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Posts Tagged ‘accountability’

the-angry-mob

There are a number of folks who have disagreed with some of my statements and some of my methods. I treat the absurd with absurdity, I ridicule the ridiculous and whenever someone is being obtuse to the level of it being profane, I response with the acute use of profantity – e.g. ‘Fuck that shit!’

con-man4When debating particular ideas, concepts and the corresponding societal movements that all-too-often spring up as a result of them, I tend to be rather particular to not only attack the ideas themselves, but to then specifically condemn the people that ‘follow’ such ideas.

Whenever an idea exists, not based primarily on the self-evidence that is good or right, but instead leans upon consensus as a means to gain prominence, there is inevitably some charismatic figure making a good pitch leading the charge. It is the general practice of others when addressing such ideas being broadcast from a primary source of one or a small number of individuals, to attack the source. The problem is, the ideas don’t exist on evidence, they exist on consensus. The slickest con-man in existence is entirely irrelevant if no one swallows his magic elixir!

More specifically, whenever anyone is making a claim that will not stand on it’s own, it can only stand as a result of others supporting it. It can only resonate in society if a ‘mob’ gets behind it and forces it to become an actionable reality. Thus whenever anyone claims to support the idea, they aren’t simply supporting the assertions of the charismatic figure, they are taking on those assertions and becoming the means by which they achieve relevance.

Furthermore, were there not so many willing idiots, there wouldn’t be a market for the snake oil salesmen to begin with!

Let me give an example to get to the heart of what I mean. Someone comes up to me supporting some statist idea that the government should be empowered to collect taxes from me under threat of force. Those who disagree with my methods are making an assumption that the individual is simply enabling the use of force by not standing in the way of it being carried out. They aren’t the ones directly responsible because it is someone in a statehouse somewhere that proposed it, and it’s someone in a police force somewhere that will enforce it and make it actionable.

But in reality, especially in any society with representative governance, such ideas will never ever exist unless a significant enough number of people – individuals – either support it or allow it. Whether it be authoritarian concepts of statist politicians or similar principles being stated from pulpits by evangelical preachers, the ideas themselves are irrelevant until individuals make them actionable.

philosoraptor-choose-not-to-decide

To quote RUSH from the song ‘Free Will’,

“If I choose not to decide, I still have made a choice”

In other words, as the passive thinker stands there and tells you “I think this politician is right when he says you must be forced to help others” or “I think this preacher is right when he says you should not be selfish and sacrifice for the needy”, the most important part of either of those sentences is the first two words, “I think”. They are in essence telling you “You need to be forced to comply with what ‘I think'” – supporting the third party is simply a convenience to that individual in that someone else is energetically telling them ‘I’ll happily force them on your behalf!’

Thus, I don’t play nice with such people. If you say you support someone else doing me harm – you, in my mind, are saying harm should be done to me. If you help propel ideas to prominence that only propel to prominence because people like you help them get that way, you are the one making the concept actionable.

I still hold the statist or the theist responsible for promoting bad ideas and will challenge them regularly on the falsity, absurdity and profaneness of those ideas, but it is the individual that ‘believes’ the bullshit that I hold the MOST responsible for it’s existence!

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We have all gotten soft.  We lead our lives in a sanitized way where we are able to avoid the thoughts of the blood that is on all of our hands.  We have built a society where it is possible for us to abdicate the job of ‘killing’ in our name onto others.  The job of killing for our food, the job of killing for our defense and public safety, the job of killing to build our homes.

This train of thought is one that I have visited before many times in regards to the practice of hunting, but was raised more recently after someone posted a video of police officers killing an aggressive dog in LaGrange, MO.  Many of the links and comments on this video follow a simple theme.  People are outraged.

Perhaps the outrage is justified, but I felt it necessary to take a contrarian role since most people will react to such videos based on the emotional ‘gut’ reaction of watching something die rather than stopping to think further.  My initial comments included:

Worthy of criticism? Of course. Condemnation? I can’t say – I wasn’t there. It’s easy to sit outside such a situation and pass judgement based on ‘feelings’ – but I try not to pass judgments based solely on feelings.

Anthropomorphizing is the real enemy here. We all see our pets as members of the family and transfer those feelings onto other animals that come to harm. I guess my experience has given me a more grounded approach when it comes to animals.

A=A – is what is. An animal is not a human – or to counter the Ingrid Newkirks of the world, a rat is NOT a pig is NOT a dog is NOT a boy.

There is obvious grounds for critique on whatever causes led these guys to this action, but that does not necessarily equate to critique of the officers themselves.

To paraphrase Ted Nugent, the truth is that we all have a blood trail and a series of gutpiles behind us.  Things have to die to make our food, things have to die to make our clothing, things have to die to build our houses and so we can drive our cars.

When I was very young, I used to often explore the Z Farms behind our house.  Before too long the Z Farms were sold to make way for a new subdivision.  For a number of years, the majority of the landmass remained undeveloped as houses slowly popped up one after another.  But the roads made it easy access to a kid on a bike.

I used to love running around Heather Lake (renamed from it’s prior name ‘Dennis Lake’ which didn’t work as well for the new sub’s marketing) and seeing the various wildlife.  We saw deer, quail, mink, rabbits, woodcock, partridge, pheasant.  One year there was an entire family of fox that we found living under a bunch of fallen logs.  They kenneled up there for 3 years straight, each year bearing about 3-6 kits.  The only reason they stopped kenneling there was – you guessed it – someone decided to build a house there.

Dennis Lake used to be great for fishing too.  There was one spot that would get so many pumpkinseeds bedding up, that you could literally catch them with a bare hook – not snagging, they were so hungry they would bite at just about anything.  Oh, I should also add that this bedding area was just below the fox dens and it too was destroyed when the house was built.

The irony of it all is, that the people that moved into that house turned out to be rather outspoken pro-animal “rights” types, a reporter for a local news station in Detroit.  (I took great joys stopping by every now and again and pointing out that their driveway used to be a fox den and their new sand beach used to be a breeding area for the fish)

Swear off meat, give away all your leather and fur, ride a bike to work and start living in a tree – and stuff will still die so you can survive.  Ask any farmer how many small animals die below the tilling blades of their combines to make room for those soybeans and sprouts.  Ask any biologist how many animals have to be killed or displaced to build our neighborhoods and yes, even farms.

By the time I got to college, I had become an outspoken hunting advocate.  One of the projects I helped sponsor for a hunting, fishing and shooting club I started on campus was to encourage all of our members to keep track of ‘roadkill’ they saw as a means to raise awareness to just the sort of thing I am talking about here – stuff dies so we can live.  Oakland University was a commuters campus (where most of the students drove to college from home) and each of us came from a different direction.  There were five of us regularly keeping track of what we saw, trying also to not count any dead, roadside animals we had seen previously.

By the time we were done, the numbers even shocked me.  With five of us keeping regular track over a period of about 2 months, we didn’t just see dozens, or hundreds.  We literally counted THOUSANDS of animals.  The largest category was one I dubbed ‘UFO’ for ‘unidentifiably flattened organisms’.

The entire concept was culminated when someone chose to challenge me one day on the ‘morality’ of my hunting.  The person in question was wearing leather shoes and a leather jacket.  Upon questioning, they were not a vegetarian.  The crux of their argument was ‘how can you kill your own food?’  My question was, how can you challenge the morality of my killing my own without looking at the moral question of abdicating the job of killing yours?  Killing my own food (whenever possible) IS my moral code!

How many of us stop to think about the animal(s) that had to die to make our Whopper (and fries and coke) or the animals that were evicted to dig the foundation for our homes?  I do almost every time.  But, more importantly, how many of us cringe and immediately jump with an urge to shout foul any time we run across something that requires us to look upon the killing of an animal at all?

Death isn’t pretty.  But to reword a popular cliche, death happens.  (or if you prefer “Shit Dies!”)  It’s easy to try to see animals anthropomorphized as ‘human-like’.  But animals are not humans.  They can’t rationalize, identify, reduce, integrate, retain or conceptualize.  Animals do not have morals, are not sentient and do not have “rights”.

The goal of ‘humane’ behavior should be to keep unnecessary harm coming to animals.  But rational behavior is to know that sometimes, like it or not, the death of animals may be necessary or us humans to survive.

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The problem with demanding regulation on the cheap

(originally posted to facebook on Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 3:38pm)

The following was a comment made on a thread where people were demanding regulation of the meat industry. One of the comments suggested I should eat some ‘unregulated meat’ and get sick.

Me: Well, seeing as how I procure my own food as often as possible, good luck on that one! Besides, if you pay attention to who you buy from and how they do business (this sticky little thing I’ve mentioned before called ‘taking responsibility’) you don’t need regulations. He who sells me food that makes me sick, never sells me food again.

Imagine if you will three scenarios (we live in a mixture of 1 and 2 now)

Scenario 1: Customer goes to store, plops down money for meat. Customer buys whatever meat is most affordable. Lacking significant regulation, the producer sees a demand for low priced meat. Producer churns out as much high demand, low priced meat as possible to make the biggest profit. Customer ultimately gets lower quality meats. Customer eventually gets sick from low quality meat. Customer got what they paid for!

Scenario 2: Customer cries to government to regulate their meat. Government slaps tons of regulations on producers. Customers still just slap down money for meat feeling assured that the government is ‘protecting’ the quality of said meat. Customer still tries to buy the cheapest meat they can find. Producer sees high demand for low price meat. Producer monitors production not for quality but for minimum adherence to the plethora of regulations. Customer gets minimum legal quality meat. Customer eventually gets sick from low quality meat. Customer gets what they cried for.

Scenario 3: Informed consumer seeks to buy a specific quality of meat. Said customer stays on top of information about the producers their seller is buying from. Customer demands only top quality meat and is willing to pay a little more to get it. Producer sees demand for ‘quality’ meat. Producer monitors meat production to meet the demand for quality. Customer gets tasty num nums! Customer is happy, producer is happy, seller is happy – government can go fuck off!

Which would you rather live in?

———-

As an added note on this one – I’ve spoken to other people on the nature of ‘free markets’ including a recent discussion on such regulation in the auto industry and goods at Walmart.

There are a couple of common responses that I hear to arguments like this. In that discussion, one of the responses was in regards to an example raised regarding the requirement placed on automakers to include safety restraints in cars. The question was, ‘what if my friend buys a car with no seatbelts and I need to ride in his car? Are you saying I need to choose better friends???

My short answer to him was “YES!!!! THAT’S THE POINT!” In other words, it should not be society’s or government’s responsibility to make choices for you or to protect you from the consequences of YOUR OWN choices. That includes getting into a car that has no seatbelts!!!

The longer answer included pointing out that “choosing better friends” is not the only option. You could offer to drive. You could choose not to get in. And, if you aren’t a puss, you would tell your friend ‘why’ you choose not to get in or why you are going to drive with your car (because it ‘has’ seatbelts) and hit him up for a share of the gas money. If it is really that important to you, and your friend remains belligerent as to your safety or puts up a fuss as to your choice not to ride in his vehicle and to require him to ‘pay’ to ride in yours, are you really going to want such a person as a friend?

The other argument is in regards to ‘who has the time?‘ As in, who has the time to track all the companies you buy from? The reality is, we don’t.  For most things, the necessity of watching every company behind every purchase we make is way too daunting.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise responsibility as often as you possibly can for your more important or more regular buying choices.

My response to this was coupled with a response to another question poised earlier in the discussion asking how a free market addresses ‘new’ needs or desires. The actual question is ‘where do these [new companies] come from? Out of the ‘ether’?’

At this point, I commented “As I stated earlier, the market abhors a vacuum. If there is a need for a product or service, people interested in profit will try to fill those needs.  People interested in ‘profit’ will fill any and all needs they are able to fill as often as possible. Not out of the ether, but because not all people are stupid! And people who wish to succeed in a free market need to be smart.”

Angie's List

AngiesList.com

I then scribbled down the url to http://www.angieslist.com and handed it to him. “Here you go,” I said. To which he asked ‘what is this?’ I responded, “It’s one of those companies that magically appeared out of the ‘ether‘ to fulfill a new market need for people like you who say they don’t have the time to keep track of businesses they solicit for goods and services.”

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Dear world leaders,

You may be a politician, a businessman, an aristocrat, a president, governor, chancellor, CEO, King or Queen or any other person with such influence.  You may head a country, a state, a business, or an empire.  This letter is addressed to you who have the ability to sway a large group of people or have authority over a reasonable amount of territory.

This letter comes by way of a suggestion.  If you would like to see innumerable achievements and successes, if you would like to see your influence expand.  If you would like those people who look to you for leadership or follow your example prosper.  If you would like to increase the self worth of your holdings and the magnificence of the people you oversee.

There is a notion that was born among men, formed by men and instituted by men.  It is a notion that is disappearing rapidly from the one place on earth where it was tried in it’s purest form by men and for men.  When it was still untainted it proved itself as the means to expand those people under it’s domain in ways never before seen to achieve tasks and wonders never before witnessed in the history of man.  Those that followed it prospered and advanced faster than at any time in antiquity.

This notion consists of the principles of freedom, self-rule and of individual accountability and responsibility.

These concepts were once the means to greatness on the north American continent in the United States.  But these principles are rapidly deteriorating here and the prosperity they once brought with them is fading along with them.  When the promise of these notions was still strong, people flocked to the shores of this new land and built a nation to out shine any nation to ever come before it.  In many cases, they gave up all they had to come to a virgin land virtually unbroken by the hands and workmanship of man and built upon it’s soil a burgeoning society.  That society too is losing it’s luster with the loss of it’s freedoms and core principles.

The example has been shown through the history of the United States that ‘if you build it, they will come.”  My suggestion to you leaders is to begin with the original principles that spawned this great nation.  Remove from them the dated notions such as the 3/5ths compromise, institute a fair tax, and include the Bill of Rights but with a preamble that specifies those rights extend from the natural rights – not endowed by a creator but self-evident through reason and arrived at through logical deduction from the very nature of life – that all men are created equal and have the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I would strongly suggest to include the right to propriety over the products of  one’s life – to property, to one’s identity, a to a reasonable expectation of privacy.  Allow each man to pursue his own dreams and neither limit nor provide him largess toward that end.  Hold each man accountable for his own needs and desires and allow none to exercise force to prevent him from fulfilling them as long as he uses no force against others in their fulfillment.

Limit the power of the government to the protection of each and all in the collective against external threats and to the mitigation of disputes that arise among them.  And specify clearly that those limits are not to be usurped for any reason or as a result of any popular caprice.

Limit the power even of taxation to fees for the (limited) services of government and otherwise exercise a voluntary taxation policy among men.  If you provide sound government to enable the free will of reasonable men, they will support it willingly.

Allow no notions of state-sponsored compassion to seep into your governance.  Whether they come from subjective philosophers or intrinsic prophets, maintain a strict and unwavering abolition of any participation of such ideas in the rule of men.  Allow the men to follow whatever axioms they desire, but limit the rule of law to strictly objective principles and concepts.

Do this and they will come.  Do this and those that come will build your society, your business, your nation, your state or your empire for you.  You will not need to motivate them, leave them to find their own motives.   You will not need to supply them, let them find their own means of supply.   You will not need to teach them, they will build their own schools and form their own research facilities.  You will not need to build for them, you will instead see them building for themselves, for their profits and by extension for the others among them before your very eyes.

They will exceed your highest expectations as long as you allow them to profit from their own endeavors, seek and keep their own rewards and interact freely with their fellows with the limited protection of whatever means of governance you [and they] choose to protect them from undue force or fraud.

Finally hold them ALL accountable for themselves and disallow them to petition you for largess and you will not see looters and leeches coming to join you.  If they do find parasites amongst them, let them wither – hold for those that refuse to achieve no mercy or compassion what-so-ever.  Praise the achiever and give him free reign, and all that which is under your control will prosper.

Sincerely,

Scott Webster Wood

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Originally posted to Facebook Notes

To explain my perspective on various types of behavior I often use these definitions to define said behavior. It is important to understand the reason(s) people do the things they do, especially when framing how to respond to those behaviors or when speaking of ‘love’ and ‘hate’. (in my opinion ‘hate’ is just as legitimate and emotion as ‘love’ so long as ‘hate’ is confined to those people or actions that threaten to destroy the things or people you love) For the purposes of this discussion, I focus specifically on misguided actions or behaviors and their causes.

Ignorance: not knowing something
Ignorance by itself can be excusable. I, myself, am ignorant on a great many things. Simply not knowing something, or not knowing all there is to know about something is not an inherent ‘wrong’. We are all ignorant about a great many things.
More often than not, the relevance of ‘ignorance’ comes down to a ‘need to know’. For example, I don’t ‘need to know’ how to fix the carburetor on a car engine – as a result I am ignorant on how to fix a carburetor. I have no doubt I could learn how to fix a carburetor, but I don’t need to.

Stupidity: the inability to learn or know about something
Stupidity again is excusable. It is a lack of ability to know something. I fully admit I am stupid when it comes to interior decorating. I don’t get it, I never will get it. I have no desire to ‘be’ an interior decorator, and if I ever really desire for top-notch ‘interior design’ I can always hire someone to do it for me.

Idiocy*: being ‘ignorant’ about something but acting in spite of that ignorance. Or making a conscious choice to remain ignorant when you really should not do so.
*This one is a bit tougher, because I could not find a precise word to assign to it based on ‘denotative’ meaning. So instead I chose the term ‘idiocy’ for it’s connotative interpretation. A more accurate word would be ‘ignoramus’, but the connotative perception of ‘idiot’ works.
With that said, I describe ‘idiocy’ as someone that can or should know better, but acts in spite of their ignorance. To use the prior examples, if I really needed the use of my truck but decided to attempt to fix my carburetor myself, I would be an idiot. Similarly, if I took a job fixing carburetors but still chose not to learn how, I would also be an idiot. Or if I were to claim to know something about interior decorating, when I do not and cannot understand it, I would again be an idiot.

Incidiot*:  (Ihn-sih-dee-oht) Someone who does know better, but either feigns ignorance or tries to justify it when ignoring the facts about their course of action.
*this is a term I coined by merging the term ‘incite’ with my concept of ‘idiocy’
This term refers to someone who would seem to be behaving like the ‘idiot’ described above. Someone that acts inspite of not knowing something. However, they either do know or are in a position that it is highly likely they should know about the subject in question. i.e. a trained mechanic who intentionally fouls up a carburetor in the process of fixing it could fit this definition.
My concept of the ‘incidiot’ is therefore important to note, because someone that is feigning ignorance about a subject, and takes an action that is inherently immoral or wrong, is therefore intentionally behaving in a fashion that could be described as ‘evil’.

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