Sunday, October 23, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

Dear Occupy Wall Street Protesters,

You have my utmost support in taking our country back from the corporate fascists that have taken over our country, and have destroyed the very fabric of who we are: the 99 percent.


For the past month the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown from Zucotti Park, in downtown Manhattan to a world wide movement. Although I haven't been down there, I support their cause. Many critics of OWS, especially the Fox News assholes, say the protesters have no central focus. Let me explain that the main principle at the source of the rage coming from OWS is the unequal distribution of wealth in the United States, due to the long cozy relationship between our elected officials, and big business. OWS has giving voice to many of us who are disgusted by the practices of the wealthiest and most powerful individuals and corporations that are controlling our political system and thus are controlling the national agenda.

For example, most, if not all of our congressmen, senators, mayors, governors and presidents are bought and sold by corporations. The corporations are funding their elections, and therefore once these politicians are in office, they are beholden to the corporations and not the voters, even though it was the voters who elected the politician. This is why legislation often contains within it loopholes that corporations use to escape whatever practices the regulations were intended to stop.

But you already know this right? What corporations get away with today, is some of the most disgusting immoral behavior in the world. It makes me sick. It's just unbelievable what the state of American politics is today. Will it ever end? Can anything really be done to divorce this grotesque relationship between big money, and government?

I feel I should be down there protesting. Although I have a job and have benefited well from my college education, I am very passionate about the movement. We need Wall Street to hear our voice. Their greed cannot go unpunished. What is at stake here is nothing less than the future of the middle class, which in turn is the future of the United States. Should we raise taxes of the rich to pay for our debt? Of course!

OWS is all about:

1.Ending the influence that corporations and banks have on our elections and legislation.
2.Protect the middle class; stop the increasing economic disparity between the rich and everyone else, by
3.Making the economy work for everyone (especially the 99%).

Why is this so controversial? Because the banks and corporations who control the government and a large percentage of our media, are using their money and power to mischaracterize the OWS movement and are actively trying to frame it so that OWS looks like a socialist revolution. They are very good at using fear mongering, a la Fox News, to scare Americans into thinking that OWS wants to destroy capitalism and replace it with a communist-style socialist market. OWS protesters don't want a handout, they want jobs. They want good paying jobs with benefits. They want to work and earn a living and to be productive. They don't want the 1 percenters taking the lion's share of wealth and leaving everyone else to gnaw at the tiny pieces of meat left of the bones. Who can blame them when the wages for middle income people has been virtually flat for 30 years and the richest 1 in the U.S. soared 275 percent from 1979 to 2007.

Revolution is inevitable under such circumstances.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Does Free Will Exist?

This is one of the hardest questions to answer: The notion of human free will. Does it exist? Do we have free will? Christopher Hitchens sarcastically says we have free will because we have no choice. I say we have free will, but, and this is a very big but, it is conditional. We do not have the free will to choose whether we are born male or female, how tall or how short we are, what race we are, what language, culture and geographic area of the world we are born into, how rich or how poor we are, and what year we are born. Not of this is willed by us. These decisions are made by forces and circumstances outside which we can control. As such, many of us might want to have been born as different people or at a different time all together.

Considering how conditional our experiences are, how can any of us say we have free will at all? Well, although we do not control the origin of our life circumstances, we do have control in how we react to them. And therein lies our free will. Even when you are forced to recon with an instinct and personality that is not of your own choice either, your rational mind allows you to make decisions. Being human is being rational. We can control our rage, conquer our fears and forgo our selfishness. This of course doesn't mean that we always do.

So I essentially believe we have free will that is conditional to a sort of happenstance that we have no control over. The idea that god gives us free will is ridiculous because we we are given free will, that takes away the whole point. Meaning we didn't will to have free will, it was decided for us.

Lastly, our free will is constrained by what is physically and logically possible. If I am sitting at a bar and have a choice of 10 different beers on draft to choose from, then I am free to choose any one of them. But my choices (at least at that bar) are limited to what is available to me. Life is full of "you can't always get what you want" situations. And if I will to have powers like a super-hero, I obviously am out of luck due to the laws of physics.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ethical Dilemmas and Principles

Suppose two men agreed they they are going to collaborate on getting a job done. Working together will make the task at hand much easier than if they were to each undertake it alone. The job requires an investment of capital, weeks of planing, time and effort to be put into it in order to be successful. Suddenly, one of the men backs out of the agreement just as all their hard work was going to materialize. Now the other man is left in a situation where he can not finish the job by himself and he has now wasted money, time and hard work. Was it wrong for the man to back out of the agreement so late in the game where by him doing so, it jeopardized the success of the job?

Think about your answer. What is the moral duty to uphold a social agreement? If one agrees upon a "social contract", does one have the obligation to uphold it? Most people would say that both parties have committed themselves into a social contract, while not necessary legally binding, does contain within it, levels of trust and dependency that if broken would be damaging to the parties involved. It is you can say a "socially binding" contract.

Now let's say that the man backed out of the agreement because he suddenly caught a sense of moral contemplation. The job they were doing was to go out and kidnap a young girl for the purposes of raping and killing her. He backed out of the deal because he just couldn't bare to go through with it. Now was he wrong for backing out? Or, was he right for backing out of an agreement to kill someone solely for its pleasure?

The moral idea of honoring one's contractual and social agreements, and of being an honest broker in business clearly has its exceptions. But therefore, the question begs to be asked: Does all morality depend on situational, and relative circumstances? Is, in other words, all morality relative? When Sam Harris outlines the idea of principle, standing firm even when one can find exceptions, he is talking in a way about having rigid morals that do not necessarily have to be absolute in every situation. For example, in chess there is a good principle to adhere to: Don't loose your Queen. But there are situations when sacrificing your Queen is the best strategic option to make, and there are other times where you will have no other choice but to sacrifice your Queen. These exceptions do not have the ability to erode away the solidity of the principle at heart. No one is going to say that because a single exception can be found to the principle of not loosing your Queen in chess, that we must therefore throw out the entire principle or that the principle is erroneous.

One argument theists make about morality absence of god, is that without the absolutism of morality from divine command theory, you cannot have moral principle. My initial example above on the relativism of a moral proposition, shows how morality, while not always absolute in its nature can still have a principle behind it. In principle, I might say, it is morally right to honor those you conduct business with whether contractually or socially, but there are exceptions.

Why is murder wrong?

It is pretty axiomatic that just about every documented society, and every culture, has a basic, core set of morality that it lives by. It's a kind of basic, universal morality. This very general set of ethics, is the by product of socio-biological evolution for us as social primates. Murder for example, was condemned in almost every fashion, at least within the tribe. Historically, there were always justifications for killing the members of other tribes, and for stealing and pillaging whatever they had. In every single advanced social association of people, there exists rules to live by for the insiders. The fact that there are individual exceptions does not take away the principle behind the moral. There will always be sociopaths, and the mentally challenged who do not care, or are not able to reason their way out of murder. One of humanity's greatest challenges was to remove itself from the tribal identities from which it came from, and to learn to embrace one another as all members of essentially the same extended tribe.

Murder is wrong because in principle, it is in our best option to not do so. Sure, I can murder a single individual with no real consequences for humanity as a whole. Perhaps I can do so even to a million people to the same result. But a society that always permits murder with no consequence however, is risking the benefit of being stable. Stability is what allows a society to prosper and advance. In was agriculture for example, that allowed us to cultivate what was once wild, freeing up our ability (and time)to not have to constantly hunt for our next meal. Suddenly, people were free to concentrate on learning from the natural world what they would previously have had no time for. And it was then that humanity began to flourish under the stability that arose. Would therefore, an argument that agriculture was good for humanity sound like a veritable proposition? If so, then saying murder is wrong for humanity holds the same truth and any exception that can be found does not damage the foundation of the underlying principle.

On Social Dynamics and Human Nature

Some reflective writing

Sometimes it’s hard to put into words what you really want to say. I’m not even sure how to word this properly. Sometimes I think about the world around me more than I think about the world within me. We all see the world through our subjective lens. It is therefore, very hard to see the world with you in it. Step out of consciousness and reflect. At any moment of the day, I am having multiple wars going on in my head. I have fear and paranoia, greed to get everything my way, fear and anxiety about the past and hope for the future. I dislike some of the voices I hear. Yet I also wish others would speak up louder. I turn to seek enjoyment in temporary pleasures through self destructive acts. I get jealous and horny and angry minute by minute. It is almost like my inner conscience is a mirror of the world today.

Social dynamics are a fascinating topic. I read a book a few years ago about a guy who wanted to get more successful with the ladies, so he travels around the world to meet men who are experts in getting women and getting laid. Overtime he learns how to get girl after girl, but what he also learns about through that process, is how important social dynamics take place in every social situation. First example, the idea of having such a social effect on people, that your reality becomes their reality. Such as walking into a group of people and now you’re putting on such a display, and you have such charisma that all of the people are now almost like actors in your life going according to exactly how you want them to act.

It’s like you are staring on your own movie, all about you and the people around you have no idea and have become unwitting supporting actors. Such an act, would be a vulgar display of narcissism and narcissism is something we all hate in others. Some people have that natural ability to be narcissistic, and you might have become an unwitting actor in the movie of their life. Sometimes it is OK, other times it is not depending on the situation.

It’s something I have studied closely in my interaction with other people. Sometimes, for example you have a certain skill which is in such high demand, that others wishing this knowledge are willing to act in your life like eager bulgy-eyed pupils in the front row of a classroom. It's the teacher/student relationship.

Mastering the art of social dynamics, and interpersonal relationships I think is one of the most beneficial skills one can have and capable of rewarding some of the highest dividends for years to come.

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