance scam is a positive thing (especially now that it has extended to health insurance scams).
This argument about “public property” applies to all public property. It’s a fiction. There is only personal property and state property, and we must stop confusing the two. If we understood that we are most certainly not “the government,” then this myth would have to fade, because it would become obvious that we and the government are entirely different things. We are the subjects of government.
Even if you agree with the Republican federal government, you are not governing yourself. You are being governed by other people, and you knew this eight years ago when you were pitching a fit because the Democratic federal government was governing you. You knew this to the extent that you flooded the White House website with secession petitions. And you, liberals, you know this now–you are not the Republican government, and neither are you represented by it. It rules over you, whether you like it or not.
And if you don’t obey, it will send its footsoldiers to kidnap you and imprison you against your will. If you resist this kidnapping, its footsoldiers will murder you. If you don’t respect its authoritah! to order you around and tell you what you can and can’t do, then it will send people to kill you. The bullshit lie that democracy and republic governments are somehow different, and that these truths are no longer truths.
We hold these truths to be self-evident–that all governments are created evil, that they are endowed by no one with the power to commit crimes without repercussions; that among these crimes are murder, assault, theft, and kidnapping.
The Libertarian Party of Tate County (of which I am the Chair) voted by two-thirds majority Saturday evening to strongly condemn the usage of unmarked police cars in Tate County, because they’ve been appearing in great numbers in the last few weeks. Our reasoning for this is simple: they create dangerous situations. As recently as July, 2017, a woman was pulled over by an unmarked patrol car, and then was raped and brutalized. Of course, we soon learned that this person was not a law enforcement officer, and was actually just someone who purchased a Halloween costume and a blue light from, perhaps, Alibaba.
Let there be no doubt of this: if LEO did not occasionally use unmarked police vehicles, then any person who saw blue lights in their rearview mirror emanating from an unmarked police vehicle would immediately know that the person attempting to pull them over is an imposter. It is because of this ambiguity, that the person might be a cop, that people are reluctant to continue driving. Besides which, we have all seen countless videos of people who specifically called 911 to verify the person behind them was a LEO in an unmarked car, only to be brutalized by the officers once the car was verified as legitimate, and accused of “resisting arrest” and “attempting escape.”
The use of unmarked squad cars is the clearest possible evidence we could ever hope to receive that Law Enforcement Agencies do not care about “serving and protecting,” and that they are instead motivated by revenue from moving violations. The only benefit to using unmarked cars is to catch drivers acting more naturally–where they are more likely to speed, less likely to use turn signals, more likely to run red lights and stop signs, and so on. However bad we might think these behaviors are, we cannot deny that women are being raped because LEO would rather ticket more of these people who run red lights thinking there is no cop around than they would rather prevent rape.
To combat this, various agencies have released statements and guides, but these fall short–it is rather like telling someone to get a bucket for the blood being spilled when you stab them, instead of simply ceasing to stab them. It’s like handing a smoker a cough drop instead of suggesting that they quit smoking. Besides which, LEO are increasingly likely to discard all of these decades of advice about “waiting to pull over until you are in a clearly publicly visible place” and are likely to treat such people as “attempting to flee the scene.”
It’s an absolute disgrace that any agency that exists to “serve and protect” would create a situation where a woman driving alone at night would not be absolutely certain that the person attempting to pull her over is a Law Enforcement Officer, and terrified that, if she does not immediately pull over, she will be brutalized. In fact, there is a high chance that, even if the patrol car is with law enforcement, she will be raped anyway while police dig inside of her vagina for drugs. The situation between We the People and Law Enforcement in this nation has never been so strained and so precipitously on the edge of disaster, with outright war likely just around the corner, and it is solely up to Law Enforcement to regain community trust.
It is true that such behaviors have not spread to Tate County, and it is also true that Tate County was one of the first places in the nation to require that its officers wear body cams (for which Mississippi and Tate County received no credit, of course), but not ten miles to the north of us is DeSoto County, where the Southaven Police Department recently invaded a man’s home and executed him without a warrant and without any cause. This must be nipped in the bud now, before this has the chance to spread to Tate County. Again, we could lead the nation in officer accountability by having our Sheriff’s Department either sell their unmarked vehicles, or pay to have them repainted.
Toward this end, we are doing a few things. First, we are drafting a letter to the local paper to gauge public response. Secondly, we will be collecting petition signatures demanding the Sheriff’s Office immediately cease all usage of such vehicles, and immediately begin ticketing and arresting any persons attempting to enforce any and all traffic or moving violations in an unmarked police vehicle. Thirdly, we will be going before the city councils, aldermen, etc. to attempt to get legislation passed criminalizing any police work executed in unmarked vehicles, and requiring that any evidence obtained from the use of such vehicles be discarded and destroyed, just as is the case for evidence obtained by warrantless searches.
We are coming down as hard as we can on unmarked police vehicles, because we actually care about police accountability, and we demand that our Law Enforcement Officers take steps to actually make the community safer, not more dangerous.
Once upon a time, I wrote something to the effect of “libertarian socialism is nonsense.” I don’t remember how I phrased it. I made this statement based on my understanding of what “libertarian” means and my understanding of what “socialism” means. Having now discussed it with some libertarian socialists, I fully stand by my statement: as the words are most commonly used, “libertarian socialism” is an oxymoron.
In fact, reading the ideology makes two things clear. First, when they say “libertarian,” what they actually mean is “anarcho.” Secondly, when they say “socialism,” what they actually mean is “communism.” I discussed this with Matt Kuehnel, and he repeatedly stated that “libertarian socialism” isn’t a problem because “anarchism is the logical completion of libertarianism.” I don’t disagree, and I’ve said it myself, but the fact remains that “libertarian” does not equate to “anarchist.” There are minarchists, and there are classical liberals who do call themselves “libertarian.” I’ve argued extensively that the NAP, fully applied, yields anarchism, but that doesn’t give me the right to redefine “libertarian” to mean “anarchist,” which I’ve pointed out in the past by saying I wouldn’t support an anarchist who ran for the Libertarian Party as an anarchist.
He pointed out, rightly, that I call myself an “anarcho-capitalist,” even though I don’t mean “capitalist” in the sense that almost everyone else means it. That’s true. I’m also fully cognizant of that, and spend much of my time on Quora trying to show people that what we have in the United States is a more lenient form of socialism, not capitalism. It’s why I described the best argument “for” anarcho-capitalism as being “an explanation of what anarcho-capitalism is.” This is because most people think “anarchy” means “chaos,” and that “capitalism” is the mess of socialist government policies we have today. Because of this, they think anarcho-capitalism must mean some weird amalgam of these two things–rule by corporate elites, or something to that effect.
This is why many people who happen to share the same general ideology that I do instead call themselves “free market anarchists” or something like that–because the word “capitalism” is heavily tainted, was conceived disparagingly by Karl Marx in Das Kapital, and isn’t taken to mean “capitalism” as we of the Austrian persuasion mean it. It’s also part of the reason why, when push comes to shove, I call myself a Nietzschean Anarchist far more often than I do an “anarcho-capitalist.” People always ask me what I mean by “Nietzschen Anarchist,” while fewer people ask me what is meant by “anarcho-capitalist.”
Even the definitions that Marx and Engels used, though, cited “socialism” as a middleground between capitalism and communism. Marxism prescribes socialism as the eye of the storm through which society must pass to break free of the bourgeois and restore ownership and equality to the workers in a communist society–a communist society that is, in fact, anarchic in nature. Communism is anarchic; anarchy is not communistic (much to the dismay of Anarcho-Communists). Speaking as someone who is routinely a Most Viewed Writer in Anarchism and Anarcho-Capitalism on the closest thing we have to a market-based system of peer review, Socialism is when the state seizes all capital and uses it for the benefit of the workers, while Communism is when the workers seize the capital directly and eliminate the state as the middleman.
As I’ve pointed out before, Socialism and Communism both would be better called “Consumptionism,” because they restrict private ownership of all goods to only consumption goods, whereas Capitalism is called “Capitalism” because it allows the private ownership of all goods, including capital goods. There is, of course, a recognized and critical difference between a consumption good and a capital good. This reality is recognized by capitalists, communists, and socialists alike. After all, the toothpaste manufacturing facility, as a capital good, may be privately or communally owned, but no one on any side of this discussion would agree that a tube of toothpaste must be communally owned.
I’ve even gotten socialists to agree with my statement that fascism and socialism are identical. They rebuffed that the “difference” is the intent of the rulers, and that in socialism the rulers act in the best interests of the working class, but they ultimately were forced to admit that it is identical in behavior and appearance to fascism. In fact, they are two flavors of the same ice cream.
So I don’t take issue with Libertarian Socialists any longer. However, they’re anarcho-communists, which is exactly what their own ideology describes. They just don’t call themselves Anarcho-Communists. That’s fine–they can call themselves anything they want, and redefine things in whatever way they want. But they can’t blame other people for not knowing that they’re using their own special definitions, you know? I can’t (and don’t) blame people for not knowing what capitalism is when I describe myself as an anarcho-capitalist. In fact, probably a third of my answers on Quora briefly spend time pointing out that “capitalism,” as used by anarcho-capitalists, bears no relation to what most people think of as “capitalism.”
Rent is Theft?
This is popping up a lot lately, so Matt Kuehnel and I are going to debate “rent is theft” in September (the date is TBA). I’ve proposed that we do this one 2v2 standard team format, to shake things up a bit. I think that would be more fun, anyway. I’d forgotten how much I love formal debates. I mean, I was just in one three days ago, and I’m already itching to do another. It has been nearly a decade since I did one, so I was rusty, but I think it will be alright. This was also going to be last night’s segment of Libertarian Drama of the Week on “Call to Freedom” with Will Coley and Thom Gray (I’m kinda like a permanent guest at this point), but we had technical difficulties and had to call the show early.
So the lead singer of alternative rock band Linkin Park is in the news, because he killed himself by hanging. While I haven’t liked Linkin Park since their first album, and since I was in the 9th grade, a lot of people are coming forward to call Chester a coward for committing suicide, primarily because it means he left six children behind.
Regardless of whether you approve of his choice, it is stupid, and a horrific misrepresentation of the situation, to call someone a coward because they killed themselves.
Suffering is Relative
First, it must be pointed out that suffering is relative, and none of us has any insight into the inner turmoil within anyone else, and so none of us have the authority or information to accurately assess whether the person chose the “easy” route of suicide and was wrong to do so. We simply don’t know–because we can’t know–how a person feels, unless they tell us, and Chester did come pretty close to that, through his lyrics. These lyrics, incidentally, were those that angst-filled teens adored and identified with, because their own internal suffering was reflected back to them. But that isn’t really important.
Courage & Cowardice
I know many people who have “attempted” suicide. I’m among them, and the scars on my wrist bear it out. I was hospitalized in a behavioral ward several years ago because of it. Even after extensive research, I still didn’t cut deeply enough to hit the veins–no, seriously, the veins in your wrist are much deeper than you’re thinking–and I didn’t have any guns at the time. Today, I know a scary amount of information about suicide. Because of this, I’m well aware that the recent old Republican who “killed himself” with helium actually did commit suicide, and that there couldn’t possibly have been any foulplay. I know that, because I once owned a helium tank for exactly that purpose.
But I never did it.
Because, as a method of suicide, it’s almost instantaneous. There is no time for second thoughts. Once you exhale and lower that bag over your head, that’s it. You pass out, and about half an hour later, you die, unconscious. I’m simply not struggling with depression badly enough to pursue that en sincera. I don’t want to die.
With very few exceptions, that is the same thing that nearly everyone who “attempts suicide” decides. There’s a reason that successful suicide rates are low. It’s not an easy thing to do. Substantial biological programming and the desire to survive outweigh most forms of depression, and, even when the depression is heavier, the person must face head-on their fear of death.
Anyone who has ever sat there with the barrel of a gun in their mouth, the blade of a razor against their wrists, a noose around their neck, or any other such situation and who still lives faced their fear of death head-on.
And they buckled.
They can make all the excuses they want. They can say that they realized that they were loved. They can say that they realized their problems would pass. They can say any-damned-thing that they want. But I know it, and they know it: the reason they live is that they are cowards. They stood on the precipice of oblivion and feared to jump, and so they backed away from the cliff. Some of these people are now calling Chester a coward because he didn’t back down from the precipice of oblivion.
Are you kidding me?
An Animal’s Instincts of Self-Preservation
There is tremendous resistance to death. Anyone who has seen wild animals chew off their own limbs (or humans saw off their own limbs) to escape from deadly situations knows that there is a powerful Will to Live inside every organism. Humans and non-humans are capable of incredible things in the interest of self-preservation, something that modern “horror” movies love exploiting for shock value. Put two people in a room together and tell them that one of them must kill the other, and then the survivor will be free, and they will almost immediately attempt to kill each other (Fun note: this is what Nietzsche described as Middle Class Morality). Saw off their own leg? No problem, once they have pursued other options.
Here’s a cold, hard fact for you: almost everyone out there–at least 99.999% of people–would cry and beg profusely as someone else lowered a noose around their neck. They would do anything, say anything, and promise anything to be spared. Disgusting amounts of tears and snot would run down their faces as they panicked, prayed to every god they could think of, and begged everyone nearby to “Please, I’ll do anything…” These are the same people calling Chester a coward because he lowered the noose around his own neck.
It would be funny, if it wasn’t true that, evidently, that’s how they see it.
There is an enormous difference between “thinking very hard about suicide” and gathering the means to do it, and actually proceeding with it. Even if the attempt is a failure, there is such an enormous gap between “thinking about suicide” and “legitimately trying to kill oneself” that most people can’t even fathom the divide.
It’s the same divide that exists between people who imagine how brave they would be if they faced down a criminal with a gun, and the people who have been there, and who gladly handed over their wallets and were terrified. Fear, after all, is what keeps people alive. It’s what kept human beings out of the darkness where there were lions, wild dogs, and hippos. That same exact fear keeps people from putting the gun in their mouth and pulling the trigger. It’s easy to say “I could have. I would have. I just changed my mind.”
In fact, it reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer says he’s going to build “levels” in his apartment, and Jerry bets him that it will never happen. In the end, Kramer renegs on the bet, and says that Jerry didn’t win, because, “I could have done it. I just didn’t want to.” Jerry vainly attempts to remind him, “That’s the bet! The bet is that you wouldn’t do it.” Kramer again reiterates, “But I could have.” Frustrated, Jerry says, “The bet wasn’t that you couldn’t. The bet was that you wouldn’t,” but it’s to no avail.
This is what people are saying when they say that they could have committed suicide, and they would have–if they hadn’t considered the loved ones they were leaving behind. The loved ones that they remembered were the panicked product of innate biological tendencies within an animal to preserve itself because it was afraid. It doesn’t matter what their reason for changing their mind is–why were they considering such things in the first place? By that point, they are already second-guessing whether they want to commit suicide. What propelled that? What caused them to stop and think about anything instead of just taking the gun, putting it in their mouths, and pulling the trigger? Why weren’t they just thinking about that?
Because their brain was desperately afraid and trying to stop to them using the last tool it had at its disposal. Compelling one to stop and think about all the loved ones being left behind is how it does that.
Anyone who ever attempted suicide–or “thought about” attempting suicide–and who still lives is a coward. They stood on the edge of the precipice, and they backed down. They can offer up any excuse they want, but, at the end of the day, what stopped them was fear. There’s no other reason why they’d have stopped to consider loved ones in the first place. That’s the brain’s last defense mechanism against self-destruction.
Consider this: the person who is about to commit suicide and stops because they think of the pain and suffering it will bring the loved ones left behind are aware, at least in some ways, that the fact that they even care about the pain and suffering they’ll leave behind will vanish the moment they’re dead. Sure, “If I commit suicide, I’ll leave behind so much pain and suffering.” Yet, also sure, “But I’ll be dead, so… there won’t be even a single solitary second of my existence where I feel the pain of having left people behind by killing myself, because I’ll have killed myself.” They didn’t think about that, though. I’d bet that thought didn’t occur to the overwhelming majority of people who attempted/thought about suicide. And why not? Because their brain was looking for ways to talk them out of it, not looking for ways to talk them into it.
Thoughts & Control
We tend to think of “our thoughts” as something we control, and our brains as something that is fully at our mercy, and that’s simply not true. Sentience is a curious thing, but your brain absolutely does things to try to convince “you” of things. The human brain is countless parts communicating with one another, not some collective unit that the “I” controls. You’re breathing right now–you are not in control of that. Your heart is beating right now. You can no more make your heart stop beating than (and this is important) you can make yourself stop thinking. You don’t control your thoughts. A thought comes when it wants to, not when “you” want it to. When some part of your brain decides to generate it, that’s when the thought occurs. You can no more create that thought than you can stop it. It’s coming. The only choice you have is how “you” deal with that thought. Whatever you are thinking about when the clock strikes noon after reading this, you won’t have any power to prevent.
The “I” takes these thoughts coming in from various parts of the brain, and assembles them into some form it can process, and then makes a decision. Maybe the “I” can control the decision that it makes, and maybe it can’t, because the decision itself is merely a product of the information sent to it by thoughts that it cannot dictate–it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the “I” doesn’t control what thoughts come, or when those thoughts come. Even extensive training by Buddhist monks cannot allow one to indefinitely take control of what thoughts come, or when those thoughts come. However focused the Buddhist monk is, and however in control of their thoughts they are, the moment they have to get back to life, they surrender control back to other parts of their brain. What will they think about while they slice potatoes in the monastery? While they till the ground?
You can do it, too. Think about an elephant, and try to keep thinking about an elephant. How long does it take you to realize that you’re not longer thinking about an elephant? Your thoughts will stray–a conga line of random thoughts perhaps not even related, until finally you’re thinking about John McCain’s brain cancer and realize, after forty seconds, “Oh, shit, I was supposed to be thinking about an elephant!” and direct your thoughts back to a pachyderm. Try to keep that elephant in your mind all day, as you go about work, as you eat lunch. You can’t do it. No one can. It requires exhaustive energy and focus to control one’s thoughts, and it simply cannot be done for any substantial period of time. You may think about the elephant several times an hour throughout the day, but through those instances, you’ll think about colleagues, food, friends, family, driving, money, and countless other things that you can’t control.
Those thoughts of loved ones that the person contemplating suicide has… They can’t control those thoughts, either. The question we have to ask is why the brain generated those thoughts. Why did some part of one’s brain conjure up an image of a son or nephew, and say, “But look how sad he’ll be…” and create vivid imaginings of the future of that child, raised without his father or mother? We can find the answer easily, by asking “What did the conjuration of those thoughts achieve?”
Well, it achieved causing the “I” to back out of committing suicide.
Why would a part of the brain want that?
Because it’s afraid of losing existence.
Maybe you don’t approve of what Chester did. Maybe you think it’s screwed up he left his family behind, and maybe you just think that suicide is immoral (I’ll save that for another day). Maybe you’re more like me, and you don’t really care one way or another, but you’d like it if there wasn’t so much confusion and misunderstanding surrounding suicide. Making the statement, though, that Chester was “wrong” to make the choice that he did is saying “He valued release from his pain more highly than he valued the pain he was leaving with others. His values are wrong, and the pain he left others is much greater than whatever pain he felt.”
I hope we can all immediately see what an asinine statement that is.
We don’t know what pain he felt, or what his personal suffering entailed. We can never know what it was like to live within his head and to feel what he felt. We can never know how deeply in That Place he was. Neither can we know how his children and wife/ex-wife will feel about it. We can guess, and we’d be right to some degree when we’d guess “They’ll be really sad,” but we can’t quantify that. We can’t even quantify our own suffering. Ask any person how much hardship and suffering they face and I’d bet wholeheartedly that you’ll see a graph identical to what we’d expect based on the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Everyone will rate their personal suffering and past hardships at 7.5, or thereabouts. I’d love to see a scientific survey done on this. In fact, I’m going to do one.
But if we cannot properly assess the value of his suffering and how bad it was, or the suffering of his family and how bad it’s going to be, how can we justify making the arrogant claim that he was wrong to make the choice that he did?
So the great question–the master question that has the potential to undermine all others–needs to be asked. It was a ground-shattering question when posed by Nietzsche, but we have the benefit of nearly two centuries of philosophical and scientific advancement; surely those years haven’t been wasted by pseudo-intellectuals who grasped the enormity of Nietzsche’s thoughts and then discarded them, right?
Of course, this is precisely what the average person has done, and even those who sit between the great and mundane minds have carelessly avoided the question, and it remains assumed in nearly all schools of thought (with the obvious exception being modern liberalism, which is itself so nihilistic that it goes the opposite direction and asserts that emotions are more valuable than reason–except, interestingly, when reason can be used to “substantiate” their emotions by an emotional metric–more on this endless circling of reason and emotion later) that reason is preferred to emotion, that knowledge is preferred to belief, and that evidence is preferred to imagination.
Even this doesn’t take in the full breadth of the ultimate question, however, because it begins with the assumption that knowledge and belief are distinctly different things. In the past, I’ve been guilty of making this assumption, too, and attempted to begin another work with an in-depth explanation of what that difference is. I found that it was necessary, in order to justify citing a difference, to make assumptions that may or may not be valid, and for which their validity cannot be determined. I wrote:
From here, all we can do is ask whether what we perceive is actually real, and that isn’t only an unimportant question but also one that can’t be answered definitively. It’s as useless a question as “Why did the chicken cross the road?” It’s unimportant because what a person perceives is real to the person who perceives it; it has real effects, however minor and however indirect. My lack of respect for extreme skepticism and solipsism stems from the refusal to acknowledge the human element and the assertion that the experiences of sentient beings account for nothing.
This philosophical debate has raged for quite some time, and we don’t appear to be any closer to “solving it” than we were three centuries ago; nor will we ever be. Of the attempts to prove the existence of an objective reality, Moore’s is perhaps the best known. I think it admirable that Moore attempted to prove there is an external reality, but (and without making any comparisons of him and myself) I think this is the wrong path to take. It’s no good to try to prove fallacious a person who would stare at an object and postulate that it is only there by perception and not through an actual physical existence [emphasis added].
In short, I attempted to ignore the question, because it was uncomfortable. It did not challenge merely everything that I believed, but the very basis of those beliefs, threatening to pull my entire worldview out from under me. Instead, I sought to cling to false certainty, discarding the entire idea in just a few paragraphs, rather than face it directly. Instead of asking whether belief and knowledge were actually indistinct, I chose to assert it baldly, and found myself unable to defend that position–so I merely asserted it again and waved away the question out of cowardice. The notion that knowledge was based on reliable evidence and sound reason was a pacifier, the underlying edict of my religion that I dared not challenge, because I considered myself to be striving toward truth, steadily eroding and erasing things that I found to be false; accepting that there was no such thing as “truth” undermined all of that work.
Yet the difference between a theist and an atheist is mostly quantitative. It is commonly said that the theist has no evidence for the existence of a deity beyond the claim itself and agreement with others who have made the claim. While this is true, it rests on the assumption that the theist’s emotional position is less valuable than the atheist’s empirical*. The entire idea is built from the value system that already prefers reason to emotion, and which has no rational justification (only emotional) for doing so. For example, the wannabe philosopher at the YouTube channel “Science, Philosophy, and Theology” stated that there is no way to use reason to validate reason. He’s a fool who plays a philosopher on the Internet, and is quite obviously wrong. Mitch Stokes, I believe, is his name.
There’s no way to objectively demonstrate that we should value reason, but whether we value the result or not, reason is the metric by which reason is judged. Reason is judged primarily in practical terms: reason is valuable because the plane stays in the sky, and the plane stays in the sky because of the methods of reason.
The philosophical question is whether there is any rational reason to care whether the plane stays in the sky. That we should care that this means people don’t regularly die in plane crashes is an emotional position, as is the idea that air travel is useful. The fitting of the word “care” is not by accident–“caring” is an emotional thing. It is our emotions that determine what we “care” about and what we don’t.
Reason is valuable according to the criteria of those who prefer the plane to stay in the sky, because reason is why the plane stays in the sky. But caring about this is justified not by reason, but by emotion. Our search for a reasonable, rather than emotional, justification for concerning ourselves with the reliability of the plane will yield nothing. What we’re really discussing is not reason or rational ways to justify reason; we’re discussing value systems, and those systems that value reason against those that don’t. It’s a sad day when a self-described philosopher overlooks such a glaring fact.
Is there any non-emotional reason that we should value reason? Of course not. Value systems are derived wholesale from emotion, which I’ve seen put many anarchists in the unenviable position of attempting to provide a scientific and rational basis for their allegiance to the NAP. Such a basis doesn’t exist, because they are merely looking for justification of emotions and value systems. One would expect them to know better, but, like everyone else, they’ve succumbed to the dangerous mentality that *their* value system is the One True Value System, and thus they end up looking for justification of this pretense of absolute certainty. Since they cannot directly force their value system onto others (as their value system rejects force), they insidiously search for other methods of surreptitiously forcing it onto others; rather than using force, they attempt to strong-arm people with what they say is “reason,” and almost coercively imply that any “reasonable” person will agree with their One True Value System. It’s a modern way of saying “If you don’t believe in my deity, then you are a heretic.”
I like rock music, but I could provide no rational justification for it, and neither would I be expected to. Yet every value system is a collection of likes and dislikes, which is fine until misguided people attempt to provide “rational” justification for their preferences. I value non-aggression because I like peace and dislike aggression, but there is no rational justification for this.
Obviously, I can no more put forward a rational justification for not wanting you to be attacked than I can put forward for not wanting to listen to Garth Brooks. I can put forward plenty of emotional reasons, but none that are rational–except, of course, that it is only rational that I would value my own emotions and emotional state.
I don’t want you hurt because such would fill me with negative emotions, which I don’t prefer for emotional reasons. It is only rational that I do things that don’t negatively affect me. But it only makes sense for emotional reasons.
While they may have different methods, reason and emotion cannot be truly separated–each one supports the other, or they both fall. Reason’s validity can be demonstrated, but whether its validity is any reason to value it is an emotional assessment.
As I said, many stoop to pseudoscience and weak, half-hearted attempts to objectively demonstrate the value of their value system. These people can usually be beaten back until they say that it’s in an organism’s best long-term interests to be peaceful, which is fine, but there’s still no objective reason that we should presume it’s good for an organism to survive and prosper.
At this point, they invariably fall to doublethink and cognitive dissonance–or, worse, begin simply rephrasing their value systems in the hope that they might stumble upon the magical wording they makes it the One True Value System. They generally become frustrated at their own ineptitude and misattribute their agitation to the person who asked them the question, rather than grow angry with themselves for being unable to answer.
The simple truth (independent of any perspective) is that we just don’t know what methodologies and value systems might lead to a better world, nor can we find any two people who fully agree what a “better world” would look like.
My version of a world not only bears little resemblance to the world we have, but it is impossible, even in theory, to convert our world into that one. I’ve spent decades fleshing out the details of what I’d consider a better world–it contains dragons, magic, elves, and other things. It is a harsh world, as is ours, but in its struggles it provides room for what at least feels to its inhabitants like free will.
In more practical terms, my better world is one of liberty, where the state has been thoroughly defeated and left in the historical halls alongside the gladiatorial arena and the rotary telephone. It is a world where, motivated by self-interest and evolutionary tendencies, individuals act however they will, and reap what consequences follow. It’s a world where the gambler is not protected from the risk of losses while pocketing winnings, a world where the productive are not robbed at gunpoint to be forced to provide sustenance to the parasitic masters, and a world where people refuse freely their own limitations, assumptions, and ignorance.
In fact, there is no better way to learn a person’s value system than to request a comprehensive explanation of what they imagine to be a better world. The American Democrat “progressive” might say that their better world is one where there is no racism, where equality reigns, where socialism has eliminated the rich, and where globalism has defeated the nationalism that had already conquered individualism.
To me, such a world is a nightmarish land of oppression and tyranny; it is something I’d never strive for and would adamantly resist. Although perhaps not all of our values are opposed, our most precious values certainly are–a reasonable conclusion, given that a person will list their most important criteria first.
In truth, our value systems are virtually identical. The actual difference is that the American progressive is deeply confused and is so fixated on particular words that the essences of what those words represent are lost. Of course I advocate equality of all people; this is why I’m an anarchist. If there is a state, then there can never be equality, as one group, no matter how benign or mischievous it is, will enjoy power and prestige allowed to no one who is not part of that select group. However they might want to escape this, if a person is told by others that they cannot do something (particularly when the action doesn’t involve force, violence, or coercion), there is inequality, as the person decreeing what behavior is acceptable obviously has authority over the person whose actions are being restricted.
Whether they are ignorant, confused, or deliberately disingenuous isn’t important, but clearly what they desire–however much they might call it “equality”–is authority and control, things which are antithetical to equality. Even if it’s true that they merely want to use this authority to force everyone else to “be equal to one another,” they will still sit apart and above “everyone else,” as the ones with the authority. It’s not “equality” they desire but a two-tier hierarchy, where there are the rulers and the subjects, and the subjects are all considered equal to one another in the eyes of the rulers–they just aren’t equal to the rulers. And though these deluded fools would insist that they desire “equality,” we have to free our mind from the words and instead deal with the concepts, and if one person has authority over another, however that authority is used and to whatever end it is applied, then there is not equality. They can certainly call this authority-driven two-tier hierarchy whatever they like, but just because they call this social dichotomy “equality” doesn’t make it so–the concept of equality is directly at odds with what they advocate, but they call it “equality” nonetheless. This allows them to easily dupe people who lack the intellectual rigor to question whether the word used represents the concept associated, much as the U.S. “Patriot Act” is antithetical to patriotism.
The most extreme of the nihilist positions (there’s a good deal of variation in western society, ranging from modern liberalism to solipsism) is the one that suggests there is no external, objective reality, and that it is merely the product of our senses. Yet our senses are the product of our organs, which are part of that perceived reality. As long as we reject the notion that a thing cannot be its own cause (we can even except a deity from this statement), it’s a logical absurdity to say that our senses create reality that created our organs which created our senses that create reality that created our organs… So regardless of our limitations of perception, and that we must experience the world subjectively and with senses known to be unreliable, it must be concluded that there must already be there something to perceive.
It is the very nature of values that they are based on emotional feelings rather than empirical data, a statement that must become obvious to those who reflect on it. “Science”–which, for the sake of not being repetitious, I’ll use interchangeably with “rationality” and “reasonableness”–prescribes no values to things. It is neither good nor bad that electromagnetic energy is quantized; it simply is. Assuming there is truth to global warming, science does not suggest that this is a good or bad thing.
Right now I find myself arguing on Quora with someone who is attempting to “change my mind” through emotional appeals (by her own admission), knowing full well that I reject emotional appeals in favor of my valuation of reason; meanwhile, she attempts to put forward a rational justification for her valuation of emotion, and criticizes me as a hypocrite for not having a rational justification for my valuation of reason. Arguing with people like that is so difficult because, like I expressed at the beginning of this article, they have all the pieces; they simply will not turn their ideology against itself. Like the anarchists who suggest that they are Heralds of the One True Value System because they have the elusive rational justification for the NAP that even I’ve attempted to find, while they simultaneously admit that all values are subjective. They simply won’t apply that “all values are subjective” to their idea that “one should value non-violence,” just as the person on Quora won’t apply the idea that values are emotional to her own values. Like the anarchists, she professes to be the Herald of the One True Value System, though her highest value is the emotional sensibilities of others rather than non-aggression.
I’m not even certain of why I write these types of articles. What is the point? What am I trying to accomplish, and why should I care whether it’s accomplished or not? I think the point is to remind us all how little we actually know, and how dependent upon assumptions all of our value systems are, especially since we mask our assumptions and subjective experiences as objective certainties. Yet we aren’t certain of anything. We should all check our egos and remind ourselves that our beliefs–whatever they are, whether one believes we should value the NAP, whether one believes gender is binary, or whether one believes that violence is sometimes acceptable.
* Making the assumption that the atheist’s position is empirically sound, but it doesn’t matter one way or another.
When I first noticed that people were using the descriptor “intelligent” not to denote people who seemed to have higher-than-average levels of intelligence, but to mark allies in political agreement, I posted that something was wrong and that it was going to get worse:
Intelligence has become the new deity.
“If you believe what I believe, then you are smart. If you are smart, then you will believe what I believe.”
An outward thing from which a person derives their own net worth–the problem is that the “outward thing” is actually an inward thing. In true Dunning-Kruger fashion, people judge their own intelligence by their own ideas, and since they always believe their own ideas to be correct, they always judge themselves to be intelligent.
I’m sure we’ve all run into this. At some point, someone has surely said something to you that was similar to, “You seem really smart… You should read this” or “… You should watch this video.” It carries with it the most dangerous of subtleties: “If you are actually smart, then you’d agree with me. Maybe you don’t have the information that I have. Here’s that information. If you still don’t agree, then I was wrong about you being smart.”
In fact, I’ve been called an “idiot” probably more than anyone I’ve ever met, and this insult has never been thrown at me in any context other than political disagreement. No one could ever possibly mistake me for an idiot. Whether I’m correct or incorrect is unrelated to that. In reality, if I say something and someone thinks I’m an idiot for it, then the much more likely answer is that they simply didn’t understand what I said in the first place.
Intelligence isn’t a prerequisite of being right, and neither is being right an indicator of intelligence. Some of the greatest minds in human history were wrong about any number of things. Being correct is a factor of knowledge and nothing else. Even someone with an IQ of 250 will be wrong about any number of things, simply because we lack a lot of information, and their unnaturally high IQ will do nothing to prevent them from being wrong.
Once more, it’s all about the Dunning-Kruger Effect, which is one of the most breathtaking psychological breakthroughs in human history. A person judges their own understanding of who is and isn’t intelligent relative to their own intelligence. I pointed out yesterday that we judge value systems relative to our own value systems–all of this is obvious, and the ties to Nietzsche’s philosophy and Austrian economics are equally obvious. We judge the value systems of other cultures by our own value system, and compare them relative to our own; ours are our own, so we like ours, and the more different the other systems are to ours, the more we dislike them. It’s impossible to escape from this, because my love for liberty-oriented value systems forms the basis that I use to assess the value of other systems. It’s also the case with intelligence: my only gauge for assessing other people’s intelligence is my own intelligence.
Several “celebrated scientists” have been exhibiting exactly the behavior that Murray Rothbard and others wrote about. They have become pimps of their scientific credibility in the employ of the state and the status quo. In fact, they have sacrificed their right to call themselves scientists and are about as anti-science as any group of people could be.
What is this illustrious word “science?” What does it mean? What does it entail? If it is to be anything more than just a cheap and gaudy rubberstamp that we apply to whatever ideology we happen to believe, then it must have an actual meaning–which, ironically, is a statement that any scientist would agree with. Definitions are important, because they form the basis of the words that we use to understand and communicate the world. A simple Google search gives us:
the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.
I can’t help but wonder if that definition makes Stephen Hawking, Bill Nye, and Neili deGrasse Tyson blush and feel ashamed. It should.
Of course, my argument against them is part of the problem, isn’t it? I have no problem recognizing that. In the vein of any actual scientist, I see my own bias and absolutely insane demands of these human beings, that they must apply the scientific method in all areas of their lives, and that they aren’t allowed to deviate from it. In fact, it is I who is accusing them of heresy, isn’t it? They have violated my religion of Science by disgracing its methods, much like a Christian violating Christianity by disgracing the teachings of Christ.
My problem with them is that they should apply the Scientific Method and don’t.
This combines with the masses’ misunderstanding that they do apply the Scientific Method.
In effect, I’m demanding of them what the masses of people think they are already doing. “Surely we can trust Neil Tyson’s statements about art and science funding! He’s a scientist!” Of course, it was not terribly long ago that Neil Tyson asked his many, many Twitter followers if they truly wanted to live in a world without art, framing all of reality as a false dichotomy built on the idea that if the government doesn’t do something, then it can’t be done. The obvious problems with this stupidity don’t need to be pointed out–didn’t I just buy tickets to see a musical concert? The government didn’t buy those tickets.
Bill Nye went on CNN and made the statement that the Constitution authorizes Congress to fund the sciences, and made mention of Article I, Section 8. It’s true that this is the section that enumerates Congressional power, but nothing else that Nye said is remotely true, as the passage that Nye quotes leaves off highly significant data. What do we call a “scientist” who discards a large part of the data because it isn’t convenient to his hypothesis?
“Formerly employed,” perhaps.
“Not a scientist.” Yes, that’s another option.
In fact, the section of the Constitution to which Bill Nye refers explicitly enumerates Congressional power without ambiguity, and the full passage asserts that Congress may promote the arts and sciences by securing patents for the respective authors and inventors. It is authorization to issue patents, not authorization to issue money. There’s no way that Nye could have accidentally read the first part of the sentence and not the second part. This was, we must conclude, an intentional ploy to convince the people who take him at his word as a reliable source that the Constitution authorizes Congress to fund scientific research. In the interest of scientific integrity, I will provide the evidence to support my contention:
Congress shall have the power…To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
So this is two “celebrated scientists” who have been thoroughly disloyal to the precepts of science–the Scientific Method, the Bible of Science. Since so few people are calling them out on their heresy, allow me to do so:
Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, you have betrayed your church, and you should both repent and make restitution. This restitution should come in the form of public apologies on no less than six occasions throughout the next six weeks–two in written, two in aural, and two in video form. That shall be your penance.
I may sound like I’m joking, and I am, to a degree. I don’t expect Nye and Tyson to ever back down from their arrogant betrayal of the scientific method and wanton displays of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, much less to ever issue a single apology for the stupid shit they have said. However, I’m serious about my loyalty to the scientific method, to reason, and to evidence, and I’m serious that clearly these three men cannot say the same.
What of Hawking? Well, Hawking has repeatedly waxed at length about the evils of capitalism and how only world government can save us from its oppressive destruction. Never mind that anyone who has taken even a single introductory college-level economics course can attest to the scientific fact that we do not have capitalism anywhere on planet Earth. So I’m calling out Hawking on clearly never studying economics, yet routinely attempting to talk about economics as though he has any idea what in the hell he’s talking about. Clearly, he doesn’t, and any first-year college student could confirm that.
So to these three heretical priests, I say:
Repent! The end is Nye.
What we’re seeing is a more of an revival than a renaissance, as the precepts of science have been tossed in the trash with reckless abandon. What else can we conclude, when “celebrated scientists” make claims that they either know to be false, trusting that the masses will believe them, or are simply too ignorant on the subject to know whether their claim is false at all?
Yet this hasn’t stopped the masses–the precise characteristics which makes them “the masses,” after all, is that they aren’t interested in independently discovering truth and will blindly follow whatever ideology is handed down to them from “trusted authorities”–from swallowing all of it, with Tyson’s demonstrably false, fallacious, and erroneous spiel seeing tens of thousands of retweets by people who have no desire to think the matter through for themselves.
Trust has been placed in these three people, by the masses of people, who, again, are defined “as the masses” precisely by their lack of interest in pursuing these matters intellectually, and these three people have utterly betrayed that trust. Yet the masses don’t know it, do they? No, because the masses aren’t interested in scrutinizing the words of their favorite priests. For the masses, these poisoned, fallacious ideas enter the mind unchallenged, and there they embed themselves; the masses never stop to ponder the false dichotomy that Tyson has proposed, or what credentials Stephen Hawking might have to discuss economics rather than cosmology.
And I’m as qualified to call myself a scientist as Bill Nye.
I haven’t researched this recently, and seem to recall Nye having a Master’s, but maybe not.
In fact, if a “scientist” is someone who liberally applies the scientific method to questions, then I’m infinitely more qualified. Bill Nye has the advantage in that this actor and performer managed to get a kids’ show where he cheaply purchased credibility among the masses and became a trusted authority figure. Indeed, I find myself wondering whether Bill Nye was purposely planted there when we were kids precisely for this purpose–precisely for using him to peddle statism and the status quo once we became adults. It wouldn’t be the most extravagantly dangerous thing the state ever did. After all, they took control of the entire education apparatus and have been using it to manipulate the masses for 60 years. Now those people raised by the state education are adults and in charge, and the idea of dismantling that apparatus is met with knee-jerk angry reactions; the idea is rejected without consideration.
Give me their minds through their formative years, and by the time they’re adults I can have them convinced of anything. I can have them saying it’s okay to kill people who disagree with them, that people of one race deserve to be annihilated or enslaved, that it’s okay to steal things if they want those things… The mind of a child is not critical. By the time they are able to think critically, the ideas I plant will already be firmly in their minds, forming the very lens through which they view the world.
We have rarely been in more danger of a religious sentiment overtaking reason, and Nye, Tyson, Kaku, and Hawking are leading the charge. “Science” isn’t a set of beliefs that one must adhere to or be a heretic. I’ve seen “pro-science” people do the metaphorical equivalent of burning people at the stake for dare challenging one of the items in their set of beliefs, and I’m sure you’ve seen the same. “Science” is a methodology. Anyone who demands that you acquiesce to a set of beliefs and ideas that they have put forward is peddling religion, not science.
If they can’t present evidence, if they can’t present a reasonable argument, and if they can’t prove their position, based on all available evidence, is sound, then they are unworthy of trust. If they ignore huge amounts of information simply because it’s inconvenient to their hypothesis, then they are engaging in cherry-picking, another hallmark of religion, rather than science.
That is to say: he’s flat, stiff, homogenous, and mostly uninteresting, but he adequately suffices if one wishes to use him to launch oneself to greater heights.
His latest article, not content to simply be wrong and leave it at that, sees him dragging Nietzsche’s name through the dirt, proposing some sort of conflict between Nietzsche and Dawkins’ Gene Machine, while also fundamentally misunderstanding the root cause of what he calls “white genocide.”
Now that we’ve got all the links out of the way, allow me to clear the air: Storey is wrong, and doesn’t grasp what is happening.
In fact, there is a single source of the white guilt that Storey refers to–a condition whose existence I don’t deny, because it’s obvious to anyone who cares to look that a shockingly large number of white liberals spend much of their time denigrating white people–and it is derived wholesale from arrogance.
Pictured: modern liberals and the alt-right taking up the White Man’s Burden to carry the “savage races”
Whereas in the 19th century, White Man’s Burden consisted of the notion that it was the duty of the educated and enlightened white race to take care of the world’s “savage races” (a sentiment expressed clearly in Storey’s idea that white people are “spreading democracy”), in the 21st century… it consists of the idea that it’s white people’s duty to make sacrifices of themselves for the benefit of the “savage races.”
It’s hard to understand how Storey (or anyone, for that matter) misses the obvious strains of Manifest Destiny running unchecked through modern liberalism. Just look up any video along the lines of “What white liberals think of…” and you’ll find countless examples of this playing out in increasingly absurd ways, from the idea that black people can’t work computers to the arrogant notion that black people can’t find a DMV.
Considering such videos usually come from alt-right sources, I’m not even sure what Storey is talking about.
Nothing has changed since the days of Andrew Jackson, which saw a U.S. invasion of the Philippines and widespread slaughter of the indigenous people (for their own good, of course). The obvious similarities between those atrocities and more recent ones–like the spread of “democracy” to Iraq, which entailed more than 100,000 dead civilians (again, for their own good)–shouldn’t necessitate pointing out, and neither should this idea’s representation on the left, which manifests in things like white guilt.
The conceit, naturally, is that black people are too weak, too stupid, and too defenseless to stand against Mighty Whitey, and that if they don’t take up the burden of self-hate, they run the risk of allowing the Omnipotent White Man to rampage over all the non-white people who just don’t stand a chance. The entire basis of the idea that the power of white people must be checked through self-hate and sacrifice is that, if it isn’t checked, then poor, weak black people just don’t stand a chance. Their contention is that the only thing that can stop Mighty Whitey is Mighty Whitey.
And so we end up with positively bizarre statements that paint minorities as helpless, stupid, bumbling straw people who are completely and totally at the mercy of nearby white people, and it is the burden of the educated, liberal white person to take up their defense against the other white people; after all, no one else can do it.
The modern liberal truly believes that Voter ID Laws (I’m not expressing a position on them in any direction) are racist, and will mince no words in stating that this is because minorities are often unable to get to a DMV (black people can’t afford cars, of course, or buses), unable to navigate a GPS menu to even find a nearby DMV, and totally flummoxed by one of them new-fangled compooters anyway, making the whole thing irrelevant. I’d only be moderately surprised to hear a modern white liberal say that they don’t think minorities can spell “ID.”
It’s worth pointing out that these are not my contentions; I don’t believe that crap. I’m not the one walking around college campuses saying that black people don’t know what GPS is and can’t find the DMV. I recognize that bullshit as the ignorant, racist trash that it is, yet it does seem to be the official liberal position, given that their official stance is anti-Voter ID, and the official reason is that they are racist because minorities run the highest chance of not being able to obtain an ID. As a black dude in one such video asked, “Who doesn’t have an ID? What kind of person doesn’t carry an ID?”
When challenged on this, the liberal quickly backpedals and clarifies: “No, we’re talking about minorities in rural, white communities.”
That doesn’t change anything, though. It’s still an expression of the same idea: “The poor, weak black people need to be rescued from the powerful white people.” Changing the location of the imagined travesty and racist fix from a city to the country doesn’t change anything else.
I recently wrote that it’s easy to earn someone’s pity, but it’s much more difficult to earn their respect. In addition, pity and respect are mutually exclusive: if someone pities you, then they can’t respect you, and, if they respect you, then they can’t pity you. This is because pity comes from a place of dominance and supremacy, as anyone familiar with Nietzsche knows: compassion is a luxury afforded to the comfortable.
It’s quite clear that modern liberals take pity upon non-whites, which hails from the same presumed supremacy that gave us Jackson’s Manifest Destiny. Pity is something that only a powerful person can have, and it can only be held toward a weaker person. Any statement of pity carries the connotation that “in this area, I’m better than you.” If I pity Bill Nye for how he’s fallen to liberal propaganda and statism, it stems from the notion that, at least in terms of resistance to propaganda and allegiance to free thought, I am superior to him.
No one pities an equal or a superior, because that isn’t how pity works.
So yes, it’s easy to get someone to pity you: simply convince them that they’re better than you are. Since natural human arrogance probably leads them to believe this anyway, it’s like purposely trying to be struck by rain. The real test of humanity is to not succumb to that arrogance.
Storey rhetorically asks what is driving the “white genocide,” and then postulates his thoughts, which is particularly hilarious given the same underlying tendency drives it as compels his own self-engrandizing image of the Glorious White Race as the Saviors and Bringers of Democracy and Enlightenment ideas. Of course, Storey cultivates this picture with all the self-righteous Quoxotic nobility and grace of the man in Blake’s “The Poisoned Tree,” and the identification of an individual with a “greater” collective serves the same purpose, because the vengeance-seeker in the Romantic’s poem does not view himself as an evil monster but an enforcer of justice and higher cosmic principles that supercede trite, little things like dead people and quaint thoughts of morality. The age old cry of the oppressor, wrapped in a new mask: “What are a few dead or enslaved civilians, compared to the greater good?”
As a person whose skin is definitely white, I hate to say this, but if we’re ever going to smooth over race relations in the United States, many white people are going to have to do something they haven’t yet been willing to do: stop being arrogant. You’re not God’s Gift to Earth. You value enlightenment ideology because you came up with it; enlightenment ideology is the set of values that you use to ascribe value to other value systems. There’s nothing inherently better about your ideology, and you merely think it is because your ideology forms the very basis of the value system you use to determine the relative value of other ideological systems. It is, in essence, the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
This conceit that our values are objectively the One True Value system (which anyone who understands Nietzsche, rather than asininely tossing his name around) is the problem. It simply manifests in two different ways: in Storey’s own alt-right, and in modern liberalism. This extends to my own anarcho-capitalist ideology, as well, and I’ve applied that same lens to it, beginning with the statement that there is no objective reason that non-violence is better than violence, and attempting to reconcile that discrepancy between Nietzscheanism and the NAP.
Storey should be more careful whose name he throws around, especially since his article drips with indications that he has no idea what Nietzsche had to say. If someone wants to rile me, that’s the best way to do it: put silly statements into Nietzsche’s mouth. My own arrogance leads me to want to write “There isn’t a person alive who understands Nietzsche better than I do,” but I don’t actually think that; I will say, though, that if you think there’s a conflict between Nietzsche and any evolutionary thought, then you clearly don’t understand Nietzsche as well as I do. For fuck’s sake, Nietzsche was literally the person who broke ground by writing that compassion is a vice of the strong, and that sympathy for the botched is nihilistic in evolutionary terms–for reasons that are obvious. A species that cultivates weak organisms in its own gene pool corrupts and poisons its own lineage. No, Nietzsche wasn’t proposing racial segregation or eugenics, but the point remains indisputable, and it was Nietzsche who made it. Dawkins came after and explained the science behind it. There’s no conflict between Nietzsche’s statement that ensuring the survival of weak genes in a species undermines that species’ own chances of survival, and Dawkins’ statement that we are all Gene Machines motivated and controlled by genes whose sole function is to procreate within the species rather than the individual. If you think there’s a conflict, then you have grossly misunderstood something.
Which wouldn’t be terribly surprising, honestly, since Storey somehow missed and misunderstood the arrogance that ties his own ideology directly to the “white genocide” that he hates. Notice that Storey and other alt-right people focus their biggest concerns on white self-hate, and they don’t seem to have the slightest bit of care when non-white people hate white people. So North Koreans hate Americans and white people? Meh. Big deal. Oh, no, Syrians hate white people? Whatever shall we do? Oh, Venezuelans call us “White Devil?” Yawn… But when other white people express the sentiment, that is when it gets dangerous. It’s the same idea that motivates liberals: Storey has no fear of all the non-white people in the world hating white people, because he believes, at a deep level, that white people can take them all on. And, to be clear, he’s probably right: an Oceanian war against the rest of the world would probably result in NATO victory (assuming that NATO is drawn on racial lines, which it largely is, but not exclusively so). Regardless, he perceives no real threat from black people who hate white people, or Asians who hate white people; the real threat comes only when white people stand against white people because, just as the liberal believes, he believes that white people are the only ones capable of standing against white people.
I think it’s all nonsense and that only a weak and insecure person would consciously choose to identify with a collective rather than themselves, their own self-worth, and their own accomplishments. I don’t need to identify with white people who came before me, because I’m secure in who I am and don’t need to try to usurp the victories of others (while, naturally, refusing to acknowledge their failures and sins) for myself.
Isn’t it curious how an innate sense of insecurity can lead a person to project such arrogance? It’s rather like the guy with a tiny dick who drives a huge truck and drives around beating up people half his size. Feeling threatened and inadequate, Storey and the alt-right find themselves cowering while also trying to project an image of fierce strength at the bear they imagine to have cornered them. And yet, they simultaneously truly believe in their own strength and grandiosity, such that the basis of what they are arguing is that only people who share their characteristics are even capable of standing toe-to-toe with them.
It has long been my contention that there is a difference between a belief and a conclusion, that rationality is superior to irrationality, that reason alone is a valid pathway to truth, and that a belief is drawn from the domain of emotion while a conclusion is drawn from the domain of reason. For our purposes, irrationality is the language of emotion, and reason is the method of logic.
In any honest inquiry into the nature of truth, belief, and conclusion, it must become evident that one is biased toward the notion of rationality; the emotional belief that reason is superior to emotion leaves one not looking for the truth—perceived though it is—but instead looking for ways to substantiate the emotional belief, to rubberstamp it as reasonable, though it must be irrational.
It was Nietzsche who quipped that “There are no facts—only interpretations,” a statement that must stand as true by the very nature of perception and being. Being is subjectivity, and subjectivity is the presence of perception. We are subjective because we perceive, and we are beings because we perceive. These facts that we perceive—they too are filtered through our perspective, as are all things.
Might it be possible that the “goal” must be to limit the impact of that personal perspective, to attempt to define a scope for emotion? This presumes that there is value in rationality—at least more value in reason than one might find in emotion. According to the Working Man’s values, this must be true—the plane, after all, stays in the sky not because of emotional willing it but because of the reason and rationality that went into its creation. If there is value in the plane maintaining its flight, then reason and rationality, as the propellers that have made it airborne, must be superior.
The Syrian child whose city lies wrecked and devastation by bombs dropped by jets might disagree.
Of what inherent value has it been, the invention of aeronautics and aviation, the invention of the 747, and the invention of the nuclear bombs they have delivered? If the value is the sparing of human life, then the invention of aviation–which itself is a longterm consequence of reason applied as science–then reason is inferior. This is an emotional value, of course: the preference that it is better for people to be alive than for people to be dead is derived wholly from emotions such as love, empathy, and compassion.
It would seem to follow that emotional values inherently prefer emotion as a pathway to action; reasonable values inherently prefer rationality as a pathway to action. Neither the belief nor the conclusion is a real thing; there is only the action, motivated by one leaning or the other and the values which coincide with that leaning. They are never separated, though, for the farmer who prefers the invention of aviation because it helps him to care for his crops–a rational position–in the first place wants to care for his crops to feed people–an emotional motivation.
Could they be, perhaps, one and the same? Belief and conclusion, emotion and rationality?
There is something to be said about the nobility of detecting and weeding out propaganda, and especially in sharing that information with the rest of the class. I, for example, thoroughly enjoy being on Facebook and seeing a bullshit/fake story shared by someone, because that gives me the opportunity to point out why it’s wrong. There’s a lot of pleasure in that, in seeing someone sharing something that is utterly bullshit, and tearing it down–in knowing that at least some people are out there protected from “fake news” by you.
What PropOrNot is doing, however, is not that. I long for the day that I no longer have to source this Nietzsche quote, but I’m going to assume that the people at PropOrNot legitimately had nothing but the best of intentions when they started–as opposed to assuming that they always meant to be a pro-state propaganda site.
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.
See, there’s something very troubling about PropOrNot in that it seems to fixate itself entirely on what it calls “Russian Propaganda.”
First, you have www.lewrockwell.com listed as a propaganda site, and I happen to be–as an anarchist–pretty familiar with Lew Rockwell, and he is the furthest thing from a Russian propagandist, or that flavor-of-the-month label people have been loving to use so often that it has lost all meaning: useful idiot. He’s not the only anarcho-capitalist or libertarian that you targeted, though, is he? No, you’ve also named the Ron Paul Institute. I should inform you that I have been donating to the Foundation for Rational and Economic Education for years, supported Ron Paul heavily in 2012 (of course, the Ron Paul Institute springs from FREE), and know for a fact that Ron Paul, FREE, and the RPI have always been advocates for the American People and our liberty.
Now, this raises an interesting idea, doesn’t it? Advocates of freedom, peace, and prosperity are called, by you, basically enemies of the state, Russian propagandists. What does that say about you, PropOrNot, if known advocates of peace, freedom, and economic prosperity are deemed, in your worldview, to be enemies of the state? It means that you are pitting peace, freedom, and economic prosperity against the state, and you are siding with the state. Ron Paul was an American Representative for nearly 30 years, and you accuse his namesake institute–one in which he has been directly involved in the past–of being a tool of Russian propaganda. This champion of liberty, prosperity, and peace, who actively fought within the confines of the American government for nearly three decades–his institution, you say, is a Russian propagandist tool.
When I first became aware of your website, I laughed when I saw “The List.” Ah, but it rings with such finality, doesn’t it? This is The List, after all! Surely this list will be of tremendous value to us all, and–
The Economic Collapse Blog?
I think it was in 2011 that I became a reader of The Economic Collapse Blog, and I did lose interest in the site because of its constant doom-mongering, much as I have become weary of liberals and their constant doom-mongering, but Russian propagandists? What you must understand, Prop Or Not?, is that many of these websites you cite have roots going too far back for them to be Russian propaganda; they are institutions themselves. If anything, it is the appearance of a new website promising to function as a blacklist for all these “propaganda sites” that should arouse our suspicion and have us skeptical that we may be looking at propaganda. Longevity and age certainly don’t mean a lot, but if you expect me to believe a website that just appeared in 2016 is not propaganda when it states that a website I read regularly in 2011 is propaganda, then you’re going to have to do a lot to convince me of that. You see, I know them. I don’t know you.
In fact, who are you?
You hide behind anonymity like the Russian spies you claim exist, working in the shadows. For all I know, you’re a fat lazy sack of crap eating Hot Pockets because you’re angry that Hillary lost the election.
I think one of the more revealing things about your presence is that you don’t list Breitbart or RonPaul.com on The List. While I understand why you wouldn’t list a quote-unquote “official” website like Breitbart–how could you list them without listing Fox? And if you list Fox, how do you escape from having to list The Guardian?–I find the exclusion of the latter to be of tremendous interest, especially since the website notoriously has nothing to do with the American Congressional official who fought for Americans for three decades, and instead threw in its lot behind Donald Trump–a man who, allegedly, is a useful idiot of these mysterious Russian propagandists who are apparently playing Chess while we play Checkers.
That’s okay. I’m pretty good at chess–rated about 1850.
Isn’t that the contention here? That Donald Trump is the ultimate useful idiot of Russia, now becoming President of the United States as a tool of Russia? Yet you condemn a site that is affiliated with an American Representative with a long track record of fighting for–and only for–the American People, while you appear to ignore a website that repeatedly betrayed that American Congressional Official and threw its weight behind the supposed ultimate puppet of Russia, Donald Trump.
I know what you are doing, PropOrNot, and though I have no power and virtually no sway, I will do everything I can to tear you down.
So what are you really aiming at here?
I think I said it best earlier when I said you were labeling people as “enemies of the state.” I chuckled upon first viewing the list, because I long for the day that I see www.anarchistshemale.com slapped on The List, because you could do nothing to more effectively undermine your own credibility in my eyes–except, perhaps, denouncing the Ron Paul Institute and freaking Lew Rockwell as Russian propagandists.
Because we all know how much Putin loves anarcho-capitalism, right?
That is the crux of your site, though: you are allies of the state apparatus. Alex Jones is a clown and a lunatic even during the best of times, but Russian propaganda? No, certainly not. It is transparent that you have allied yourself with the state apparatus, establishing the “official press” as the Fourth Branch of Government, and you view it as your sacred duty to protect state propaganda while condemning anything that does not help, support, or glorify the apparatus to which you have clearly pledged your loyalty.
Why is CNN not listed? We know for a fact that CNN has manipulated information on two occasions–once where they omitted something that, by itself, would have been a newsworthy item, and once where they actually inverted a speaker’s message–whereas CNN had her sounding as though she was calling for peace, in actuality, the girl was calling for riots and destruction. We know that these things happened, that CNN did this. What is it called, to muddy the facts and edit videos so that they convey the message one wants them to convey, rather than the message that was actually given? Why, we call that “propaganda.”
Mark Dice certainly isn’t the sort of guy I would recommend on most occasions, but I was watching this unfold while he was watching it unfold, and I didn’t save the information; I saved only CNN’s tweet through one of its lesser-known journalists about the “error” they had made.
One hell of a “coincidence,” isn’t it?
CNN gets a pass, though, and why? Because they are unequivocally part of the state apparatus, and Wikileaks–one of the propaganda sites you mention–showed us exactly how close CNN really was to the state apparatus: intimately close, to the extent that Our Lady Hillary was provided the debate questions before the debates. Yet this news source that has provably doctored videos, inverted their messages, lied, sided with the establishment candidate, and provided her information while pretending to be neutral and unbiased is not propaganda? But the people who revealed this corruption are?
I’m not worried for myself, PropOrNot, and, believe it or not, I’m not even worried for you. This war between liberty and the state is not likely to be resolved any time soon–that is, in fact, the reason that I support the Libertarian Party. We’ll be dealing with the state and its loyal apparatus that exists to twist and brainwash the masses for many years to come, and I know I won’t live to see the day that the entire evil system is torn down, with not one brick left on another.
I’ll rest in peace, though, knowing that day is coming, because it is coming. The progressive arc of humanity has been away from the state and toward freedom since the dawn of the state, and it was only the rise of fascism in the 20th century–which, in hindsight, we should have seen coming–that delayed our progress. The war is not over, though. Freedom and liberty will win out, in the end, and on that day that I die I will laugh, dying on the winning side, the pro-humanity and pro-freedom side, secure in the knowledge that you have sold your souls to the devil and that your day of reckoning is coming.
I would say “Repent! The end is nigh!” except that I know the end isn’t nigh.
Let us be real for a moment: we the people haven’t seen anything yet. As this war between the little people and the ruling elites heats up, you will bring out every trick in the book: open terrorism, the end of habeus corpus, the shredding of privacy (oops, that already happened), the rise of total fascism and a supreme state that dictates rather than listens. You realize, of course, that we have played this game before–albeit on a smaller scale? What do you think the American Revolution was? The French Revolution?
You have never won, and you will not win this time. The stronger this misguided populist surge becomes, the harder you will fight back to cling to your dominance. The harder your cling to your dominance, the stronger the populist surge will become. You’ve seen it already? You thought half of the UK was against Brexit? That’s true, but what happened when it began looking like the UK courts might attempt to prevent it? Holy hell! Everyone got mad, even the Remain advocates. Because that’s what happens. That’s how it always happens.
On what side of history do you wish to fall? The side of the people, or the side of the rulers?
That’s a rhetorical question, of course. You’ve clearly made your choice.
I’m just making sure you understand the ramifications.
There are three main threads through everything that I write:
A rejection of absolutist black & white thinking.
Strict adherence to the Non Aggression Principle, to the extent that punishment becomes off-limits in favor of forgiveness and prevention of future crimes.
What I now call Nietzscheanism*–that is: morality is a human construct that primarily exists to keep the strong from abusing the weak; it is a luxury of the middle class, one not allowed to the lower class and one that the upper class isn’t held to.
It’s immediately clear, from the second two bullets–the first is only mentioned because it simply is a common thread, but it’s not the point of today’s discussion–that there is a conflict.
Can there be a greater example of middle class morality than the NAP? In fact, I would say that the NAP is the shining bastion of middle class morality–fully swearing off and condemning all force, violence, and coercion and asking that everyone else do it. Obviously, this can only happen in a world where everyone compromises the middle class. This is the crux of anarcho-capitalism, and the reason I insist that Nietzsche would be an AnCap if he lived today, knowing what we know.
Goodness, there’s just so much ground to cover to bring my ideology full circle. It’s always difficult to explain to people exactly what I advocate, because it is very much circular, and that makes it hard to pinpoint a beginning. Here, we’ve started from Nietzscheanism and objectivism, and that works, but only if there isn’t a deity. After all, if there is a deity giving some sort of meaning to our existence, then life does matter. So before I could really get anyone on board with Nietzscheanism, I have to get people on board with atheism–Nietzscheanism, after all, is nothing but Applied Atheism. But before I can get anyone on board with atheism, there is a whole lot of groundwork to lay, and it’s groundwork that I’m not going to attempt to lay, because atheism and theism are irrelevant to the larger point. I can be right or wrong about individual pieces regardless of the existence of a deity.
However, I would say that before I could attempt to convince someone that there isn’t a deity, I would have to convince them the value of reason over emotion since, by any measurement, faith is an emotion-based position. We will keep going back and back and back until we arrive right back at subjective value determinations, which lands us right back in the territory of Nietzsche and the Austrian economists. I actually made a few years ago a document–a flow chart, for the most part–where one ideology led to the next, and it was clear by the end of it, after I was able to connect Nietzscheanism back to subjective value determinations–because the essence of Nietzscheanism is that morals are subjective–that I had just created a giant web. I know I still have it somewhere, but I can’t be bothered to find it, and it’s not that important anyway.
Morality, Very Briefly
There is no such thing as “morally good” or “morally bad.” These are values that we prescribe to various acts based on the consequences of those acts, the motive behind those acts, and the circumstances around which that act was committed. This is virtually a tautology at this point, but I will take the time to explain it anyway.
Let’s say that I push you down, causing you to break your arm. I have assaulted you. Everyone would agree that I was morally wrong to do so.
However, let’s say that I push you out of the way of an oncoming train that, for whatever reason, you aren’t aware is coming, and I cause you to break your arm. Suddenly most people would call me a hero and say that I’d saved your life.
In both scenarios, I did exactly the same thing: I pushed you, you fell, and you broke your arm. However, in the first scenario I was just being an aggressive bitch. In the second, I was saving you from being hit by a train. Yet the act itself and the consequence of that act are the same in both scenarios: the act was that I pushed you; the consequence was that you broke your arm.
What changed? In reality, what changed were the imagined consequences of me not pushing you. See, morality, as Henry Hazlitt observed in The Foundations of Morality, arises as a result of imagination, that wonderful characteristic that homo sapien has but so few animals share. It is our ability to imagine that gives rise to morality. Without even realizing it, so gifted are we at doing this, we imagine hypothetical alternative scenarios where I did not push you, and we compare the likeliest result of those scenarios with the reality that transpired. Marvelous creatures, we humans! And, in this way, imagination is literally the cause of morality, as it is precisely what allows us to envision these alternative realities.
In the first example, the most likely hypothetical alternative is that you continue standing unassaulted, and your arm is not broken. You go on about your day without a broken arm. By most criteria, that is certainly a better outcome for you, and since I am the reason you do not get to enjoy that superior outcome, it is determined in a fraction of a second that what I did was morally wrong. We do this innately; I’d almost say that we conceive these hypotheticals instantaneously, and the speed and proficiency are the reasons why we forget that morality is the result of imagination.
In the second example, the most likely hypothetical alternative is that you continue standing unassaulted right up until a train plows into you and utterly destroys you. By most criteria, that is certainly an inferior outcome for you, and since I am the reason that you were spared that inferior outcome, it is determined, perhaps instantaneously, that what I did was morally good.
These value statements themselves, though, are built on a few assumptions:
Empathy: This person is generally like me, and I should do unto this person what I would like this person to do for me. In most cases, what I want is much the same as what this person wants.
My own preferences: I prefer to not be in pain. I prefer pleasure. I prefer happiness. I prefer to not be sad. I prefer to remain alive.
By combining our own personal preferences with an extension of them onto other people–the very essence of what “empathy” is–we arrive at a criteria by which we assess whether something was good or bad. It’s by no means a perfect system–how could it be, when we are imperfect creatures?
Whenever I think of empathy and the application of my preferences onto others, I recall the time in college that I was behind the desk unplugging my laptop because class was over. While back there, without even asking, I took it upon myself to unplug my neighbor’s laptop, because he was in the process of packing his backpack. It seemed perfectly reasonable to assume that he’d like me to go ahead and unplug his while I was back there. Because I have all the social graces of Dexter, it didn’t occur to me at all to ask if he’d like me to do it; I simply did it. And I immediately learned that his laptop’s battery didn’t work, and that I did a cold shutdown on his laptop. Not a big deal, but something that has always stuck with me about assuming that our preferences automatically apply to others. They don’t. However, generally, they do. I mean, what are the odds that his laptop battery wouldn’t work at all? Under 95% of circumstances, the person would have said, “Oh, cool, thank you!” instead of “Oh, hold… What the hell? Did you unplug me?”
Nietzsche described good as “the will to power” and happiness as “having power.” From a strictly Darwinian perspective, he’s not wrong. He’s clearly not wrong; he can’t be wrong. However uncomfortable it makes us, he’s right. If our criteria is “survival of the species,” then the only thing that makes sense is to let the powerful do what they can. Do the powerful want to wipe out the weak? Turn them into sex slaves? Install governments throughout the world and use those governments to control the weak? Then they must be allowed to, under this perspective, because we do live in a universe that is trying to kill us, where only the strong survive. It’s a straight line from there to Eugenics, to forced breeding programs to breed the “most capable human.” It’s a sickening path.
Now, to be clear, Nietzsche most certainly did not go that far, and he did not advocate any of that. He was merely arguing that morality is a tool used by the weak to neuter the strong, creating three classes of people in the process: the middle class who were strong and obeyed the morality, the lower class who were weak and therefore didn’t have the luxury, and the upper class who were strong and rejected the morality.
With all the above being true, we can see that the moral statement “force, violence, and coercion are unacceptable” is the epitome of Middle Class Morality. For one, this maxim is as close as we can get to a universally applicable morality. Is it true that absolutely no one wants force, violence, and coercion done to them? Certainly not. It’s no longer acceptable to say for some reason, but there are people out there who would genuinely like to be raped, for example. I’ve met a few, and their problem is always the same: they want to be raped without consenting to it, but giving someone permission to rape them is consenting to it, and the odds that a random stranger is going to rape them are not good. Beyond that, if they ran around clearly looking to be raped–wearing excessively revealing clothes and being unnecessarily sensual–it is passively consenting to it. I raise all this to make the point that they don’t want to consent to have it forced on them; they want it genuinely forced on them.
Rumor has it that Angelina Jolie once paid a hitman to kill her. She genuinely wanted someone to do violence to her, assuming it is true–and I don’t care whether or not it is, because there have been enough suicides by cop that it’s provable that some people genuinely want violence done to them. My own mother apparently sought out violent and coercive men. So obviously these things are not going to be universally applicable, because nothing is universally applicable to a species filled with individuals as varied and wild as we are.
In essence, all rights can be distilled to the following: we have the right to not have force, violence, and coercion used against us unless we consent to it priorily. This statement is all-inclusive. Just as you have that right, as does everyone have that right. This means, then, that you do not have the right to use force, violence, and coercion against someone without their consent. The right to free speech, free religion, free trade, free employment, and free everything else–they all stem from this basic right to not have force, violence, and coercion used against us. They are applications of this maxim to specific issues.
Are these inherent rights? Perhaps and perhaps not. It could be argued you have the right to attempt to stop someone from using force, violence, and coercion against you; in essence, it could be argued that you have the right to try to be strong, and, by being strong, subjugate the weak. It depends upon our subjective values–our criteria for determining morality. If we go with the Darwinian approach, then we arrive at this latter system of rights, where one has the right to do anything they can–this is an underground system of rights, the one that lives in the underbelly’s shadows in society, when certain behaviors are outlawed and black markets thrive.
Because that is, after all, the essence of the black market: a place where the forced middle class morality doesn’t apply because it happens in the shadows. The black market is generally created when the state outlaws something it has no business outlawing**, creating a new dichotomy of the strong and the weak, instead of the trifecta of those who can’t, those who do, and those who don’t. Since middle class morality ceases to apply to anyone, you’re left with only the strong and the weak–the victims and the aggressors.
It follows, then, that if outlawing things leads to the creation of a black market–which we know it does, from indisputable proof and countless examples from the drug war to abortions to ration stamps–that is differentiated from society by the fact that middle class morality doesn’t apply at all and we’re left only with the strong and the weak, then if we outlawed nothing, we would utterly eliminate this black market characterized specifically by the rule of the strong and Darwinian morality.
Application of the NAP Against Nietzscheanism
There are two things that must be done for the NAP to be realized, for middle class morality to be universally applicable–as much as it can be, at least. First, the lower class has to abolished and lifted up into the middle class. So let’s state this loudly and clearly:
No nation other than the United States has come close to eliminating its lower class.
This isn’t a bad thing. We look around the United States and, yes, we have a lower class still, but they aren’t really “lower class,” not in the grand scheme of things. They aren’t poor like the man in Ethiopia who throws out middle class morality to steal food for his family. By an overwhelming degree, the American poor abide middle class morality, though they have no qualms about stealing from the state. Seeing as the state is stealing from everyone, I don’t think it’s fair to condemn them for that one. Besides which, without the state and taxation, they wouldn’t be able to game the system to get “back” finger-quotes-wink-wink ten thousand dollars anyway.
Our “lower class” has electricity, clean water, running water, indoor plumbing, heating, air conditioning, vehicles, iPhones, laptops, steroes, flatscreen TVs, cable/satellite, Internet connections… Our lower class is so high on the totem pole that they’d be considered upper middle class in most parts of the world. This is actually part of the problem, since our lower class, our “poor” have totally lost all perspective on how luxurious their lives are.
To clarify the phrasing, the goal is not to kill off the lower class, not by any means. That’s horrible. No, the goal is to lift up the lower class and bring them into the middle class. Yes, this creates a new middle class, because humans naturally form hierarchies, but none of that matters. The point is that the applicability of middle class morality must be extended to the lower class and, if it is, then it is also true that they are not generally facing the threat of starvation, which is the escape clause that gives them an out from middle class morality in the first place.
Secondly, the upper class must be made to abide middle class morality. Currently, they don’t. I couldn’t even begin to guess how much shit the upper class gets away with in the United States. I’m positive that a solid portion of them engage in child sex tourism and pedophile rings. I’m not referring to the Podesta leaks, but a lifetime of hearing whispers and accusations directed at the upper class. It all may be false, but, in most cases, where there is that much smoke there is usually a fire.
But beyond that, does the upper class get away with theft? Holy crap, absolutely. Not only do they take part in the state and steal from us directly while calling it taxation, but they also use the mechanism of the state to create things like intellectual property and eminent domain, utterly gutting our property rights in the process.
Does the upper class get away with murder? Again, holy crap, yes. The death toll of the 20th century was 160,000,000 from war alone as upper classes in various parts of the world put the lower class to use killing lower class members who were fighting for other upper class groups. They call it “war,” but it is murder.
It’s indisputable that the upper class doesn’t just reject middle class morality; they do so brazenly and openly, in full view of everyone else, and they get away with it by using carefully constructed euphemisms, deceit, and manipulation. There are countless people who will insist that taxes aren’t theft. Except… they are, by any definition of theft. And sending a group of armed people to go kill another group of armed people is unequivocally murder. We cannot allow euphemisms and a refusal to face the truth obscure these basic facts.
So yes, it is true that we are animals who need to be strong in order to survive, and that our species as a whole must embrace strength and shun weakness. This does not mean a lack of compassion, though, as I’ve explained elsewhere. See, we have mistaken “compassion” as being hardly anything more than getting down in the floor with someone and crying with them. That is fake sympathy; it is empty sympathy.
If you are a herd of gazelle [humans] and are trying to get away from lions [the universe that kills the weak], and you have a loved one who is injured [weak, for whatever reason], then you are doing no one but the lions a favor by laying down with your weak gazelle friend and crying with them. This is empty sympathy. This is virtue signaling. This is nihilistic.
True sympathy leads one to help the other gazelle get up, heal their injuries, become strong themselves, and flee the lion.
We absolutely must have compassion and must be guided to help the weak–it is why we have our middle class morality. It is as close as we can get to “objective morality,” after all. However, if our gazelle friend refuses to get up, if they instead embrace their injury and their victimization, refuse to try to heal, and refuse to try to escape the lion, then we must cut our losses and flee before the lion gets us, too. There is a line between sympathy and nihilism.
Based on observable cause and effect–since it is impossible to speculate too much into our hypothetical alternate realities, and since we lack omniscience and can never know exactly how anything would really have played out if we had acted differently–we know that leaving the gazelle to be eaten by the lion would be bad, and our application of empathy derived from our own personal preferences compels us to help the gazelle. We know with reasonable certainty that the lion would eat the gazelle, and that, if we did not help, we would bear a portion of the blame in that.
We should all be strong; we should all be middle class, with no one enshrined above [through the state] or below [through poverty] anyone else. Now, what is the mechanism that allows that to happen? What mechanism eliminates the state that allows the upper class to escape culpability for their moral violations? Anarchism. What mechanism has provably lifted up virtually the entire population into middle class territory, where the fear of starvation is exceedingly remote? Capitalism.
So how do we create this world of people abiding the NAP, of all people being strong and none being weak?
* Thanks to the overwhelming number of angst-ridden ultra-emo millennials who think nihilism means “life sucks and death is cool,” I’ve been left with no choice but to change the label, but that’s fine; Nietzsche wouldn’t have approved of “nihilism” as the label anyway. Of course, these people have never read a word of Nietzsche and don’t fully understand the philosophy, because:
and they get lost on that second part: nothing matters. They don’t fully apply it, though, or they would realize that it doesn’t matter that nothing matters. That is completely and utterly meaningless.
** Anything they outlaw is something they have no business outlawing.
…because they allow ignorant people to directly voice their opinion, no matter how ignorant they are, and have exactly the same impact on the situation as people who aren’t ignorant. Now, based on what I’ve said so many times about the failures of direct democracy, I need to point this out: an informed and educated person would not vote on a ballot initiative about which they were ignorant. Look, if you put on the ballot an initiative that we would expand fracking, I would gladly abstain from voting, because I know nothing about the issue.
A lot of people wouldn’t abstain. A lot of people would vote “Yes” because “fracking means oil, and oil is good.” A lot of people would vote “no” because “fracking is bad for the environment, and that’s bad.” Well, I’m sorry, but if that’s the extent of my knowledge on the subject then I simply don’t feel qualified in voicing an opinion.
Many people would be surprised by this newfound humility, but it’s not newfound at all. Sure, it often seems like I think I know everything. This is because i tend to discuss subjects that I know about, and I tend to avoid subjects about which I know very little or nothing. I would say that I have studied a wide enough range of subjects to be able to say whether or not I’m ignorant of the subject, and that’s where the Dunning-Kruger Effect kicks in. See, most people have no idea how ignorant they are.
Earlier today, I saw Will Coley, former Libertarian Party Vice Presidential candidate, say that he doesn’t “believe” in the Big Bang Theory, and he went on to say that the idea was invented by the Catholic Church as a method of explaining Genesis.
Well, no… That’s not true. Science isn’t something to believe in or not believe in; it’s something to accept or to deny. It’s not a matter of belief but a matter of bowing to the facts. It’s far beyond me to get into all the nuances of the Big Bang Theory and the overwhelming amount of evidence that supports it, but a simple Google search will yield a person all the information they need to make an informed opinion. And I will be adamant about this: there is an enormous difference between an informed opinion and an ignorant one. For example, Coley’s remark about the Big Bang being invented by the Catholic Church is wholly incorrect. The person who first proposed the theory was a Jesuit priest, but he was also a physicist, and was most certainly not doing the work of the church. His work, like Galileo’s, was very much at odds with the church.
At any rate, it’s absurd to accept some parts of science while rejecting the rest, at least on issues that haven’t been politicized into oblivion such as global warming. There are politics involved in the Big Bang Theory, or in the Theory of Evolution, and both theories are as airtight as General Relativity. They are widely accepted for a reason, and the DNA evidence alone would be enough, even if there were no fossils whatsoever, to confirm the theory of natural selection and changes over time.
This won’t stop the influx of people who say that evolution suggests “a tornado would tear through a junkyard and create a Boeing 747,” though. It won’t change the mass of people who say that “Yeah, God said ‘Bang!’ and then it happened.” It won’t change the minds of the people who believe the universe is 6,000 to 10,000 years old. C’est la vie. I’m not trying to change minds. If they want to reject the theory of evolution in favor of their religious beliefs, that’s fine, but I would demand that they stop taking antibiotics, vaccines, and other treatments that are products of biology, since modern biology is inseparable from evolutionary theory. I would demand that they stop using their cell phones, the Internet, and their televisions, since all of these things work only because of satellites that orbit the Earth thanks to our understanding of Einstien’s Special and General theories of Relativity, both of which are tied very much to the Big Bang. If you want to argue that the scaffolding doesn’t work, that’s fine–but to be consistent, you must say that the building built from the scaffolding doesn’t work, either.
But most of these people–Coley among them, I would bet–have no idea what evidence supports the Big Bang Theory, but that won’t stop most people from having an opinion on it one way or another. I was stunned a few years ago, when I remarked to my sister that I found the evolution of snakes to be fascinating, and she replied, “You know I don’t believe in evolution, right?”
I was stunned. What do you mean, you don’t believe in evolution? Evolution doesn’t need you to believe in it. Evolution is a reality of life in our universe; accept it or not, but belief has nothing to do with it at this point. The knowledge is there; the information is there. And I will adamantly insist that her rejection of evolution is not in any sense on the same solid ground as my acceptance of evolution. Mine is built from facts, from having read The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype by Richard Dawkins, and biology is still my weakest area. If there was a ballot initiative asking if we should do “some imaginary thing” to purposely “affect evolution in some specific way,” I would readily abstain from such a measure, because I know nothing about it.
I’m Going Somewhere With This
If there was a ballot initiative stating that we would install 8 GB of DDR5 memory into every computer owned by the government, I would gladly vote against the initiative. I can imagine the arguments of everyone in favor of the initiative. “DDR5 is so much faster!” the headlines would go from the pro-upgrade crowd. “It’s common sense, and 8 GB will be a huge upgrade. There’s no reason not to! We’ve run the cost, and we can make it happen for $85,000!”
“Yeah,” I would say, “but probably 97% of the motherboards in use by the state won’t support DDR5. You won’t be able to just pop it in there. If you do somehow make it fit, you’ll fry the RAM, and probably the motherboard. To make this work, you’d have to upgrade all the motherboards, too, which means upgrading CPUs, as well. Since Windows still uses the Hardware Abstraction Layer, you won’t be able to just throw a hard drive into a new motherboard, new CPU, and new RAM–even if the old hard drives are SATA, which I doubt they would be, since they’re probably old and use IDE, which the newer motherboards won’t support–it won’t boot, and you’ll have to do a full backup of all files, reformat onto a new compatible drive, then move the files back over. It’s nowhere near as simple as just slapping two sticks of RAM into a desktop and watching it take off in speed.”
This is because I know technology. I make a living working on technology and making it do the things that I want it to do. In the end, from this ballot initiative–which would almost certainly pass–we’d end up with a ton of RAM sitting wasted in a storage room somewhere while we waited for Motherboard+CPU Initiative to pass. Suddenly an $85,000 price tag became a $1,850,000 price tag.
We all begin ignorant about a subject–completely ignorant. Through the course of life in western society, we pick up bits of knowledge from all over the place, and we establish a kind of limited knowledge in all sorts of subjects, but that knowledge isn’t always reliable. Like my sister above, who would characterize evolution as “a monkey giving birth to a human.” Anyone who gets their knowledge from her gets bad information, and they may view her as a trusted figure, in which case they wouldn’t question her. Then, years later, when someone came along and contradicted that information, they would already be invested in her and what she told them, and so they’d be much more likely to stick to her explanation of things.
My church told me routinely that this is what evolution was. One year, around the third grade, they actually did one of those stupid skits, where there is a gorilla at the family dinner. “Grandpa,” they called him. It was a full attack on evolution, telling all of our young minds that evolution said that somewhere along the way some gorilla gave birth to a human. These trusted authorities–these people who we had been told to trust and who we did trust–lied right to our faces, perhaps knowingly; at the very least, they perpetuated bullshit that they had been told by an authority figure and never looked into themselves.
As another example, my nephew firmly believes that Jesus lives in the clouds, because that is what they told him at church. We know this one was a lie, because no adult in their right mind believes that Jesus lives in the clouds. For fuck’s sake, we’ve been beyond the clouds. People go beyond the clouds on a daily basis. We know beyond the shadow of any doubt that there is no one living in the clouds or on the clouds. Yet my nephew has been consistently told this by authority figures at his church. When I told him it wasn’t true, showed him pictures of the clouds and the Earth from space, and showed him that no one was living up there, it changed nothing. They’d already won. They planted the idea, and his trust in them kept his mind shackled to that lie. They knowingly lied to my nephew. It was this that caused me to challenge them–a challenge they ignored, by the way.
I told them that I would debate them. The topic? The existence of a god. I told them they could pick any twelve members of their congregation to act as the judges, and that they could enlist up to five people–church members or not–to argue on their side, and that I would debate alone. If I won, then they would refrain from teaching anything spiritual until the children reached 8 years old. If they won, I would attend their church every Sunday for a year. You lie to my nephew and we’re going to have problems. I don’t care if they want him to believe in a god. But I will not let them lie to him to accomplish that.
They ignored my challenge, and I understand why. The similarities to Elijah and the priests of Baal were too much for them to ignore, except… in this scenario, I was Elijah. I didn’t choose 12 as the number by accident, after all. It’s a debate that I couldn’t have won. Convince 12 devout church-goers that their pastor hadn’t made his case that there is a god? I could never have won. However, if they accepted such weighted terms, then they lost from the start, even if I didn’t convince the judges. To show their faith, they would have no choice but to turn the tables and let me pick the 12 judges.
Sorry to digress onto that.
Another area that I know pretty damned well is economics. I might not be able to calculate the market interest rate based on data you feed to me, but since I have no interest or desire to do such a thing it’s never a skill I’ve bothered to learn. I think the bank providing the loan should do that calculation, not the government.
Recently, Washington voted to increase its minimum wage from $9.47 to $13.50 an hour, the bloody fools.
These people, almost none of whom know anything about economics, voted on a measure to substantially interfere in their state’s economy. This is the reason that democracy is stupid. It gives control of the ship to people who have never navigated a ship, people who don’t know how to read a map, people who don’t know how to hoist a sail, people who have never used a sextant, and people who have no freaking idea what a rudder is or why the sail is triangular. If you came to me on a 17th century ship and asked me if we should turn the sail east or west, I wouldn’t have any freaking idea what to tell you other than “Dude, ask someone who actually knows about it.”
Somewhere along the way, we forgot how freaking ignorant we are. This is where the Dunning-Kruger Effect kicks in, because a person can’t be ignorant while understanding that they’re ignorant. With weak general knowledge on a subject, a person usually thinks they have a pretty good handle on it–enough to vote “Yes” on a measure to raise the minimum wage, a decision that will have enormous ramifications for the state’s economy. Hubris is what it is.
See, in order to know how little you know about a subject, you must know a little bit about that subject. That’s the conundrum. To understand how little you know about physics, you have to understand how deep and complex the subject is.
As exposure to a subject increases, confidence decreases, until one is exposed enough to begin grasping the subject.
This is why you should always be weary of people who are confident about what they’re saying, especially if they can’t back it up. I’ve backed up my economics statements. Check them out here and here. There’s a huge disparity, though, between the confidence of an expert and the confidence of a layperson. I will never say that I’m absolutely right–about anything. I constantly allow for the possibility that I’m wrong. In the past year, I’ve been wrong several times. My confidence got put to the test recently on Quora, and I was put in a very difficult position of arguing myself against two actual economists, and I’m proud to say that I held my ground–primarily because they weren’t reading the question correctly.
However, anyone who is absolutely convinced that we should raise the Minimum Wage… Ask them why. Their answer will always be the same. “Because… blah blah… cost of living… yada yada… living wage… blah blah…” Basically, it is an emotional appeal. The danger of emotional appeals, though, is that the emotion is used to propose and support one single solution and precludes the possibility that the emotion can be expressed with any other solution. Take for example government welfare.
I think it should all be ended. All of it. “Social safety net?” It’s called family. And, yes, this is from someone who has no family to fall back on. What do I have? Friends. Where my family has horrifically failed me, friends have always come through, particularly my colleague. When my sister kicked me out for being transgender, I had very few places to turn with such short notice. It was my colleague–who I would certainly call “pretty much family”–who found me a place to stay. That opened up an entirely different set of problems, of course, but things happen.
The common reply, of course, is, “So you want people to go homeless and starve to death.”
Um… No? I don’t think I said that. I think that people who care about you should bear the burden of helping you, not random strangers who don’t get a say-so about it. Your mom can kick your ass and make sure you’re getting a job, not sitting around on the couch and watching Ricki Lake. I can’t. The government can’t. Your mom isn’t going to let you sit there for 18 months while you do nothing and bring in no income. The government will let you, because the government can’t really stop you. Is that so bad? That instead of putting a gun to my head and forcing me to “help” you–while you do God only knows what with the “help”–you would have to turn to family and friends? I don’t want you to die, but… I don’t know you. I’ve got my own problems to deal with without adding yours to them.
But their emotion–that sympathy that people shouldn’t go homeless and starve–is tied to their favorite solution: government welfare. Because the emotion is tied to the solution, their minds become warped until they can no longer fathom any other solution appeasing that emotion.
And just like that, their emotion becomes public policy, especially when ballot initiatives are put forward. “People should have a living wage” becomes tied to “the minimum wage should be increased.” To them, that’s the only possible solution without denying people a living wage. So if you’re against an increase in the minimum wage, they have no choice but to conclude that you don’t think people should have a living wage. To them, it’s one and the same: increasing the minimum wage scratches their emotional itch, and they know of no other way to scratch it; they don’t think anything else can scratch it.
To make matters worse, we are dealing with matters where emotion has no role to play. I’m sorry; it simply doesn’t. Just like emotion has no role to play in calculating how much hydrogen we need to launch a rocket into space, so does emotion have nothing to do with economics. You can’t feel your way to the truth; emotions blind and lead astray. This is very much a Nietzschean thing to say, but I have no issue with emotions, and I think they have tremendous value. However, it is imperative that we define a scope for our emotions. We cannot allow our emotions to run unchecked, determining social policy, determining economic policy, and determining governmental policy. They will lead us into disaster, every single time.
Emotion is not a valid pathway to scientific truth.
And it is a scientific truth that you cannot just raise the Minimum Wage and have everything hunky-dory. It will be a disaster. First, only locally owned businesses will put in the effort to increase prices. The locally owned daycares, gas stations, etc. They will raise prices to mitigate the losses.
Disconnect: Greedy Fatcats Making Millions!
The people who advocate raising the Minimum Wage think that there are business owners all throughout the country who are just raking in obscene amounts of money while paying their employees peanuts. While it’s not really your or my business what private contract the employee and employer into it, there’s something to be said about refusing to shop at a place that doesn’t pay its employees fairly. However, it’s simply not the case that business owners are making tons of money and hoarding it while their employees feed on scraps. In most cases with local businesses, owners are still full-time employees working 70+ hours a week and doing everything from management to recruiting to human resources to supervising. Anything that needs to be done that an employee is not explicitly hired to do, the owner has to do. The buck stops with them, after all. It’s a tremendous responsibility and burden, and they deserve ever penny they get for it. If you don’t like it, then open up your own. It’s honestly not that hard or expensive.
So what I would say “most” of these people pictured is that the business owners would simply make less money. Instead of making a salary of $600/week for the 70+ hours of difficult, stressful, exhausting work they do, these people figured they would instead make $400/week and would pay the increased wage out of their own money. But “their own money” doesn’t usually exist, and if you increase their payroll by 33% across the board, you’re going to have a disaster on your hands. I know budgeting–personally and commercially–and an increase of 33% to an expense as major as employee wages will bankrupt you faster than anything else.
So those increased wages aren’t coming out of the profits that are already there, because, in most cases, the profits aren’t big enough to cover a hit like that. Ten employees working 40 hours a week at $9.46 is $3,784.00 in wages. Every week. At $13.50 an hour, it is $5,400 in wages every single week. If the owner is on a $600/week salary, then even if the owner worked for free they wouldn’t be able to make up that difference; they’d still be nearly a thousand dollars short.
So they have a number of choices.
A. Cut Hours
Suddenly they have 280 hours to apportion to their employees each week, instead of the 400 they had. If they can afford $3,784 each week in wages, then this covers 280 hours. The owner has decided here not to fire anyone, so instead everyone has their hours cut from 40 hours a week to 28. This makes them part-time employees and causes them to lose a fair number of benefits in a lot of cases. It certainly lowers the standards at the business, which is very bad if it’s a daycare. There are, on average, 2 employees fewer at work at any given time, so there are fewer employees overseeing the same number of kids.
Probably should have thought this MW increase through before voting on it, huh?
This is the other route, and the one people are most likely to take, especially since customers aren’t going to happily eat a 33% increase in their own prices to cover the increased Minimum Wage. We’ll come back to that, though. So with 280 hours allotted, it’s an easy call: three employees have to go. Bye, Felicia. Three people fired from their jobs because of the increase to the Minimum Wage. This will happen quite a lot, since it’s the easiest and quickest solution without pissing off clients and without dealing with complaints of other employees about hours being cut.
Probably should have given it just a little bit of thought before voting to increase the MW, eh?
C. Increase Prices
This is the final route, and the one that is second-most-likely to happen. Indeed, it’s already happening. Just think about it. If the daycare charged $100 per kid before, they have to charge $133 per kid now to cover the additional wages. In fact, they have to charge even more than that, because all of the suppliers that the daycare gets its necessary materials from will likely raise their prices. The bottom line on the business just got a lot higher, and there’s nowhere else for the business owner to get the money.
The Government Should Help With Childcare Costs!
Said one parent:
“I feel the state needs to be helping a little more,” said Larson. “It would be nice if parents didn’t have to spend a majority of their paychecks for childcare.”
You fucking moron.
I can’t be nice about this.
The government should rob everyone else to give me money to pay for the daycare costs that I increased by making the stupid decision to vote yes on increasing the Minimum Wage which caused daycare costs to increase to the point that I couldn’t afford them.
You made this bed. Now lie in it.
Hey, lady! If you don’t want to spend a majority of your paychecks on childcare, how about don’t vote for an increase to the Minimum Wage that will increase your childcare costs? Hm? How about that? Government is not the answer. How many messes do we have to make before we figure that out?
“Oh, we made a mess by using the government to interfere with the economy. Maybe the government can fix the mess by stealing from everyone and giving me their money. And then maybe the government can do something to fix the mess that is caused by stealing from everyone and giving me their money. And then maybe the government can fix the mess that it caused when it tried to fix the mess caused by stealing everyone and giving their money, which was supposed to fix the mess the government caused by interfering with the economy. And then maybe the government can fix the mess that it caused when it tried to fix the mess that it caused when it tried to fix the mess that it caused by stealing from everyone and giving their money, which was supposed to fix the mess the government caused by interfering with the economy. And then maybe…”
I mean, really? How about you just stop?
How about you just stop trying to fix messes with the government and instead take the time to research the messes and think about a solution rationally? You want to know the way out of this mess you’ve made in Washington? It’s not stealing from people without kids to pay for parents who didn’t think shit through. You have no right to steal from other people, and the fact that you’d even suggest that as a possibility is appalling. How dare you claim to be on the side of empathy and morality when you want to rob people as a way of cleaning up a mess that is entirely of your own design?
Abolish the minimum wage.
There’s no other way.
The more you increase it, the more “solutions” from the government you will need to fix the last mess you made, and the more government “solutions” you’ll need to fix the mess the government made when it tried to fix the last mess you made. It’s a neverending cycle of government intervention and screw-ups, with the government getting more power and more control every step of the way without ever making anything better. It only makes things worse. It has never made one solitary thing better.
Except our ability to kill people. I’ve got to give them credit on that. The government has absolutely improved our ability to kill people.
You’re like a madman who had the government burn your house down for you because, for some reason, you thought that having them fill it with gasoline and throw a match in it wouldn’t burn the house down–who the hell knows why, Dunning-Kruger presumably–and now you’re asking the government to come in and use its napalm to put out the fire. That’s the government in a nutshell: using napalm to put out fires.
Yes, I do think the average person is too stupid to determine what wage all employers should pay their employees. In fact, I’d go further and say that everyone is too stupid to determine what wage all employers should pay their employees. That is a matter that only the employer and the employee can answer, when the employer makes an offer and the employee makes a counter-offer. They’re the only people who know their situations well enough to be able to answer those questions. I certainly think the average person is far too stupid to know whether a minimum wage should be $3 an hour or $13 an hour.
This is why I’m an anarchist: I have a very low opinion of the average person. Not to brag or anything, but I am a card-carrying MENSA member. I’m a pretty smart chick, with an IQ estimated to be between 150 and 172. I think the average person is too dumb to make their own decisions, let alone make the decisions for everyone, and that’s what this entire system of the state allows. It allows some moron in California who doesn’t even know why he dislikes Donald Trump to attempt to impose a Hillary Clinton presidency onto me, out of sheer ignorance and stupidity. You’re goddamned right I have a problem with that.
The solution, though, is what Plato got wrong. Plato envisioned a world governed by the wise, by philosophers. Liberals, it seem, envision the same sort of world, given how they want to curtail democratic processes and impose their ways on everyone, believing themselves to be intellectually superior to everyone who disagrees. They’re all wrong, though. Yes, Plato, too. The solution isn’t a refined government led by people who are wise, because the unwise person has no idea that he is unwise, and will not have a terribly difficult time convincing the unwise that he is wise–see President Elect Donald Trump.
I’m sure we could come up with some sort of new system of government and new electoral process that, for a while, ensures that only the wise are elected. It would ultimately fail, though, and I don’t like the inherent arrogance of it. Moreover, for anyone who is truly wise, the idea of taking power and ruling over others is anathema.
The solution is to keep these people from making decisions that affect freaking everyone. Duh. If you want to open a company and promise your employees a minimum wage of $15/hour, guaranteed 40 hours a week, with a 401K company match and health insurance, then you go right ahead. You and the people who work for you will go out of business very, very quickly, and it will only affect you and the idiots who sign up with you without giving it enough thought. You have every right to do it, though. But if you want to take that horrendously stupid idea and force everyone to do it… Yeah, then there’s a problem.
Don’t force your economically ignorant decisions onto everyone. The ramifications will be enormous.
Abolish the Minimum Wage. Let employers and employees determine how much their labor is worth. It has nothing to do with you. And if you don’t think an employer is reimbursing an employee fairly, then you can do a few things. You can boycott that company, or you can chip in and donate to the employee. Those are your options. Anything beyond that is using the state to order people around like they’re your slave or something and have to do what you say.
So you have a stupid idea one day. It happens. Give the stupid idea a shot. Maybe it will work out. But don’t you dare force everyone to adopt your stupid, unconsidered, asinine idea that is demonstrably going to create more problems and never solve any.