Archive for June, 2013

I Wonder If I Am A Libertarian # 7

June 27, 2013

Key Concepts of Libertarianism

By

David Boaz

January 1, 1999

I quote:

The key concepts of libertarianism have developed over many centuries. The first inklings of them can be found in ancient China, Greece, and Israel; they began to be developed into something resembling modern libertarian philosophy in the work of such seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thinkers as John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine.

Free Markets. To survive and to flourish, individuals need to engage in economic activity. The right to property entails the right to exchange property by mutual agreement. Free markets are the economic system of free individuals, and they are necessary to create wealth. Libertarians believe that people will be both freer and more prosperous if government intervention in people’s economic choices is minimized.

End of quote.

These assertions about a free markets, private ownership of property, the stultifying effects of governmental over-regulation, governmental ownership of businesses, and high tax rates to sustain an increasingly bloated, voracious and predatory governments are factual and beyond dispute.

However, one assertion needs special clarification because it is so universally mispercieved. Human’s can be largely free from governmental coercion, or the coercion of other people, and this is a main goal of a Libertarian cultural design. However, we are never free from the effects of our genetics, our learning histories, our current state of  health, or our immediate sociaocultural, economic, political and physical environments. The psychological laws and principles of conditioning and learning always affect us in major ways, without fail. And when we fail, we are failing to let them guide us.

The psychosocial casualties to which I refer are complex, layered and circular in nature; but our human behaviors remain a major part of this causal chain.

I will take, on faith and because we already did it one time, that humans can learn to design better sociocultures and that such improvements will in-turn shape more adaptive and generally beneficial forms of our thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

For an intellectually stunning and revealing book about human nature, the causes of our good and bad behaviors, and  important principles of cultural change, you must read Beyond Freedom and Dignity, by B. F. Skinner.

The assertions above are, or should be, beyond dispute. If someone wishes to argue against these bed-rock main features of human psychology or Libertarian cultural designs…the very principles that made America the greatest Nation on earth…I will ask that they do some reading to educate themselves.

A good start would be the following:

The Road To Serfdom, by F.A Hayek

The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny, by Michael E. Newton

Libertarianism, by David Boaz

What It Means To Be A Libertarian, by Charles Murray

The Secret Knowledge: On The Dismantling of American Culture, by David Mamet

Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity, by Francis Fukuyama

The End of History and the Last Man, by Francis Fukuyama

Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy, By Thomas Sowell

There are many more sources of historically factual and well-documented  information that powerfully support the basic tenants of psychology and Libertarianism. Some of these principles are counter-intuitive to ways of popular thinking, and that is the greatest of all problems now driving America’s decline.

In a word, what drives America’s decline is ignorance.

It is ignorance about the causes of the quality of our own behaviors, within an electorate that votes to design and redesign America’s political and social cultures so that its population may live long and well…or fail and fade into history.

To live long and well requires that our electorate understand the determinants of their own behavior and how various human behavior patterns will survive (or fail to survive) the many inter and intra-cultural stresses of the future, most of which are now known and often predictable.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.,  6/27/13

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A Present For You: All Along The Watchtower (Dave Matthews)

June 25, 2013

A Present For You: All Along The Watchtower (Dave Matthews)

This song was first written and performed by Bob Dylan and later Jimmy Hendrix and others. I love the way Dave Mathews did it in this video.

You do may not find any deep meaning to this song, that is just fine, as it is simply a wonderful performance.

However, I am reminded by these lyrics (something I doubt Dylan ever intended) that America is being destroyed because we have failed to man the Watchtowers of our borders. No Nation can long survive when it fails to guard its borders.

That unpleasant thought aside, please this enjoy this marvelous rendition of All Along The Watchtower!  VTM, 6/25/13

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-wYQRsNOds

I Wonder If I Am A Libertarian # 6

June 24, 2013

Key Concepts of Libertarianism

By

David Boaz

January 1, 1999

The following are quotes from David Boaz:

The key concepts of libertarianism have developed over many centuries. The first inklings of them can be found in ancient China, Greece, and Israel; they began to be developed into something resembling modern libertarian philosophy in the work of such seventeenth and eighteenth-century thinkers as John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine.

Limited Government. To protect rights, individuals form governments. But government is a dangerous institution. Libertarians have a great antipathy to concentrated power, for as Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Thus they want to divide and limit power, and that means especially to limit government, generally through a written constitution enumerating and limiting the powers that the people delegate to government. Limited government is the basic political implication of libertarianism, and libertarians point to the historical fact that it was the dispersion of power in Europe — more than other parts of the world — that led to individual liberty and sustained economic growth.

End of Quote:

B. F. Skinner, the great American psychologist, once said, and I paraphrase his thought: That government which governs least, governs best..only when something else governs.

I have wondered what the “something else” was that he was referring to. I assume it was some set of rules based upon operant conditioning contingencies of reward (reinforcement) and punishment. It was not a likely a host of religiously derived rules, given that he was an Atheist.

In a book that he wrote, entitled Walden Two, Skinner laid out the contingencies of reinforcement (rules) needed for a smoothly functioning  society…a smoothly functioning small communal society. This book is a good read and it is certainly educational and thought-provoking. The cultural design is remote from the our Founding Father’s Ideals, but it could work within the protective realm of a larger political context, much as other communes have worked for various periods in America. Those who have found happiness in such settings have lived the American dream.

But without some larger and benevolent federal power, with a strong police and military force, how would such an entity live long without predation by other national and international forces? This has been the way of the world forever and was the prescient argument put forward in America’s Federalist Papers in favor of forming a union of our states.

I believe it is true that the government that governs best is the one that governs least. I believe that among the somethings else that made America the greatest socioculture ever in history were the reigning ideals of Judeo/Christian religious ethics (rules to live by), small unintrusive government, private property rights and free enterprise, legal/judicial rules, supporting sanctions, and the legal/governmental protection of privacy for all who wished to be “left-alone” to live their lives as they preferred.

On a recent drive through Green Bay’s beautiful farm land Door County, I saw countless sprawling farms remote from cities and towns. Clearly, such farms are now festooned with more governmental rules than ever regulating their business enterprise. However, they are alone on their land to otherwise behave as they see fit. Yet, they are not free. They have come under the firm control of their land, their animals and crops, their families and friends, their climate, and their markets, etc. The controlling contingencies of reinforcement and punishment, for them, are more natural (less contrived) than are those for most who dwell in geographical locations of densely packed populations.

I am increasingly convinced that this, and other, penultimately successful American sociocultural designs, minus the stultifying governmental taxation and regulation, can be recaptured, but not by the modern Republican and Democratic political parties. These traditional American political parties have lost the essence of what made America great. They are now dedicated to massive government, intrusive and coercive control of the population, and socialism…which morphs to tyrannical central planning of the major aspects of private life, the culture, economics and perfectly predictable failure—A great deal more of the kinds of failure that we are now witnessing in America.

The ethos of our Founding Fathers was Libertarianism. While I view a few components of this political design as self-defeating, in this modern age (legalizing the traditional vices, for example), in the vast main it is the only political system that can  save America….for the second time.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

Secure The Border, Dammit!

June 22, 2013

Secure The Border, Dammit!

A culture that fails to control its borders is committing suicide.

Politicians care only about the short-term….namely their own short terms and as many as they can get. Above all, most care about amassing power and wealth. The freedom-for-all that was the dream of our Founding Fathers be damned! The long-term  health and well-fare of their own culture be damned!

Vote the bastards out!

Establish term limits for politicians. Terminate special benefits beyond those of average citizens. Terminate all of their special  legal immunities. Establish a life-time ban on becoming lobbyists upon retirement. Forbid government workers and politicians to “Take the 5th” when being questioned about the work they are doing for us: They are our employees, we hired them and we have a right to know exactly what they are doing for us and to us. Swiftly and severely punish politicians who break the law!

View this!

VTM, 6/22/13

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/leahbarkoukis/2013/06/20/video-michelle-malkin-on-immigration-its-not-secure-the-border-first-its-secure-the-border-period-n1623629

“Is This Still America?” Thomas Sowell

June 19, 2013

 “Is This Still America?” Thomas Sowell

It has been forever documented that trust is the basis for all sociocultural successes. The loss of trust between people is a damage beyond calculation.

http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2013/06/18/the-loss-of-trust-n1621768/page/full

VTM,  6/19/13

I Wonder If I Am A Libertarian # 5b

June 15, 2013

I Wonder If I Am A Libertarian #5 b

We hear talk of building “Human Capital”, that is, educating a population in the intellectual, ethical and physical skills needed  for sociocultural success.

If there is something called human capital, and there is, then there must be an opposite. I call the opposite, Social Entropy. 

Social entropy is that proportion of a population that is impaired in some way and is unable to, or unwilling to, work to sustain the socioculture. Therefore, increasing social entropy represents increasing damage to the ability of a socioculture to survive long and well.

Social entropy can increasingly impair a population for many reasons. Addiction to drugs, sex, gambling, and pornography (the traditional vices) (approved of by radical liberals, progressives, and Libertarians) damage human capital and therefore increases social entropy. So does an inferior acculturating education; an entertainment media that encourages irresponsible licentious, hedonistic, and antisocial behavior.

One of the few issues upon which I disagree with the libertarian party is the legalization of the traditional vices. I disagree because they are highly reinforcing to everyone, they tend to become addictive to those who sample the momentary pleasures they seductively offer, and they can spread through a population like wild-fire.

Bad behavioral contagion combines the psychological processes and mechanisms through which bad behaviors spread within a population.  Elementary principles of psychology now contage bad behavior patterns among an increasingly ignorant, barbaric and heathen population, swiftly (generation after generation) increasing a great many forms of self and other-destructive behaviors within America’s population. All of this further directly increases social entropy within the socioculture and is leading to our decline.

One, of only a few problems, that I have thus far encountered with the Libertarian model is their position on the traditional vices. They argue that if drugs, prostitution, gambling, and pornography are legalized that people will naturally exert controls to minimize the damages of these vices among themselves.

Libertarians say that such activities would naturally be moved out-of-proximity to mainstream life and activities, that people would naturally shun those who own and operate such businesses, or who become addicted to them and who damage their families and others as a result. 

Libertarians argue that the traditional criminal elements associated with such activities would naturally melt away when they are legalize and that the great costs of law enforcement, adjudication and punishment allocated to such crimes would be saved.

The libertarians say that such “crimes” are victimless in nature and that consenting adults should be able to  get together and do what they want. If they are harmed, it was their choice and it is no concern to the rest of us.

Unfortunately, from the bad behavioral contagion and social entropy perspectives, that is not what happens in a densely packed population with a  pervasive entertainment, news and marketing media flooding children, adolescents and adults with propaganda in favor of self and other-person destructive activities.

Do you really think that a gambling addicted father, who embezzled money, is fired from his job, divorced his wife, abandoned his children, and eventually commited suicide harmed no one but himself?

Do you think that the pretty high school drop-out who becomes an “actress” in the porn industry, or who becomes a prostitute, harms only herself? What about her family, brothers and sisters, what about the flood of her floridly depicted actions (media born or actual) upon married men and their families with children?

Do you think that children finding and viewing their parents pornography, the increasingly explicit pornography on family media, the softer porn..(“The Big Bang Theory” comedy series, or, “if your erection lasts longer than 4 hours”, sexual performance ads, etc.) have no bad effects on our children and adolescents?

Do you think that the word-of-mouth tales and depictions among child and adolescent peers about what they have discovered or observed in our increasingly licentious, permissive, and irresponsible society will have no negative effects upon them and, therefore, upon all of us?

Only a fool or an ideologue would argue that gambling addictions do not ruin families and increase problem gambling in children and teens, or that the flood of pornography in America has not sexualized our youth in ways destructive to them and to our common good.

It should also be plain to see that the likely future legalization of drugs and prostitution will have similar effects on the destruction of human capital through bad behavioral contagion and increasing social entropy.

Wake-up America!

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

A Present For You: Lion Love!

June 14, 2013

A Present For You: Lion Love!

How wonderful.

http://www.wimp.com/christianlion/

Thanks to Lee Hornack for sending this to me.

Tom Mawhinney

I Wonder If I Am A Libertarian # 5a

June 13, 2013

I Wonder If I Am A Libertarian # 5

Key Concepts of Libertarianism

By

David Boaz

January 1, 1999

“The key concepts of libertarianism have developed over many centuries. The first inklings of them can be found in ancient China, Greece, and Israel; they began to be developed into something resembling modern libertarian philosophy in the work of such seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thinkers as John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine.”

What follows is first a quote by the author and then an analysis of the components of that quote, by me

Quote:

The Rule of Law. Libertarianism is not libertinism or hedonism. It is not a claim that “people can do anything they want to, and nobody else can say anything.” Rather, libertarianism proposes a society of liberty under law, in which individuals are free to pursue their own lives so long as they respect the equal rights of others. The rule of law means that individuals are governed by generally applicable and spontaneously developed legal rules, not by arbitrary commands; and that those rules should protect the freedom of individuals to pursue happiness in their own ways, not aim at any particular result or outcome.

End Quote.

_________________________________________________________________

This is an area of Libertarianism that I have problems with.

“Libertarianism is not libertinism or hedonism. It is not a claim that ‘people can do anything they want to, and nobody else can say anything’.” 

Libertarians often advocate that things people do in private, with other consenting individuals, should be legal. This is true in most cases, however, there should be a few exceptions…very few.

They also argue that outlawing the traditional vices such as prostitution, damaging drugs, gambling, and pornography cost more in time, effort and money spent than is practical and this also curtails freedoms that should be the rights and responsibilities of individuals. They promise that, if these activities are legalized, valuable resources could be saved and used more wisely, or be remitted back to the citizens in the form of tax reductions.

The problem with this argument is that the burden of proof should be upon the Libertarians to actually to demonstrate with real-life examples, in sociocultures similar to the America, that these economic outcomes clearly occur. To my knowledge, such idyllic outcomes have not been demonstrated.

Until I see the proof of such cost-savings, without worsening collateral cultural damage, I judge that the risk of great social harm by legalizing the traditional illegal human vices outweighs the hope of costs saved.

Libertarians further argue that the State should not intervene in the private lives of citizens when an individual’s actions harm only that individual. Things “that do not hurt anyone else and are consensual” should not be the business of the state”.

Libertarians state that each individual has the right to make good choices and bad ones and suffer the natural consequences of their actions.  The idea seems to be that individuals who may become drug, pornography, gambling, or prostitution addicted only harm themselves. This is a great fallacy that I will address shortly.

Libertarians assert that when a citizen frequently engages in the traditional vices they will be naturally defamed and shunned from mainstream society. They argue that for this reason such citizen problem behaviors will naturally be kept at low levels. They also argue that societies tend to isolate these activities away from mainstream geographical areas in society, and therefore they have a lessened influence on the rest of the citizenry.

This set of assumptions carries a great danger of the explosive and damaging forces of social chaos. Again, proof of these theoretical assumptions acting as predicted in a socioculture similar to our own is essential before their implementation.

Libertarians state: “The rule of law means that individuals are governed by generally applicable and spontaneously developed legal rules, not by arbitrary commands;”

I will argue that this nation’s laws governing the traditional human vices listed above are examples of “generally applicable and spontaneously developed legal rules,” and not “arbitrary commands;”.

These laws evolved because humans are naturally highly motivated to engage in these potentially addictive reinforcing activities and that the many behavioral damages of such addictions commonly destroys the welfare and productivity of spouses, children, friends, neighbors, and the businesses or vocations of the addicted. Therefore the uncontrolled existence of the traditional human vices in a society works to destroy the health and viability of that socioculture.

The psychological mechanisms through which these destructive human forces increase within a socioculture comprise the force of bad behavioral contagion. behavioral contagion is dramatically catalyzed within dense populations and by social/cyberspace media. It contages individuals directly and indirectly through observation and imitation, word of mouth, through the media, and by someone  physically doing something to them or someone they know or care about.

Virtually everyone is oblivious to the principles and effects of bad behavioral contagion in a socioculture and this is a profound danger to us all.

Someone will have to prove to me, with actual cultural examples, that resources spent to control the traditional vices, are not prudently spent; much as my personal resources invested in health, home  and vehicle insurances are spent to protect the welfare of my family.

V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.

H. L. Mencken Warned Us!

June 10, 2013

H. L. Mencken Warned Us!

It has been a frustrating past several days.

It was good, however, that I worked on and enjoyed my sail boat for past few days. All good, except that my laptop would not go on-line through the available WiFi there.

So the blog I am working on was not completed.

I finally have found some things about Libertarianism that I cannot support and I will describe these problems soon. On the other hand, I continued my my study of this germinal American moral, ethical, economic and political philosophy and I continue to be very impressed, overall.

I then returned home last night to find that my house had been burglarized and two flat screen TVs were stolen.  I am so very fortunately that nothing else was taken. That is a mystery…do they intend to come back for more? I am now forced to pay ADT to guard my home when I am gone.

I am no longer comfortable leaving my wife, Sally, home alone, should I need to do so overnight.

I pray not, but these very bad folks had better not return while I am home. I am a pacifist until they break into my house.

Also, I am gnashing my teeth while thinking that everyone profits, while I loose.  The criminals are better off, the police can now justify their increasing bureaucracy, and the insurance company profits in the end.

My wife and I have to sustain multiple loses which include the insurance deductible, the insurance low-ball estimates on the value of our merchandise lost, the time and effort required to replace and reinstall these items, and finally the loss of the false sense of security and peace of mind we once enjoyed. Perhaps this last loss is a good thing.

We are now forced to get an alarm system at over $400 per year plus installation charges.

My creative juices are not flowing at this moment. So, I found something to post today by someone who is defined by their massive creativity. This, to share a highly relevant thought with you.

Please don’t miss this one!

http://www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/mencken.asp

Tom Mawhinney

P.S., Thanks to Lee Hornack for bringing this to my attention.


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