Critical Thinking has Value, I don’t care Who’s President.

Social sciences, sociology et al, can prove statistically that the virtues, honesty, transparency in social and financial affairs, education, compassion, devotion, loyalty, diligence, patience, kindness…  I believe our science can prove such things are good for society.  Religion is right, but also, religion is superfluous.

A country could, instead of putting religion in the Constitution, put instead values such as those stated above and support and sustain such a country with assurance that country is the best on earth.

 

When Will We Be Free?

June 12, 1967 was the day interracial marriage became legal in the USA. Thank us all we have legalized dancing, beer, sex without money, witchcraft, most kinds of blasphemy, slavery  and eliminated most dress codes. Issues Republicans are still fighting against include gay relationships, recreational drugs, transgender issues, the equal status of immigrants and their children, poor people’s right to health care, right to privacy, sex for money, and religion.

The OBVIOUS point is, or should be,  that government should not be in the marriage or sex or drugs or religion business.  Why does the government sanction and tax a marriage with a license at the court house?  Okay, for the tax incentive to get married, the government wants to encourage marriage.  If it were only that easy to explain.

Why can’t a man marry a rock?  Because he wants the government to sanction it like if he were to marry a woman or a man.  If the government did not sanction marriage it would not be an issue.

Five European and seven Latin American countries have legalized the use of ALL DRUGS, leaving only the crimes involved with distributing controlled substances.  The problem is not the use of drugs, but rather ADDICTION which is a public health problem. All populations have one to two percent actively addicted at any given time regardless how full the prisons are.

 

 

 

Radon Causes Cancer?

Correlation does not imply causation means that if we find a high rate of cancer in a group of individuals with something in common that does NOT mean that common thing caused the cancer.  We still need to find the cause of cancer.  Examples of the logical fallacy show positive correlations of the diagnosis of autism and the rate of organic food sales, and a negative correlation between national murder rates and the spread of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer software.  The point is the cause is not the correlation but some other mechanism needs to be found to explain and prove a cause.

In the case of radon and smoking there are lots of very definitive declarations of the cause of cancer.  Simply everywhere we hear that smoking causes cancer and radon causes cancer.  Even that radon plus smoking causes even more cancer.

So I checked it out.

Brown areas have high radon levels.
Brown areas have high radon levels.
Brown areas have the highest occurrence of lung cancer.
Brown areas have the highest occurrence of lung cancer.

I live in New England which is has the highest radon levels but the lowest lung cancer rates. So how can we reconcile this conflicting information?

Do I Have to be Sick to Feel Better?

It is silly that you have to be sick to take something to make you feel better.  We want to feel better so we eat special foods to be healthy. We exercise to be healthy. Feeling better and being healthy are not the same thing.  We can eat health foods legally but not take illegal drugs. Food good / drugs bad. That is the dichotomy that the mass of humanity makes automatically even if a large percentage of that mass takes the drugs.  We believe it is bad, but do it anyway. Then there are those of us who question that illegal drugs are bad.

When there is a diagnosis of malady the doctor will look up the cure, usually with google or some other online service. The doctor will prescribe a drug to fix your diagnosis.  You have to have a special disease or a very specific symptom to get the good drugs.

So I am NOT addressing the mass of  humanity who just knows there are good people who eat health foods to feel better and the bad people who take drugs to feel better. My audience is those who are willing to look at the system itself which forces us into this simple misunderstanding of good and bad.

First one must be willing to recognize there are other ways to handle difficult social issues than the system we use.  However the human condition is such that we grasp an idea that forces such a stark dichotomy like good vs. bad because it is simple.  Feeling better is good. Taking drugs is bad.  End of story.  But two problems, that is not the pertinent social model, nor is it factually accurate.

Our legal system does not say anything is good or bad even though that is our interpretation of the legal system.  Our system gives us freedom until that freedom is taken away with a law.  Perhaps that is a subtle difference, but our laws do attempt not stop a bad, but rather they attempt to stop a behavior.  The social model is that of giving up a freedom for the greater good.  We can be good or bad but we can’t possess Heroin.  We have given up the right to possess Heroin because our society has deemed that freedom is not worth the price to society.

Possession of heroin can bring you a penalty from the government of a $5000 fine and a year in prison.  We are free to eat healthy food to feel better but not to possess Heroin for whatever reason.  We think “health good / drugs bad”. But remember our system is that you cannot “possess” illegal drugs.  Presumably it would be okay to use Heroin to get high if you didn’t possess Heroin.

Obviously our system is not designed to make people figure out ways to take Heroin without possessing it.  Our drug culture is well aware that being high is not illegal but “holding” or possessing illegal drugs is illegal. Perhaps we should make a law that people cannot ingest Heroin and build our social system around ways to enforce such a system of laws.  But in order to obtain evidence that someone has ingested Heroin one would need to test that person, and that is a personal freedom we are not ready to rescind.

Presumably the system needs to prove something factual because we cannot know if someone intends to do a bad thing. It can prohibit only an action that is proven through evidence. However we limit the things the government can do to us with rights.

The system is supposed to stop people from taking Heroin by making possession of Heroin illegal.  But our laws don’t accomplish what they suppose.  People take Heroin even in Torrington, CT.  And a system that would allow anyone to accuse you of being high and forcing a test that would put you in prison betrays our sensibilities, or at least it betrays the sensibilities of the framers of the US Constitution.

Perhaps you cannot imagine another way of thinking about how we control the use of drugs except for controlling the possession of those drugs.  This book is about understanding our system of government as a social motivator, as a mindset that will make people free but not unmanageable.  Whether intended or not people avoiding the illegal while still behaving in the ways that the law intends to curtail is normal.  That is our society.

If you have an ache or pain there are thousands of drugs for pain.  Reducing pain is the very essence of making one feel better, of treating a symptom in our medical system. But reducing pain is not the only way people feel better. People can and do feel better from one minute to the next sometimes without any known reason.  But there are social sanctions against taking a drug unless you are sick.  “I have erectile dysfunction” and here is your pill.

The pill for erectile dysfunction presumably makes the patient feel better and treats his disease or malady.  The truth is I haven’t had that problem, but the point is people take a drug to treat a disease or make them feel better.  There is a difference.

Are there better ways to define what people can and can’t do than that of hire a professional and ask.

Are we always at our optimum?  If not then we can feel better.  Are we sick if we want to feel better?

If you find the right symptom they will give you the pill for that symptom.  That is the system. “Patient presented with problems concentrating.  I prescribed adderall.”

So people with a problem concentrating can get adderall by our system, but unless I am diagnosed by a physician to have problems concentrating I cannot ever have adderall. Maybe it will make me better at concentrating.  Trying it to find out is called taking drugs and might be illegal, or at least it is discouraged in most social circles.

To rap: the system calls for a professional analysis to approve the use of any drug.  A professional will prescribe drugs based upon that analysis.  If the patient presents with pain you may get opiates; erectile dysfunction might get a variation of viagra, trouble concentrating is therefore something like adderall. But don’t take any of those drugs if you have not been examined to assure you have the sickness in order to be eligible to get the cure.

I imagine it is possible that many of the Founding Fathers contemplated this very issue when deciding a way to make laws.  The system we have is based on laws that do NOT decide who takes un-prescribed drugs. Our laws rather require a professional to tell the person to take the drugs.  That professional and most patients do not like a King doctor telling the Peasant patient take this because you are sick. If you want to be healthier you cannot take a drug, but rather an herb or a vitamin.  You can have caffeine and nicotine, and sometimes alcohol, but in the way of making you feel better that is all.

being told what to takewhy one is taking them and who gave them to you.

certain drugs legal or how to control the use and existence of drugs that make you even feel better than you do normally. People have violently different opinions about whether one should take whatever drug for whatever reason.

Suppose I want to take a drug I should check a list of “illegal drugs” which are off the list.  But if it is not on the list I can, presumably, take that drug.

Alternatively I could go to a doctor and when the doctor is assured that I have a malady or symptom the doctor will treat that symptom with the appropriate drug.  I have to be sick to take drugs.

 

 

 

 

Bernie Sanders is a Hater

My trouble with Bernie Sanders is he blames. It doesn’t matter if someone has a suitcase or a cargo container full of money. We all invest. What do we spend our money on? That is the question to ask.

Ownership of property and the means of production by a select few can be very bad for an economy because such things drive up costs and prices artificially.  Equally bad are prohibitive licensing and other restrictions and taxes that stop competition.  Even if the restrictions are for a good cause, like the stop dead baby fund or clean environment for everyone for ever tax.

If all residential property were controlled similarly by a select few that too can drive up prices and enrich greedy land owners.  But just the fact that a corporation has a lot of money is not necessarily a bad thing.  In fact nearly half of all taxes are paid by the so-called 1-Percenters.

If money is in our pocket or under our mattress that is bad. If it is in a bank then maybe the bank will invest it and let it move, we can hope. The money needs to move, that is what helps the economy.  It doesn’t matter if it is Joe’s money or Paul’s money or if they are rich,  very rich, or very, very rich. Use the money for something that employs people, cars, houses, renovations, new businesses, expanding old businesses… The money needs to move, that is the issue.

And spend it wisely, don’t just give it away to someone who won’t spend it wisely, like the government.

Why are corporations bad? I’ll tell you.

Anyone can incorporate.  In fact for some purchases and legal actions one is required by law to incorporated.  It costs about $250 a year in Connecticut for the rest of your life, or until you go bankrupt and dissolve.  If a corporation buys property and then dissolves the the property is up for grabs in the courts.

So there is the problem.  The courts.  Everything comes from lawmakers and other government employees like prosecutors, judges, police and prison guards and they are the ones who run the courts.  When a new stupid law is implemented it surely will not make the world any safer or create more justice, but rather it will expand government and ensure the livelihood of lawyers (and insurance companies, but we will get to that in a minute).

The difference between paying a tax or a utility bill if that is regulated by the government is that we can refuse to pay the utility bill.  If we refuse to pay the tax we will always owe the tax, if we refuse to pay the utility bill eventually that debt will be forgiven.

The government tells the utility company what they can charge and if we want utilities we can pay the bill.  The rate is set by the government and we are told that is better than if the government were to nationalize the utility company.  It is true that we can invest in the utility and earn dividends, but what we invest in the government is lost forever.

Don’t blame the utility company for high prices if the utility is regulated by the government.  All of us use programs and deductions and take advantage of our government whenever possible.  I would doubt the sanity of the man who knows he is eligible for a government program or tax deduction but prefers to pay the government more money.

Maybe we think the government is good and protects our interests and the government will be fair so that utility companies can’t make too much.  In theory that is it.  So who benefits by strangling the utility companies?  Well, lawmakers of course.  It isn’t just the tax payer who pays for investigations and studies and analysis of earnings to tell us all how much a regulated utility can charge us for service. Well, I take that back.  It is taxpayers who pay for investigations and analysis, but corporations pay for the misdirection and the neglect to investigate and incentive to NOT look too closely at the figures.  Perhaps avoiding investigation costs more than the investigation, but no one keeps records on the investigations and analyses that are not done.

So the problem is government regulation, or rather, the negotiation of regulation.  We all want everyone to be fair, and everyone is inclined to want more than what is fair.  And that is the crux of the problem: greed.

companies or insurance companies or lawyers.  If we have to spend money to stay alive and protect what is ours we have to.

Remove the Flag

The Confederate Flag, or rebel flag, is a symbol.  A notorious symbol.  And we would be hard-pressed to find anyone who uses that symbol to invoke peace, harmony, or any quality most of us consider good.

The best I can find is States Rights.  I am a libertarian, I believe anyone should be able to display whatever intelligent or stupid flag or symbol they want.  But I do not believe our government has a right to do so at the expense and disquiet of the governed.

Times are changing.

Firestarters: The Basis of Your Thinking

This is the first of the Firestarter Series that examine flashpoint issues dispassionately. I will not be giving my opinion on these matters lightly but rather I am looking for irrational but widely held opinions. For the curious, I am quite libertarian.

Right wingers will say increased taxes should go to the military and national security and left wingers will say the money should go to those in need to protect us all from economic and personal disaster. These are philosophical differences and no one can say who is right.

Each of those large groups have lots of reasons why each of them believe national security or personal security is more important though neither will deny that both types of security are important government responsibilities. The government should do both things if we are to have a government at all.

We need to take care of security and we need a fair economic system that does not relegate the poor to get poorer while the rich get richer and gives everyone a safety net. The differences between the Left and the Right are a matter of degree. How much of our resources should be given to national security and how much to personal security?

These differing philosophies are not at odds, therefore. But rather one group wants the government to put fewer resources toward national security, the other wants fewer resources toward just and charitable systems to make everyone more secure.

This discussion is quite rational, but here comes a flash-point, here is the firestarter. Remember, the point here is to get you to re-examine your own views.

Drugs. Just saying the word evokes negative images and we all know how bad drugs are and what havoc they can cause society. But why are drugs illegal philosophically speaking? Are drugs a matter of national security as the War on Drugs evokes?  Or is it a matter of protecting the citizenry from personal disaster?

I submit this discussion is much too similar to the one months ago about marijuana, and years ago discussions of homosexuality and gambling, the decades ago about race and prejudice, and a century ago about alcohol and dancing and music and dress codes. Your arguments are similar to those about the immorality and personal disaster that will come to people who dance.

Society has become more libertarian. We can kiss in public, we cannot discriminate based on race. 50 or 100 years ago these things were debated, but they are not debated anymore. We accept the change.

Historically drugs were made illegal along with other Puritan concerns of immorality. Sex on Sunday, homosexual sex and promiscuous sex such as public kissing were illegal and punishable in horrific manners. And of course alcohol was illegal which is still seen in our Blue Laws. Dancing and certain forms of dress were illegal, heck beachcombing and most reading was illegal. Black people were not allowed, and certainly not Indians.

In such an environment it was a matter of course that recreational drugs would be illegal. But today the rationale for prohibiting any and all drugs that someone might enjoy, except alcohol and very recently marijuana, is for security.

We believe as a culture that people should not use any recreational drugs because doing so would be dangerous in one or more ways. I want you to say it. If you believe drugs are dangerous and should not be permitted as something people enjoy doing say so to yourself and other. Say: “I think all recreational drugs should be illegal because making them legal will hurt society.”

The reasons for not legalizing such drugs, as we legalized dancing and liberal dress codes, and sex and homosexuality and alcohol, are that drugs are worse than those other things. It is not likely to make me immoral and hurt society if I dance or dress as I want or have sex, even homosexual sex, or drink, but if I do other drugs that crosses a line and I become dangerous.

I believe it will not be long until those who say “I think drugs should be illegal…” will be those looked as as prejudice is seen today.  If you don’t want to hang out with black or asian or hispanic people don’t, but don’t prohibit them.  If you don’t want extramarital or homosexual sex, don’t.  If you don’t want drugs,. don’t.  But don’t prohibit them and punish those who do.

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The Problem is Critical Thinking (and partisanship)

Accept the proposition that we have too many laws and Americans should be free and we won’t need this discussion. Immigration, GMOs, The Patriot Act, Pipelines, Environmentalism, illegal drugs, traffic laws, compulsory insurances, sex, and gambling…. These things should be so simple to decide based on freedom, reason, simplicity, education, economy, and a dismantling of the Kafkaesque legal system and expensive justice industry. Instead we decide based on an illogical combination of pop philosophy and tradition, and fiercely defend our opinions with partisanship.

By international reckoning we are not as free a country as we think. The Wiki lists the USA as 17 to 10 in the most recent economic freedom lists by libertarian organizations like the Fraser Institute of Canada and the Cato Institute of Washington DC. People in Hong Kong and New Zealand are much freer economically than those of us in the USA these days. Even on lists of freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, like religion or speech, we are down to about fifth on most indices.

I could jump around here with how illogical so many well accepted arguments, but you don’t believe me.  I need a reputation and a voice in order for anyone to even hear what I say. As it is whatever I say will be heard as an insult to your personal, partisan views. You accept the premise but you only listen to your own partisans.

Too Many Laws. The Environmental Protection Agency is out of control.  If I give you examples and you are Republican you will say Damn Straight.  But if you are Democrat you will be insulted. Both sides are equally wrong, and equally deaf to reason. Examples are not difficult to find but each side insults the other with straw arguments and mischaracterizations. Start the discussion with an acceptance of the fact that Americans are free and our laws are often ridiculous and we can make some headway.

Our immigration system is broken in so many ways.  If you are Democrat you will jump on my bandwagon, but if you are Republican you will say “illegal means illegal” when just a cursory view of the problems involved make it abundantly clear our immigration system is hopeless broken and ridiculously expensive.

It is a good idea to label products, but if you don’t like how the product is labeled don’t buy it. Don’t force me to pay for new laws that will give totalitarian power to a government agency to put people in prison if they call food by the wrong name, and make my food more expensive because you want me to read a label I don’t care about.

Pipelines, Gun Control, Prisons, Drugs, Sex, Rock and Roll….  I mean, where is the basis for our laws?  Evidently our laws are inspired by pop philosophy.  The Puritans had an idea of how life should be and we are still following many of their ideals without re-examining them.

No recreational drugs, well, except alcohol. Why? Explain your view in one paragraph. Did your paragraph mention the fact that some people can use drugs unsupervised without causing irreparable harm to society? So we are left with removing the freedom for all because some need supervision. Like the Patriot Act. Like speeding on the highway. Like laws against certain kinds of consensual sex, gambling, bad language, dancing… These things can be safe but we have outlawed them to some extent and empowered government agencies to imprison, fine, restrict and otherwise punish people who have not harmed anyone at all. We have built a huge industry based on protecting us from things that may harm some of us sometime, but may not.

And when we start talking about the specifics then you will sign off and be angry. Your side says something different from what I say.  Unless and until I get a reputation you will not listen. Then you will just side with me not matter what I say, and that too is wrong.