Imperialism and Hobbes

Yes, I am bringing up Hobbes again. Since we have decided to drop bombs on Syria (again) it seems apt to point out that Hobbes would blame us all for the deaths of innocents abroad. In fact, Hobbes would also blame the Syrians themselves for whatever their dictator did. Come to think of it, in the world of Hobbes there are no innocents.

Over the past couple of days I have seen people saying that Trump voters have blood on their hands, only to be told that they, as non-voters, also have blood on their hands.

Isn’t it great to live in a world where no matter what you believe or do, you are “responsible” for the deaths of thousands and millions?

Thank you, Hobbes, for planting in our heads this ridiculous idea that just because we are born in a certain geographic region under a certain tyrant we are somehow not only subject to his whims but responsible for his sins. Thanks for giving us this preposterous idea that tyranny is legitimate as long as it is passed down successively under a set of rules laid down two hundred years ago.

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Eleven Years

Source

Today marks eleven years since the shooting at Virginia Tech. Eleven years since my alma mater was rocked by what was then the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

In the past eleven years we have witnessed many more of these types of incidents. We have continued to blame guns, we have continued to blame mental illness, we have continued to blame “the system”, we have continued to blame violent media. We have blamed everything we can think of. We want to know “why”. Why do these things happen?

There isn’t really a simple answer to why these horrible incidents occur. Humans are sinful, we find ways to commit more and more heinous sins. We have been killing each other throughout history. So why the sudden uptick?

Is there really a sudden uptick? Are we really killing people now at a rate higher than any other time in history? Or is it simply more taboo? Is it simply more obvious in an age of 24 hour news and political commentary?

Governments kill millions of people. They always have been in the business of killing. They spend billions of dollars procured (by force) to invent new and more horrific ways to kill people. They spend millions more in propaganda to dehumanize those they consider “enemies.”

With so much murder being promoted by the “leaders” of the world, is it any wonder that so many in the ranks of society are more than willing to kill others for their own reasons? After all, the politicians are supposed to represent us. Doesn’t their violence simply reflect the violence of those they represent? Could it be that their “leadership” creates a world where killing other humans is perfectly acceptable as long as one can create a justification for it?

Perhaps if we want to create a peaceful society where killing people is not an option for those who feel “bullied” or neglected by others we should start at the top and stop killing people for not being a part of our “team”.

If we want to stop the indiscriminate killing of students in our high schools or colleges we should probably stop the indiscriminate killing of those who just happen to live in areas of the world ruled by jerks our government doesn’t like.

I don’t mean to downplay or dishonor the lives of the 32 killed that day in 2007. Those were innocent individuals. They had no reason to die. They should be honored, as all life should be.

All life should be honored because all life is sacred. That honoring of life should start at the top of society and work its way down through the ranks. If the leaders of this world honored life, how much more would those under that leadership value it?

Stop blaming guns, mental illness, systems, or media, start looking at your “leaders” instead.

Anarchy and Hobbes

Since I have free time now, I’ve been able to go back and re-read some of the books that influenced my political thinking. One of these books is “The World’s Great Thinkers, Man and The State”. It’s a compilation of political thought from Hobbes to Marx.

The contribution of Hobbes to this compilation comes from the second part of his work Leviathan:“Of Commonwealth”. In this treatise, Hobbes lays down the foundation on which the State is formed. Basically he argues that in order to live peaceably, natural man must come together in covenant and give up their individual rights to a sovereign who rules as their representative.

He gives a long list of rights to this sovereign, most of which are not rights which individuals have. This begs the question: “How can the sovereign representative be conferred rights which the individual man does not possess?”

The individual does not possess the right to levy taxes on his neighbors to pay for a road or the defense of his personal property. He does not possess the right to censor by force his neighbor’s thoughts and beliefs. He does not have the right to put his neighbor to death simply for disagreeing with him. How does he transfer rights which he does not have to his representation? Surely that representative should be restricted to the same limitations as those whom he represents.

Hobbes argues that natural man is in a perpetual state of war, which necessitates the formation of bodies politic to “keep (men) in awe, and to direct their actions to the common benefit.” It seems to me that he essentially gives to the sovereign the freedom to act as an exaggerated natural man, using violence and war to institute the “will of the people”.

The formation of Commonwealths does not relieve man of the problem of war, it merely elevates war. War is perpetual in the Commonwealth, as the sovereign must use violence and coercion to keep “peace” among the subjects.

Even if the original covenant was made voluntarily, as Hobbes describes it, it surely cannot be binding to future generations of those who did not personally assent to be subject to the sovereign in power. Force must be initiated to keep those subjects in line, force which is not in the rights of individuals to use.

While I concur with Hobbes that natural man is prone to violence, I disagree with the premise that natural man should bind together to give another natural man or group of natural men the authority to wage war for them. It seems predictably dangerous to do so. Concentrating the violent tendencies of natural men into one central power does nothing to end war, it just makes war a regional thing instead of a local matter between individuals.

I believe that a better state of being exists when individuals retain their own rights. Even Hobbes understands that man will cooperate in order to better his position in life. There is no reason to believe man has to centralize power into the hands of one man or group of men. Man cooperates just fine without the use of coercion or warfare.

Anarchy is not lawlessness. It is simply a lack of centralized force. Anarchy does not plunge us back into warfare as Hobbes contends. It places us back into the position we were in prior to forming commonwealths, that is, a state in which we may voluntarily cooperate and form whatever agreements we wish with our fellow men, without coercion.

From my reading, Hobbes makes a better case for why we shouldn’t form commonwealths than for why we should support them.

The Boys Came in Today

The boys came in today,

boats all came ashore,

Clamoring at the bar were they,

To tell me about the war.

 

Many were the tales they told,

Fighting for my liberty,

Fighting for our government,

Fighting for our country.

 

I listened to their stories,

About the deeds they did,

I looked them in the eyes,

and surprised them when I said,

 

“You’re fighting for your government,

Fighting for the State,

Fighting for the country,

Gee, isn’t that real great?

But this war’s not for me boys, this war’s not for me.

This war’s not for me boys, this war’s not for me.”

 

“Freedom is the default,

So is liberty,

Your government has swept in

to take it all from me.”

 

“So you’re fighting for the government,

You’re fighting for the State,

Fighting for your country,

Against those you’re told to hate.

But this war’s not for me boys, this war’s not for me,

This war’s not for me boys, this war’s not for me.”

 

2/3/2016

It’s a zTrap!

Ever hear of something too good to be true? Everyone has. More often than not, if it seems too good to be true, it is.

Such is the case it seems for a company I was told about last night. While making my rounds for Uber I was told by a rider that there was this great new ride sharing company in Jacksonville. She said this company is just like Uber, but unlike Uber where you bring your own vehicle, this company provides you with a car that you keep 24/7. On top of that, they provide you with insurance and pay all maintenance on the vehicle. And the most enticing thing: you keep 100% of the fares.

This definitely sounded wayyyy to good to be true. So of course I went home and looked it up. Sure enough, their website had a handy comparison chart demonstrating that, unlike their competition, they provide insurance and maintenance.

The other differences between the two are pretty vague.

Uber has just started providing 24/7 driver assistance so that point is moot.

Keeping 100% of “Your” fares seems to be word play to me. There is no way a company could survive without income while providing insurance and maintenance (and vehicles?). They must be taking some portion of the charges to the costumer, which is exactly what Uber does. I assume what is “yours” to keep is determined by the company.

Build repeat clientele? Honestly? Meh. My zTrip informant also described an Uber driver who basically drove a school bus route every day. She picked up the same kids every morning and took them to school. Then she picked them up in the afternoon. You don’t need a parent company to help you build repeat costumers, you just have to be in the same place at the same time every day. Where there is a will there is a way.

Still intrigued, mostly because I was thinking they might actually provide a vehicle (nothing on the site to confirm nor deny it), I decided to sign up. All I had to do was fill out a small form, then I was taken to a “Thank you” page which said they would be in contact. This was definitely different from Uber, which in the initial sign-up phase asked about my vehicle type as well as information like driver’s license number.

With Uber, I signed up and was driving less than 48 hours later. zTrip is already feeling like it will take a lot longer. If I recall correctly, the lady last night said she had to go in for an interview. That sounds suspiciously like an employee gig and not an independent contractor gig like Uber or Lyft.

So after signing up I decided to do some research (I know, typical me, wait until after to read the fine print). It appears zTrip is really just a re-brand of Yellow Taxi.  This made me recoil. I don’t like clever cover ups which just change the name of an old crappy service.

Have you ever heard anyone say “Man, I had this great taxi driver the other day, really nice person, and they were so cheap!”? No one ever hears that. I hear it all the time about Uber drivers though. Not to say we are perfect (as a driver I hear horror stories) but we do seem to be better on average.

After a bit more searching I found this page:

Ignoring the typo, this page is ambiguous. It doesn’t say you do get a car, but it doesn’t say you don’t.  The best I can figure is they offer specials on leasing vehicles, but you don’t get to pick exactly what you want, just what they want you to want. Judging by the cars in the first picture above, there is branding involved.

I’m all for competition. I’d rather taxi companies offer a better service at a better price than go whine to legislators. Before re-branding they attempted to have the draconian laws the local government puts on them enforced on the new rideshare companies. Taxi companies in other cities have been more successful at this.

Why don’t they instead fight to have those laws relaxed? Why must they use government to stifle the market? Obviously people like the other companies, otherwise they wouldn’t be so successful. Do taxi companies care about the consumer?

I applaud ZTrip for at least trying to be more like it’s successful rivals. I hope the competition drives the pay up for all of us drivers (and the fares down for the consumer) as the companies fight it out for customers. I just don’t know if I want to be stuck as an employee with a branded car, I’m not ready to give up my freedom as an independent contractor.

I awai

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Collectivism is Cancer

“Both ‘sides’ sucked.” – Caryn Ann Harlos

There is a cancer that is quite common to man. This cancer has plagued mankind since very shortly after we were removed from the Garden (or crawled out of the cesspool if you so prefer). This cancer goes by many names: communism, racism, nationalism, socialism, culturalism, tribalism, and so on. This cancer is collectivism. 

Google defines collectivism as: “the practice or principle of giving a group priority over each individual in it.” The nonsense going down in Charlottesville shows us two sides of the same collectivist coin. Both sides insist that their side is superior to the other side. Both sides are willing to resort to violence (aggression) against the other to gain dominance in the debate. 

“Us vs them” is a common theme in collectivism. “We” are superior to “them”, whatever or whomever “they” may be. Collectivists define themselves by their group’s characteristics, whether it be skin color, political ideology, religion, gender, sex, sexual orientation, or any number of easily or not-so-easily identifiable characteristics. 

Here’s a newsflash for all you Collectivists out there: your value as an individual is not determined by your outward or inward characteristics. Your value is not determined by your ideology or your sexuality, your color,  or your political party affiliation. Nothing you control determines your value. 

Collectivism (and its associated -isms) is a plague on this planet. We have forsaken the ideal that man is valuable because of his position in Creation. We have thrown off the concept of individual man made in God’s image and exchanged it with the belief that humanity is nothing more than an evolved super sludge from which some of “us” evolved more fully. 

Your value, dear Collectivists, comes from the One whose image you bear. Until you realize this, you will forever be fighting a pathetic battle against others who bear this same image. 

Of course, what gives the Collectivists most of their power is the belief that some people should have the monopoly of authority over others. The belief that aggression is the best way to keep people ordered and productive is vital to collectivism. The fact that we cling to things like democracy or oligarchy make the “Us” that we belong to very important. If we belong to the wrong collective we may end up on the wrong side of the gun. If an individual fails to identify with the right group (i.e. the one in power) he may find himself rounded up and thrown in prison, or worse. 

How does this relate to Charlottesville? Both sides suck. Both sides need to stop trying to get the upper hand on the other. Both sides need to stop valuing worthless characteristics and start seeing themselves and others as valuable individuals, worthy of dignity, respect, and rights. Both sides need to drop the “us vs them” tribal mentality that is keeping them locked into violent tendencies. 

End the cancer of collectivism. Start treating people like the individuals they are, respect them and love them. See them for what they are: individuals made in the image of God. 

Why I Am [Not] A Conservative [Anymore] Part 2

​Here’s the second part of “Why I Am a Conservative”, if you missed the first part you can find it here:

“Universal health care: what shall I say? It is a falsehood, anyone who lives in a socialist country, even our neighbors to the north, can tell you: universal health care is never universal. Yes, you may be guaranteed a spot on the list for a heart transplant, but you can also be guaranteed that your wealthy neighbor is more equal than you and is higher on that list. Socialism has never worked in the way liberals claim it does, there will always be elites, there will always be upper classes, there will always be powerful people; that is the way things work. The only way socialist governments have been able to assure complete equality is to assure that everyone is equally poor (except the leaders, they need more food, bigger houses, and fatter wallets to be able to rule). [conservatives are actually pretty good at keeping artificial wealth differences in place as well, though they are a bit more discreet about it] The best way to fix health care is to get the lawsuits out of the courts [actually no, people should have the right to sue negligent companies, judges should be sorting out the nonsense from the legitimate cases] , allow drug companies to develop their medicines without harsh outcries from the wacked out liberal animal cruelty people (hey, sewer rats have a far worse life) [here’s an idea, why not let companies make products that people want or need and let people decide on their own whether the benefits of said products outweigh the risks?] and let people have more of their hard earned money so they can afford to go to the doctor. [I. e. “taxation is theft”] 
I have no idea what they mean by “comprehensive family support policy” so I won’t touch that except to say that I believe the church is the best support for any family. [second best, behind extended family] Let the church do its job to help the needy and to help families stay together. Do not devalue marriage by placing “progressive” ideas such as homosexual marriage upon it. [actually, do not devalue marriage by allowing government to define it] Do not disrupt the family by allowing divorce to run rampant because the couple just couldn’t get along. Marriage is a binding contract, one that should not be taken lightly, it should not be as easy as it is to get out of it. [again, we let government define the terms of the marriage contract, why are we surprised that they can so loosely allow the breaking of the contract?] 

As for the inherent dignity and worth of every human being, I had to chuckle at this one. Liberals always want to keep the appearance of being the “dignity and worth” philosophy, and they are pretty good at securing rights for women and minorities, but they take these rights too far. Not to sound libertarian [LOL, oh old self, so worried], but I think liberals have violated the rule of “my rights extend as far as your nose”. Liberals have managed to beat bloody the rights of the unborn with their fight for women’s “rights.” Liberals have blackened the eyes of many well qualified whites when they decided that we should give extra value to a person’s skin color (but only if they are a minority). Liberals have broken far too many noses on their fight for “freedom.” I believe every human life is sacred and every human has immense worth and dignity (even my liberal adversaries), that is why I believe in protecting the right to life of the unborn, the elderly, and the disabled. When liberals stop supporting the killing of unborn children and the euthanization of people who are “not living a full life” they can talk to me about this subject, until then I am not going to believe that they think human life is worth something. [I actually still agree with all of that, but I was sounding libertarian LOL] 

Why am I a conservative? I am a conservative because I believe that values and morals do not change [yep], no matter how unpopular they are with the minority of people; I believe people need to work for their food [yep]; I believe health care is the responsibility of doctors, not big government [yep], and that frivolous lawsuits and the resulting insurance bills drive medical practitioners to set their fees sky high [nope, it’s actually the whole “insurance as third party payer” system that makes health care costs so high]; I believe that the family is the most basic unit of human existence and that we shouldn’t tamper with an institution which has worked out fine for thousands of years [yep] without “progressive” tampering (more on this subject later [don’t know what “later meant, I wasn’t blogging then]); and lastly I believe that every human being has worth and dignity and that we need to protect the fundamental right of every individual to be born and to live without fear of being extinguished for a perceived “suffering” or lack of contribution to society [Meh, I agree still, but how often are liberals actually executing people for not contributing? Hyperbole helps no cause.]. This is why I am a conservative, and whether or not the liberals win the courts [which wouldn’t matter in Ancapistan] and win over the Democratic party, I will always be a conservative [LOL] because my values and ideas don’t change with the passing of a breeze, my morals are not thrown out with my belief in equal freedom for all, and my God doesn’t change his mind when society tells Him to. [Preachy much, old self? My values haven’t changed, but I have since dug deeper into their logical conclusions and changed a great many of my views on social and political matters. Having picked apart many of those values I discovered many instances where my morality was not matching up with those values. Consistency is important in the realm of values and morals, and when the two are at odds or are even slightly off-kilter it is important that we act quickly and decisively to bring the two into harmony.]”

I hope you have enjoyed this little exercise as much as I have, go back and read the first part if you missed it.