The Department of Carrots and Sticks Mission Statement – Liberty through Behavior Modification

The phrase “carrots and sticks” appears in political discussion so often, the first results on Google for “carrots and sticks” are about politics and not about animal husbandry. The Beast of Burden is officially human.

Example: President Obama speaking about dealing with Iran

“If we show ourselves willing to talk and to offer carrots and sticks in order to deal with these pressing problems — and if Iran then rejects any overtures of that sort — it puts us in a stronger position to mobilize the international community to ratchet up pressure on Iran.”

A good way NOT to make progress with Iranians is by analogizing them to donkeys and the USA as their master.

This phrase is dehumanizing , in that carrots and sticks are used on beasts of burden by their masters. It is one of the few honest appraisals you’ll hear a politician utter on how they view the world. From their perspective, you and I and other nations are the dumb animals to be steered in the direction of their desires.

You don’t use carrots and sticks on someone you consider to be your equal. You wouldn’t threaten a neighbor with a club or bribe them with money to resolve a dispute. When you consider someone your equal, you let them decide how to act for themselves without coercion.

You don’t use carrots and sticks on your friends. If you were to say to a friend, “Come over to my home for a superbowl party; there’ll be lots of snacks for you if you come–and if you don’t show up, I’ll flatten your tires,” they won’t be your friend long.

You wouldn’t say to your spouse, “If you’ll lose some weight I’ll help clean up around the house, and if you don’t, I’ll have sex with someone else,” unless the goal was to divorce so you could have sex with someone else.

Politicians are loaded with these carrots and sticks; they’ve got them for health care, cap and trade, banks, buying cars, and the economy in general. Politicians see so much more work to be done, and have an arsenal of creative ideas to corral the masses. That’s what politicians do; they pat themselves on the back for thinking up new forms of behavior modification.

Why is it acceptable to use laws to modify other peoples’ behavior? We wouldn’t treat people we know and care about with a carrot and stick approach, so why is it considered acceptable to treat strangers this way?

Share Button

I am an Amoral, Self-Serving Bastard

Frequently in the universal health care debate, those opposed are asserted to be selfish. I am one of those amoral, self-serving bastards that would rather see people die than part with any of my money– at least, this is how it’s presented.

How can anyone of good conscience not be concerned about helping those in need? Aren’t we our brother’s keeper? We all have a moral obligation to care for others.”

Liberty-minded people often respond,  “The route suggested to accomplish these good deeds requires coercion and force by government. Robbing to help someone else is still robbery.

This is a valid argument to me, but will only appeal to those with similar views. Others quickly dismiss the argument as a questionable analogy. Those advocating being our “brother’s keeper” will still be convinced they have the moral high ground, because they are talking about saving lives and we are defending abstract concepts.

For them, the debate between the realities of someone dying vs. an aloof concept of personal freedom is foolish. To them, freedom isn’t a real and tangible thing. I understand. You can’t say, “Here–have a big ol’ cup of freedom on me.” Freedom isn’t something you can roll around in and say,  “Damn, this freedom feels good today!” You can’t eat freedom, freedom won’t keep you warm, and it sure won’t heal the sick.

To the liberty-minded, however, freedom is every bit as real as slavery. Unfortunately, it isn’t obvious just how real and vital freedom is until that freedom has been lost. Freedom is a hard sell in a world that isn’t meeting the basic needs of all its inhabitants. When I say, “I  don’t believe my needs and wants supersede the rights of others, ” the response is often, “So others have to die so you can have your freedom? Sleep well, you cold-hearted bastard.”

Just because there isn’t a state-run program to solve a given problem doesn’t mean no one cares. We rely on the morality of others every day, simply not realizing how much we depend on this moral capital. We don’t need police everywhere people gather, because only a small percentage of the population steals or harms others. Police don’t create peace; they are there to preserve peace that the group as a whole created spontaneously.

It’s true that relying on the kindness of others doesn’t sound very reliable. A law stating your needs will be taken care of is much more concrete (and comforting) than arguing people might choose to help if they are in the mood. To many, laws and police just force us to be good people. Some seem to believe laws create civility, rather than civil people created laws to protect one another from harm.

Anti-big-government types will point out times the government hasn’t helped at all–when it was people on the spot that saw a need and solved problems. I wholeheartedly agree that immediate needs are best met by free people taking action in the moment– as in the Christmas terrorist plot thwarted by a passenger. It’s a matter of having faith in others. You either do or you don’t. I have faith in others because I experienced their  kindness many times in my life, but I know others are rightfully cynical, because they’ve experienced cruelty.

Several countries have a state religion. In some, people are put to death for joining a different faith–that state believes allowing the people to choose for themselves what is right and wrong is courting immorality. To the state, having a state religion that mandates morality makes for moral people.

In reality, you can’t have a moral society without free will. State religions are akin to having someone follow you around your whole life with a gun to your head, telling you to “be good.” Even if you would choose to act morally on your own, you can’t take credit for acts of kindness, because someone else made the decision for you. The people with the most freedom are the most moral people, because their kindness is a choice.

I do believe I have a moral obligation to care about others. I am my brother’s keeper. I draw distinctions between helping others,  forcing others to help, and forcing help upon others.

Forcing others to help is immoral, because I would be taking away their right to decide what is caring. I like to think of myself as a caring and giving person, but I know there are others more caring and giving. I strive to be more like them. Striving to become a better person is a basic human right, as important as freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Forcing others to act in a caring manner dehumanizes them by robbing them of their own normal and natural development.

Forcing people to wear seat belts has saved lives. Forcing people to get regular checkups would save lives, and forcing people to treat illnesses will save lives. In matters of life and death, is it wrong to use force to save lives? If someone was terminally ill and there was a painful procedure that could prolong their life by a week, would you force the procedure? Where would you draw the line at when force is appropriate? What if the procedure would keep them alive for a month, six months, a year–where is the line between caring and cruelty? A moral obligation to help others doesn’t make it right to force that help upon others.

The moral high ground is in being our brother’s keeper, and with it comes with the moral obligation of defending our brother’s free will.

Share Button

Can’t we have Freedom of Politics?

I know science is a method of study, but to me the term “Political Science” is an oxymoron just as “Christian Science” is an oxymoron. Political views are based upon personal morality; there is no science in politics. Nothing makes the belief in a democratic republic an absolute fact; the only fact is a form of government can match personal beliefs. I believe in freedom and democracy because they are in line with my own ethics.

It is easy to find volumes of writing supporting my belief in democracy, but nothing turns the belief ino fact. There are strong arguments to be made for many political views, but at their core, all political systems are a solely a matter of belief. In America, it is not uncommon to hear someone refer to the founding fathers as types of apostles and the US Constitution as the Bible.

What if we were all forced to choose between only two religions? And yes, by “all” I mean even the atheists would have to pick a side. What if all the religious beliefs were forced into two camps, the same way political beliefs are? Undoubtedly we’d see people wandering back and forth between the groups, depending on the hot issue at the moment.

I don’t know enough about them all to figure out which groups would kinda get along, so I have randomly thrown some religious traditions together:

Option 1–Methodist, Presbyterian, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Vaishnavist, Islamist, and Wiccans

Option 2–Catholic, Lutheran, Atheists, Pentecostal, Buddhist, Jewish, and Jehovah’s Witnesses

Each would try to convert you to join their faith with the same scare tactics politicians use. The Methodist, Presbyterian, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Vaishnavist, Islamist, Wiccans would try to convince you to join them, because if the Catholic, Lutheran, Atheists, Pentecostal, Buddhist, Jewish, Jehovah’s Witnesses get their way, Satan (or similar demonic figure) will rule the earth.

The two groups would have leaders that artfully explain why theirs is the one true faith, while simultaneously pointing out the sheer evil and foolishness of the opposing faith.

I’m sure we’d also hear the worn out defense mechanisms kicking in when an obvious hole in philosophy is pointed out. When the Catholic, Lutheran, Atheists, Pentecostal, Buddhist, Jewish, and Jehovah’s Witnesses are cornered with “You can’t believe in God and no God at the same time,” I’m sure the response would be, “Well, at least we aren’t as crazy as the Methodist, Presbyterian, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Vaishnavist, Islamist, and Wiccans–they worship God and Goddesses and Vishnu.”

Leaders would come in two varieties, similar to the leaders in the Democratic and Republican parties. You’d have the totally full-of-BS leaders that know the views held by their side are incongruent, but are adroit enough at spin to make it sound like one cohesive religion. The other variety of leader would be totally nuts, because they’ve somehow managed to hold all the conflicting views in their head without any cognitive dissonance.

There would be some members of these religions that stick to a set of congruent beliefs of their own, but they would be the outcasts for being heretics–AKA wing nuts, moon bats, tinfoil-hat-wearers.

I’ve heard Democrats poke fun at fundamentalist Christians, and then Republicans chuckle at new age religions. What strikes me funny is the religions they make fun of are more congruent in their own views and values than they themselves are with the views of their choosen political party.

There really is no political freedom in America when the final choice comes down to Democrat or Republican. There is a choice, but it is hardly a free choice when the choice is “Pick the one that sounds the least insane.” We have freedom of religion in America, so why can’t we have freedom of politics?

photo credit: Stuck in Customs

Share Button

The Plan is Here and it’s Called Freedom-Care

With skyrocketing costs caused by dollar devaluation, income taxes, and healthcare reform, these questions are on many Americans minds: “How much longer can I afford to live in a free country? Isn’t it time for a plan that makes freedom affordable to all?”

First off, Freedom-care won’t be mandatory; you’ll be able to opt in or out at your own choosing. Most of all, it prevents the federal government from denying your freedom when you need it the most.

Protections

Under the Freedom-care plan, each person will be able to choose the plan that suits their personal needs best. You won’t be forced to choose from a list of bureaucratically-approved activities. You can spend your freedom however you like! Finally, a real choice for your life is in your hands.

No one can be denied Freedom-care based upon preexisting conditions such as political affiliation, religion, lack of religion, race, gender, age or violating victimless crime laws. Basically the only way you can be turned down for Freedom-care is if you steal or harm another Freedom-care participant.

Provides stable and maintainable freedom insurance by providing for a well-armed defense. Members are allowed to participate in supplementary freedom insurance programs if they so desire.

Eliminates government preventative care – Under freedom care, the government can no longer tax you for bad behavior. You’ll be free to tan, smoke, drink alcohol, or have all the sugar you can afford because you are fully protected from government interference.

Caps out-of-pocket taxes so you won’t go broke while enjoying your freedom.

Creates an independent commission called “voters” to monitor the program and identify waste, abuse and fraud.

Benefits

Wide and ever-growing religious freedom – If you like your current religion you can keep it! You can’t be forced to choose from a preferred religion list.

Quality and affordable choices – Freedom-care participants can use their wealth in a manner of their own choosing. Freedom-care has the world’s largest list of products from around the world which members can choose to buy, and the list is still growing! You’ll get to decide what you can afford all by yourself.

Words – Freedom-care users have free access to use any word available–even words from other languages. Use the words however you like and feel free to share them with others at no charge.

Ideas – The idea bank is so large, quite frankly I’m not sure what’s all in there; but they tell me the bank holds an infinite amount of ideas. Just as with words you can share these ideas as often as you’d like.

Tell Congress the time is now for Freedom-Care…

Share Button

Its time to drop the H-bomb on Terrorists: Hasselhoff-Bomb

There has been lots of debate the last few days about what motivates a person to become a terrorist. There are two camps on what causes terrorism: the “its all ideology” camp and the “it’s all unintended consequences” camp. Both groups are correct, because either can generate terrorists; I see unintended consequences as the symptom and fundamentalist ideology as the disease.

Terrorism is rooted with an ideology that sees itself in danger of extinction. Yesterday I mentioned the Boko Haram. It’s a militant Islamist group that basically sees western or non-Islamic education as evil. The followers of Boko Haram reject the notion the earth is a sphere. It stands to reason they feel they are being attacked by western science, because science has the innate ability to deal some serious damage to ignorance.

There are several parts of the world that are under “attack” from western science and culture. Baywatch was a popular show around the world and from some people’s perspective just flat-out anit-burqa. In truth, the views and ways of life all around the world are being challenged–but not intentionally challenged–by the west. Most people will speak up in defense when they feel their values are under attack and state the virtues behind their beliefs. Terrorist choose the violent path because they believe there is a sinister plot behind opposing views. They are the ones that see Baywatch as a western plot to destroy their culture. If you thought someone was plotting your demise, you might attack back too.

From the terrorist perspective–they feel that their way of life is under attack and those around them are slowly being corrupted–what should they do? Just follow the anarchy. Pull yourself out of the corrupt society and set up your own pure society. The regions with little or no government control are the best place for terrorists to set up shop. If everyone is armed with rifles to defend themselves, a terrorist won’t stand out. No government to monitor or crack down on their activities. From the protection zone of anarchy, you can start freeing the world from satanic plots. As long as there are regions of anarchy, terrorists will have safe bases of operation.

Dynamics of terrorism – how wars of terrorism are fought on both sides

Side A – declares war on side B but side A has little to no army.

Side B – is the opposing government or ideology of side A

Side A – can’t fight side B on an open battlefield because they would be wiped out and instead picks civilian targets to attack.

For terrorists, the justification for murdering civilians is that the values the terrorists are defending is more important than human life. If you are willing to die for these values then others should be just as willing to die, and if they aren’t willing to die for those values they weren’t a good person to begin with. For governments, the justification of stepping on civil rights is that all your civil rights are gone if a you are killed by a terrorist.

The side that does the most harm to civilians will probably lose hearts and minds. The harm isn’t measured only in causalities. When terrorists cause the public to be afraid of normal day to day activities, they become the bad guys. When governments crack down too hard, as in house-to-house searches, they become the bad guys.

The calculation often overlooked is how people view potential harm differently from real harm. You don’t normally sympathize with someone causing you real harm in order to prevent future harm.

Examples – The current group of terrorist argue their way of life is threatened by the opposing ideology or government. They are arguing that harm will come in the future whereas someone being killed by a bomb is a real and tangible harm. When the terrorists set off a bomb and people die, they represent the real harm.

The government argues for searching people and residences to protect the public from harm. If the government starts strip searches to prevent terrorist from blowing people up, it’s the potential threat of a bomb vs. the reality of having your privacy violated. When governments violate civil rights, they represent the real harm.

Blowback or unintentionally creating terrorists happens when in fighting terrorism the government does more harm to civilians than terrorists have done to civilians. Terrorist set off a bomb that kills 100 people–and while hunting down the terrorist, the government kills 500 people. The terrorists are still jerks; the problem is in doing even more harm, the government has legitimized the terrorists for attacking in the first place. From the uninvolved civilian perspective, the government is now the bad guys; their enemy appears to be the good guys, so where do I sign up?

I’m not empathizing with the terrorists groups, but I have to agree that western civilization is a powerful force and is corrupting civilizations around the world. I’m also very proud of “corrupting the world.” When I heard that Baywatch was a popular show in the Middle East, I felt a sense of American pride. Baywatch is no work of art in a literary sense, but its something to be proud of in that free people produce the things that people around the world want.

I too believe the world is slowly being conquered by western culture and technology. The culture of free societies will always dominate high-control societies for the simple fact we give people just want they want without any regulation. I watch news and documentaries from around the world and I see western clothing and technology everywhere. Hollywood and the media, through the use of technology, have become one of the most powerful forces on the planet.

So far the damage done to these fundamentalist groups ideology has been unintentional. The west has unintentionally created freedom junkies, because once you’ve had a taste of freedom you are hooked for life. I think its time to start intentionally damaging their culture with as much free and open access to information and entertainment as possible. The west is getting blamed for intentionally trying to corrupt other cultures,  so why not start actively pursing their “corruption?” It’s time for governments to team up with the tech industry and entertainment industry to plan a bombardment of portable media players and laptops and highspeed internet access to all the information and entertainment deprived areas of the world.

Baywatch ’em back from the Stone Age!

Share Button

Politics in Star Trek

The NRO has a post that touched a nerve in me – Congratulations to Captain Picard!

This line is the one that set me off “Its (Star Trek) messages are unabashedly liberal ones of the early post-Cold War era – peace, tolerance, due process, progress (as opposed to skepticism about human perfectibility).”

Peace, tolerance, due process, and progress are not the sole possession of liberals. Peace, tolerance, due process, progress are essential for freedom to survive. These principles are very important for free markets to thrive.  I’m putting this aside for now because it could easily turn into a book of quotes from the founding fathers supporting all these “liberal” messages.

The “touched a nerve” issue is that Star Trek somehow represents a Socialist or Communist utopia. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a conservative poo-poo Star Trek as liberal propaganda.

Star Trek was centered on the Federation of Planets. The Federation is very similar to the Articles of Confederation of the United States of America because each member planet retained its sovereignty, freedom, and independence. There are state-rights conservatives that would love to have the same rights as members of the Federation.

Star Trek had replicators, not socialism – A device which can produce anything you need would have a huge impact on any society. The concept of ownership wouldn’t have the same importance because everything could easily be replaced. Imagine someone walking up and pointing a phaser at someone in the Star Trek universe and demanding their shoes. The victim would probably say “Is your replicator broken? If it is, you can use mine.” Theft would probably be classified as a mental illness, because there would be no need to steal. Once there is a limitless supply of food and clothing, ownership becomes meaningless.

Star Treks biggest, nasty, evil villain was the Borg. The Borg are the embodiment of all things communist. To the Borg individuality was irrelevant and made each person alike. Under Borg control, there was no privacy at all–not even the privacy of your own thoughts. The Borg sought to enslave others and “improve” them by force into a regime of total control.

Star Trek has the Prime Directive  – “As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Starfleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation.” I’m fed up with lawmakers interfering with my normal development and culture. I can only wish that some day the United States government adopts this attitude towards its own citizens. A form of governing with a Prime Directive of not meddling in the affairs of others; it seems only possible in science fiction.

Share Button

Generous? What Have you Done that’s Generous?

The health care debate has brought the movie Labyrinth to my mind, especially the part where Jareth said to Sarah, “I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.”

The line did not make sense to me until recently. How could slaves be slaves to each other? Slaves can’t be slaves to each other because it’s a double negative. It gave me a headache just trying to make some sense of what Jareth meant. Now I see Jareth was just trying to trick Sarah into believing he would do just as Sarah asked, but in reality wanted to keep the baby and enslave Sarah.

The US government uses the “I’ll be your slave if you’ll be my slave” trick just as Jareth tried on Sarah. The federal version of this line is, “We are here to serve you;  if you’ll just give up X amount of your income you’ll have freedom from the current need”.

The slave of a slave trick is not new; Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a speech January 6, 1941 spelling out 4 freedoms. “The third is freedom from want–which, translated into universal terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants–everywhere in the world.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt left out the part of how to accomplish freedom from want. The US government does not manufacture anything. There is no government factory churning out medicine or food or houses. You have to be willing to give up another portion of income to receive any commodity. The only way a government can provide freedom from want is if you are willing to fear, love, and do as the they say.

Government doesn’t have a factory that produces freedom. Freedom is something we are born with and we are the only source of freedom.  You have to be willing to sacrifice some freedom because you’ll be expected to follow the government rules to receive the benefits you want.  If you choose not to follow the government rules, you’ll find out there are real consequences. Declare you are not a slave, that the government is your servant, and you’ll be banished to the Bog of Eternal Stench.

When anyone is offering to be your slave if you’ll be their slave, please remember Sarah’s response to Jareth: “For my will is as strong as yours, my kingdom as great…You have no power over me.”

Share Button

A Second Civil War in America this Winter?

Interesting point in the video; if its possible to have a revolution in the US. If one percent of the population of the US (3 million people) were to join together they would be a larger force than all the branches of the military combined.

They are calling for a revolution over at the Democratic Underground and Free Republic.

If the left and the right fight a civil war…my bet is the right will win because they’ll have more firepower.

Share Button

Restoring American Federalism

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYcDEZdNrA8&feature=sub

I think Federalism is the best path because corruption follows power.  Concentrating power leads to concentrated corruption; in the long run we’re better off with states having power over the federal government.

Being honest with myself, I’ve flip-flopped on the subject.

When the state law provides more freedom then I’m all for Federalism.

When the states law has less freedom, I’ll reach for the Constitution to find something unconstitutional in the state law.

How about a constitutional amendment that when the state and federal governments laws disagree, the law that provides for the most freedom wins?

Share Button