WHO CARES?

By Mike Cronin

As Thomas Sowell has pointed out, politicians only “care” about your issues after they have taken care of their own goal: to get (or stay) elected.

The mainstream media cares about 1. Getting ratings, and 2. Trying to tell you what your issues are, so that they can make a crisis out of them in order to 3. Get ratings.

Back to politicians. Guess how politicians figure out what to campaign on? Polls, certainly, but also by watching the news to figure out what the big issues are. Who else uses polls?  That’s right, the media.

Hmmm. The politicians who care about getting votes leverage mass media. Mass media cares about getting ratings, so they leverage and influence political discourse in order to “sex thigs up.” What we have here is a “self-licking ice cream cone.” The missing ingredient? Your interests. Who cares? Not your elected officials, and not the news media.

As a college professor once mentioned to me, any organization that reaches a certain critical mass will begin to behave like an organism.  The first goal of an organism is to survive; the second is to reproduce. Thus, governments at almost any level don’t care about you, they care about expanding. If they can do that by seeming to care about you, that is what they will do. If they grow by steamrolling you, then they will do that. Often, government manages to both at the same time. Who cares?  Not the government.

big corporations behave like organisms, too. They are different from governments in that they must make a profit to prosper and grow, and they cannot do that by killing or alienating their customers – so they take care not to purposely end you – but they are not so caring as to be above hooking you on their products (cigarettes, alcohol, medicine, sugary and fatty processed foods, etc.), and they have big PR machines to show how they (pretend) to care about virtuous causes.  Who cares?  Not big corporations.

College and universities care about bringing in the revenue, and they’ve found the easy button. Every year they raise prices, and every year the uncaring government (led by the uncaring politicians who are watching the uncaring media) obliges them by increasing the amount of money it gives, or loans, to students (or their parents), who then fork it over. Meanwhile, outside of the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), the knowledge, skills, and abilities of graduates continues to decline in value to the employers who might hire them. Who cares?  Not Academia.

We can keep going, but the answer to the question should be becoming apparent. The universe doesn’t care about you. The world doesn’t care about you. Government and politicians and corporations and the media and academia don’t care about you.  Only individuals care about you, or can care about you.

Why should you care?

Because much of the political ideologies popular today (socialism, communism, fascism, etc.) are geared towards promoting some form of collectivism – subsuming your individuality into a massive, unthinking, uncaring organism where every transaction, or even thought, is either compelled or forbidden.  These are the ideologies of people who would kill the goose that lays golden eggs.

How much better to live in a society where the only forbidden transaction is the involuntary one? Where the competitive-cooperative nature of individuals can flourish, and where the more aggressive aspects of some can be channeled into more productive directions?  That is the essence of capitalism – it is the ideology of traders, i.e. it is the philosophy of people who care – about themselves certainly, but also about breeding the geese that lay golden eggs!

Social Justice: Still a Weasel Word

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By Mike Cronin

Some time ago, I wrote about the squishy-ness of the term “Social Justice.” It still rankles.

In addition to this blog, I frequently answer questions on a forum called Quora.  Therein, I recently had a debate with a fellow over “social justice” in general, and whether whites should pay reparations to blacks to atone for slavery/Jim Crow/Segregation specifically.

I’ll state right up front: Reparations are a bad idea, and no, I don’t hate blacks.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I believe in individual liberty, limited, rights-protecting government, and Capitalism.  I am also a bit of a skeptic, mildly contrarian, and I tend to prefer rational responses over emotional ones.  I don’t waste energy on hatred, I don’t see any race as superior or inferior to any other race, and I generally deal with people as individuals vice members of some group. It also means I think of justice and injustice in terms of individual action and consequence.

This brings us back to Reparations.  I can’t support the idea because, regardless of how blacks were oppressed or injured by slavery (or later on Jim Crow laws and Segregation), the people who were slaves have been dead for generations – just as the people who held them as slaves have been dead for generations. Treating blacks as a race of sub-humans then was a morally repugnant act committed by more than a few whites, most especially the relatively few whites who actually owned slaves.  But not every white person was an oppressor then, nor were all slave owners white, nor was every black person a slave.

In my mind, government-sponsored racial discrimination based on benign prejudice is just as noxious as discrimination inspired by malicious prejudice.” – Clarence Thomas

Indeed, social justice warriors seeking to impose reparations on whites always seem to ignore or forget that 360,000 Union soldiers, mostly white by far, died in the service of reuniting the country and limiting the spread of slavery to the west.  The Union Army and Navy killed 260,000 Confederates, again mostly whites, who were trying to keep the South, which was wholly dependent on slavery, independent.  Let’s make that point a little more succinct: Whites trying to reunite the country and limit, if not outright eliminate, slavery fought and killed other whites – by the hundreds of thousands, to do it. Between the end of the butchery of the Civil War and Dr. Martin Luther King’s civil eloquence, most blacks (but not all) were still treated poorly by many whites (but not all). Black incomes and living conditions took an overall upward trend.

Then came the War on Poverty.  Welfare. An insidious form of wealth transfer. Take money from those who earned it, and give it to those who didn’t.  It put many blacks (and others) right back into bondage – into the slavery of perpetual dependence.  Reparations is a smoke screen word to do more of the same.

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During the exchange, I attempted several different ways to make the case that the historical injustice done to the blacks who were slaves and the subsequent victims of post-bellum hatred and discrimination can never be corrected – because the victims and victimizers are long gone.  No one alive today can be responsible for transgressions committed generations in the past – because they weren’t even alive, much less involved, in committing the transgressions.  Thinking that one race is responsible for, and must atone for, the plight of another race is every bit as racist a notion as thinking that one race is superior to another.  It is a large step down the path to perpetual grievance and resentment that plagues much of the rest of the world.

I maintain that “social justice” is a weasel word.  Seeking “social justice” in the form of unjust “wealth transfers” and reparations can never correct the uncorrectable sins of the past.  Real justice can prevail when everyone stops attributing the traits, or actions, or intelligence, or habits, or crimes, etc. of individuals to all the members of a race, or tribe, or nation, or ethnic group, or gender, etc. and starts treating individuals as individuals.

Despite my denunciation of social justice and my espousing of individualism, my interlocutor kept pressing me for details of my plan to bring social justice to blacks today.  We were both using English words, but he was speaking weasel-ese.

 

10 Thoughts for 2016

By Mike Cronin

Instead of resolutions, I suggest these 10 thoughts for the New Year:

Regardless of your party preference or which side of the political spectrum you align with, remember that even the politicians you like are more concerned about getting elected (or re-elected) than they are about representing you or your interests. (props to Thomas Sowell)

Similarly, the mass media news outlets exist make profit.  They do so primarily by selling advertising air time. Keeping you hooked is the goal of their programming tactics: dramatic music, constant movement, urgent tones, “alerts,” scrolling updates, etc. None are necessary to impart information; they are hooks. Keeping you informed is less important than keeping you watching.

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes popularized the idea that the Constitution is a “living document.” This notion suggests the founders meant for us to interpret their words in the context of our time, not their own.  In fact, the founders did recognize that times change and the Constitution must be adaptable to those changes.  They meant for us to be able to make those changes by the formal process of amending the Constitution.  Getting an amendment passed and ratified is very difficult – on purpose. But it is possible – that’s why there are currently 27 amendments.  It’s a good bet that any party, pressure group, or court that attempts to re-interpret the meaning of the founders words knows it could never see its agenda come to fruition though the amendment process. The Constitution is not a living document, but it is an amendable one!

Confiscatory taxation: When your neighbors and co-workers use the coercive power of government to steal money from you to pay for laws and programs you don’t want.

When you hear about waste in government spending, you are told about “pork” (e.g. ridiculous projects to study cow flatulence, install “modern art” to “beautify” some government facility, build arenas and bridges, or make payments to farmers not to grow food, etc.). Pork barrel spending is certainly wasteful, but I submit that when a politician says we need to cut waste, then offers pork projects as examples, he is attempting to distract us from the most egregious form of government waste: spending money we don’t have on entire government departments, agencies, bureaus, etc. that do not protect anyone’s rights (the only proper function of government) and thus have no legitimate reason to exist.

You cannot reason with a person who does not value logic. (Props to Sam Harris)

Now that women are allowed in every specialty in the armed forces, there have been calls to require women to register for the draft – in the name of equal rights and equal opportunity.  How about we discuss ending all draft registration and disbanding the Selective Service System instead?  The draft is a form of indentured servitude if not outright slavery. If equal rights are the motivation driving changes in military gender composition, then men should have the same right women currently enjoy: to not register for the draft and to not serve against their will!

One definition of a “license:” When the government takes away a bit of your freedom, then allows you to buy permission to do the thing you were once at liberty to do.

Presidential candidates will make all kinds of assertions and promises about what they will do for the economy or crime control or the environment – but, short of invasion or natural disaster, all he or she can legally do in those areas is make proposals, sign bills into law, and direct the executive branch. The president’s real power lies in foreign relations, not domestic ones.  This is why the Secretaries of State and Defense are more prominent than the Secretary of the Interior, for example.

Some people judge Congress by the number of laws it passes. This is absurd.  The more laws there are, the harder it becomes to be law-abiding, and the easier it becomes to inadvertently break the law.  Supposedly, ignorance of the law is not an excuse to break it – but no one can know all of the laws, because there are too many!