Archive for the ‘Liberty’ Tag

Taxation without Consent   Leave a comment

I’m enjoying the larger number of dollars deposited into my bank account every 15 days under the recent Congressional tax reform, but it’s best to remember that taxes are not voluntary and that Uncle Sam acts a great deal like a highwayman robber in insisting that these “contributions” are his by right, as if we consented to such thievery. I didn’t. Do you remember when you did?

But this is nothing new. Check out what the great libertarian writer Lysander Spooner had to say about it more than a century ago.

 

The payment of taxes, being compulsory, of course furnishes no evidence that any one voluntarily supports the Constitution.

Image result for image of lysander spoonerIt is true that the theory of our Constitution is, that all taxes are paid voluntarily; that our government is a mutual insurance company, voluntarily entered into by the people with each other; that each man makes a free and purely voluntary contract with all others who are parties to the Constitution, to pay so much money for so much protection, the same as he does with any other insurance company; and that he is just as free not to be protected, and not to pay any tax, as he is to pay a tax, and be protected.

But this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact. The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: Your money, or your life. And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat.

The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the road side, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful.

The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a “protector,” and that he takes men’s money against their will, merely to enable him to “protect” those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful “sovereign,” on account of the “protection” he affords you. He does not keep “protecting” you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villanies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.

Image result for image of uncle sam as a highway robberThe proceedings of those robbers and murderers, who call themselves “the government,” are directly the opposite of these of the single highwayman.

In the first place, they do not, like him, make themselves individually known; or, consequently, take upon themselves personally the responsibility of their acts. On the contrary, they secretly (by secret ballot) designate some one of their number to commit the robbery in their behalf, while they keep themselves practically concealed. They say to the person thus designated:

Go to A— B—, and say to him that “the government” has need of money to meet the expenses of protecting him and his property. If he presumes to say that he has never contracted with us to protect him, and that he wants none of our protection, say to him that that is our business, and not his; that we choose to protect him, whether he desires us to do so or not; and that we demand pay, too, for protecting him. If he dares to inquire who the individuals are, who have thus taken upon themselves the title of “the government,” and who assume to protect him, and demand payment of him, without his having ever made any contract with them, say to him that that, too, is our business, and not his; that we do not choose to make ourselves individually known to him; that we have secretly (by secret ballot) appointed you our agent to give him notice of our demands, and, if he complies with them, to give him, in our name, a receipt that will protect him against any similar demand for the present year. If he refuses to comply, seize and sell enough of his property to pay not only our demands, but all your own expenses and trouble beside. If he resists the seizure of his property, call upon the bystanders to help you (doubtless some of them will prove to be members of our band). If, in defending his property, he should kill any of our band who are assisting you, capture him at all hazards; charge him (in one of our courts) with murder, convict him, and hang him. If he should call upon his neighbors, or any others who, like him, may be disposed to resist our demands, and they should come in large numbers to his assistance, cry out that they are all rebels and traitors; that “our country” is in danger; call upon the commander of our hired murderers; tell him to quell the rebellion and “save the country,” cost what it may. Tell him to kill all who resist, though they should be hundreds of thousands; and thus strike terror into all others similarly disposed. See that the work of murder is thoroughly done, that we may have no further trouble of this kind hereafter. When these traitors shall have thus been taught our strength and our determination, they will be good loyal citizens for many years, and pay their taxes without a why or a wherefore.

It is under such compulsion as this that taxes, so called, are paid. And how much proof the payment of taxes affords, that the people consent to support “the government,” it needs no further argument to show.

Lysander Spooner

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Swiss Students Are Fighting Back Against Unfair TV Fees | Bill Wirtz   Leave a comment

By Bill Wirtz

The European liberty movement may be small, but it’s having extraordinary growth and grassroots success in a place you might least expect it: Switzerland.

Source: Swiss Students Are Fighting Back Against Unfair TV Fees | Bill Wirtz

 

Image result for image switzerland tvSwitzerland, like many European nations, has certain television and radio channels that are run by the government. The state-run channels in Switzerland date back to World War I when the government had completely monopolized both TV and radio “for security reasons,” and paid for it with a fee called the “Billag.” After the war period, Switzerland opened the market to private media companies, but it kept the “Billag” fee in order to pay for the state channels which still absolutely dominate the market to this day.

The fee even has its own website, http://www.billag.ch, on which the mandatory contribution is explained as follows:

In Switzerland, you are legally obligated to pay the radio and television fees. By paying the fees you enable radio and television programmes in every part of Switzerland.”

Which almost sounds like you couldn’t have any TV or radio stations if it wasn’t for governmental control. For Frédéric Jollien, who is a Senior Local Coordinator for European Students for Liberty and founder of Swiss Students for Liberty, this description is dishonest:

The assumption that the media landscape would crumble if we were to abolish this annual fee is ridiculous. The opponents of our campaign claim that without the “Billag,” nobody would pay for state channels, yet they simultaneously also argue that people are very fond of the content. Which one is it now?”

Together with other classical liberals in Switzerland, Frédéric Jollien is fighting against the royalties imposed by the government for media consumption. 450 Swiss Francs, the equivalent of €382 or $456, is the annual fee that consumers are required to pay, regardless if they want state-run TV and radio channels or not.

“We are not trying to abolish anything. We merely want consumers to choose for themselves which channels they want to watch,” says Frédéric, who works in the campaign of “NoBillag,” the citizens’ initiative that intends to overturn the fee via referendum.

The “NoBillag” campaign has been working on the issue of media royalties for three years now, and effectively managed to get their citizens’ initiative approved. This means that a public vote on the repeal of the “Billag” will take place on March 4, 2018. Until then, the campaign is tirelessly working to promote its ideas. Frédéric Jollien explains that this one of the very few referenda which were organized by people who believe in the concepts of free markets and free people.

However, running such a campaign demands considerable efforts.

The government has extended the “Billag” to include private companies as well. Despite them only receiving less than 10 percent of the revenue generated by the fee, they now also have vested interests in keeping it in place and steadily negotiating a larger chunk of it. It’s us against the whole media landscape.”

The print media is equally unimpressed by the “NoBillag” campaign, as owners also seek to convince the government to initiate large subsidies for the papers, the same way it is practiced in countries like France. Furthermore, after petitioning for months to get the necessary signatures to organize a referendum, the campaign was left with only 30,000 CHF (€25,600), which is clearly too little to run a three-language campaign in the mountainous country in Central Europe.

Frédéric Jollien is very optimistic regardless.

“We started a crowdfunding campaign and raised over 100,000 Francs in only ten days, bringing us closer to our 160,000 CHF objective. But not only that: several polls have indicated that we might very well be able to win the public vote!”

The success of the idea of letting consumers choose which TV and radio programs they watch is apparent. Journalists (who, by the way, are exempt from paying this fee) are releasing heavy verbal fire on the campaigners. They claim it would cause massive unemployment in the media sector, that it is anti-democratic, and that it would enable big foreign companies to take over the Swiss market.

“It’s actually quite peculiar. The Swiss conservatives, who are usually the ones spreading fear of foreigners, support us because they believe that state media is being biased against them, while the Left opposes us because they believe the evil foreign media channels from Germany, Italy, and France will eat us up. This shows how strange the idea of a free market can sound to people,” says Frédéric.

Until the vote in March, he is busily writing op-eds and participating in radio and TV debates. If the campaign would be successful, then this would definitely be one of the most extraordinary free-market grassroots-led initiatives in Europe to date.

Frédéric and the campaign hope to raise more money for their efforts. You can support them through their crowdfunding campaign here: www.wemakeitbetter.ch

Adapted from an article originally appearing on the Freedom Today Network

Posted January 19, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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RIP, Net Neutrality   Leave a comment

Net Neutrality is gone.  Yay!

Let’s try to understand what Net Neutrality is really all about.

Image result for image of net neutrality destroying the internetContrary to popular belief, the evil ISPs were not creating a have/have not divide in Internet access prior to Barack Obama’s interference in the Internet. What Net Neutrality really did was create massive subsidies to the biggest bandwidth hogs on the planet – Facebook, Google, Twitter, Netflix and … yeah, the porn industry.

Under Net Neutrality these platforms flourished along with the rise of the mobile internet, which is now arguably more important than the ‘desktop’ one in your home and office.  Google and Apple control access to the mobile web in a way that net neutrality proponents can only dream the bandwidth providers like Comcast and AT&T could.

Comcast & AT&T never had that power. Ultimately, consumers decide how much bandwidth costs. We decide how much we can afford for these creature comforts like streaming Netflix while riding the bus or doing self-indulgent Instagram videos of our standing in line at the movies. The ISPs can’t charge us more than we’re willing to pay and a great many of us were not willing to pay, so Netflix and Google began advocating for Net Neutrality, which took the pricing of bandwidth out of the hands of consumers and handed the profits from it to Google and Facebook and their advertisers.

By mandating ‘equal access’ and equal fee structures the advertisers behind Google and Facebook could spend their budgets without much thought or care.  Google and Facebook ad revenue soared under Net Neutrality because advertisers’ needs are not aligned with Google’s bottom line, but with consumers’.

Because of that, the price paid to deliver the ad, i.e. Google’s cost of goods sold, thanks to Net Neutrality, was held artificially low.  And Google, Facebook and the Porn Industry pocketed the difference, allowing Google and Facebook to grow more powerful.  That difference was never passed onto the ISP who could then, in turn, pass it on to the consumer. Thus our Internet access costs increased, while Facebook’s advertising costs were held stable.

All thanks to Net Neutrality.

With the rise of the mobile web, bandwidth should have been getting cheaper and easier to acquire at a much faster rate than it has.  Net Neutrality didn’t allow for that. It kept rates of return on new bandwidth projects and new technology suppressed. Money the ISP’s should have been spending laying more fiber, putting up more cell towers, building better radios went to Google to fritter away on endless projects that never see the light of day.

Net Neutrality guaranteed that the infrastructure for new high-speed bandwidth would grow at the slowest possible rate, still governed by the maximum the consumer was willing to pay for bandwidth, rather than what the consumer actually demanded.

Think it through, Net Neutrality not only subsidized intrusive advertising, phishing scams and on-demand porn but also the very censorship these powerful companies now feel is their sacred duty to enforce because the government is now controlled by “the bad guys”.

Getting rid of Net Neutrality will put the costs of delivering all of this worthless content back onto the people serving it.  YouTube will become more expensive for Google and all of the other content-delivery networks.  Facebook video will eat into its bottom line.

The ISP’s can and should throttle them until they ‘pay their fair share,’ which they plainly have not been. Yes, your ISP may temporarily charge you more for Netflix or Hulu … although it’s more likely Netflix and Hulu will have to charge you more. We’ll then find out the real cost of delivering 4k streaming content to your iPhone actually costs.

Meanwhile, those costs will filter down to the ISP’s such that they can respond to demand for more bandwidth.  Of course AT&T will overcharge us because they are just as bad as bad as Google and Facebook, but … here’s where the rubber hits the road … consumer have a right to say “no” and stop using the services the way Net Neutrality’s mispricing of service encouraged us to. If the ISP’s want more customers then they’ll have to bring wire out to the hinterlands.

Net Neutrality proponents kept telling us this was the way to help keep the Internet available to the poor and the rural.  That’s ridiculous. I’m surrounded by rural and can say confidently that Net Neutrality kept the Internet from expanding properly into the countryside. While Fairbanks has cable and DSl, my brother who lives only about eight miles out of town has neither. He’s 10 or 15 years behind everyone else in getting decent bandwidth, yet he lives in a fairly densely built neighborhood. He has never streamed Netflix because the wiring to his house cannot support it. Instead,  he gets cable television from Dish Network, with a signal so weak it’s been known to cut out during a spring rain. (That’s not Dish’s fault, really, but a factor of their satellites barely being over the horizon at this latitude.

 

We’re still waiting for the phone provider in our residential area to upgrade the bandwidth.  We even installed a second line for Internet service, but the service is so overloaded, it dropped two or three times every evening. So we switched to cable, even though we don’t want cable television. Why are we still a half-decade or more behind the rest of the nation? The return on new lines isn’t high enough for them.

If Google was passing some of the profits from Adwords onto the ISPs, I’d have multiple choices for high-speed Internet versus just one DSL provider, and maybe I’d also have more than one choice for cable. And maybe it would be affordable. I currently pay $90 a month for Internet only, no cable television. It would be another $80 if we wanted to watch television. But we can stream Netflix and Hulu if we’re willing to pay the price.

As always, whenever the political left tries to protect the poor they wind up making things worse for them.

The news of Net Neutrality’s demise is good for a variety of reasons. With Net Neutrality gone, a major barrier to entry for content delivery networks is gone. Blockchain companies are building systems which cut the middle man out completely, allowing content creators to be directly tipped for their work versus being supported by advertising no one watches, wants or is swayed by.

Services like Steemit and the distributed application already built and to be built on it point the way to social media cost models which are sustainable and align the incentives properly between producers of content and consumers.

Steem internalizes the bandwidth costs of using the network and pays itself a part of its token reward pool to cover those costs.  So, all that’s left is content producers and their fans.  Advertisers are simply not needed to maintain the network.

Net Neutrality was a Trojan horse designed to replicate the old shout-based advertising model of the Golden Age of print and TV advertising.  It was a way to control the megaphone and promote a particular point of view.

Look no further than the main proponents of it.  George Soros and the Ford Foundation are two of the biggest lobbyists for Net Neutrality.  Only the political left and its Marxian fantasies of evil middle men creating monopolies fell for the lies.

The rest of us were like, “Really?  This is not a problem.”  And it wasn’t until you looked under the hood and realized all they stood to gain by it.

Now, with Net Neutrality gone the underlying problem can be addressed; franchise monopolies of cable and phone companies in geographic areas.  These laws are still in effect. They still hang like ice fog over the entire industry.  Like Net Neutrality, these laws concentrate capital into the hands of the few providers big enough to keep out the competition.

So, instead of championing the end of franchise monopolies, which county governments love because they get a sizable cut of the revenue to fund non-essential programs, the Left made things worse by championing Net Neutrality.

That also needs to end.  Even if you believe that franchise monopolies were, at one point, necessary, they aren’t now.  IP-based communication is now fundamentally different than copper wire for discrete services like phone and cable.  Let people run all the copper and fiber they want.  There’s plenty of room in the conduit running under our sidewalks and streets.

Then and only then will the Internet be free.

Posted January 9, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Common sense

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Taking the Red Pill   1 comment

Before college campuses were adrift in the current morass of anti-thought, New York University social psychologist Jonathan Haidt published The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, a groundbreaking book that really ought to be read before wading into the tide of “trigger warnings”, “microaggressions”, and “safe spaces” that has become the dominate culture of college campuses. Haidt’s book is the most fascinating work on social science to come out in the last five years.  In 2012, our political landscape was already deeply polarized and that has been magnified by several times in a half decade, but Haidt offers hope and a way forward.

Image result for image of red pill blue pillHaidt starts by delving into the psychological causes behind our tribal politics. Drawing upon social psychology and 25 of original research on moral psychology, Haidt shows how evolution is responsible for shaping people’s morality that both binds and divides and how politics and religion create conflicting communities of shared morality.

According to Haidt, moral attitudes and judgments originate from intuition, not calculated logic. In his 1739 A Treatise of Human Nature, the philosopher David Hume remarked that, “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.” According to Haidt, the findings of modern social psychology research largely vindicate Hume.

To illustrate his point, Haidt uses the metaphor of a rider and an elephant. The rider represents the conscious mind with its rational functions and controlled processes. But the domineering elephant is everything else outside the rider’s control: automatic processes that include emotions and intuitions. Although the rider can do “several useful things” such as planning for the future and learning new skills, ultimately “the rider’s job is to serve the elephant.” As a result of this one-sided relationship, the rider mostly “fabricat[es] post hoc explanations for whatever the elephant has done, and becomes good at finding reasons to justify whatever the elephant wants to do next.” In short, “conscious reasoning functions like a lawyer or press secretary.”

How is this reflected in political discourse? When people are asked to believe something that conflicts with their intuitions, they instinctively seek an escape hatch – any reason to doubt the argument or conclusion that is vexing their deeply held beliefs.

Moral judgment is not a purely cerebral affair in which we weigh concerns about harm, rights, and justice. It’s a kind of rapid, automatic process more akin to the judgments animals make as they move through the world, feeling themselves drawn toward or away from various things. Moral judgment is mostly done by the elephant.

If you’re trying to change someone’s mind on a moral or political issue, you have to “talk to the elephant first.”  You can rarely approach someone from a reasoned stance until you have satisfied their emotional or moral foundation.

I’m not going to say I completely agree with Haidt, because my initial first step toward Christianity was actually from a book on reason – Francis Schaeffer’s “The God Who Is There”, but I found a lot of compelling information in Haidt’s book. Through his interdisciplinary research, Haidt and his colleagues uncovered six moral foundations that are shared across human cultures:

1) Care/harm: This foundation is related to our long evolution as mammals with attachment systems and an ability to feel (and dislike) the pain of others. It underlies virtues of kindness, gentleness, and nurturance.
2) Fairness/cheating: This foundation is related to the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. It generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy. [Note: In our original conception, Fairness included concerns about equality, which are more strongly endorsed by political liberals. However, as we reformulated the theory in 2011 based on new data, we emphasize proportionality, which is endorsed by everyone, but is more strongly endorsed by conservatives]
3) Loyalty/betrayal: This foundation is related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. It underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it’s “one for all, and all for one.”
4) Authority/subversion: This foundation was shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. It underlies virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.
5) Sanctity/degradation: This foundation was shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination. It underlies religious notions of striving to live in an elevated, less carnal, more noble way. It underlies the widespread idea that the body is a temple which can be desecrated by immoral activities and contaminants (an idea not unique to religious traditions).

6) Liberty/oppression: This foundation is about the feelings of reactance and resentment people feel toward those who dominate them and restrict their liberty. Its intuitions are often in tension with those of the authority foundation. The hatred of bullies and dominators motivates people to come together, in solidarity, to oppose or take down the oppressor. We report some preliminary work on this potential foundation in this paper, on the psychology of libertarianism and liberty.

Haidt found left-liberals and progressives recognize primarily the first two moral foundations, Care/harm and Fairness/Cheating, but tend to reject Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity, as proper morals. They feel these are base human traits responsible for patriarchy, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and other forms of oppression. The US/EU political left holds an outlier stand compared to most other parts of the world.

Haidt noted that in “Western, educated, industrial, rich, and democratic (WEIRD) cultures,” the moral spectrum is “unusually narrow” and largely limited to the ethics of individual autonomy.

In contrast, many non-WEIRD societies and conservatives use all five moral foundations that include embracing the ethics of divinity and community. Libertarians are a truly unique political species and are not easily placed on the Left-Right political spectrum in that they prize the last moral foundation, Liberty, above all other values.

These are extraordinary differences and would explain the growing political polarization in the United States and why liberals can’t understand conservatives (and vice versa). In today’s political discourse, partisans often seem to argue not so much against each other, but past each other.

Given that human nature is tribal, people automatically form teams with those who share similar values and morals. While morality can “bind” people together through benefits such as group cohesion and unity, it also “blinds” them to the possibilities or even the existence of other legitimate perspectives. That’s the premise of The Matrix. This kind of “moral matrix” can be so strong that it “provides a complete, unified, and emotionally compelling worldview, easily justified by observable evidence and nearly impregnable to attack by arguments from outsiders.”

As challenging as it may be to see through one’s own ideological blinders, empathy is crucial for successful outreach, acts as an “antidote to righteousness,” and has the added benefit of expanding one’s own intellectual horizons.

Why Intellectual Diversity Matters

Human reason has inherent limits, so Haidt reminds us that “we should not expect individuals to produce good, open-minded, truth-seeking reasoning, particularly when self-interest or reputational concerns are in play.”

However, under the right circumstances and conditions, people can use their reasoning powers to check the claims of others. That’s what Schaeffer’s book prompted me to do. It’s what I still do when I encounter reasoning that confounds me or makes me feel uncomfortable. When people “feel some common bond or shared fate that allows them to interact civilly, you can create a group that ends up producing good reasoning as an emergent property of the social system.” It is especially “important to have intellectual and ideological diversity within any group or institution whose goal is to find truth (such as an intelligence agency or a community of scientists) or to produce good public policy (such as a legislature or advisory board).”

Companies that wish to attract top talent in an effort to remain innovative have long embraced intellectual diversity as a paramount ideal. Universities, most of which are still committed to the mission to search for truth and push the boundaries of human knowledge, in particular must embrace complete freedom of speechopen inquiryepistemic humility, and tolerance for the most radical and eccentric. Championing viewpoint and philosophical diversity goes hand in hand with these fundamental principles that form the bedrock of a liberal education.

Haidt’s findings from moral psychology are consistent with research from other fields highlighting the value of those who “think different.”

Saras Sarasvathy at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business profiled some of the most successful entrepreneurs and found them to be spontaneous contrarians who have “confidence in their ability to recognize, respond to, and reshape opportunities as they develop” to the point that they “thrive on contingency.” Unsurprisingly, entrepreneurs relish bucking conventional wisdom whether it be following standard management practices or any other kind of defined linear process.

Adam Grant at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has extensively researched how “originals” move the world. Startups, which by their very nature are nonconformist, have a special obligation to hire originals who can seed a resilient culture, anticipate market movements under conditions of extreme uncertainty, and repurpose dissenting ideas in alternative ways. Grant emphasizes how originals can mitigate the risks every company faces:

Conformity is dangerous – especially for an entity in formation. If you don’t hire originals, you run the risk of people disagreeing but not voicing their dissent. You want people who choose to follow because they genuinely believe in ideas, not because they’re afraid to be punished if they don’t. For startups, there’s so much pivoting that’s required that if you have a bunch of sheep, you’re in bad shape.

Eric Weiner speculates that intellectual development is stimulated when one’s world is turned upside down:

Many immigrants possess what the psychologist Nigel Barber calls “oblique perspective.” Uprooted from the familiar, they see the world at an angle, and this fresh perspective enables them to surpass the merely talented. To paraphrase the philosopher Schopenhauer: Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.

Broadly liberal attitudes towards risk-taking, unorthodox thinking, and entrepreneurship are among the reasons why the United States is still the richest country in the world. In science writer Matt Ridley’s wide-reaching book The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, the writer traced the origins and spread of economic prosperity. He credits voluntary exchange and specialization, specifically what happens when different ideas meet, mate, and recombine to create new ideas, for being the main drivers of human economic and social progress.

Innovations often happen when you combine two or more things in unexpected ways. When you have a diverse group of people working on something, magic often happens because each person brings a different perspective and experience to the table. John Daly, University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

Authentic diversity must go beyond identity checkboxes to fully include diversity in ideas. Viewpoint diversity drives creative tension, cross-cultural understanding, and the ability to identify and solve problems from multiple perspectives. Creativity and innovation ultimately depend on people stepping outside of comfort zones and trying new things including exposure to radical and unorthodox ways of thinking.

 

Intellectual diversity creates awareness of our own blinders. While there are obvious economic benefits in that, a marketplace of ideas is one of the key underpinnings of a free society. Truth can emerge when views are freely exchanged, challenged, and refined. People’s individual reasoning have inherent limits but through our collective intelligence, we can achieve the impossible.

Even though our intuition-based morality divides our allegiances into different tribes that seemingly cannot coexist with others, accepting and encouraging intellectual diversity creates awareness of our own blinders and provides a possible escape path out of our moral matrices.

Rise of the Illiberal “Liberal”   Leave a comment

How do you discuss something you’re not allowed to name? The media and academia declared the Alt-Left a myth, a product of American dialectical thinking that requires a balance to the Alt-Right, but not really something to worry about. Pay no attention to the club-wielding, masked thugs in Charlottesville, Berkley and Boston. Keep your eyes trained on the “fascists” because the Alt-Left doesn’t really exist and to use the term “Alt-Left” is a pejorative” used only by the right-leaning media and the center Left to attack a legitimate people’s movement. “Smart” people know it’s all nonsense.
Image result for image of illiberalismFor those self-identified liberals who may have been seduced by this belief system with its propaganda — I know I made you mad just now. I hope you will continue reading because this is a conversation we need to have.
I would define Alt-Left as a leftist, illiberal authoritarian ideology rooted in postmodernism and neo-Marxism that supports censorship, condones violence in response to speech, is obsessed with identity politics (much like the Alt-Right), and functions like a secular religion that gives its believers a sense of moral self-worth.

Posted September 28, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Political Philosophy, Uncategorized

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Taking A Knee … or Not   Leave a comment

I stopped saluting the flag about four years ago when someone I respect pointed out that it really does look like idolatry. I thought about it a while and agreed with her, so ….

I still stand, in deference to my fellow Americans and respect for veterans like my brother. I hold my hands respectfully in front of me, but I don’t speak the oath and I don’t cover my heart. I am respectful to those who respect the flag, but I’ve drawn a line on idolatry and that includes the flag. I never really cold sing the National Anthem, as I’m sure Robert Goulette and a host of other famous singers who muffed the Star-Spangled Banner can agree. I do still sing the Alaska flag song because it’s a cool song written for people who aren’t opera stars and nobody is asking me to swear allegiance to it.

When Colin Kaepernick took a knee rather than salute the flag last year, I was irritated by it not out of any respect for the flag or disagreement with free expression, but because he was protesting “white privilege” in America while earning more per year as a professional athlete than I will earn in a lifetime. I was born in poverty and that was with a father who was so white he made Casper look tanned. We may have “wealth privilege” in this country, but poverty hits all colors of skin. And, clearly, wealth is also visited upon quite a number of people of color. Is there some sort of black privilege going on with the NFL? Ever look at the starting lineup of any team? Yeah … I’m just saying.

And, Kaepernick himself has ZERO room to complain. He was raised in an upper middle-class family and went to a good college. Clearly, being half-black didn’t hurt his prospects in life. Maybe he’s pissed off at his white adoptive parents or his white biological mom because he doesn’t feel it’s acceptable to be pissed off at the black father who abandoned his bio mom when she got pregnant, but news flash, other white people didn’t do that. And, ultimately, Kaepernick  was rewarded for being a big strong, part-black athletic male with $39 million dollars over a three-year career of declining performance. While I’m sure he’d like to blame his not being called out of free agency on racism, I suspect it has more to do with stunts like his girfriend’s tweet comparing Ray Lewis, owner of the Baltimore Ravens, to a slave owner while Kaepernick was in negotiations with the team. Slaveowners don’t give you millions of dollars to run an oddly-shaped ball up and down a field and, any sane person, when compared to Simon Legree, will chose to gift some other, less contentious athlete with those millions.

Trust me, if someone had given me $39 million when I was 25 years old, I’d not have to worry about money for the rest of my life because I know a thing or two about living in poverty. I could live a nice, comfortable, middle-class existence on $39 million dollars and probably leave more than that to my heirs.

So, Kaepernick has ZERO room to complain about “white privilege”. His kneeling is about wanting attention and nothing more, from a young man who may see racism behind every bush because he’s been taught to look for it, but who has never experienced a hard day of living in his life. Notice that he didn’t do his kneeling under the presidency of Barack Obama. It’s not about racism. It’s about politics.

Now, if he’d been protesting the killing of civilians of all colors by police, then he might have had my support … I who have been quietly not participating in flag worship for nearly a half-decade now.  But as long as he’s only upset when cops kill black people, I think he’s showing his racist knickers and I’m not going to stand … or kneel … with him.

That said, President Donald Trump needs to learn to control his comments about other people’s right to free expression. Kaepernick has a right to protest. So do other NFL players. They have the same right as Trump supporters do to put their opinions out into the public square … to be challenged or supported as the case may be. That’s how freedom of speech – a cornerstone of liberty — works. I am free, even as one who declines to worship the flag, to criticize Colin Kaepernick for his motivations. He’s welcome to an opinion, but others are welcome to point out the fallacies on which his opinions rest.

 

Posted September 25, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in culture, Uncategorized

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What is the Difference?   2 comments

Image result for image of antifaAntifa attacking others in Berkley

 

Image result for image of alt rightNeo-Nazis marching in Virginia

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t see a difference. Both are violent and both want to control the country and the national dialogue. Neither is interested in freedom for everybody, though they might demand freedom for themselves.

We forget that the Nazis of pre-war Germany rose in part because Germany had been battered by other countries, stripped of territory, strangled economically. But another part of the drive was as a reaction to the communistic socialists who were everywhere in Europe at that time.

Toward the end of the war, some Germans began to rise up against Hitler. They didn’t embrace freedom,  however. They were communists who sought a different kind of societal slavery.

So now we have two extreme ideologies – the alt-right who feel justified in their activism by a fear of communism and the alt-left (typified by Antifa) who feel threatened by “fascists” (they don’t know what the word means) and so feel justified in their activism.

And these two groups are tearing the country apart.

So, I ask — what is the difference between these two ideologies? Both are violent in their opposition of the other and if you actually listen to what they say, they would enslave all of us to their ideologies. We wouldn’t get a choice. We’d all have to do, say and think whatever that group has decided is allowed.

We call that tyranny. And, yes, it can happen here. It is happening here.

Posted September 15, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Liberty, Uncategorized

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