Philosophical Musings

Philosophical Musings

Thursday, January 29, 2015

How to be a human being

How to be a human being

Say you were a detached spirit floating through the universe in infinite time & space. Then one day you decide to become a human being. How would you do it? Here is a step by step process for any disconnected souls drifting through eternity.

1. Become conceived, get born, & develop physically & emotionally.
2. Find a way to survive. Get sustenance, sleep, & protection.
3. Reproduce, raise your offspring, then die.

That is pretty much it. You'll have to dodge abortion in modern western civilizations, & it would also be a good idea to avoid 3rd world birthing, as this makes development & survival more difficult. Also, if you can pick a nuclear family it helps in your development & maturing process. Avoid inner cities, anti social parents, & oppressive nationalities. Those things make it tougher to be a human being.. at least your life will likely be much shorter & harder in those situations.

If you make it past the birth step, congratulations! You have begun the process of becoming a human being. The survival part is tricky.. people have been struggling with that for millennia. There are 3 basic ways to survive as a human:

Produce, mooch, or loot.

You either work for your own survival needs, depend on someone else to provide them, or take them from someone else. Here is where life includes another factor: Social interaction. Most people are born & live among other people. When that happens, there is some kind of socializing that has to happen. You have to get along with other people, & deal with all of their foibles & problems. Over the centuries, we have formed societies & have evolved social standards of behavior, some of which are written & codified into civil law, & others are just manners or expected behavior patterns.

If you are a responsible producer, you will have a constant battle fending off moochers & looters. Hopefully, you will live in a time & place where you can protect yourself & your labors with sound collective agencies, provided for that purpose by all the producers.

But, if you are born into a time where mooching & looting is esteemed as a socially acceptable method of survival, you may have it easy for a while. Unfortunately, mooching & looting takes its toll on the producers, & they eventually rebel, kill the looters, & cut off the moochers. So taking charge of your own survival needs is a better, longer term strategy for survival, rather than relying on mooching or looting.

Part of the survival process is in preserving our resources, to defend them from looters. We have evolved systems of justice & national defense to accomplish this. These systems require us to support them, as the people involved do not produce anything necessary for their own sustenance. It is a fair trade, as they protect those working for food & other necessities, & enable prosperity in the culture. But if too many of these 'defenders' accrue, they become indistinguishable from the looters, as their demands begin to overwhelm the producers. So organizing an efficient, fair, & effective justice system is very important to a society of humans. We call this 'government'. This is a collective action to protect ourselves from looters who would take what we have worked for. Here is the ideal government:

1. Cost effective. Minimal demands are made upon the producers, so they can keep more of what they work for.
2. Just. Corruption & graft are minimal, so that govt doesn't become just another looter.
3. Non invasive. The more free people are, the happier & better adjusted they are. This seems to be a goal of humans.

The problem we have had over the millennia is in crafting such a system. Most of the time, scoundrels & power hungry exploiters are attracted to positions of power in govt. They become looters & moochers, & are not protectors of society's producers. Even in a system of self rule, where the people elect public servants to manage the justice system, they become drunk with power & act like elite lords, fleecing the producers.

But living in an ideal system of governance is not essential in being a human being. Most humans throughout history have not had that luxury. It is fairly normal for the exploiters & looters to lord it over the working producers.

Anyway, after you are born & develop into a mature adult, the only thing left is for you to reproduce & die. Those are also pretty easy things to do, & seem to come naturally. If we were smart, we'd want to prepare our offspring to live in & assemble a social system that meets the above criteria, & minimizes looting & mooching. Older people seem to be happier & live longer if they have hope for their progeny. Long life & happiness is not essential to being a successful human being, but it seems to be preferred.

There is another caveat for prospective humans. Many people believe that there are consequences for violating social standards. They believe that moochers & looters will suffer eternal torment for their anti social behavior. They will not be 'successful human beings', but are evil, anti human entities, destined for hell. They believe that only sincere, productive humans, who do not steal, lie, murder, or commit other anti social crimes are successful humans. This concept is beyond the scope of this article, but i include it as another ingredient in how to be a human being.

Monday, January 5, 2015

There is no free lunch

Another Mystery of the Universe: There is no free lunch

For some reason, the most obvious truths become obscured. What once was plain, common sense.. obvious to anyone with a brain, suddenly becomes lost in the noise & confusion of razzle dazzle. Education does not always impart wisdom & knowledge.. much of the time, it preaches deception & propaganda.

Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned. ~Mark Twain 
How can something so plainly obvious get lost in the confusion of modern education? Like this:

There is no free lunch.
Something for nothing scams are as old as humanity. Con men & scoundrels have pitched them for millennia. Perpetual motion machines, free food, free housing, free stuff... we are led by marketeers from one illusion of free stuff to another. Most people follow the 'buyer beware' principle. But somehow, when it comes to government, our skepticism ends, & we jump on the gravy train.. free stuff for everyone! Politicians promise it to get votes. Easily led, low information voters nod like bobbleheads & pull the lever, hoping to win the lottery on the promises from the hucksters.

If a used car salesman was promising something for nothing, most people would shrug it off as a sales tactic. Or, if a timeshare salesman or carnival huckster was pitching something too good to be true, most people would dismiss it as a con. So why do people suddenly become gullible when a politician with an agenda, obvious self interests, & at no cost to himself, begins to promise pots full of chicken, & acreage with mules? Can anyone explain to me how an intelligent, skeptical electorate suddenly become willing dupes to huckster promises?

Once again Bastiat shows up with timeless truths to explain our delusion:

"Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." ~Frederic Bastiat

So when govt is involved, we somehow suspend our cynicism, & become marks for the con. I admit that they do present an attractive package. Opulence drips from them, & it seems like they can deliver on the promises. But all they can do is use the force of govt to TAKE from someone else, in order to give to another. They are not philanthropists, but thieves. They steal from the workers, & give to those who have not worked. They distort the purpose of law as a provider of justice, & twist it into an instrument of plunder. It is a scam.. a ponzi scheme, where the con men dribble some returns to keep the illusion alive, only to see it collapse later on, with many victims.

Something for nothing is a scam. There is no free lunch.
I offer these profound insights as 'Mysteries of the Universe', since they seem so deep & complex as timeless truths.

Men naturally rebel against the injustice of which they are victims. Thus, when plunder is organized by law for the profit of those who make the law, all the plundered classes try somehow to enter -- by peaceful or revolutionary means -- into the making of laws. According to their degree of enlightenment, these plundered classes may propose one of two entirely different purposes when they attempt to attain political power: Either they may wish to stop lawful plunder, or they may wish to share in it. ~Frederic Bastiat