Archive for the ‘Human Action’ Category

When Liberals say that we should ‘divide the pie’ they are (purposely?) misleading the public into thinking that wealth is something that is just out there and can be physically divided. Even worse, the idea that wealth is a like a pie gives the false impression that the economy is a zero sum game. That is, if I am wealthy (have a large slice) someone else will necessarily be poor (have a smaller slice).

The fact is that wealth is not static. It is a continuous cycle, constantly being generated every single day. Our world would not last a month if everybody simply stopped turning the wheels. Most importantly, liberals don’t seem to understand that nowadays wealth is a lot different than what it used to be. Before the industrial revolution wealth was land. Countries went to war for it, farms (and our existence) depended totally on it. After the Industrial revolution, the equation started to change. You had small factories producing more wealth than large plots of land. Energy and information became the bottleneck. Now in the information age, people are wealth. If someone broke into my company’s office, there wouldn’t be a lot to be stolen. A few computers you can find at your local store, some desks and cheap paper. Hardly worth the trouble. My employer makes money purely on brains. Software is the closest we ever got to translating pure thought into products. There is no way to steal or redistribute that.

Therefore, what makes companies powerful nowadays is how they deploy their resources into ‘harvesting brains’. That is by the way why recessions are so powerful: it is not the direct losses from bubbles that cause the damage but the fact that companies across the board will decrease their investments in the economy (which in turn decreases jobs, which in turn decreases consumption, which in turn lowers tax collection). By the way, this is the main point in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: the fact that the world’s producers (i.e., the 1%) are the motive power behind our society.

So when Liberals go about the need to tax more, or the evils of inequality, they should ask themselves if that is really an evil in the first place. As long as they keep looking for pies to be divided, they will be missing the point. You need to teach people how to build ovens.

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People who deal with the world solely based on feelings are bound to make things worse.

Throughout the world injustice still exists. Poverty creates vicious cycles. Poor public education handicap kids’ potential in criminal ways.

However, to identify a problem is the easy part. To understand the dynamics that actually keep those problems in place is the real challenge. Now, even if you are clueless to what is the cause of something it is very easy to understand when a false reasoning is being used.

Karl Popper understood this well. He defined a concept called “Falsifiability”. In a very high level, Popper believed that something can only be considered scientific if it could be proved false. Belief in God for instance, is not scientific because it cannot be proven false. Using a real life example: if you believe that the cause of poverty is high unemployment, you would have to accept that your theory is false if you had some society where there is very little unemployment and poverty still exists.

Now, the current theories around racism all fail the falsifiability test. The easiest way to prove this is to ask your friend who believes in these theories: what would have to happen tomorrow to prove to you that racism is not an issue anymore? Would having the same percentage of poor being white be enough? Should we have the same percentage of black and white NBA players? Would having a black man being the most powerful man on Earth be enough?

Same thing applies to the idea of race itself. What would it take for someone to belong to a race? What would it take for me to prove that I am not a member of a certain race? What would it take to call affirmative action as ‘done’ or the need or affirnmative action as not valid anymore?

Chances are that these people would have no answer for these questions… They will tell you that they don’t need to know these answers! For them, the fact that “we have a lot of black men in prison” is proof enough but again, they would never accept having less black in prison as proof of the absence of racism. In other words, the definition of what they call racism itself is not scientific. Therefore, it is scientifically impossible for us to find any kind of true solution for it.

It is not surprise that certain groups of people remain in a vicious cycle of poverty and under achievement. You cannot solve a problem before you understand it.

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He is not as well known as many other ‘giants’ of the early computing days but Jack Tramiel was a crucial player back then. Not only he created Commodore International (and its iconic C64) but later at Atari he released the great Atari ST. Both were huge milestones for the home computer market and I still have both of them here, feeding my 80s nostalgia.

Tramiel was born to a Jewish family in Poland, destroyed by the Holocaust. He immigrated to the US and embodies the true meaning of the American dream: from rags to riches, guided only by his own mind and will.

He died today at the age of 83.

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Well, if I am asking this you already know the answer.

Some additional information here. It is really no surprise to me that the US has such a crazy system. The US is still the most free and productive nation in the world. Our liberals have a much larger target to shoot at then other countries do.

Question is for how long.

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The idea of meritocracy, that is, a system where people succeed based upon their merits is invariably incompatible with the left’s ideals of equality and fairness. This discussion might quickly digress in a semantics rat hole but overall, I think this is a very clear point. Only people who don’t think through the consequences of these lefty ideals fail to see this clear conflict.

For one thing, I believe there are very few people who would challenge the idea that all people are by nature different. Physically and psychologically, each one of us ha strengths and weaknesses that ultimately give us unique talents and potential. We are also unique in what we appreciate and therefore in what we as a society reward. Therefore, in a free society you will have certain people who follow certain careers and at the same time, you have certain professions or occupations that are more highly regarded than others.

All of this means that, at the end of the day, it is simply impossible to have a free society that is ‘equal’.

Second point is about fairness. You see, the left’s response to the natural inequality of our society is that we are not ‘playing in a leveled play field’. What that really means is that they think people’s starting point, i.e. the wealth of your family, your race, country you are born, etc., are factors that override personal qualities in determining one’s success or failure. In simpler words, people on the left believe that ‘luck’ is the most determinant factor in life. Therefore, the left justifies equalization policies (always based on force, as all government policies are) as an effort to help people with bad luck so they can compete more equally with the more fortunate.

The fact that luck plays a role in life is undeniable. A poor kid in Ethiopia has very little chance of succeeding at anything. Someone born with mental disability might never be able to take care of himself no matter what. The problem is when this valid concept is expanded in a way to include all our natural differences. The current ideology in our left believes that almost all inequality in the world is caused by factors beyond one’s control. When you follow that logic, you end up tracing someone’s success to something that was ‘given’ to that person and on the other hand anyone’s failure to something that was inflicted on them.

This ideology is by definition in conflict with meritocracy. If people don’t control their actions or their outcomes, there is no way to organize a society around personal achievement.

What I believe (and most of what is called ‘conservatives’ believe) is that, in a stable society where healthy individuals are free of war, famine and political persecution, most of our outcomes are a consequence of our acts. Yes, rich people do have an easier starting point but that advantage can be easily wasted if that person doesn’t make the right choices. Yes, racism exists and certain people will have a harder life because of it but that doesn’t mean these people cannot succeed and be incredibly wealthy. We have examples that prove these ideas true all around us. This is not theory, this is reality.

Most importantly, I believe that ‘success’ goes beyond money. We live in a society where people are free to work very little if they accept a lower economic situation. It might sound weird to think of people choosing to be poorer but I think this is a profoundly misleading fallacy. Actually, much of the left’s intelligentsia is comprised of people who chose the academic life which is by no means a great way to be making a lot of money. The problem is, of course, that these people sometimes don’t understand (or accept) such trade-offs.

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I cringe every time I hear the ubiquitous ‘be yourself’ or ‘do what makes you happy’. What are we really talking about here? We all want to be happy… Is there any situation where this would be good advice or is this just a sort of wildcard rationalization that validates stupid decisions?

Even worse, there is no way for you not to be yourself. When people tell you that you should be yourself, what they are actually saying is that you should do something you know other people would not do. So the real question to be asked here is ‘why?’. Why are you trying to do something that other people won’t? Is it because you think other people are wrong? Or is it because you are simply trying to ignore the consequences of your acts?

So if I am about to spend money I don’t have in a car I don’t need, I can tell you that I am doing this because ‘it will make me happy’. Which of course is true. But then again, if a true friend tells you that you should not do that is because he understands that ultimately that car will make you miserable.

This seems all related to the one of the ill consequences of the 60s social revolution: the idea that society builds rules based on illogical assumptions and therefore all social mores should be disregarded. This seems to be in part a backlash against religion but I think it is also a consequence of our material wealth. It is very similar to all the idiot theories liberals have on economics: the fact that we are already ‘rich enough’ and that we could just stop worrying and enjoy our gains. People in the past might have needed things like marriage, hard work and saving for a rainy day… but now we are done with that. Dye your hair blue and let’s smoke some weed!

This is not a theoretical post. I am not thinking of this as some thought experiment or criticizing strangers who I see through my car window. I am close to my forties and I have seen friends and family who were either destroyed or badly wounded by these ideas. People who you always thought ‘had it together’ deciding from out of nowhere to do stupid things based on these popular rationalizations, just to realize later on that they had inflicted permanent damage to their lives (and to loved ones as well).

There are very good reasons why our society created the concept of family. There are incredibly important reasons why we are monogamous (and no, the fact that people have always cheated is not an argument against that – it is an argument in favor of it! Humans still kill each other even though we continue to strive for a society without murder). There are very important reasons why we have one male and one female parent, way beyond biological imperatives.

Before breaking a rule we should understand why we had that rule in the first place. Society is nothing but the accumulation of experiences from people who lived before you. These people from the past might look poor and stupid to you but I can guarantee you, they had a much smaller margin of error than we do. We should be grateful for the knowledge we inherited and use it well.

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Amnesty International reports: Libya: ‘Out of control’ militias commit widespread abuses, a year on from uprising

“Armed militias operating across Libya commit widespread human rights abuses with impunity, fuelling insecurity and hindering the rebuilding of state institutions, warned Amnesty International in a new report released today, a year on from the start of the February 2011 uprising.

African migrants and refugees have also been targeted, and revenge attacks have been carried out, forcibly displacing entire communities – while the authorities have done nothing to investigate the abuses and hold those responsible to account.

At least 12 detainees held by militias have died after being tortured since September. Their bodies were covered in bruises, wounds and cuts and some had had nails pulled off.

Individuals held in and around Tripoli, Gharyan, Misratah, Sirte and Zawiya told Amnesty International they had been suspended in contorted positions; beaten for hours with whips, cables, plastic hoses, metal chains and bars, and wooden sticks; and given electric shocks with live wires and taser-like electro-shock weapons.”

So where are the street protests against this? Where is the ACLU, UN, the New York Times, and all the other bastions of human freedom? Do they care only when the US is involved?

By the way, you can only imagine how much worse the situation really is. And don’t even get me started on Syria where we are watching quietly while thousands are killed or starved (including kids of course).

Is this the post-Bush doctrine for the world? We might send a few jet fighters or drones to bomb some people when is convenient, but other than that we will ‘let pieces fall as they may’? Let the strong rule. Is that the morality of the bleeding hearts?

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