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Why I’m hesitant…

This exchange from the movie “Witness” captures one of the reasons why I am always hesitant to support, no matter how clear cut it may seem to be, instigating violence or war:

Eli Lapp: This gun of the hand is for the taking of human life. We believe it is wrong to take a life. That is only for God. Many times wars have come and people have said to us: you must fight, you must kill, it is the only way to preserve the good. But Samuel, there’s never only one way. Remember that. Would you kill another man?

Samuel Lapp: I would only kill the bad man.

Eli Lapp: Only the bad man. I see. And you know these bad men by sight? You are able to look into their hearts and see this badness?

Samuel Lapp: I can see what they do. I have seen it.

Eli Lapp: And having seen you become one of them? Don’t you understand? What you take into your hands, you take into your heart. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing. Go and finish your chores now.

You don’t have to believe in God to see the logic in that.

Popping to the top…

Refreshing this after reading yet another annoying anti-tax diatribe:

He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.

– Ben Franklin

If you don’t want to pay taxes, then get off my lawn society.

To put it another way…

From my earlier post on incorporation. If you really believe in “personal responsibility”, then why don’t you petition to eliminate the “limited liability” and socialized (ala “Socialism”) redistribution of risk that incorporation represents???

Dang, Einstein I didn’t know you had it in you…

Perhaps he recanted later, but Albert Einstein in 1949:

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.

I don’t know what the truth of the best system is, but I know it isn’t what we have now. Even if you are a die hard Ayn Rand loving capitalist, it’s worth reading the full piece as he makes an excellent summary of what ails us. In fact, the piece seems just as relevant today as the day it was written.

“States Rights” my ass…

South Carolina:

… A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery … We, therefore, the People of South Carolina, by our delegates in Convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and the other States of North America, is dissolved

Georgia:

The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America … A brief history of the rise, progress, and policy of anti-slavery and the political organization into whose hands the administration of the Federal Government has been committed will fully justify the pronounced verdict of the people of Georgia … The prohibition of slavery in the Territories, hostility to it everywhere, the equality of the black and white races, disregard of all constitutional guarantees in its favor, were boldly proclaimed by its leaders and applauded by its followers … To avoid these evils we resume the powers which our fathers delegated to the Government of the United States, and henceforth will seek new safeguards for our liberty, equality, security, and tranquillity.

Mississippi:

In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government … Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery … We embrace the alternative of separation

Texas:

the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color– a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law … We the delegates of the people of Texas, in Convention assembled, have passed an ordinance dissolving all political connection with the government of the United States

Source:

http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/~ras2777/amgov/secession.html

 

Happy Loyalty Day…

Bellamy Salute - WikiCommons

“free market”, “socialism”, and “government interference”…

When people talk about “free markets” and how the government should keep its hands out of the markets they are showing a cultural blindness to the truth that the government is massively intervening, or “interfering” as it might be, in markets on a literal momentary basis.

Metaphorically speaking, when someone is raised in a religion, the religion seems normal to them. That the Son of God was born to a virgin, impregnated by the Holy Spirit, and visited by three wise men doesn’t sound odd to them, even though someone raised in a completely different culture might see it as a bizarre, if not fictional, belief.

We live in a similar religion, the religion of “incorporation”. That is, we don’t even think about the very basis of our “free market” capitalist system is an artificial entity called “incorporation” where “incorporation” is an entirely government (that is social) granted status. Moreover it is a status that imparts massive market manipulation by the government.

Why?

Because “incorporation” grants “limited liability”. It keeps you and me from suing or otherwise touching the owners of a company for the true debts and liabilities they may hold. If I were to open a business without incorporation and others were to buy shares in the entity (shares being a form of partial ownership), anything done by that business would fall wholly on myself and the shareholders. If the business ran out of money and owed others, I and the shareholders would be directly on-the-hook for the liabilities of the business.

However, the vast majority of businesses today are incorporated with some form of “limited liability”. That limited liability is granted, enforced ultimately at gunpoint just like taxes, by the government. Donald Trump can own a company, make horrible decisions, even potentially break the law “as the company”, and he’s not on the hook for any of it, the so-called “company” is. All the people impacted have no recourse because the government intervened, that is, interfered in the market here. Were the government not there, then Donald and any shareholders would be liable from now until the liabilities were satisfied, even if that meant their entire lives and everything they had. Instead, the government acted both as an insurance company and an enforcer. Through incorporation the government effectively transferred, just like an insurance company, the liability to a different entity.

What/who was that entity? You, me, anyone Donald owed money to, anyone Donald slighted. If it required cleanup that couldn’t be absorbed by the market (for instance, dangerous environmental damage), the government, so again, you, me.

In short – it was socialized. That is, it is socialism. The very heart of our “capitalist” system is socialism.

Because we believe incorporation allows economic growth and helps the people in general, we tell ourselves that we take on the risks of the few for the benefit of the many. It fuels our economic system. Except of course, if the system isn’t really working, increasingly it seems we the many are taking on the risks of the few, for the benefit of the few.

All of this leads to two questions:

  1. If it’s socialism, why is your socialism ok, and my socialism not ok (say, paying for free college)?
  2. If it’s government interference in the market, why is your interference, better than say my interference (say, forcing banks to hold reasonable reserves)?

You may argue that the system wouldn’t work any other way, which is fine, but what you are arguing then is that government interference and socialism are a necessary part of the system. In that case, I harken to the joke about being a prostitute:

Person 1: If I paid you five million dollars would you have sex with me?

Person 2: Yes.

Person 1: Ok then, if I paid you five dollars would you have sex with me?

Person 2: No! What do you think I am, a whore?

Person 1: We already established what you are, we are just haggling the price.

We have a capitalist system that involves massive government interference and socialism at it’s core. You say it should be one thing, I’m just haggling that that maybe it should be others.

UPDATE:

Obviously owners, even of incorporations, can and do get sued (anyone can get sued!), however their risk is greatly limited by government regulations and protections relating to “incorporation”.

Shareholders, outside the loss of the value of the shares themselves, are entirely protected. The shareholders of Enron, even if Enron owed billions to creditors (which might be as simple as a woman that cleans their offices), are completely clear and free. In that sense, they have no skin in the game in assuring that a company is a good corporate citizen outside of the threat of losing their investment. Perhaps that is enough to make the system work, but the fact is these shareholders, that is “partial owners”, are protected from the true and full liability of ownership through government intervention and socialization of responsibility/risk. “incorporation” greatly eliminates the oh-so-important “personal responsibility”, that is endlessly harped on by Libertarians and Ayn Rand followers.

“Steve Jobs” quote

One quote stood out for me in the latest “Steve Jobs” movie, one that I think many at the top could be well served to listen to (or at least, the average person would be well served if they listened to it):

“it’s not binary: you can be decent and gifted at the same time”

– Steve Wozniak as played by Seth Rogan

 

Yes it does – when are you going to start doing it again?

#refugeeswelcome – an open letter to Muslims

From the NYT:

The president’s order, enacted with the stroke of a pen at 4:42 on Friday afternoon, suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

I want Muslims throughout the world to know, even if I may not agree on religion, even if I may decry the terrorism that is committed supposedly in your religion’s name, and I may even hold my own petty fears about the entry of refugees – I, like many, many, other Americans do not stand by Trump. I do not stand by this executive order. I do not stand by this racist and prejudiced act.

As Americans we claim to be the “good guys”, the “shining city upon a hill”, however holding those titles requires responsibility. It means being peaceful, it means following due process and the rule of law, it means not torturing, it means not detaining indefinitely, it means taking the hard path of righteousness, not the easy path of fear and hate.

This act does not live up to the vision of America I was brought up with and taught to aspire to. The good help those in need, even if it means more risk or more hardship.

I will not lie, I too fear more refugees may yield more terrorism, but I am willing to risk my life and the lives of those I care the most to do what is right in this world. That is, allow the immigration of Muslims, the vast majority who are good and loving like the rest of us, and aspire to these words:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Please, forgive us for this and know that this not only does not represent large masses if not the majority of us. It does not represent the vision of our nation that our forefathers intended.