Archive for April, 2013

OK to be wrong sometimes

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Even people who are wrong often have a positive influence on other people, they often move things in the right direction or cause much needed course corrections. When the masses are going way off track, a little craziness might be worth listening to.

Self Fulfilling Cycle

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Most of America’s problems result from a government that is too large, while most American’s are looking to have their problems solved by adding more government.

How does one stop borrowing money?

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

There are only 2 ways to stop borrowing money: a good way and a bad way. The good way is to stop asking for money. The bad way is to ask for money, only to have the lenders say no. We all know which method will stop the US Federal Government from borrowing money. See, I didn’t have to tell you, you already know!

Assuming the Chinese government is not stupid, they must be arranging their affairs to protect China from a failure to recover the investments they made in the US Federal Government. If they are able to arrange their affairs so as to minimize the damage that will be done by a US default, they then will most certainly stop wasting good money after bad and will stop lending the US money. Once they stop…

Who disobeys?

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

For some interesting reading check out Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, Copyrights 1984 – 2009. It’s full of insights from fascinating studies.

Many good people do not fear the government. Most probably believe that either their leaders won’t ever order armed personnel to harm them or that even if they are so ordered, those armed personnel will not follow those orders. This might be a good time to re-familiarize ourselves with the experiments done by Professor Stanley Milgram at Yale University. I think everyone reading this must be familiar with the well known story but if not you can google it. If your memory needs refreshing, Milgram asked test subjects (who did not know they were part of a psychological study) to give electrical shocks to other people, and at first the person receiving the shock was a willing participant. Of course no electrical shocks were actually being administered; the people being “shocked” were part of the study. The person conducting the test told the subject to gradually increase the voltage with each electrical shock. Despite cries of “stop”, “this is hurting me” and even “I have a heart condition and won’t make it” from the person being shocked, 65% of the subjects cranked the voltage to the highest level of 450 volts. All of the participants continued to 300 volts.

The results of Milgram’s study is such a horrible statement about human nature that it boggles the mind. I find it hard to accept or believe, but I’ve never heard the validity of this study challenged.

However many people are not aware of Prof. Milgram’s follow up studies. Prof. Milgram wanted to know why his subjects were so willing to provide a harmful electrical shock to a perfectly nice person who they hardly knew. Through his follow up experiments Milgram determined that the subjects were willing to inflict electrical shock on innocent people because of an obedience to authority which virtually all people have.

Milgram performed two simple follow up experiments. In one, he had the person receiving the electrical shock call out to the test subject that he was OK and they should continue, while the “authority figure” (person running the experiment) told the subject to stop. 100% of the subjects stopped the testing. They followed authority.

In the second follow up experiment, the authority figure”, (person in charge and running the test) was the one being submitted to the electrical shocks. When he told the subjects to stop, they stopped. Again they followed authority.

Remember now that this “authority” was someone they had just met, someone the test subjects knew virtually nothing about and someone they had no association with. In light of this it is hard to believe that armed personnel will not harm us if ordered to do so by the authority figures that they have been following for years, and who are responsible for their livelihoods and who they have an on-going relationship with. The experiments make this hard to believe, but we believe what we want to believe and we tell ourselves everything is OK while ignoring objective evidence. We make up excuses as to how things will work out. Similar experiments show that people almost always go along with a group, and once so ordered everyone knows what the group is dong.

We see leaders as parental type figures who will take care of us. How often have organized armed personnel disobeyed their orders? How often do armed personnel follow orders blindly?

If we are not going to strip our leaders of the power, we will have to just sit and hope that the leader never decides to harm us. Those are our 2 choices.

Tragedy makes good politics

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Today the President of the US, the Governor of MA and the Mayor of Boston used the marathon tragedy for political gain. None of them have any personal connection to any of the people who were injured or killed. None of them would give a dang about these people if they weren’t harmed in a way that brings news cameras. They stand up and speak at the memorial service for the victims as if they are concerned. Will any of the victims even be able to get a phone call through to them tomorrow? These 3 goof balls praise each other and spew useless rhetoric while and we clap for them. Shameful.

Saving us from ourselves

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Two bombs exploded during the marathon here in Boston creating a tragic incident. Now an area of approximately 20 square blocks is sealed off with the police blocking every entrance way. Cordoning off of crime scenes is routine. How can this be constitutional? People are now prevented by the government from access their own private property. Restaurants, apartments, retail stores all taken from us and now under government control. Are there any limits? Can they keep the area closed for weeks? Months? Can they go into any area and do whatever they want? Even if they are not exercising total authority at this moment and doing whatever they want now, that is not the point. The question is “Does anything prevent them from taking total control?”… and if not, isn’t it certain that one day they will? Perhaps if that day seems far enough off, we won’t worry about it. I believe that even when that day comes, government control of virtually everything will be seen as not only acceptable but necessary. In fact, isn’t it already so?

If one of our tenants living here in our apartment building commits a crime can my family and I be kept from our home indefinitely? When Obama spoke at Symphony Hall last summer I was prevented from entering my own home. When I asked the cop what he would arrest me for if I proceeded down the blocked off street, he said “Disobeying a police officer”. Perhaps if we are all in the same boat we don’t worry that the boat is sinking.

To me the sad thing is that no one is asking these questions. Are any news reporters addressing this? The old saying goes “If you don’t ask the right questions you will never get the right answers.” The constitution has gone from being the supreme law of the land, to a rough list of guiding principals, to a useless piece of paper that is ignored by practically all of us. Virtually everyone seems to think that since this is an emergency, or because it is serious, or for whatever reason, anything the “authorities” do is OK. Some investigation is probably nice and catching those responsible might be a good idea, but are there no limits? Are we willing to put unlimited resources into it and are we willing to give up any rights or substantial freedoms to try and catch bad guys?

Ben Franklin was correct: “Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.” Looks like I deserve neither.