Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why the world seems insane

Each day I read or hear of things that make no sense to me. Most recent examples include a 6 year old boy suspended for bringing Cub Scout camping utensils to school, a teenager suspended for having a pocket knife in his car at school, a six year arrested by the police for having a temper tantrum at school. My responses have changed over time from "that can't be true" to "what, another one?"

What makes this all unbelievable is I don't know anyone who would behave like this. I can't imagine being a teacher and calling the cops on a child. I can't imagine turning in a child who I knew did not intend harm and knowing in the process I would be causing incredible harm to the child. Of course I don't know all the circumstances. Maybe the teacher was young and naive. I'm 40 years old, have a couple of kids and have enough experience to know better. Some young 23 year old just of college by the book teacher has not had enough life experience to know when to ignore the book.

So why is this happening? I think society is becoming more of a machine. The thinking requirement is being removed from individual affairs. Think of the industrial revolution. Prior to industrialization you had many more artisans. Much of the industrial revolution was about process, about simplifying jobs, taking the thought out of tasks and standardizing them. Instead of having a craftsman building a piece of furniture from beginning to end you have a low skilled worker performing one specific task according to a well defined process. A similar shift seems to have happened to society at large. It appears to be partly voluntary, people do not want to think about things and partly by mandate or threat. In some cases it has become risky to go outside of process and take on responsibility. It becomes easier just to follow the process and avoid the headache.

For the foreseeable future, this seems to be the way of things. Gradually less will be left for us to decide, to think about. Bad decisions will become harder to make. Today I heard an advertisement for a Ford Taurus that can be configured for teenage drivers. It will limit what kids can do, limit speed, force them to wear their seat belt. This is not developing trust that your child will be responsible, it is just preventing them from being irresponsible. I suspect some of these features will be applied to all drivers eventually. Our lives will soon be nothing more than a series of processes where the process will dictate all our actions.

Thinking about it though some bad decisions will still be allowed. Gambling will be encouraged, a sort of "stupidity" tax. I guess you could have noticed I don't have a very positive outlook and you'd be right, I don't. Could be because I just finished reading John Derbyshire's new book. Actually what Derb wrote is just a confirmation of what I already sensed. We have been on this path for a long time. I have been looking for signs that we are slowing or changing direction but I don't see any. The welfare of the least of society is driving us forward. Those with the least ambition, least intelligence, least desire to have freedom and responsibility for their lives. Society is being rebuilt to serve an individual with no desires other than not having to think to much and be entertained. The ideal citizen of the future is one to which nothing much matters. Work, don't work it does not matter because your security is guaranteed. Your food, your health, your safety, your self esteem will all be guaranteed by the government. Don't feel like working, don't. If you do work you won't have more than those that don't. Everyone will benefit equally no matter their contribution. Don't feel like being a parent, the government will take over where you leave off.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but government is breeding us to be milk cows. Not too bright, controllable and supplying an endless supply of votes. About the only sin you can commit is not following the processes that are being designed for us. Having milk cows that are smart, responsible, ambitious, or actively involved in raising and educating their calves does not seem desirable from the point of view of the farmer. It does not help government much either to have people who can manage their own affairs.

After reading what I wrote I notice I refer to the government a lot. It is like some mysterious "they" that conspiracy theorists use to refer to the Mr. Bigs who are running everything and pulling all the strings behind the scenes. I don't believe what is happening now is a conspiracy as much as it is human nature. I guess the question that is playing out now is what side of our nature will prevail and for how long? Is this the end of history?

Monday, October 12, 2009


A little off my usual subjects but sometimes I like to let my mind wander a bit. I remember watching TV shows on the Universe and how there may be many Universes. As I recall, one theory was that a new Universe formed for each possible outcome of a given situation. I began to wonder if the decisions we make in our lives would move us from one Universe to another. For instance if you come to an intersection and must decide to go left or right, are two Universes created where in one Universe you go right and the other you go left? At that point wouldn't you be deciding which Universe you would be going to? Sometimes I wonder if the decisions we make move us to Universes we create for ourselves. For instance I am an agnostic when it comes to religion. Could my belief or lack of belief move me into Universes where God does not exist? On the other side, could believing in God move you into Universes where God does exist? I don't know just idle thoughts. Hey, its 1 in the morning and my mind has to do something while I am not sleeping.

Selective Nannies

One of the defining features of the nanny state has been to protect us from making bad decisions but is this really the case? We see endless PSA's about not doing drugs, wearing seatbelts, eating healthy but the same government that discourages these sorts of bad behavior encourages bad behavior that it likes. The state I live in, for example, has been trying for years to get legalized gambling for the purpose of funding the government. There are advertisements all over TV for the lottery.

The government wants to protect us sometimes when it suits their purpose. As a libertarian, or a conservative with a strong libertarian bent, I don't think the government should ban gambling. Legalizing gambling for the sole purpose of funding government is a separate issue though. I wonder if the people who are so worried about a kid eating a happy meal are as concerned about the health effects on the family when dad or mom blows their paycheck on the poker slots.

The recent and ongoing housing bubble collapse is another example. The federal reserve with strong support from the government kept interest rates low to encourage home ownership. People were encouraged to borrow too much spend too much. The effect of this bad behavior on people and society at large has been horrendous but you don't see the government encouraging responsibility in this area. At least you do not see it consistently like the constant incessant hammering of environmental issues, and health care issues.

So the government cares about your welfare when it suits their purpose as in when it increases their power but not so much when it comes to filling their coffers.
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