Sunday, 13 December 2015

Fear The Stateless World!

Hello Reader,

While fighting with my unruly mind to see whether I would get to sleep tonight or not it suddenly threw me a curve ball. Apparently inspired by a conversation with a relative tonight who holds some opposing views I got onto a line of thought that got too interesting to stay lying there with my face against the pillow for another two hours.

Now the catalyst, the earlier conversation, is atypical of any conversation you might hear between someone with libertarian inclinations and someone without. She suggested that the services of government were a necessity and as her supporting evidence brought up a scenario in which someone is raped. With government that person can be tried and convicted and jailed, a possible solution to this issue. Without government the victim has no recourse. My rebuttal was the standard "well without government the victim can pursue their own recourse, getting the assistance of friends/family/anyone willing to help to find the person who has committed this heinous act and punish them accordingly. She countered that that isn't what victims wanted and that jail is far more appropriate. I queried where the funding for this jail was and pointed out that stealing (taxing) money from everyone else around you to put this offender in a room they aren't allowed to leave and support them for the rest of their lives is not a real solution to this problem. I'm sure many of you have been in similar situations and like all instances of two opposing views being discussed today neither of us conceded a thing and we eventually had to change the subject to avoid a more serious debate.

But why do people think they need the government to look after them so much? Why do people feel the need for government to protect them? After all we have had government for a very long time now. Laws have been around for ages and so have prisons but people are still getting raped. We don't really have any extensive data on the occurrence of rape in societies without government (as much as I want to cite the Kalahari bushmen here the population, culture and research issues obviously make it a questionable support). So if these terrible things occur despite all those laws and jails why do people still refuse to even consider a society without them? I suspect it goes a lot deeper than it may seem.

My hypothesis: the average person does not believe they are able to provide for themselves. People work 40 hours a week, every week. Most of them know they have no real chance of ever getting to a point where they can live comfortably and not need to worry about how much they work. Deep down inside don't we all feel that futility, occasionally clawing it's way to the front of our minds, desperately screaming for us to acknowledge it so we can do something about it. But then we shove it back down and pretend it's not there because we don't want to consider that our lives aren't really our own and we were all born in a set place and haven't the strength to leave that place. These walls were built for us decades before our parents were born. In such a situation how can a person truly believe they can support themselves without an organisation like our wonderful and glorious government (picture a soviet sickle and hammer as I say this) to take care of us?

But, while we don't have useful data on rape in stateless societies, we do have data on how people survived with little to no government involvement. Picture a smaller village or hamlet anywhere in Europe in the 1400s. Sure the tax collector might come around once in a while but the government never really provided them with anything. Governments didn't build roads to places like that in those days, didn't educate the children, didn't provide medical care or affordable housing or bailout failing businesses. The townsfolk provided for themselves. They each took up trades and professions. Someone was the town smith. Someone was the carpenter. Some tended livestock or fields. They lived acceptable lives. And most importantly they hadn't a fraction of the means we do. Today a person wanting to create furniture can do so with many times the efficiency of a carpenter of the 1400s thanks to the technology at our disposal. We have better tools made from stronger materials that cost a fraction of the price. We have machines that will hew the wood for you to perfection. If you tend fields we have great machines that will turn the soil, plant the seeds and fertilise them. One person can do the work of 10 with the help of our real friend, science. And these people did it despite their governments taxing them and providing no real services aside from a fat baron or duke and maybe a local militia?

So to finish this roundabout and get back to my point. How is it that a person can have many times the productive potential of a person from 600 years ago and be less able to provide for themselves? The answer is they can't. We are all completely capable of providing for ourselves. Without government people will still develop a skill, sell that skill and have everything they need to support themselves. Further to just supporting themselves there will be an abundance.

Additional Notes:
Many people do not realise just how much is taken from them. Sure you might only pay 37% of your own income in tax. But then consider as well that businesses pay 30% corporate tax which is applied directly to the cost of their products. Then there is 10% General Services Tax added to your purchases. Then there are a plethora of sales taxes, duties, tariffs and surcharges. A couple weeks ago I was looking to purchase a board game and couldn't find it for less than $80 while it cost only $30 in the USA. Baffled at this difference I checked the tariffs and duties on board games entering Australia to find it was 15% + $48.35 surcharge. So for the $80 board game I purchased I was in fact giving ~$60 to the government in surcharges and taxes. Plus the company selling it must pay 30% of the remainder in corporate tax. Plus I had already paid my ~37% income tax on this money. So pre-tax I started with ~$110 and purchased a game made from cardboard and plastic and the government received ~$90. If only ~$20 of my $110 went to the provider of this product it is not difficult to imagine how much better off I would be if I had 5.5x the purchasing power for my labour that I currently do. Of course this is just for board games, most products will have different taxes and restrictions on them but I invite anyone who is interested to look up the duties and surcharges on a product you have purchased recently. Crunch the numbers and see how much money you would have had left over if no one were involved in your purchases but you and the seller.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Opinions! Why we love them so damned much!

Good morning Reader,

Enjoying your Saturday morning? I must say I find Saturday to be a rather rubbish day, don't get what all the fuss is about.

Speaking of opinions I was being a wall-flower the other day and listening to a conversation that I don't think I was really a part of but hey, better than standing by myself while another group of people all enjoy each other's company right? The upside is that it gave me the opportunity to really analyse how these people were acting and wonder why.

The situation was that one person was telling the others about a holiday they had taken recently, specifically about a building they had been very impressed by. Another participant of this conversation happened to have been to the same building within the last year but they had found it quite underwhelming. At first it seemed to be just a casual exchange:
"I went to this great building. All the stonework and painting was so intricate, I'd never seen anything like it. It was incredible!"
"Oh really? I found it kind of dull. I mean it wasn't that great".
Now this doesn't seem a likely catalyst for conflict but surprisingly it was. A building they both saw at different times and, in all likelihood, neither will ever see again.

However things snowballed from there. They both appeared to take affront to the other's comments and started trying to explain why theirs was the valid opinion and why the other's was invalid, wrong or just dumb. I'm sure we are all well aware though that changing a person's opinion like this is about as easy as pole vaulting the moon with a toothpick. Both of them ended up frustrated and emotional and even angry with each other.

So I had to ask myself why? Why do we invest ourselves so heavily in caring about other people's opinions? They are just opinions. They aren't facts, they don't mean that we are wrong or that our opinions are worth less (although if we are being honest with our selves the value of an opinion is about the same as that toothpick you tried to jump over the moon with. What were you thinking?).

I started to think perhaps it's a bit of a mirror effect. People these days seem to have an extremely over-inflated idea of what their opinions are worth. Imagining every random thought that pops into their head as some kind of a pearl of wisdom (by the way I am aware of the irony of saying this in my blog where I post all the random crap I come up with when I have too much time on my hands). Maybe if we all took a couple steps back down toward Earth and realised our opinions are not worth anything until you take them further and turn them into a real statement with supporting evidence and clearly stated objectives and conditions we would realise that other's opinions are also not really worth anything. This doesn't mean don't express your opinion or don't listen when other people express theirs, just realise that it doesn't have to have any real bearing on you or anything else in the world.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Rationalising and Justification of Actions

Hello Reader,

It's been a while since my last post, I guess those juices just haven't been flowing lately. But this morning I suddenly started on what I found to be an interesting chain of thought while considering Russia and Turkey's actions around the Turkey/Syria border while I was showering (strange thing to be thinking of in the shower I know).

So I recall reading several times throughout my life this idea that no one actually believes or thinks of themselves as "bad" or "evil" and that the human mind will always find a justification for what they do so that they can still consider themselves "good" in the long run. This never quite rang true to me as I've always thought I know when I'm doing the wrong thing (and convince myself this is okay by telling myself we all do the wrong thing some times which ultimately supports what currently speaking against).

But in the extraordinarily complicated situation involving ISIS, the Western coalition against ISIS, Russia and every other player on the board, which I would rather not try to dissect, I have to say I think Russia is doing the most right. Not entirely right but more than the coalition is doing and I'm sure I don't need to explain more than ISIS. But particularly the actions of the USA have been questionable to me, they seem to have made no real progress in stopping ISIS from doing whatever they feel like, terrorising people all over the world, destroying sites of immense historical and cultural value and committing any number of atrocities upon those caught in their areas of operations.

Anyway to get to my now belaboured point; there appears to some people who don't actually want to see such terrible acts come to an end and instead enjoy the profits that they are in position to receive when the world is in such a terrible state (for example certain media outlets who enjoy increased sales when people are in a more emotional state). So how do these people justify what amount to (if indirect) an endorsement of terrorism, murder, destruction of mankind's cultural history and much more? Before I'd have just thought they are aware what they are doing is wrong and accept that. But perhaps there is merit in the idea that no one believes their wrong by operating on a level I did not consider. That their national or organisational ties might serve as the justification. That some of these people are able to think "my actions don't matter, I'm doing this as part of America which is a force for good, so I'm doing good" or "the news is about giving people the truth even if it's ugly, so im doing good even if it drums up people's fear and mistrust and hate".

I don't think any solid conclusions could be made without lengthy examination of people's thought processes before, during and after such actions but I still found it interesting to consider.

Friday, 16 October 2015

My Insomnia

Remember that frustration you have felt when you know you should have gotten something that you missed out on? How that frustrating builds to a strange, helpless rage as your goal or prize continues to else you? 

The you start to get angry at yourself and doubt yourself, wondering if you are doing something wrong or if there is something wrong with you. You know you are unpleasant to be around like this so you can't seek help or comfort from friends or family. 

It might have been understanding something in school, being unable to break through a barrier in a physical activity and see the results you want like weight loss. It might even be as simple as a video game, trying to play the same part over and over again and following all the instructions and guides and still failing. 

For me it's sleep. I lie here awake hour after hour, night after night, year after year for over a decade now. And then when I do get to sleep if I wake at any point I suddenly find myself locked out, unable to return to that wonderful world of dreams. Most nights I'm resigned to my fate, the constant exhaustion is just a backdrop to my days. Other nights while I lie here pointedly awake or on the cusp of sleep, not quite actually there, I start to think about myself. Wondering what I'm doing wrong so that I can't perform this simple task that all humans and indeed every animal on the planet has evolved to do.
Anyone else had the same or similar experiences? It might be getting to me just a little.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The Making Of Love

Good Evening Reader.

A late Sunday night post for me today but after a riveting discussion with a friend I felt I should post some of the ideas and thoughts that were thrown around. Specifically we were talking about people's ideals and values so naturally that subject "love" came up.

Now I've always been one of those cynics who says there is no such thing as "true love" or "love at first sight" or all that mumbo jumbo. I'm a man of logic and reason and such trivialities have no place in my ice-clad heart. But I must concede that love is clearly a very important part of humanity and it's here to stay. However there is a certain level of irritation whenever I hear things like "I want to find my one true love" and similar phrases. It may come across as condescending or arrogant of me to comment on such things when I haven't got much interest in relationships myself but to me love is not something you find. It's something you make through learning about and understanding another person in an intimate way and valuing and respecting them.

The next time I find myself in a relationship I'll give it a try and let you all know how it goes.

Friday, 27 March 2015

A Bit Of Humor

Slightly different post to usual here. On an impulse I came up with a joke and turned it into what the kids call a bitstrip. Enjoy:


Good Afternoon Reader,

I've been doing quite a bit of thinking about positivist and happiness today. Yesterday I found myself in exceptionally high spirits and it's the weekend now and things are looking up.

One thing that has been a consistent source of good moods for my throughout my life is the weather. I remember as a young lad of 11 or so playing soccer at school one day when it was particularly cold. I remember it well because during half time I stopped and thought to myself "this is great, I'm running around but because it's so cold and there's a strong wind I don't feel hot at all". This was the first time in my life that I realised that I love cold weather and I just can't stand heat. When it's cold I feel like a better person, I am less stressed, I can exercise more and I can focus more intently. I understand other people have similar reactions to heat and sometimes I wonder why people can have such a specific reaction to something so mundane as the weather changing.

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend as much as I am. Stay frosty.