This is how the world end

I have a family member who recently said to me that if I posted pictures of them on Facebook, they would stop speaking to me.  This, entirely understandable, concern stems from their conscious concern that personnel information collection by large companies has a tendency to be abused.  Once you have surrender your privacy it is nearly impossible to get back.

What made the conversation stand out to me wasn’t their “fear” of business; but that this particular family member is one that inherently trusts government to solve this (and many other) issues.  There seems to be a fundamental disconnect between the perceived danger from business and the real danger of government.

Coca-cola cannot force my soda consumption (or limit the size of my cup.)  Google cannot regulate which sites I am allowed to visit, or what the content of those sites can be.  Phillip-Morris is entirely unable to limit the extent of my free speech by defining who is, or is not, a “legitimate” reporter.  And while Facebook may want to use your personnel information to sell you crap, or profile you activities; it doesn’t have the ability levy punitive damages, listen in on any phone conversation you have ever had, or target you with a drone strike.

One’s personnel privacy should certainly be protracted, but a healthy fear of the abuse of capitalism should always be tempered with a real fear of the only institution that has the ability to use force against us.  An institution that has demonstrated time and time again that it abuses that force to the detriment of both our privacy and our liberty.

Random Excerpts from “Just Courage”

Some notes from the book “Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian” by Gary A. Haugen:

“The sin of injustice is defined in the Bible as the abuse of power – abusing power by taking from others the good things that God intended for them, namely, their life, liberty, dignity, or the fruits of their love or their labor.  In other words, when a stronger person abuses his or her power by taking from a weaker person what God alone has given the weaker person -…”

-Gary Haugen

“Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker”

-Proverbs 14:31 NRSV

In-justice is a particularly egregious evil because the sufferer (the weaker person who is being acted on) isn’t suffering because of a random unfairness, an uncontrollable act of nature or bad luck; but because of the very intentional abuse and oppression of a stronger person.

“(caring for the poor of Africa…) is not a matter of charity; it’s a matter of justice”

-Bono

“…we can give all manner of goods and services to the poor, but if we do not restrain the hands of the bullies from taking it away, we will be disappointed in the long-term outcome of our efforts.”

-Gary Haugen

Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong.

-Theodore Roosevelt

Violence is just different. Violence is intentional. Violence is scary. And violence causes deep scars.

-Gary Haugen

Those who prey upon the poor are not brave. They only prey upon the poor when they think they can… Most fundamentally the predators (the instigators of injustice) are afraid of the truth.

-Gary Haugen

Justice is the aura of God. It is something every human understands, even from the time they are small children, but something that doesn’t exist as part of “the world.” In a universe that has absolutely no concept of fairness; every being on this planet, regardless of race, creed, or belief, screams out for justice. Those that pursue it are considered the greatest examples of mankind. Those who die for it are considered martyrs and saints. And those who stand in opposition to it will forever be judged on the wrong side of history.

“Ultimately we can choose to be safe or brave.  We cannot be both.”

-Gary Haugen

Favorite Axioms

From the book axiom by Bill Hybels:

  1. –Find Owners not Hirelings.
  2. –Build a Boiler Fund.
  3. –Vision Leaks.
  4. –There are Dangers in Incrementalism.
  5. –Institutionalize Key Values.
  6. –Get the Right People around the Table.
  7. –Know Who is Driving.
  8. –Speed of the Leader, Speed of the Team.
  9. –Deliver the Bad News First.
  10. –Leaders Call Fouls.
  11. –A Bias towards Action.
  12. –Sweat the Small Stuff
  13. –Find the Critic’s Kernel of Truth.
  14. –Always Debrief.
  15. –Find Mentors, make Mentors (Obi-Wan Kenobi Isn’t for Hire)
  16. –What Life are You Waiting for?
  17. –Read All You Can.
  18. –Lead Something.
  19. –Admit Mistakes, and Your Stock Goes Up.
  20. –Finish Well.

I probably need to make a small comment about each of these. Doing so will help me “flesh them out” for myself and clarify them for myself. Especially considering my view of these leadership ideas are not the same as Mr. Hybels.  Hopefully I will add to this post later.

End of an Era

Pat Buchanan has an article titled “The Party’s Over” on Human Events. It is the best summary of the current financial crisis, its root cause, and its long term consequences. I am re-posting it here in its entirety for reference sake.

The Crash of 2008, which is now wiping out trillions of dollars of our people’s wealth, is, like the Crash of 1929, likely to mark the end of one era and the onset of another.

The new era will see a more sober and much diminished America. The “Omnipower” and “Indispensable Nation” we heard about in all the hubris and braggadocio following our Cold War victory is history.

Seizing on the crisis, the left says we are witnessing the failure of market economics, a failure of conservatism.

This is nonsense. What we are witnessing is the collapse of Gordon Gecko (“Greed Is Good!”) capitalism. What we are witnessing is what happens to a prodigal nation that ignores history, and forgets and abandons the philosophy and principles that made it great.

A true conservative cherishes prudence and believes in fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets and a self-reliant republic. He believes in saving for retirement and a rainy day, in deferred gratification, in not buying on credit what you cannot afford, in living within your means.

Is that really what got Wall Street and us into this mess — that we followed too religiously the gospel of Robert Taft and Russell Kirk?

“Government must save us!” cries the left, as ever. Yet, who got us into this mess if not the government — the Fed with its easy money, Bush with his profligate spending, and Congress and the SEC by liberating Wall Street and failing to step in and stop the drunken orgy?

For years, we Americans have spent more than we earned. We save nothing. Credit card debt, consumer debt, auto debt, mortgage debt, corporate debt — all are at record levels. And with pensions and savings being wiped out, much of that debt will never be repaid.

Our standard of living is inevitably going to fall. For foreigners will not forever buy our bonds or lend us more money if they rightly fear that they will be paid back, if at all, in cheaper dollars.

We are going to have to learn to live again without our means.

The party’s over

Up through World War II, we followed the Hamiltonian idea that America must remain economically independent of the world in order to remain politically independent.

But this generation decided that was yesterday’s bromide and we must march bravely forward into a Global Economy, where we all depend on one another. American companies morphed into “global companies” and moved plants and factories to Mexico, Asia, China and India, and we began buying more cheaply from abroad what we used to make at home: shoes, clothes, bikes, cars, radios, TVs, planes, computers.

As the trade deficits began inexorably to rise to 6 percent of GDP, we began vast borrowing from abroad to continue buying from abroad.

At home, propelled by tax cuts, war in Iraq and an explosion in social spending, surpluses vanished and deficits reappeared and began to rise. The dollar began to sink, and gold began to soar.

Yet, still, the promises of the politicians come. Barack Obama will give us national health insurance and tax cuts for all but that 2 percent of the nation that already carries 50 percent of the federal income tax load.

John McCain is going to cut taxes, expand the military, move NATO into Georgia and Ukraine, confront Russia and force Iran to stop enriching uranium or “bomb, bomb, bomb,” with Joe Lieberman as wartime consigliere.

Who are we kidding?

What we are witnessing today is how empires end.

The Last Superpower is unable to defend its borders, protect its currency, win its wars or balance its budget. Medicare and Social Security are headed for the cliff with unfunded liabilities in the tens of trillions of dollars.

What we are witnessing today is nothing less than a Katrina-like failure of government, of our political class, and of democracy itself, casting a cloud over the viability and longevity of the system.

Notice who is managing the crisis. Not our elected leaders. Nancy Pelosi says she had nothing to do with it. Congress is paralyzed and heading home. President Bush is nowhere to be seen.

Hank Paulson of Goldman Sachs and Ben Bernanke of the Fed chose to bail out Bear Sterns but let Lehman go under. They decided to nationalize Fannie and Freddie at a cost to taxpayers of hundreds of billions, putting the U.S. government behind $5 trillion in mortgages. They decided to buy AIG with $85 billion rather than see the insurance giant sink beneath the waves.

An unelected financial elite is now entrusted with the assignment of getting us out of a disaster into which an unelected financial elite plunged the nation. We are just spectators.

What the Greatest Generation handed down to us — the richest, most powerful, most self-sufficient republic in history, with the highest standard of living any nation had ever achieved — the baby boomers, oblivious and self-indulgent to the end, have frittered away.

Notes from Ted

If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never stand for or against. Struggle between “for” and “against” is the minds worst disease.

–Sent-ts’an

Some quick notes from Jonathan Haidt’s talk to Ted on the “The real difference between liberals and conservatives“.

Liberals are high on the personality trait of “openness to experience” whereby they crave novelty, verity, and diversity. Those who are low in the trait like things that are familiar, safe, and dependable. There is a juxtaposition here because being “open” primarily focuses on new experience but can often be hostile to the familiar.

Foundations of morality:

  1. Harm/Care
  2. Fairness/Reciprocity
  3. In-group/Loyalty
  4. Authority/Respect
  5. Purity/Sanctity

Liberals, in general, have a two channel morality and reject in-group, authority, and purity as foundations of morality.  Social entropy, order starts to decay, can be steamed with some kind of punishment (religion may act as such a anti-entropy.)  Additionally advanced social organization, such as creating the great piramids or going to the moon, require the use of all give moral channels.

  • Liberals speak for the weak and oppressed; want change and justice, even at the expense of chaos.
  • Conservatives speak for institutions and traditions; want order even at cost to those at the bottom.

In summary it would seem our minds were designed to 1) build us into teams, 2) separate us from other teams, and 3) blind us to the truth (of our/others teams.)

The same mistakes, only sooner.

Yes, another set of links. I have a pretty massive bookmark list to empty out and everyone who visits suffers because of it.

  • Dijkstra’s Algorithm – Wikipedia is like a drug. Hello my name is Bob.
  • Beating Ubuntu – A editorial on how to take the Linux desktop title away from its current leader.
  • Desktop Linux: Mission Impossible – Editorial discussing if it is even possible for desktop Linux to ever win the OS war.
  • Kontact & Google Apps – Kontact is probably the best Outlook replacement on Linux and this tutorial by Linux.com helps you get it working with Google.
  • Retirement Mistakes – Ben Stein (look up his wikipedia bio, you will be floored by how smart this guy is) discusses the 3 biggest retirement mistakes people make.
  • Raising Smart Kids – Some tips on how to develop children with above average intelligence.
  • The POG Gallery – Glen Palmer first designed the closed bold semi-automatic paintball gun before the Auto Cocker had even been conceived. To this day his son makes the best paintball guns in the world (with not electronics in them.) Here are some beautiful examples.
  • Worlds Most Expensive Scotches – The title says it all.
  • Bill Cosby’s Rant – This is part of a speech Bill gave at the 50th Anniversary commemoration of the Brown vs Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court Decision.  It is an interesting commentary on the state of civil rights in the United States.
  • Are Rich People Parasites – An editorial by David Gordon that discusses the economic value of wealth in a free market society.

And the truth…

I have been glued to Cato-at-liberty for the last couple days. Cato-at-liberty is the official blog for The Cato Institute, the definitive classical conservative think-tank. I have become so sick of both parties (Democons and Repulicrates), and their constant hypocrisy that I haven’t even been able to blog about them. Reading the posts on Cato-at-liberty has been like a breath of fresh air for me. While I may still catch the occational literary trash; I have basically given up on intelligent political discussion, from the any mainstream media source.

Here are some of the web resources I have been reading lately. They have NOT been dumbdown for your reading pleasure:

War & Peace

The Futurist is running a two part article (titled “The Winds of War, The Sands of Time”) discussing the relative state of peace in the world.  The article points out that from the metric of human beings killed in combat; the last couple years have been the most peaceful in recorded human history.  The reasons for this “”expansion of peace” are the usual suspects; expansion of democracy and an increase in overall absolute wealth worldwide. 

The other interesting piece of data gleaned from the article is the wikipedia List of wars and disasters by death toll.  When I saw this page I had the same feeling as the one I got the day I first saw the History channel.  Something along the lines of “Ohhhh, crap!  There goes my free-time for the next six months.”  They even list the individual battles by death toll.

Please excuse me, I have some reading to do.