Friday, July 31, 2015

Political Forces and Win-Win Scenarios

In politics, two sides of an issue – any issue – are typically representative of the interest that speaks to each side. Thus is the case with both business and labor, as well as political forces allied with business and labor. The intelligent solution is not to pick either side, but work with both to maximize their benefits and minimize their flaws.

Any interest – business and labor being two out of many – is capable of both right and wrong. Business produces prosperity; it can also operate in short-sighted and corrupt manner. Workers make products that business sells; they can also do a shoddy job or make unreasonable demands. Both business and worker, being part of the human world, are capable of both the positive and the negative; and the rightful solution is not to side with either interest but work with both to maximize the benefits of each and minimize the flaws of each. The same calculus needs be applied to the way in which business and labor interact and how their shared activities impact upon the world.

We see the same thing with nature and civilization. Neither nature nor civilization are good or evil; they are both part of reality – one as not created by human beings, the other as created by human beings. Both produce both beneficial and destructive outcomes. Nature means anything from the gazelle to the AIDS virus, and civilization means everything from San Francisco to Linfen. Neither nature nor civilization are good or bad. In each is capacity for both. Nature is not, as some claim, only resources or only there to serve man; it exists in its own right and contains amazing variety and richness that people have yet to be able to replicate. And civilization is not, as some claim, evil; we see in it some excellent thought and excellent workmanship that provides people with valuable technologies and convenience.

With men and women, public sector and private sector, science and spirituality, business and art, we see similar outcomes. Both men and women will always be with us, and it makes no sense to side with one or the other; it makes sense to encourage good behavior in both. Public sector and private sector are both there by public demand – one at the poll booth the other at the marketplace – and it likewise makes no sense to side with one or the other; it makes sense to incentivize, and keep, both to beneficial and transparent practices. Science and spirituality are two ways to attain to knowledge, and both are capable of both wisdom and stupidity – stupidity that both sides are effective at checking within the other. And business and art vitalize, respectively, productive and creative capacities; and when the two work together, the result is a legacy of embodied beauty.

I am not just advocating the middle path, as the middle can be found in any number of undesirable places. I am advocating the positive middle path aiming at win-win scenarios. I am advocating seeing the core of legitimacy in each political interest and recognizing it for what it is, while also checking the inevitable capacities for wrongdoing that we will find in any human interest.

The solution to bad thought is better thought, and the solution to battle among interests is figuring out what each side is right about and correcting what each side is wrong about. That way we will have the best of all worlds. Business and labor, public sector and private sector, men and women, science and spirituality, and business and art, are all capable of both rightful and wrongful outcomes. And the task becomes to support them in what they are right about while confronting what is wrong with each.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Rebellion and Character of Places

Rebellion is easiest in places where it's the least needed, and hardest in places where it is the most needed.

It is very easy to rebel in New York, Melbourne or San Francisco; and in these places there is the least need for rebellion. Whereas it is extremely hard to rebel in Iran or in North Korea, where rebellion is the most warranted.

The worse the place is, the more it needs to do in order to keep its people from leaving or rebelling. The Soviet Union needed to expend a huge amount of resources into keeping the Soviet citizens from leaving for better destinations or developing other-than-Communist ideation. Whereas say San Francisco does not need to do anything of the sort. The place is beautiful; people want to go there; and those who do leave are replaced by greater number of people coming in.

This means the following. The more we see the place do what it can to keep people from leaving, the more we see that as evidence of the place being bad. A good place does not need to use coercive tactics to maintain its population; and the place that does need coercive tactics is not a good place.

For this reason it is much harder to leave, or rebel against, the places that are terrible to people than it is to leave, or rebel against, the places that are not. Iran is hard to leave; New York isn't. That is because New York is much better than Iran and does not need to use oppression to keep New Yorkers inside the state.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Therapy and Love

When relationships form between men and women in such settings as group therapy and Alcoholics Anonymous, it is common to refer to the men as predators and to the women as the victims.

I have a much more level-headed explanation for this.

In a recent study, love was reproduced in lab settings by having men and women share intimate details about their lives. This is of course what goes on in group therapy and Alcoholics Anonymous; and such relationships will be inevitable. Neither party is at fault, and neither party is the victim of the other. The reason is simply the nature of the setting.

I once knew a woman who referred as “f*cking a**holes who deserve to die” to men who liked her when she was in a good shape but did not like her when she was fat. Yet she was attacking men who were in bad mental shape while going after men who she thought was in a good one. This is very hypocritical.

Most of the men in such settings are not predators. The feelings that they develop for the women are simply a result of the nature of the setting. The men aren't predators, and the women aren't victims. They are sharing intimate details of their lives; which leads them, by the mechanisms show in that study, to fall in love.

"Every generation blames the one before"

Mike and the Mechanics wrote, “every generation blames the one before.” There is a good reason for this.

People want to raise their children the way in which they themselves would have wanted to be raised. However their children are different from them, and it rarely works.

Thus, the World War II generation, growing up as it did during the Great Depression and the Second World War, wanted to raise their children in security and prosperity. Their baby boomer children however did not want that; they found it boring and suffocating, and they wanted freedom. So when they became hippie parents themselves, they gave their children freedom. However their children did not want that either; they wanted structure and stability, and many gen-Xers are very angry at their parents for not having provided that and see them as the worst generation.

By the time my generation – Generation Y – came around, the baby boomers had had some more life experience and generally did a better job than they did with the Xers. The best among them provided both comfort and freedom. Of course there were any number who provided just one or the other, and some who provided neither. But parenting technology improved a lot during that time, and there have been excellent parents to benefit some people in my generation.

What is going on? The error that many people make is assuming that their children are just like themselves. Of course they are not; and parenting needs to target the child's needs instead of the projected needs of the parent. I do not see, or treat, my daughter as a reflection of me; I look at who she is individually. She is someone who wants to learn and explore. She is someone with a strong drive. And she is someone with a warm and affectionate personality who wants to love and be loved. She gets all of the above both from me and from her mother.

More people will respect their parents if their parents go to the bother of figuring out who they are and target their parenting accordingly. The boomers were not the World War II generation; the Xers were not the boomers; my daughter's generation is not Generation Y. What one may want, might be completely different from what the other may want. And a good parent will recognize that and work with that reality.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Military and Peaceful Service

One explanation for the decline of the Roman Empire is that its citizens no longer became fit for military service, and that this lead the leadership of the Roman Empire to hire “barbarians” as mercenaries; who, when they were no longer paid as much as they wanted to be paid, sacked Rome.

America, although some on the Right compare it to the Roman Empire in its declining stages, does not have this problem. There are any number of capable military recruits in America, and that is especially the case with the country people and the ghetto.

The country cultures in America are both macho and patriotic, and these people will be both able and willing to serve. And the people in the ghetto face conditions of war already, meaning that they likewise will make excellent soldiers. And with the military's scholarships and incentives, these people will be able to rise out of the underclass and become successful and contributing citizens by serving in the military.

That some people in yuppie or metrosexual city cultures are not fit for military service means absolutely nothing. The American military is not at a shortage of capable recruits. The superiority of the volunteer army over the conscript army is that it is filled with people who are both capable of military service and willing to serve in the military. Whereas a conscript military is filled with people who aren't fit or willing to serve, which people make terrible soldiers and are harder to deal with than it's worth.

On this matter Germany has the best idea. In Germany, a young person can either choose to serve in the military or in peaceful service. That way, the military types get to go into the military, and others contribute in the way that they can. Yet in America, peaceful service is derided as “servitude” while military service is honored. This is simply wrong.

I, for one, would make a terrible soldier; but I am perfectly willing to serve America. America should have more opportunities for people to take part in peaceful service. AmeriCorps and Peace Corps are both excellent programs. And I hope that these programs spread their benefits to the American population, resulting in people who are willing to serve in peaceful capacities being able to benefit the country.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Welfare and Work

According to some theories in economics, some unemployment is inevitable. The question that needs to be asked is, what do you do with the unemployed.

Most people want to work; but some cannot find work. If you do not want to work, I don't want to know you. If you want to work but can't find work, I am writing for you.

In Australia, I know a woman who has mental illness and cannot find work in the market. She collects disability, but she is not a bum. She works for a very small pay at a factory. She gets disability, and she also gets to contribute.

Why not do the same thing in America? For people who cannot compete in the market, let them have public assistance under condition that they do something productive. Let them volunteer, or let them work for a reduced pay at a private enterprise. Or hire them on to do government projects.

There are many Americans who are resentful of having to pay the way of other people. The solution is to get these other people to do something that benefits the country. Let them go into the military; let them volunteer; let them do projects for the government. That way, the money spent on them won't be getting wasted, and they will be contributing citizens.

There are some states that have instituted drug testing for welfare recepients. That is a start. But ultimately there should be a way for these people to be contributing citizens.

I advise tying government assistance to doing volunteer work or doing work for the government. That way, the people who cannot compete will be contributors rather than leeches; and the people would not be as averse to paying them than they otherwise would.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Taxation and Patriotism

A common claim among the Republicans is that tax cuts have always created prosperity. History shows them to be wrong.

In 1950s – a time of great prosperity – the tax on highest incomes was the staggering 92%. Tax cuts worked when Kennedy did it because taxes at that time were ridiculous. When Reagan did it, it created short-term prosperity and long-term accumulation of debt. When Bush did it, the result was a hige accumulation of debt and an economic crisis. Their claims do not pass the muster of reality.

Nor has raising taxes always undermined prosperity. Clinton raised taxes on highest incomes, and under him the economy boomed. And yes, I was in the higher-income bracket at the time, but I had no problem at all paying taxes. 

Not wanting to pay taxes is unpatriotic and irresponsible. You want your military, you want your roads, you want your police and fire departments, you pay. And yet we are seeing people who claim to be American patriots howling over having to pay some of the lowest income taxes of all developed countries. These people appear not to know what patriotism means.

Nor is taxing the higher incomes more heavily than the lower incomes “punishing success” or “class warfare.” Rather it simple reason. The millionaire is not made to suffer from paying a 40% instead of a 30% tax, whereas money gained that way for the treasury is substantial. The progressive taxation system is the rational taxation system: One that maximizes revenue and minimizes suffering.

So we see many Republicans looking back with fond memories on a decade when the highest income tax was 92% even as they continue to howl about having to pay a 35% tax. And they claim themselves to be American patriots even as they want to bankrupt the government. How do they get away with it? I don't know. But I am willing to do my part to stand up to these people and their lies.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Do Right-Wingers Own American Patriotism?

As I watch the American political debate, I am wondering: Am I the only person who thinks it ridiculous for the right-wingers to claim that they are American patriots and that nobody else is?

I've known highly patriotic Democrats. These people have worked all their lives in service professions such as teachers and scientists and have done a lot to contribute to their country, frequently accepting much lesser pay than they were eligible for if they had gone into business or law. Then there is my boss, a successful entrepreneur who has spent a million dollars of his own money and a huge effort to build a nonpartisan political information site. He is a Democrat as well, and his dedication to America and its democratic system has motivated him to perform this act of generosity to his country.

Meanwhile on the Right we see exceptionally unpatriotic sentiments, such as not wanting to pay taxes and failing to accept the legitimacy of an elected President. We see treasonous actions, such as stealing the 2000 election. We see Westboro Baptists picketing soldiers' funerals; Paul Wyerich calling America a pagan country; and Pat Robertson saying that 9-11 was a result of God removing his protective umbrella over America because of all the liberals and the feminists in the country. These people are anti-American for real, and what they hate about America is its best aspect: The aspect of liberty.

Are there people on the Left who are anti-American? Well, there is Kurt Vonnegut. But most people who are into that are young people going through a phase, whereas Wyerich was - and Robertson and most Westboro Baptists are - advanced in years. What is forgivable to someone on account of his youth is not as readily forgivable to someone who knows what he is doing. And here we see true anti-Americanism being practiced by right-wingers even as they claim that America is their country and nobody else's.

It is time that the patriotic Democrats speak loud and clear and alert people of the service that they are providing for America. And it is time that the right-wingers no longer be able to get away with their lies. The right-wingers don't own American patriotism. And there are any number of patriotic Democrats who have done great service to their country and should be respected for it.

Social Freedom and Market System

There are any number of people who believe in economic freedom but not social freedom. By their own logic, they are wrong.

The claim they reiterate is that social freedom leads to chaos and immorality. Simply, they need to study economics more. According to economic theory, competition among agents driven by rational self-interest rewards the best product and the best price. This leads to prosperity all across the board.

The same logic can – and should – be applied to social issues. Specifically, it should be applied to man-woman relationships. In a climate of social freedom, people will gravitate toward those who have the most to offer them. This will select for excellence and for better treatment. The men who are willing to be good to their wives, and the women who are willing to be good to their husbands, will emerge winners and be rewarded for their goodwill with good relationships. And competition among parties based on how they are willing to treat their partners will then incentivize good treatment by partners of one another, resulting in better relationships.

Right now, we are seeing extreme hypocrisy on this issue. An astute woman is seen as manipulative; an astute man is seen as a winner. A woman who gets together with a foreign man is seen as selfish; a man who buys a Japanese car or a Chinese TV is seen as simply partaking in the market economy.This is exceptionally hypocritical. The fact is, if you believe in economic freedom then you must believe in social freedom. The same logic – the logic of classical economics – predicts that in both cases we will see the selection for excellence, resulting in better outcomes all across the board.

Are people driven by rational self-interest? Does the market select for the best product? Well that is a whole another can of worms. Clearly there are economic decisions that are in no way rational, and clearly there are cases – such as Microsoft vs. Borland, VHS vs. Beta and fast food chains vs. mom-and-pop shops – where inferior product rises to market dominance by virtue of superior marketing. Similarly there are many men who get with a woman by virtue of having, not superior character, but superior front. We see this in both economics and relationships; which means that in both economics and relationships we will see the potential for both rightful and wrongful outcomes.

The same logic that is used to defend free markets should also be employed to defend social freedom. Like economic freedom, social freedom impels people to improve themselves and have the best things to offer their partners and treat their partners the best possible ways. And just as the market has allowed billions of people to rise out of poverty, so does social freedom stands to allow people to have better relationships and better lives.

And that, is the best social policy I can think of – one that does not require military or government intervention and that allows the logic that is behind the successful market system to improve relationships between men and women.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Guns and Right-Wingers

This stance may not make me popular with many of my liberal friends, but I will say this anyway. I am in favor of people owning guns. The reason is that if you live in the country, where the nearest police station is 100 miles away – or if you live in the ghetto, where everyone else has a gun – you better have a gun to be able to defend yourself and your family.

The problem I have with many advocates of guns is that their arguments are completely bogus. There are some people who really believe that guns will protect them from the government. This is ridiculous. The American government has at its disposal the most powerful weapons in the history of humanity; and in order to challenge it the citizen would need much more than guns. He will need to have nukes.

The argument for a “well-regulated militia” made sense at the time because military technology was limited to guns. Now, we have weapons of mass destruction, and guns won't protect people from that. For people to protect themselves from government tyranny should that come about, they will need much more than guns. And I don't see the Congress – whether it be run by Democrats or Republicans – allowing private citizens to hold nuclear weapons.

In 1990s there was a large movement called the survivalists. These people expected the civilization to collapse, so they went out into the country and built bunkers or stuffed their houses with guns and produce. Of course the civilization did not collapse, and many of these people wound up in the position of embarrassment.

Right now we are seeing the same audience listening to New World Order conspiracy theories. We have to give right-wingers one thing: They know how to lie. Some of them are claiming global warming to be a Communist hoax; others are claiming that UN seeks a one-world socialist government; some others still are going on comparing Obama to Hitler. Their motto appears to be one and single. Lie, Lie and Lie Some More.

Do people who lie so much really represent American values? Do they deserve to speak for the greatest country in the history of the world? Or are these people conmen and parasites who exploit the weakness of American primary education system to feed people a load of destructive fictions and substitute paranoia for knowledge?

As for guns, once again, I'm in favor of them. But don't go around claiming that running around in the woods shooting trees would make you look like anything other than an idiot. Such movements are an embarrassment to America, and they make Americans look like morons in the eyes of the world. And that is not a patriotic thing to do.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I Love a Ghost

In memory of MLR

Some love the ones who are near them,
Others whom they have lost;
But as for my opinion,
I love a ghost.

Her life was hard and painful,
Her life was tempest-tossed,
Maybe she is much happier
Since she became a ghost,

On my love there are no limits,
To my love there is no cost,
No years or hours or minutes -
I love this ghost,

If gates of heaven are open
Or if they are closed
Or if she reincarnates
I love this ghost,

Like butterfly and a flower,
Like parasite and a host,
We are eternally bound -
Me and this ghost -

Of what are you most proud?
Of what can you most boast?
I care for such things nothing:
I love a ghost.

These are the words I'm heeding
Whenever I sorrow most:
Love whom you love; as for me -
I love a ghost.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Thinking, Feeling and Generations

The Enlightenment philosophy of 18th century stated that divine truths are obtainable through rational inquiry. The Romantic philosophy that followed stated that divine truths are obtainable through great feelings, romantic love and artistic inspiration.

According to orthodox Christianity and Islam, both are wrong. According to these creeds, the divine truths are only made available in the Bible and the Quran. However both enlightenment and romanticism have done a lot for the Western civilization. The first created science, democracy, and ultimately technology and prosperity. And the second created beautiful art and poetry and greatly enriched and enhanced man-woman relationships.

The first stresses thinking, and the second stresses feeling. Both are inextricable from human makeup, and both are capable of both rightfulness and error. Enlightenment thinking results in everything from Man on the Moon to the lobotomy man. Romantic thinking results in everything from Lord Byron to banal pop songs.

When I asked a very wise baby boomer lady why her generation was so different from the generation that followed, she said that her generation had been taught to feel while Generation X had been taught to think. It is obvious that in both cases we see education being done half-right. Both thinking and feeling are capable of being both right and wrong. And when the two coexist in the same person, he gets to greater wisdom than he would if he had just one or the other.

This carries implications for all sorts of uses. While feeling allows one to experience one's own condition - and empathy the next person's condition - thinking allows one to see the external effects of both. Pure feeling fails to compute the external effects, and pure thinking fails to compute the internal experience. This creates a potential for error in both methodologies: For feeling, the error of self-absorption, and for thinking, the error of coldness, cruelty and out-of-touch ineffectuality.

Of course we see the evidence for this all the time, including in generations. The baby boomers were taught only to feel – and they are regarded as a self-absorbed generation. Generation X were taught only to think – and they tend to be quite cold. But when people can both think and feel, they get an integrative picture, where they understand people and social phenomena more completely: By seeing both the internal experience and the external effects.

Whether or not divine truths are made obtainable through either Enlightenment thinking or Romantic thinking is debateable; however both philosophies have proven highly valuable for the world. The first gave the world science and democracy, and ultmately the technology and prosperity that comes from such things; and the second has given the world beautiful artwork and vastly enriched the relationships between men and women. Both thinking and feeling should be cultivated. The result will be more full and more integrated human beings who have at their disposal two fundamental modalities, allowing them to get a more complete understanding of themselves and of others and get to wisdom faster than through either thinking or feeling acting alone.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Gays and Definition of Marriage

Some Republican candidates are claiming that, if marriage is to be re-defined to include a man marrying a man, then there would not be a reason to re-define it as also including a man and any number of women.

Some – Rick Santorum comes to mind – go so far as to compare homosexuality with pedophilia and bestiality.

All of them are completely wrong.

I, for one, have nothing against polygamy. Muslims practice it; Mormons practice it. If such an arrangement is suitable for both parties, I have nothing against it.

As for comparisons to pedophilia and bestiality: Sorry, no can do. Two adult males, or two adult females, are at the age of consent. A child is not at an age of consent; and an animal is not a rational being and likewise cannot give an informed consent. Two adults, whatever their sexual orientation, very much can.

At the root of this is the concept that is central to liberty: The concept of informed choice. A child can't give that, and neither can an animal. An adult very much can.

Republicans should spend less time policing people's private behavior and spend more time addressing real wrongs, such as Islamic extremism. A small government is not a government that tells its people how they can live. A person truly believing in liberty will give consenting adults a freedom of how they can live. And a person who does not do that has no right to claim to be in favor of a small government.

Gay Marriages and Freedom to Roam

There is a controversy in America regarding allowing businesses to refuse to serve gay weddings. I am in no way a homophobe; however I fully stand with the businesses having this right.

The reason is this: It is their own business. If I was running a business, I would most certainly not want to be servicing neo-Nazis or the Taliban. If a businessman thinks that homosexuality is bad, he has every right not to serve gay clients.

There are enough gay, or tolerant, people who have done well in America that the gay clientele are not limited to having to go to businesses that hate them. There are plenty of businesses run by gays, and there are plenty of businesses run by tolerant straight people. A businessman who doesn't want to serve gay clients should not be forced to do so.

As for the gay marriage, I agree with any number of politicians that it should be left to the states. For as long as there is freedom to roam in America, a gay person can get away from people to hate him and go where he is welcome. This will be good for him, and it will be good for his home state. He won't have to deal with their authoritarian attitudes, and they won't have to deal with him.

Liberty should be protected at both the regional and the individual level; and that means each region's right to its own character and the unlimited freedom for people to move among regions to find a place that works for them. You cannot force tolerance; you can however give a way for people to go to places that would be tolerant to them. This is how America started, and this is why it remains the world's greatest country. Texas should be able to define marriage the way that it wants to define marriage. And the people who don't want such a thing can leave for California or Massachusetts.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Israel and Hypocrisy

Many people are hateful to Israel for having taken the land that is Israel from its previous inhabitants. They fail to realize one thing: These people had also taken that land from its previous inhabitants and forcibly converted its inhabitants to Islam. Israel is not attempting to convert the Palestinians to Judaism and is perfectly willing to let them practice their religion for as long as it doesn't tell them to bomb Israeli markets.

Most criticism of Israel is completely hypocritical. Who is more of a thug: An Israeli or a member of ISIS? The same people who claim to be in favor of feminism are attacking Israel while giving green light to the most misogynistic ideology on the planet – jihadist Islam. What they don't understand is that the jihadists want to kill or enslave them. The Israeli do not.

Most criticism of Israel that does not come from jihadists comes from Europe. In some ways, the Jews and the Europeans traded places since the Second World War. Jews went from being pacifistic to being nationalistic; and Europeans went from being nationalistic to being pacifistic. What we see in both cases is a lesson learned too well. The Jews learned that they were not safe in the world and needed their own country; and the Europeans learned that war and nationalism are evil. At its worst, Israel has been overly reliant on the military and not done enough by way of diplomacy. At their worst, the Europeans have been cowardly and failed to confront destructive regimes.

I am not in support of the jingoistic policies of Benyamin Netanyahu. I had admiration for Yitzhak Rabin, and I hope that someone with similar strength and wisdom will arrive on Israeli political scene and in this case maintain adequate security to keep idiots from shooting him. I cannot tell the Israelis how to live their lives; I can however confront wrongful beliefs about them. And the compassionate and intelligent perspective will look at history and find out why the Israelis are acting the way that they do.

Having endured some of the worst atrocities ever committed, the Jews are right to want their own country. They are also right to protect themselves from people who hate them and teach their children to hate them since the earliest age. The land that is Israel was forcibly taken by Muslims long before it became Israel. And the person who is against conquest of other countries will recognize that and stop prosecuting Israel for the sins that everyone else, from Europeans to Americans to Muslims, have committed in their history.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Class Struggle vs. Social Mobility

A major concept in Marxism is what is known as “class struggles.” According to Marx and his followers, the “propertied class” - financiers and entrepreneurs – exploit the “working class.” Marx's solution to that is for the working class to overthrow the propertied class and take the means of production into its own hands.

I do not believe for one moment that the class struggle is a universally applicable concept. Class struggle is something that happens in rigidly segregated societies with no social mobility. Thus, Marxism was far more believable under Tsarist Russia, which was extremely segregated, or Confucian China, where the son had to do what the father did, than it was under American democracy; and we saw Marxism take root in Russia and China while being detested in America.

The class struggles are not solved by revolutions; they are solved by social mobility. When a person from a humble background can become a billionaire or the President of the United States of America, the idea of class struggles is not nearly as believable as it is in a place where the son has to do what his father did, or where the wealth belongs to the nobles and the peasants remain peasants for life. So then why are we seeing a resurgence of interest in the Marxist ideology?

Probably because, for many people in America, social mobility has become a vanishing dream. Because of the gutting of the educational system under Reagan and the flight of manual jobs abroad, it has become much harder for a person from a poorer background to rise into the middle class or the upper class. Denied social mobility, these people are then attracted to the concept of class struggles. And that is where we find ourselves today.

This is an externally caused problem. But there are also things that these people themselves are doing wrong. In the inner city, a person who takes school seriously is seen as “acting white” or “thinking they're better than everyone else.” And a popular bumper sticker in the “rednecky” parts of America said, “My son beat up your honor student.” For as long as these attitudes persist, it will be that much harder for people from such backgrounds to rise in society, and social mobility will be unavailable to people raised in such places.

The genius of America has been its willingness to listen to criticism and to adapt to it. In early 20th century, when Communism was spreading, America took the union movement and addressed its legitimate concerns by giving workers benefits and better treatment while retaining the market system and democracy. This not only helped America to avoid going Communist; it also created the great American middle class. The legitimate anger about social mobility being denied to many American citizens is addressed through better educational practices and a better attitude on the part of the people. In this manner America can avoid a lot of heartbreak and address the legitimate concerns of these people without having a bloody revolution or labor camps.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Hostile Countries and Immigration

There has been some discussion about indesirability of accepting into America the people from countries that dislike America. This issue requires thought.

I ask this: Why would a person from France come to America? The French society – especially the French media – are highly critical of America. Which means that for a French person to come to America is to go against the public opinion in his country; and in order to do that such a person must really want the American way of life. Which means that such a person, if he were to come to America, would be very patriotic and committed to the country.

This, as opposed to say people from Nigeria, where the media and the public opinion are pro-American, where immigration to America is in line with what most people believe and where the person would not have to make great sacrifices or stand up to the people around him in order to do that.

With the Middle East, we see the potentials for both patriotism and animosity. There are many people from Middle East who hate it in Middle East and want America's liberties, opportunity and prosperity. These people would be expected to be highly patriotic. But in the same population there are also terrorists and radicals who hate America and want to infiltrate America in order to do evil. The solution is not banning immigration from Middle East, but recognizing who is who.

I come from Russian immigrants; and according to my father the Russian mafia finds it a lot easier to get into America than the regular people because of their connections. This is just wrong. Like the Islamic terrorists, the Russian mafia is up to no good; and there need to be strong mechanisms in place to keep them out.

The immigration system must be managed in a more intelligent manner. Just because a person is from France or from Middle East does not mean that the person will be destructive. Figure out who is up to what and then act accordingly. There are plenty of resources that one can use to do that.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

The Errors of Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud made a wrong analysis, and on it he built several other wrong analyses. He misinterpreted the memories of childhood sexual abuse for erotic fantasy. On this he built three wrong analyses that have had a horrible effect on the Western civilization: That children are sexual; that women are an incomplete gender possessing a penis envy; and that children are in love with the parent of the opposite gender and that love in adulthood is transference of that love.

As a parent, I would know if my daughter was sexual. She isn't. Children are curious, and their curiosity would be especially intense about things that are forbidden, such as sexuality. The claim that children are sexual has encouraged the very real wrong of pedophilia. If they think that the children are sexual, they may delude themselves into thinking that having sex with a child is OK. It is not OK; it is rightfully a crime.

Freud's claim about women was nothing but a generalization of the conditions in his time. In early 20th century Europe, the men had all the rights and powers, and the women were sufficiently schooled in the ideals of liberty and equality to want the rights and the powers that men had. We do not see women envying men in places such as Sweden, where women have the same rights and powers as the men. Nor do we see women envying men in the Middle East, where women accept the subservient position as part of their religion.

As to Freud's most famous claim: There is absolutely nothing wrong with children loving their parents. Children should love their parents, and parents should love their children. That doesn't mean that either party is sexually attracted to the other. I love my mother, but I am not sexually attracted to her. My daughter loves me, but she is not sexually attracted to me either.

Regarding love in adulthood, Freud's claim does not begin to pass the muster of reality. If love in adulthood had been a transference from a parent, then women raised by single mothers, men raised by single fathers, homosexuals raised by a single parent of the opposite gender, or orphans who were raised without either parent, would not fall in love in adulthood; and of course they do. At the time of Sigmund Freud, there were few single-parent households and fewer open homosexuals to study; now there are plenty of them. And what we have seen again and again is people from all kinds of backgrounds falling in love, including the backgrounds that do not have a transference figure.

Clearly Freud was a major thinker, and he should be commended for his intelligence, his courage and his willingness to work hard. But these errors have to go. It would be better for everyone if these errors had not been made. But now that they have been made, it falls up to us to correct them.

On Illegal Immigrants

Illegal immigration from Mexico is a controversial issue, and that is because there are many sides to it.

On one hand, the Republicans are right to say these people broke the law in order to come to America. On another hand, they have been major contributors to America's construction and agricultural sectors, and American business, for which Republicans claim to stand, benefits from them handsomely.

A Kansas farmer ran an experiment. He invited American citizens to work on his farm under the conditions that the Mexican illegal immigrants work and for the price that they get paid. Nobody stayed longer than a week. This means that the claim that the illegal immigrants take the jobs away from hard-working Americans is not fully correct. They take the jobs that Americans do not want.

When the economy is doing well, the people who want to do hard manual labor for a pittance are welcome. When the economy is not doing as well, these people are less welcome. The economic conditions are beginning to improve, and there will be less agitation for deporting these people.

That's a part of the story – the American part of the story. But there is also a Mexican part of the story. And this is as follows: If Mexico's most hard-working people come to America, then who will be there to make Mexico a better place? If the conditions in Mexico improve, there will be less reason for people to come to America. I see no reason at all why Mexico needs to remain poor. They need to get their political and economic house in order, then they can boom.

How would they do that? Through the attention of the same people who come to America. They are willing to work hard in America, they should be willing to work hard in Mexico as well. The Mexican leadership needs to convince these people to stay in the country so that they can improve the country. It needs to tell them that they should be more patriotic and that they should work to enrich Mexico.

I am an American patriot; but I am not a jingoist. I want America to do well; I also want the rest of the world to do well. I seek win-win scenarios, much in the manner of Bill Clinton who cared about all sectors of society and was looking for solutions to benefit them all.

This requires making an effort to understand where people are coming from and where they are going. For now, the Mexican illegal immigrants are contributing, and business benefits from their attention. Ultimately however the solution to this situation is for Mexico to improve. And from that standpoint, the Mexican leadership should convince these people to be more patriotic and work on making their own country a better place.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Definition of Responsibility

Neurosis is defined as taking responsibility for things that are other people's responsibility, and personality disorders are defined as not taking responsibility for things that are one's own.

All this depends on how responsibility is defined. There are some systems that want everyone to be responsible for themselves, and there are other systems in which the responsibility is shared. According to each side, the other is both neurotic and personality disordered.

If someone can't find a job, the reasons can be both internal and external. It is possible that the economy is in a bad shape, that one's job has gone overseas, or that one's field has crashed. It is also possible that the person did a bad job for a former employee or mismanaged his education. Both of the above are possible. Which means that, as impacting upon that person, there is both his behavior – which he is in control of – and economic and social situation, of which he isn't. Responsibility can in this case belong to either party, or partly to both.

The same is the case in all situations that involve more than one person. A country may crash because it has a bad government, resulting in all sorts of people suffering for reasons that are not their fault. Economies can crash as well, likewise resulting in all sorts of people suffering for reasons that are not their fault. The responsibility here does not belong with the people at the receiving end of these wrongs; it belongs with the policy-makers and the entrepreneurs.

Responsibility is defined one way in America, another way in China. For that matter it is defined differently in Western Europe as well, and Western Europe does not have torture or labor camps. Each side will see the other as being guilty of neurosis and personality disorder. The real issue is the definition of responsibility.

Am I neurotic because I want to solve social and political problems and to contribute meaningfully to the civilization? Am I personality disordered because I want to be rewarded for this with appreciation and respect? A Texan may say yes. A Swede would say no.

I would like to bring up the example of an older lady who lives in the community where I live. She has been a nurse, raised three good sons, and carries a lot of influence in the community. She is willing to go out of her way to help people, but she wants to be appreciated for that and gets very angry when she isn't. Is this neurosis or personality disorder? I think not. This is a good human being, and she has every right to demand appreciation for the good things that she does.

The real issue is as follows: Who is responsible, and for what? A gangster may be seen as either irresponsible or disadvantaged, depending upon who talks. The people who have had their jobs go to China or Mexico may be seen as losers, or they may be seen as having been betrayed by corporate America. In most cases, the responsibility is part-internal, part-external. And then of course there are situations when it is solely either of the above.

There are many places in which women do all the hard work while their men spend their time beating them up or killing their fellow man. Under the Soviet system, there were some people who did all the hard work and many others who leeched off of them. And in America, we see some places discouraging social-oriented or system-oriented thinking and blaming the people who get dislocated or impoverished for wrongs that are due to bad business practices, wrong policies or irresponsible greed.

It is necessary to come up with a workable definition of who is responsible for what. This definition needs to be fair and factual. All that contributes positively should be rewarded, and all that contributes negatively should be punished. And then – only then – will it be possible to come up with a workable definition of what is neurosis and what is personality disorder.

The Generational Slanders

The baby boomers are constantly being accused of being selfish, and the early 20th century generation is constantly being accused of being shallow. I have reason to believe that none of these claims are right.

The baby boomers started out being exceptionally altruistic. They fought for civil rights; they fought for women's rights; they fought for children's rights; they fought for peaceful engagement with other countries; they fought for better treatment of the poor. For this they were viciously attacked and derided as commies. So, by the time the 1980s rolled around, they decided that they no longer wanted to be commies and getting brutally attacked. They became self-interested and entrepreneurial, in the best American tradition. And for this they were portrayed as selfish brats.

The early 20th century generation should likewise not be getting slandered. Early 20th century is when America rose to world leadership. Before that, England, not America, was the world's greatest country. The early 20th century generation gave the world the automobile, the skyscraper, the electricity and the telephone. And it also made America the greatest country in the world.

I mean no disrespect whatsoever for America's World War II generation. They had to fight in a horrible war, they initiated a long period of peace and prosperity, and they have the right to all the respect that they can get. But let us put things into perspective. The Russians fought in that war as well, and they endured many more casualties than did the Americans. And – let this not be forgotten – the Nazis who fought in that war were a part of that generation as well.

I want to see everyone being seen for what they are; and this is the case with both the baby boomers and the early 20th century generation. The attacks against both of these generations are wrong. Both have been major contributors to America, and both deserve to be seen for having been major contributors to America. As for the World War II generation, they deserve respect; but they do not deserve to slander either their children or their parents.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Conservatives and Personal Freedom

As a content co-ordinator for a non-partisan political information site, I am confronted all the time with rhetoric that I find on candidates' websites. Some of that rhetoric makes me very angry. I am responding now to what I've been finding on the websites of any number of Republican candidates: The ardent claims that “traditional marriage” is “bedrock of society” and that "protecting it" from being extended to include such “threats” as gay marriage reflects “religious freedom” and “American values”.

I ask these Republicans: Have you ever read the Bible? Because I have, and most people in the Bible did not have a “traditional marriage.” They were either single, as were Paul and most of the prophets, or they were sleeping with any number of women, as were Abraham, David and Solomon. Which makes most people in the Bible terrible sinners according to the logic of these Republicans.

For decades Republicans have been claiming themselves to be a party of small government. A small government is not a government that tells people what lifestyle they have to lead. Nobody is preventing people who want to have a “traditional marriage” from doing so. The problem is that many of the people who are into “traditional marriage” want to deny people the right to live any other way. And that is a supreme violation of liberty.

Liberty that the Republicans claim to protect; that they claim to believe in; and that they aggressively deny to everybody else.

The essence of liberty is choice. Particularly, it is being able to choose the lifestyle that one wishes to live. This means both for those people who want a “traditional” lifestyle and for the people who want to live one or another lifestyle alternative. A person who truly values liberty will understand this, and he will respect this. There is no excuse for those in feminism who want to deny people the right to a “traditional” family; that's just another form of control and intolerance. But there is also no excuse for conservatives denying other people the right to choose a way of life other than theirs.

As a man, and a father, whose wife has left me to be with another man, I would be expected to take the side of social conservatives. I do not. When she left me, I did not try to kill her or her new love interest; I did not try to take away from her my daughter; indeed I did not even wish upon either of them any kind of ill. They are both good people, and I have maintained a good friendship with both of them. My daughter has the complete attention from both her mother and her father. I say that this is possible, and that other men in similar situations should take the same path as I did.

If I can do this, then they can as well.

And them doing so – being able to rise above jealousy and possessiveness and respect and value true freedom, which is the freedom for people to choose their lifestyle - will make a better America and a better world.

Kenneth Starr, who in 1998 unleashed a storm of vicious abuse against President Clinton, said recently that, if he were to meet Bill Clinton now, he would apologize. This is being a true gentleman; indeed this is true integrity. This is what Christianity is meant to be about.

Not attacking single mothers; not attacking gays; not attacking people who are childless.

For many years conservatives have been claiming that they want people to not infringe on their lifestyle or make them pay for theirs. This is a two-way street. Having lived in the San Francisco area, and made good money in the computer industry at the time, I know just to what extent the conservatives infringe upon other lifestyles than theirs. Most homosexuals work, as do most childless people, as do many single mothers. Most of the above do not infringe upon anyone either. Yet all of the above are under constant attack from conservatives.

Ted Cruz said that there is no place for gays and atheists in “his” America, and that “the Constitution makes this clear.” “His” America? What about the other 300 million people who live in America? The recent electoral results have shown that Far Right, although it may think itself to be an American majority, is in fact an American minority. And no, they have not “built America.” 300 million people living now – and many millions who have lived in the past – have.

These included any number of people who are nothing like Ted Cruz or those who vote for him. It includes the Chinese, who built American railroads; the blacks, who staffed its plantations; the Jews and the atheists, who dominate its science and innovation and have a strong presence in finance, business, media and entertainment; and the Hindus and the minority religions in the computer industry. America owes vastly to all of the above. It is time that more people stand up on behalf of these great contributors to America and defeat the voices of conmanship and deception, from Ted Cruz to Rush Limbaugh to Alex Jones.

To Ted Cruz: No, you are not America. You may be a part of America, but you have no business claiming America to be yours. California is not yours. New York is not yours. New England is not yours. And, as we have seen in recent electoral results, neither does appear to be the majority of the American population.

Ted Cruz is rightfully attacking ISIS for forcing upon people in Middle East its radical interpretation of Islam. But he is doing the exact same thing: Forcing upon people in America his radical interpretation of Christianity. He is not only attacking atheists and gays; he is also attacking the more tolerant people within Christianity – tolerance which, incidentally, is demanded by Jesus. He is not a conservative. He is a radical. And the people who rail against radicals have no business being radicals themselves.

I ask this: What is the logical outcome of believing yourself, and nobody else, to be America? The logical outcome is this: Forcing your way upon the rest of America. If you think that America is yours, you will run roughshod over everyone else who lives in America. And if you think that you speak for God, then you will run roughshod over everyone else, period. This is what ISIS is trying to do; and, it appears, it is in this not alone.

I have absolutely nothing against the people who want to live the “traditional” lifestyle. It is their absolute right. But likewise a right it is for people who want to live a non-”traditional” lifestyle. Both the conservatives, who want everyone to live the “traditional” lifestyle, and those in feminism who see the “patriarchial” lifestyle as evil, are in the wrong. Liberty means liberty. And that means the right for those who want to live the “traditional” lifestyle to do so – and for people who don't want it to be doing something else.

Much is being decided at the political level right now, and the same people who used to have no interest in politics are taking interest in it, because important issues are at hand. These issues are important enough to merit honest analysis. A political force that thinks that it is America and nobody else is can only be a force for tyranny and oppression. And it is high time that the rest of America speak up and tell them that they do not speak for it.

Enlightenment and Romanticism: Thinking and Feeling

The Enlightenment philosophy of 18th century claimed that divine truths are discernible through rational inquiry. It was followed by the Romantic philosophy that claimed that divine truths are discernible through passion and inspiration. The first is good for producing scientists and  engineers; the second is good for producing artists and poets.

Both modalities are capable of both rightful and wrongful outcomes. Both thinking and feeling are capable of both correctness and error.

Both modalities are capable of both rightful and wrongful outcomes. Both thinking and feeling are capable of both correctness and error. The first, at its worst, leads to coldness, cruelty, out of touch ineffectuality, prosecution of feeling and aggressive bigotry directed against things that one has not seen or proven. And the second, at its worst, leads to people who fall for whatever feeling comes their way and live chaotic lives.

My belief is that combining modalities – such as practicing both thinking and feeling – result in wisdom attained faster, and with fewer errors, than through either modality acting alone. The feeling understands the experience on the part of the participant. The thinking sees its external effects. Together they arrive at an integrative picture that sees the phenomenon both within and without. And that creates a picture that is more complete than either modality acting alone.
Neither Enlightenment nor Romanticism are wrong. They are both part-right. The first stresses thinking and the second stresses feeling. Both are part of the human makeup and will always be part of the human makeup. The feeling-haters have come nowhere close to overcoming feeling; they are constantly in the grip of one bad feeling after another. And the people who have a low view of science and rationality must square their attitude with the fact that they are living in a civilization that owes vastly to science.

In a way, Enlightenment and Romanticism pose check-and-balance on one another. The first checks the feeling-oriented people when their feelings are taking them to a wrong place; and the second checks the thinking-oriented people when they become cold, out of touch or abusive. That is in the better scenario. In the worse scenario, the thinking-oriented people are stomping upon others when they have good feelings such as romantic love or compassion, and the feeling-oriented people are blocking scientific or technological progress.

I want to see people be educated in both good thinking and beneficial feeling. I want to see people develop into full human beings, not into a half of a human being. People should be able to both think and feel.
This will combine two great ideas that have been formative to the Western civilization as we now know it, and will make most of their potential to virtue while reducing their potential for wrong.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Matriarchs and Submissive Women

Ayn Rand said that the woman's nature was “hero worship” and that the matriarchs were “unnatural.” It is interesting to see this coming from a woman who wrote her own ticket, never had children and always insisted on absolute personal freedom for herself. It is also intersting to see Queen Victoria – a matriarch who, as a single woman and an absolute monarch, was living the feminist dream – describe feminism as a “wicked folly.”

I believe in personal freedom; and that means, first of all, the freedom to choose one's lifestyle. A woman who wants to serve a man should be able to do so. And a woman who doesn't want to serve the man should be able to live that way as well.

Is the matriarch unnatural? Queen Mary Medici of Italy was a matriarch; and she was an instrumental figure in moving Europe from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance. Queen Elizabeth I of England was also a matriarch; and she turned England from a feudal backwater into a great global civilization. Both of these matriarchs have been instrumental into creating the Western civilization as we now know it. And a person who pledges allegiance to the Western civilization will recognize this and treat women accordingly.

If you are a Western man who wants a submissive woman, I suggest you leave alone the independent-minded women and go for women who want to serve. There are plenty of these around the world; and a Western man is in these situations at the position of absolute advantage. There are all sorts of submissive women in Middle East, Latin America and Eastern Europe who would do anything to come to a Western country and marry a Western man. You do not need either to chase or to attack the independent-minded Western women; you have before you the pick of the world.

When left to their own devices, people will choose situations that work the best for them. And this will reward those who have the most to offer. A responsible Western man will be able to attract, and benefit from the attention of, all sorts of good women from around the world who will want him. And a beautiful, submissive woman from Iran or Brazil will be able to not only improve her condition by being with such a man, but also give him a better life than he stands to have with a feminism-influenced Western woman.

Doing this will create an arrangement that will work for everyone. The independent-minded Western women will have their independence; the Western men who want women to serve them will have women who want to serve them; and the women from elsewhere in the world will have a chance at a better life. Both the feminists and the traditionalists will be happy. True liberty – meaningful choice of lifestyles – will be achieved. And both the women who want to be matriarchs and the women who want to practice hero worship will have their way.

Rationality and Common Sense

A lot of people involved in science are accused of lacking common sense. That is because, in science, you are told not to use common sense. It is known as bias. Instead you are told to only approach things from a purely rational, and purely factual, standpoint, of what can be proven and verified.

What is a more valid guide to reality: Rationality or common sense? I've known someone who spoke highly in favor of common sense who was a Mormon. And history shows that common sense takes all kinds of forms, from the long-held idea that divine right of kings under God was common sense to the contemporary American idea that a money-driven society is.

Rationality can also take all sorts of wrongful directions. The behaviorists and the lobotomists thought that they were rational, but they were wrong. Freudians think that they are rational, but they are also wrong. And the people who think that spirituality, mysticism and religion are for loonies and idiots are also wrong, however rational they consider themselves to be.

However that's not the end of the story. Good things have come out of common sense, such as effective business and political practices. And good things have also come out of rationality, such as science and technology. Both modalities are capable of both rightful and wrongful outcomes; and it becomes the matter of separating what's right in each from what's wrong in each.

One of the most effective people I've known was a World War II colonel who then became a distinguished scientist. He was strong in both common sense and rationality, and he became a very effective and very successful man. Yet even he had problems. When I talked to him, he was going on about how he could not figure out women. We see here the shortcomings of both mentalities.

Is it possible to rationally figure out women? My personal belief is that it is possible to rationally figure out anything, even God. But it involves doing more than simply assaying. It requires extending yourself to the point that you are feeling the next person's experience and are supplementing both rationality and common sense with subjective experience.

What am I talking about? Well consider this. De Tocqueville was able to write highly insightful work about America. He was a Frenchman who had lived in America. He saw it from without, and he experienced it from within. As a result of this he had a complete, integrative, picture of America; and he was able to understand both the experience of the participants and what it looked like from without.

I have had Christian people tell me that I would not be able to understand Christianity unless I became a Christian. I became a Christian, and that lead to insight into the workings of Christianity. As someone who has for a long time in my life not been a Christian, I retain the assessment that I've had of Christianity before and can understand both the internal experience and the external effects.

Modalities - all modalities - have the capacity for both correct outcomes and error. And one way to maximize the potential for correct outcomes and reduce the potential for incorrect outcomes is to combine the modalities. Both rationality and common sense - as well as any number of other approaches, such as artistic inspiration and spiritual revelation - have a way of reducing each other's potentials for error through an introduction of an external perspective. And the best results are achieved through having all these perspectives combined.

"Spare the Rod" and Related Arguments

When my former wife told people in the country that she did not smack her children, she was told that her children would grow up wild. This does not begin to pass the muster of history.

The baby boomers grew up in violent authoritarian households of the World War II generation; and they have the reputation for having been the wildest generation in history. The following generation – generation X – and my generation – generation Y – have been nowhere nearly as wild; and we grew up at the time that domestic violence was against the law.

The baby boomers endure the accusation of having been “spoiled”; but that is simply not the case. They grew up with the whip. They saw how wrong that was, and they have tried other methods of upbringing. Some of them have worked better than others.

My younger brother did not get hit by either one of his parents; but he is nowhere close to being wild. He has a PhD in nanotechnology from Stanford, and he is working on a top-notch project for a great American corporation. He was never into drugs; he was never into gangs; he was never into truancy. He has become in every manner a respectable person. And he grew up completely without violence.

As a non-violent father myself, I say with full certainty that non-violent methods of upbringing work. I treat my daughter as an intelligent form of life, not as an animal. When she does something wrong, I explain to her why it is wrong, and she does not do it any more. Not only does she behave, but she also gets good grades in school, has maintained good friendships with other children, and is the happiest child I've ever known.

The “spare the rod, spoil the child” claim is simply wrong. The World War II generation did not spare the rod, and it raised a generation of rebels. Whereas the children growing up when domestic violence was illegal turned out to be a lot more tame than their parents.

Much more effective than violence is engagement. It is learning to relate to the child at her level and to treat the child as a human being rather than as a beast. The people who want to use violence instead are lazy parents.

And lazy parents have no business claiming to speak for Christianity, tradition or family values.