Category Archives: Morality

My Response to the Common Question: What Can I Do to Help? by Michael Krieger

Are we turning our kids into authority-worshipping conformists? From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.

– Mahatma Gandhi

Over the years, many people have asked me, “what can I do to help?” and I never really had a good answer. After five years of consistent writing and thinking, I finally have something concrete to say, but it might not be what you expect. The answer is to work on yourself. Be a better person. It’s something I need to do, and it’s something all of us can strive for every day of our lives since every one of us is flawed.

It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, or what your individual circumstances are, we’re all presented with a variety of choices on a consistent basis. We are all constantly faced with the opportunity to be kind, apathetic or downright mean to someone else, and it doesn’t matter how small the gesture is, every single act is meaningful. I have become convinced that the choices we make in seemingly minor situations resonate and impact the world. It seems clear to me that if everyone acted even a little bit kinder to their fellow humans the world would improve dramatically.

If we all become better people, we would simply not put up with the rampant violent and unethical behavior coming from politicians/oligarchs and things would eventually change. I believe the rot at the top of society influences the bottom, and vice versa. The best way to break the cycle is for each of us to take responsibility for ourselves and our own minds. At that point, consciousness can truly take a leap forward. Being kind, is in fact, a revolutionary act.

Trying to be a decent, rational and informed adult in a world increasingly filled with madness, childish dialogue and violence is hard enough. Being a parent compounds these challenges significantly. You suddenly become endowed with the truly awesome responsibility of guiding children into adulthood and helping them find their way in the world. In this day and age, accepting this challenge has become increasingly difficult.

To continue reading: My Response to the Common Question: What Can I Do to Help?

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She Said That? 6/23/17

From Jojo Moyes (born 1969), English journalist and novelist, One Plus One (2014):

The law of probability combined with the law of large numbers states that to beat the odds, sometimes you have to repeat an event an increasing number of times in order to get you to the outcome you desire. The more you do, the closer you get. Or… basically, sometimes you just have to keep going.

In Praise of Facts, by Robert Gore

Facts rush towards us like an oncoming train, and facts tie us to the track.

Your car won’t start. That’s a fact. You think the battery is dead. That’s a hypothesis. Your neighbor has jumper cables and you start the car off of her car’s battery. That’s an experiment that yields data supporting your hypothesis. Maybe you drive around for a while and your battery either recharges or it doesn’t. Either way, that’s another fact, which tends to disprove or support your hypothesis. Perceiving facts, developing hypotheses, experimentation, then revising, when necessary, those hypotheses in light of newly perceived facts are defining processes of the human mind. Humans continuously perceive, hypothesize, experiment, and revise, rarely even aware of the process: call it the empirical loop.

It’s easy to laugh at the academic and student primitives who deride the loop, who even question the concept of facts. Often this rejection stands on the notion that the loop is a package of “constructs” developed by white males to oppress everyone else. Credit for the loop to white males is a compliment, not a condemnation. However, they aren’t responsible for the epistemological process necessary for any human being to deal with reality, although some white males have dealt with reality extraordinarily well. Rejecting the loop, primitives will surely be oppressed…by reality. Let one of them, regardless of race, ethnicity, and gender, step in front of a moving train, rejecting the fact that it’s a train and the hypothesis of imminent impact. Before he splatters on the train’s windshield, he may realize his epistemological errors.

Thus, this anti-epistemology that has permeated the academy is not a laughing matter. It cripples young minds just as they should be launching their first independent forays into reality. Unfortunately, it can not and has not stayed confined to the academy. In the empirical loop, facts are primary; in the anti-empirical loop, perceptions and beliefs reign supreme. The unremarkable observation that beliefs can create facts—people believe Brand A soap cleans better, so they buy more of it than other soaps—has mutated into the mindset that facts either don’t exist or are irrelevant, only perception and belief matter. That precept is inherently collectivist, because the perceptions and beliefs that matter are those of groups. Patron saint of this movement is Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays (1891-1995), who has been called the father of public relations.

SOMETIMES MADE UP FACTS HAVE MORE TRUTH THAN REAL FACTS

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At root, economics is the study of how people deal with certain aspects of reality: scarce resources, producing goods and services, trade, and so on. A plausible hypothesis concerning the 2008-2009 financial crisis was that it was caused by years of mathematically unsustainable debt growth—promoted by central banks’ policies—in excess of economic growth. When the debt-stimulated housing sector—homes, mortgages, and mortgage-backed securities—reversed course and imploded, it took much of the world with it, because the global financial system is inextricably interlinked.

This hypothesis implies that restoration of the economy and financial system requires debt contraction to a point where the economy can support it. However, that hypothesis about the cause was never officially accepted, and neither was any other. To this day, policymakers within governments and central banks profess ignorance about the causes of the crisis. They may be covering their asses, because most hypotheses in some way implicate them. But the fact that none of them saw it coming suggests that perhaps they should be taken at their word. Their solutions—government debt, central bank debt monetization, and low or negative interest rates—suggest the same thing.

Such solutions replace economics with mass psychology. Promoting and increasing debt, policymakers reject the excess debt hypothesis. At the heart of feel-good operations, central banks exchange their fiat debt for governments’ fiat debt at suppressed interest rates. Low interests rates promote borrowing and stabilize falling asset prices, which makes people feel better. Feeling better, they buy goods, services, and financial assets, which, in a virtuous cycle called the wealth effect, make people feel even better, juicing the economy and financial markets even more. Edward Bernays would have been proud: prosperity via PR. One inconvenient fact: the feel-good cure hasn’t worked particularly well.

The aide [Karl Rove] said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” He continued “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” Suskind, Ron, “Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush,” The New York Times Magazine, 10/17/04

Can anything be more arrogantly delusional than a belief that an entity, even an “empire,” can create its “own reality”? Some version of Karl Rove’s triumphal effluvia has been muttered by emperors, and their courtiers and courtesans, since Ozymandias. The US empire has been creating realities since Korea. They certainly haven’t been the realities, the sets of facts, the ruling cabal advertised or promised, although they may have been the realities it wanted. When one creates one’s own reality, facts are clearly superfluous. For the unenlightened remnant, “the reality-based community,” Bush, Rove, and company’s War on Terror is more accurately labeled the War to Promote Terror; terror now being more prevalent than it was when the war was initiated. Similar relabeling is apt for the empire’s other reality-creating wars: the War to Promote Drugs and the War to Promote Poverty.

The reality creators pursue a fact-free revolt against a duly elected president, hoping to, Bernays-like, conjure a perception that will drive him from office. Megyn Kelly’s recent interviews with Vladimir Putin (Link to ABC version; Link to part ABC left out) are instructive: the Witch Doctor versus the empiricist. Kelly incants all the right incantations: “Consensus view,” “Republicans and Democrats,” “17 intelligence agencies,” “experts say,” “reports today in the American press,” “US intelligence has concluded.” However, you can’t argue from authority when the other side doesn’t recognize your authority, which Putin did not. Did Kelly and those who vetted her questions actually think the ex-KGB agent (a fact that Kelly helpfully pointed out…twice) would acknowledge the expertise, accuracy, or integrity, much less the authority, of America’s consensus, Republicans and Democrats, experts, press, or intelligence agencies? Who in their right mind would?

Putin punctured Kelly’s word bubbles with two words—”direct proof,” noting its absence. The closest Kelly got to facts is when she incanted “forensics,” “digital fingerprints,” “IP addresses” (Internet Protocol), “malware,” “encryption keys,” and “specific pieces of code,” all of which, she asserted, pointed to Russian hacking. Unfortunately, beyond briefing her on software lexicon, apparently nobody told Kelly that all her keywords can be faked—until Putin did…twice. He did not—but could have—cited WikiLeaks’ Vault 7 disclosures in March revealing that the CIA can engage in false flag cyberattacks such as the one of which Russia stands accused.

SLL has posited that the great divide in American life is between the useful and the useless. However, the divide is deeper than that. It’s epistemological, between those who deal every day with cars that won’t start and other facts, and those who believe that facts are irrelevant or a construct of their own choosing and construction. Facts can be ignored but not eradicated. The reality-based community will take grim satisfaction when ignored facts finally cascade down upon the heads of the reality-creators, as they assuredly will. Unfortunately, those facts will cascade down upon the rest of us, too, and we’re left hoping for one future fact: that we’ll be around to pick up the pieces.

GREAT NOVEL, GREAT READ, GREAT LITERATURE

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Debt-Based Money Corrodes Society, by Brian Maher

Phony money doesn’t just debauch economies, it debauches morals and the culture. From Brian Maher at dailyreckoning.com:

We open today’s reckoning with a hypothesis:

The current monetary system debauches the culture.

Long-suffering readers are familiar with our… diminished regard for paper money.

Paper money — or digital money nowadays — is the great bogeyman of the boom/bust cycle. It inflates bubbles of every model and make.

Meanwhile, paper money fuels big government… as oxygen fuels fire.

But paper money’s effects on the culture?

“It has a very important impact on our culture,” writes economist Jorg Guido Hulsmann.

Under “natural money” like gold Hulsmann explains, prices tend to fall over time.

So natural money encourages the virtues of saving… thrift… deferred gratification. It sets the mind to the future:

In a free economy with a natural monetary system, there is a strong incentive to save money… Investments in savings accounts or other relatively safe investments also play a certain role, but cash hoarding is paramount.

Before the 20th century, explains Hulsmann, debt was a cultural taboo… a big scarlet “D.”

Credit for households was virtually unknown, he says. And only the poorest households resorted to debt-financed consumption.

Ah, but then the 20th century came along with its wars… its social movements… and its cranks…

Gold is a famously uncooperative agent of change.

It resists social uplift, in the same way an old man resists a new pair of shoes.

It turns away from the sound of trumpets.

“You go over there,” gold says. “I’m staying here.”

“The trouble with gold is that it turns its back on world improvers, empire builders and do-gooders,” wrote Bill Bonner and our leader Addison Wiggin in Empire of Debt.

“The nice thing about gold is that it is so unresponsive,” they continued. “It neither laughs nor applauds.”

And that’s why it couldn’t last…

Only a debt-backed system of paper money could finance the great wars, the social improvements and the fevered dreams of the 20th century.

To continue reading: Debt-Based Money Corrodes Society

He Said That? 6/9/17

From Winston Churchill (1874–1965), British politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955:

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.

The Truth, by Hardscrabble Farmer

What can be said about Kathy Griffin’s idiocy that hasn’t been said? We didn’t want to give the misanthropic twit the SLL platform. We were looking for one good article, an appropriate summation, of the whole affair, and here’s the best we’ve found. From Hardscrabble Farmer at theburningplatform.com:

This entire shift in culture is coming down to one simple reality.

The Truth.

They don’t offer any of it in anything that they say or do. Her entire presser is loaded from front to back with contradictions, which are the places where truth and fiction collide.

Let’s look-

Kathy Griffin has had a career in the comedy industry that has lasted over 20 years. She has been on TV, appeared in film, written books, had award winning recordings, played venues like Carnegie Hall and Times Square on New Years Eve. And all of this with an act that is near the bottom of what any reasonable comic would consider to be “funny”. One of the worst parts of being a comic is that you become jaded. Once you’ve figured out the tricks of audience manipulation, joke construction and physical delivery little remains that will make you laugh.

The ones who can make comics laugh are known to be playing to the back of the room- comic’s comics. Kathy Griffin has a reputation in the industry as being one of the least funny, most difficult and erratic people to deal with. She isn’t nice to people, she’s got an ego that is far larger than her talent warrants, she’s been handed prime spots simply because she’s a female and she’s built a huge army of comics, club owners and staff that simply revile her for these reasons. And yet she claims that “white men” have held her back? Hey Kathy, aren’t you signed with William Morris? He’s an old white guy and so is your agent, Ari Emmanuel and his partner Patrick Whitesell. What’s the problem, no female agents of color in Hollywood? Hypocrite.

You don’t see one thing in this entire episode and no seems to notice- have you seen anyone in the comedy world come forward to tell people what a genuine and decent soul she is? How naturally funny and kind, how good she’s been to others or how often she has been there for other performers, how she brought down the house with unbelievably funny and original material, always worked her ass off to get where she is?

To continue reading: The Truth

I Apologize for This Column in Advance, by Joe Bob Briggs

The apology, which was once an expression of personal responsibility, guilt, and contrition, has been turned into just another exercise in public relations’ bullshit. From Joe Bob Briggs at takimag.com:

WASHINGTON—I would like to apologize in advance for not apologizing when people demand an apology.

Of course, when I don’t apologize, many people believe that my refusal to apologize means that I haven’t properly realized the depths of my evil, because the refusal itself is prima facie evidence that I’m even more depraved and clueless than originally believed, because surely all these repeated demands for me to apologize, increasing in volume and intensity, should have made me understand that I am wrong. The world took a vote and I lost, don’t I get that?

Furthermore, since I have persisted in refusing to apologize even after a third and fourth demand for my repentance goes unheeded, I must be forced to resign, paraded through the public stocks of social media, forever branded an unfeeling infidel Neanderthal who Just Doesn’t Get It when it comes to the business of offending people, and wiped off the face of the earth for not being willing to assuage feelings in the court of public opinion.

But it’s even worse. I also hold the view that, if you haven’t done or said anything wrong, or if you have simply misspoken, or if you have followed a policy that is proper to follow and yet people don’t like it, then an apology is the absolute worst thing you can do, because it is a lie.

I could cite a thousand examples of people apologizing, turning themselves into rank liars because they fear this or that rabid mob seeking their humiliation, but I’m going to deal with the three most recent and celebrated cases.

To continue reading: I Apologize for This Column in Advance