Philosophical Musings

Philosophical Musings

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Equality of Man

Elitism seems to be the natural state of mankind. For millennia we have believed that certain people are endowed with special dispensations.. divine privileges to lead & rule over the lessor humans. Physical might used to be an indicator of human superiority, & is still highly regarded. Egyptian Pharaohs were considered to be gods, as were the Roman emperors. The concept of 'divine right of Kings' was widely believed for thousands of years in Europe & in most of the world. Chinese Emperors & even African tribal lords were seen as being empowered with special privilege by the gods, or were gods themselves.

But then came the Reformation. Martin Luther & others reasoned against the concepts of special human privilege by the clergy. They had no power to absolve sin, or to declare someone pardoned or grant 'indulgences' for a price. Salvation came through faith, alone, & had nothing to do with any human hierarchy or pontifications. There was an allegiance between the religious leaders & the aristocracy, & most clergy were part of the elite. But as reformation thought burned through Europe, the lofty view of the clergy came down, & along with them their secular enablers. What were kings but mere mortal men? They lived & died like anyone else, & were mere humans.

As the Reformation morphed into the Enlightenment, and the 'Age of Reason' took hold, the logical consequences of this line of thinking brought the idea of the Equality of Man. There was nothing special about the nobility. Kings were mere men. The aristocracy were just elitists who lived off the labors of the working man. The commoner labored in poverty to keep the royal classes in opulence. They began to evaluate the purpose of human governance. Locke, Rousseau & many others reasoned that man was endowed with Natural Rights to life, liberty, & property. Locke said that govt had no other purpose than the preservation of property. Montesquieu reasoned that govt should be split into separate powers of the legislative, judicial, & executive branches. Jefferson, Franklin, & Paine stirred them all together & the American Experiment was born. 

But even then, there were some differences. Hobbes believed man was stupid & brutish, & needed a strong central govt to keep him in line. Many believed in 'manifest destiny', or the duty of the white race to control & manage the rest of the world. But this was in opposition with the basic idea of human equality, & caused a conflict. Eventually, slavery was outlawed by the people where enlightenment thought was dominant. Even in the wilds of America, a great civil war was fought to settle this issue. The idea of the dignity & equality of Man, had become mainstream. Monarchies were relinquishing power, & representative governments were replacing them, either peacefully or by force.

The foundation of this view was in that of a Creator. Man was endowed by his creator with unalienable rights, as Jefferson put it in the declaration of independence. But even for the Deists & naturalists of the time, 'Nature' or 'Nature's God' also worked as the source of these natural rights. 3 of the most significant philosophical leaders in the American theater were Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, & Thomas Paine, all deists. They did not believe in Christianity or the Bible, but still saw the divine empowerment of the individual with basic, equal rights, granted by Natural Law.

But the enlightenment did not usher in an era of peace & utopia. The French revolution was a disaster, with mob rule & bloodshed seeming to confirm Hobbes's analysis:

"During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that conditions called war; and such a war, as if of every man, against every man. To this war of every man against every man, this also in consequent; that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law, where no law, no injustice. Force, and fraud, are in war the cardinal virtues. No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." ~Thomas Hobbes

The American thinkers concluded that their experiment in self rule could only succeed if the people were moral.

"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." ~Benjamin Franklin

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." ~John Adams

But the correlation between a 'moral & religious people' & the equality of man are clear. Without morality & a sense of a higher 'Law', only force matters. Force is not equal, but favors the ruthless & amoral. So the view of man as equal & having inherent rights is incumbent upon a moral & religious people. To the enlightenment thinkers, force was something for a moral people to own & control, to secure their rights, not to be used for despotism & exploiting your fellow man.

But as the enlightenment era drew to a close, new thought was beginning, rooted in the works of Karl Marx & Charles Darwin. These were anti-enlightenment concepts, based on a naturalistic view of man & nature, & moved man back to a more elitist view. They undermined the power of religion & morality, declaring religion to be the opiate of the people, not a force for social good. Man was not a created being, in the image of God, but a mere brute.. an animal evolved from lower forms with no moral law or purpose other than survival. Both of these concepts laid the foundation for the Russian revolution, based on Marxism, & the rise of the Nazis, based on the evolution of the Master Race. The equality of man took a big hit in this time, as powerful elitists pushed their own agenda, empowered by their acquired force. Even in the American Experiment, progressives were gaining power, based on their elitist view. They were duty bound by the cosmos to manage & control the huddled masses, & of course should be provided for lavishly for their administration. Eugenicists like Margaret Sanger & other progressives hailed the virtues of elitist central power. They would engineer society & end all injustice. FDR compiled his 'second bill of rights', which is a collectivist, central power agenda, not one of individual freedom & Natural Law. Progressives need an elite of superior intellect & zoo like management skills to control the workers, which is what they have worked tirelessly toward for decades.

And here we are, in the death throes of the enlightenment, with the dignity & equality of Man slowly dying. Natural Law gives way to imperial decree, & we are plodding a steady return to elitist rule. We are in a convoluted blend of enlightenment memory concepts of Higher Truth & morality, & the conflicting conclusion of a world without God, purpose, or higher law. And with the death of Natural Law, so goes the concept of the equality of Man. Social engineers might give lip service to it, for propaganda purposes, but it is not inherent in their basic world view. They are elitists, & view the inferior beings with contempt. It is a short ride to genocide from this collectivist village. They worship only power, as there is nothing higher than that to the naturalist elites. They view the principles of the enlightenment as charmingly quaint, but completely irrelevant in their brave new world of elitist control. The achievements we have made in women's suffrage, abolition, worker's rights, & due process will all give way to imperial rule by a New King.

So is that it? Will the values from centuries of progress toward self rule, human equality, & natural law give way to another ruling elite? This time, they don't claim Divine Ordination, but are appointed by the god of power, to rule over the pathetic lower race of men. Will we revert back to the dark ages? Will we surrender what has taken millennia of blood, sweat & tears to arrive at, only to see it tossed aside for a lie?

"The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite."  ~Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Central Bank

Our current problems with currency & the economy is not the direct problem of the federal reserve, but that is where the currency dilution began, in America. The fed was created to allow increased fractional reserve banking, remedy bank runs, & encourage bank savings, instead of gold buried in a fruit jar in the back yard. That was a noble concept, but it opened the door for expansion via debt, rather than production. People could borrow, invest, work the system, & become fabulously wealthy, without producing anything. It is ponzi scheme parameters.. skimming off each new 'investment' until the bubble bursts. ..and it ALWAYS bursts. The great depression, though exacerbated by the dust bowl & drought, was primarily caused by a bursting bubble.. the stock market crash of 1929.

When the fed was restrained by the gold standard, it could not expand its power or control over the currency by increasing debt. That was why FDR ended it in 1933, to keep the fed solvent, as people were converting their savings to gold, instead of buying federal reserve notes. It was govt mandating the use of their currency, to control the people & the economy (or so they thought). That is a typical tactic of statist systems.

I'm not singling out the fed, nor am i condemning fractional reserve banking, as it has been around for centuries. And while i agree that a moral people make laws less necessary, simple, fair laws, with a system of checks & balances is more difficult to corrupt. A central banking power, with no public accountability, but has control over the currency of the nation, is NOT a good system, & needs to change. Here are a few things we can require for a central bank:

1. oversight by elected officials.. congress is responsible to spend money, they should be responsible to provide a stable currency.
2. Hard assets.. something solid to base the currency on.. gold, silver, oil, land.. improvements.. even military hardware or national parks.. but a basis for the currency, not some ginned up numbers reflecting a fake gdp.
3. Limits on fractional reserve banking. .. a minimum requirement of assets to loans, so banks do not loan irresponsibly, or just borrow cheap money from the fed to loan out.
4. Money created from actual production.. no Quantitative easings 'just because', or 'for the children!' If the productivity of the nation did not grow, neither should the money supply. This would cut down on inflation, & lessen the impact of corrections, which will always happen.
5. balanced budget. this is mostly related to the fed, & is not a direct currency issue, but if the govt can borrow for future spending, they will, for votes. It compounds the problems of the currency. If the govt was required to keep a balanced budget, they would have more motivation to keep a stable currency.

Some form of bankruptcy has been around for centuries. Perhaps you were sold into indentured servitude for your debts, or all your assets taken to cover them. There was also 'debtors prison'. That was the 'bite' in borrowing.. you had to be sure you could pay it back. Banks & money lenders were also under those laws, & if they went under, they often took others with them. 'Caveat Emptor' was always the rule of the day for investing in any bank or savings plan ..even life insurance or mutual funds.

But the feds policies removed the threat of default from the banks. They could overextend themselves, & loan more than they had fractional assets to cover, & the fed would bail them out! That's why gold didn't work. There was more money being 'created' by the lending process than was actually justified by production, so any jitters in the market would spell an end to the system.. it would crash unless it could 'create' more money by fiat.. which is what they did. It had no basis in production, but was simply 'declared'.

IOW, the system is corrupt by default.. but it is almost imperceptive. It SOUNDS good, & promises lots of benefits, like most ponzi schemes. But its basis is in dilution, not production, which is why it is failing, & seems to be out of control.

I have come to see this as THE most crucial issue of the day, & one that will have the most impact on everyone. The politicians cannot control the fed. They cannot stabilize the currency, because it would cause a collapse of the system. It would take years of austerity, from both the people & the govt, to bring us to a solvent financial state. Even though this would be best for our long term health as a nation, & future generations, i don't think it will happen. Each generation kicks the can down the road, hoping it will hold up for a few more years.

Subjective & Objective Wealth

There is SUBJECTIVE wealth, & OBJECTIVE wealth. I tend to see everything as subjective wealth, but make a distinction based on human commonality.

For example:
A certain man loves colorful plastic buttons. He searches near & far, & amasses a great collection. He considers himself rich beyond measure. That is 'subjective' wealth. There might be a few people who would give money for these items, but not many.
There are other things that are more universally accepted as having value. A house. A functional car. Ownership in a business. Gold coins. Weapons. A silo full of grain. These are commonly valued items among the human collective, as most of them relate to survival. In an affluent society, hobbies proliferate, & many other items gain SUBJECTIVE value. Comic book collectors place great value on first edition popular comics. But that value is not inherent in the item.. it is just printing on paper. It is the IDEA of the item that has value, which makes it much more subjective.

For real wealth to be created, it must be done by useful labor. It must create SOMETHING of real value, for it to count as PRODUCTION. I do not deny that the comic book publishers, the sports heros, & the hollywood actors work. They give themselves to their profession & are compensated for it. The distinction i am making is that this is NON productive, for humanity. Entertainment is not essential to human survival.. at least paying for it like we do is not. Essentially, they are moochers on the productive sectors of society. They can ONLY survive if the economy is prosperous.. if there is abundant food, clothing, shelter, etc. Historically, court jesters & wandering minstrels were not rich. They barely eked out a living, sponging on the productive segments of society, unless they could hook up with a wealthy patron. This was true of most artists, writers, & musicians, too.

So the difference in perceived value can be put back in objective terms, if other mitigating factors are eliminated. Abundance & prosperity create a false bubble of value. The russians post czar found out about that. Some THINGS, like clothing, jewelry, pots, etc retained their value in an economic downturn. But food, housing, & protection items are always valued. These are the OBJECTIVE things that add to a society's wealth, more than fickle items that rich people play with. If you were suddenly transported into an apocalyptic time, where the struggle for survival was the foremost thing on everyone's mind, the button collection or even the comic books would not have the value that your dad's smith & wesson collection or your mom's gold necklaces.

So while perceived value is subjective, there are objective things that humans need. Those are the things that must be created for a society to thrive. If non productive sectors are esteemed over productive ones, & value is perceived where there is no objective value, that says more about the society & its skewed values, rather than objective truth.

Wealth is Created, not Declared

Real wealth is created, not declared. That seems obvious, but evidently not.. our whole financial system is based on declared value, not real production.

What is 'wealth'? It is not pieces of paper, or minted coins. Wealth is something of value that a human has found, created, or discovered. Labor was involved, even if it was digging gold nuggets from the ground. Here are some examples of wealth:

1. A farmer plants a crop.
2. A builder builds a house.
3. A miner extracts metals or value from the ground.
4. A manufacturer makes a tractor, washing machine, or other manufactured item.
5. A lumberjack harvests timber for boards & lumber goods.

These are all examples of REAL production. Now, let's look at some examples of non production:
1. A banker charges interest on a loan.
2. A govt taxes a producer.
3. A stock broker buys low & sells high & makes a profit.
4. A welfare queen draws a welfare check for years.
5. A sports figure gets paid to play a kid's game.
6. A hollywood actor gets paid to pretend to be someone else.

What is the difference? The second group had to do something.. they had to 'labor' to get the money. The sports hero had to practice, & even the welfare queen had to meet with the social worker & plead for some free stuff. IRS agents had to audit the taxpayers, so do they 'earn' their wages?

This is not about earning a wage, but the production of a nation. THAT is what WEALTH is based on, not just human work or effort. A person can labor long & hard & produce nothing. Another might labor efficiently & produce a great deal. The true wealth of the nation is not based on labor, but what that labor ACTUALLY PRODUCES.

There are support industries for the production of wealth that do not directly produce, but provide a useful service for the producers. Here are some examples of those:
1. Police, fire, & military. They provide protection, regulations, & justice so the producers can create the wealth.
2. Schools & education. They provide the knowledge base for the advancement of society, & build upon the successes of past producers, as well as learn from the mistakes.
3. Processing, marketing, & distribution. Much of the nation's wealth needs markets, & requires processing & distribution to get to the people who will buy it.
4. Capital. Acquired wealth can be used to enable the worker to expand the scope of their operation. They can buy tractors or lumber using their future production as collateral.

These examples rely completely on the producers.. they do not support themselves, but the demand for their services will rise & fall with production. But the ORIGINATION of the wealth begins with production. The farmer harvests a crop. He exchanges that crop for a new building or a tractor, or a washing machine. He sends his kid to school, to learn about better farming practices that will enable them to have increased production. His crop enabled the builder to hire laborers, buy lumber, & build a new house & barn. All of those activities are interrelated, & build what we call an 'economy'. But it begins not with printing currency, but REAL PRODUCTION.
This is why the emphasis of a successful society has to be on producing goods & services, instead of money shuffling, entertainment, or mooching. A healthy work ethic, that produces something of value is the only thing that keeps an economy going. Economies are cyclical. The are in constant flux. They self correct, & are affected by many factors, like weather, population increase, & new discoveries.

Some new discoveries can radically change an economy. The invention of the internal combustion engine & cheap, portable fuel put a big dent in the horse industry. It put a glut of food on the market, & made prices much lower. It enabled the industrialization of the world, & created a more complex economy.. the interdependence of other producers. It allowed the expansion of many support industries, including technology, education, research, mining, chemistry, transportation, & just about all of the world's economies. But everything begins at the simple act of food production. Without that, there is no demand for machines, education, technology, transportation, or anything. Food production then is the catalyst for the rest.. construction, machinery, education, law enforcement.. none of these are possible without the initial creation of wealth by the food producers.

A non food producing economy can survive, if it is able to exchange goods & services with another economy that has an abundance of food. Or, if they have superior military strength, they can take what others have produced by force. But that usually just motivates the producing nations to defend themselves better. They will allocate their resources to provide a better deterrence against foreign looters.

But without real production, there is no wealth created, & the society is in decline. As more & more jump on the support industries, or settle into the mooching sectors, production declines & the downward spiral has begun. Unless it is turned around & the society sees the common sense reality of production as the basis for any wealth, the illusion that wealth can be created, or just taken from someone else will permeate the culture & promote dependency. Moochers & looters will multiply, until the society collapses upon itself.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Morality & Evolution

From the naturalistic perspective, there might be instinctive 'morality', based on survival of the herd. That might be the source of altruistic behavior, or at least that is a plausible explanation. And of course, the basic rights to life & property can be seen as social expediency. Anti social behavior, such as killing others, or stealing their stuff, is not a positive for a healthy herd, so the 'instinct' to protect the individual's basic rights *can* be explained as a learned instinct.. something that evolved to improve the survival of the herd.

But i see a problem with that. If 'survival' is the only engine for morality, even from the herd's perspective, how did the larger social morality evolve? The stronger should be the survivors, not the weak & powerless. Why would any altruistic behavior from the strong toward the weak evolve, if it based purely on survival? Humans were not in such large 'herds' in past times. We were smaller tribal/family units, that constantly warred with other tribes & families. Civilization brought the larger sense of morality, that extended beyond the tribal power. Og of the river tribe might take his cousin Thag's goat, & if he is bigger & stronger, who can say he can't do that? If the patriarch Ung intervenes, & makes Og give the goat back, & threatens the collective strength of HIS power, Og must comply, or take off & build his own tribe, with his own power as the core of the new unit. So why would Ung intervene in such a dispute? He needs the power of Og to keep his tribe strong, not weaken it with altruistic delusions. I don't see any way morality could 'evolve' in basic human tribal units. I see it as much deeper than that. There IS an instinctive sense of morality, but i cannot see how it came about from naturalist processes. That is the conundrum of naturalism. How do you explain morality?

Religion brought the concept of a Higher Power, with the added baggage of morality, not instincts. IOW, religion came first, as the driver of morality. Without the appeal to a higher power, & using the collective strength to force compliance with the strong, STRENGTH is the only virtue. Perhaps religion could have been just a scam by the weak, to con the strong, & it furthered scheming and intelligence as a method of survival. Physically weak people could manipulate the strong by deception, & so 'morality' was born. Atouk could threaten Og with eternal torment, if he took his stuff, & that was the deterrent. If it worked, does Atouk's craftiness gain him supremacy? That is a plausible explanation of religion, but it does not explain the universal tendency in ALL humans for this. Some would have evolved with strength as the highest virtue, & collective strength would be a formidable force. Plus, as intelligence 'evolved' as the naturalists tell us, why would not the naturalistic view gain supremacy, & return back to strength as the central virtue over altruism?

The origin of morality is almost like, 'which came first, the chicken or the egg?' Did religion & the concept of a higher power give birth to morality, or did instinctive morality give birth to religion? I can see it either way, from a purely logical standpoint. So it comes back full circle to a belief. Naturalism or Higher Power?

But i will submit that the 'higher power' view has been the major driver of human morality. You might be able to explain morality by instinctive processes, but that does not ensure its survival. As amoral views run amok in a culture, & any sense of a higher power & accountability go out the window, strength returns to its rightful place as the ultimate virtue. The breakdown of western culture is easily seen as driven by moral relativism, & the rejection of moral absolutes. Instead of the instincts remaining intact, they are tossed aside for convenience & the more base drives in humanity. The drive for food, stuff, sex.. these are no longer tempered by a sense of morality, but are given free reign in animalistic expression. So it seems, by observation, that morality must be taught.. instilled in the people as the most basic driver of the culture, or man easily slips back to purely animal instincts. One need look no further than urban ghettos to see this phenomenon in action.

Religious institutions are common in urban areas. But they are no match for the daily indoctrination from the education system, pounding their amoral drum of naturalism & moral relativism. So morality is lost, ignored, rejected, or viewed as something for the weak & stupid.

I am trying to follow the CONSEQUENCES of ideology in this article. There are evidences, both anthropological, & currently observed that seem to indicate a correlation between a healthy, thriving civilization & morality. When morality breaks down, so does the culture. Where morality is revered, those cultures thrive. And the naturalistic view does not esteem moral absolutes. They cannot explain them, or promote them with any credibility. They will try to say, 'why can't we all just get along?' or make other baseless appeals to 'be good', but with no foundation, they are hollow calls for civility. And even when a culture has a foundation of morality, constant undermining of it with naturalistic ideology eventually kills the morality, which is what we are seeing in western culture.

Why is that? There are no rules. Morality & law are inventions of our own minds.

This is the root message of naturalism, even if they SAY, 'be good'. They have no basis to call for such behavior, & everybody knows it.