Saturday, June 01, 2013

Regulating freedom so we can be free?

So, the question might be, do we regulate "freedom" so that we can be free? Has to have something to do with teaching ourselves and others (kids) how to access what we need from the physical and social environment without impinging on others and without exhausting the carrying capacity of the world. What rules would support this kind of social organization?

Live and let live
Create what you need and if you want, share whatever you have in excess
Develop sustainable products and production methods
No initiating harm to others; avoid harm from others if at all possible
Be honest in your exchanges with others
Exchange is voluntary

How free can we be?

I've been reading a lot about liberterianism and anarchy lately. I find it really interesting stuff. I like the idea of being free from formal regulation of the governmental kind. I do think that humans are capable of regulating ourselves without the need for a formalized governmental system. In fact, most of us do most of the time. In other words, most of us regulate ourselves (in terms of doing the "right thing" without the need of government intervention) fairly well. To be sure, there are some who would do the "wrong thing" without any sort of fear of punishment (although most anarchists agree that there would be some form of "punishment" even in an anarchic society) that are currently doing the right thing, but it seems that this number would not be that large, proportionally. An, of course, those that currently act without regard for governmental (or any other) kind of consequence, will continue to do so.

The question, though is can we be free from any kind of regulation?The answer to this is no. Years of research have clearly demonstrated that humans need regulation of some kind. In other words, we don't know how to live with others innately; we need to learn how to do this. This learning is a life-long process and we are subject to it until death. This is not a bad thing, however (or it doesn't have to be). It is obvious that any interaction with the world results in some kind of outcome. Humans are designed to respond to the environment. We have evolved to survive through the use of our senses to make contact with the world and then modify our behavior based on the results of that contact (basic conditioning). Years of collective and cumulative human contact with the world results in "rules" about behavior ("don't touch a hot stove or you will get burned"). These rules are passed down from generation to generation and are modified due to changes in the environment; new rules are also generated due to changes in the environment. These rules result in continued and (coordinated) regulation and behavior.

more later...

Friday, May 31, 2013

Email to my older brother

Thought you'd like to know that I have been reading much about Austrian economics lately. I am not completely convinced that a truly free market, absent govt regulation, would be all that much better. I am leaning that way, though. I have always been critical of the govt and corporations because of their fascism and subsequent criminal use of power and am definitely in favor of ridding the world of both. I like Rothbard's work the best, so far. I think Mises is misguided with his notion of human action (not supported by empirical evidence; not surprising, tho since he eschews science in general). I usually love what Lewis Rockwell writes.

Funny, I think I know why people think I'm a liberal. I dislike the consolidation of power and the inequality (restriction of freedom) that it creates. Because of that, people seem to think I am in favor of govt intervention to alleviate that condition. I'm not and never have been. I wasn't sure what the answer was, but I knew govt wasn't it. I firmly believe that people need to work. In part because they don't need to leech off of others, but mainly because work leads to individual success and accomplishment and is a dignified way of living. Give people some education, a chance, and an opportunity to be competitive in an unregulated, fascist-free market, and yeah, I think we would have much less poverty and inequality than we do now. Plus, it would be clear that someone not working was her/his own choice.

Wish I had discovered this literature 30 years ago.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mind...what a waste

I want to make clear a couple of points I raised in Wednesday class; they have to do with my intellectual orientation to the study of human behavior.

First and foremost, I am a behaviorist. This means that I observe everything that humans do in terms of behavior. This includes thinking, feeling, etc. As such, the purpose of a human science is to explain or account for behavior. I do this by using the evidence generated by research conducted by behavior analysts. Why? Because after years of consideration, I have concluded that they have the best empirical evidence to support their claims. In addition, many claims made by behaviorists have been confirmed through other research.

Second...please don't think that because I reject the notion of "mind" that you have to as you don't. Your acceptance or rejection of this claim has no bearing on how well you do in the course. The reason I reject it is because I believe that the issue is explaining behavior (see above) and I think the addition of something called, "mind" to do that is unnecessary and misleading.

In addition, if we posit that people act because of mind, we have a problem...mind is an immaterial object...this means that it has no empirically identifiable properties (you can't touch, taste, hear, see, nor smell it). As such it is similar to a "ghost" or "spirit" and these notions are rejected by scientists because we cannot verify the existence of them. Put simply, based on what science has demonstrated after hundreds of years of application is that an immaterial object (mind) cannot control a material object (body). If we accept this premise, we have no reason to use the scientific method anymore because it is rendered useless since it is based on empirical observations.

So, what does work to control human behavior? This is still not well understood, but we know that the brain plays a part (if not THE part). Notice how a brain is not the same as the "mind." The brain has an empirical reality, whereas mind does not. So, if we want to find out the role that brain plays in human behavior, we have something to work with. Many people will say, "mind" when they are really referring to brain; I prefer to just say, "brain" if that is what I am being referring to.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Not me

I realized today that I am not the source of my own life. I don't animate myself. I did not create my life. I am something that's been created. Consequently, I am a fiction. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Recent rant on a list-serv...

RE: students not being able to pass the citizenship test and/or not being aware of current events...
I, too think that this is disconcerting, however, I am not that surprised. Given that our economy is one of consumption, it makes sense that students (and others) are busy consuming...entertainment, food, time through the ubiquitous use of social media, etc., at the expense of "school." School inevitably loses in the competition for attention, if for no other reason, our marketing budget is far, far less than that of the entertainment (read "product sales of any kind") industry. Let's be realistic, they out-spend us annually by billions of dollars. Who can compete against Xbox? Facebook? iPhones? Chili's? American Apparel? Consider that students are exposed to thousands of ads on a daily basis for these "products" and weigh that consideration against paying attention to stuff that is decidedly NOT entertaining...politics? social unrest in other parts of the world? genocide? nuclear meltdowns? "Nah, pass the chips and salsa, the remote for the Tivo, and the Corona...I got better things to do (like entertain myself) than watch this depressing crap."
Don't forget, we are also dealing with the leftover (now reheating) "culture wars" which equated being educated with being an elitist or, God forbid, a liberal (several years ago I had a student in class state that, "Science was a liberal endeavor"). And many states are cutting funding for education in a hopeless attempt to balance budgets, AND the unemployment rate is still high, AND the feds are cutting education funding...makes sense to me that more kids are opting for entertainment VS reality -- hell, reality sucks. Entertainment is...entertaining!!!
Last time I heard about "job creation" it was the creation of lower-paying (i.e., not much education required) jobs, so who needs to "waste time" getting an education when it isn't going to pay off? I have seen articles in various mediums discussing how getting a college education isn't worth the money! Plus, most of my students work AND go to school, so when they are not busy with family, school, entertainment, they are working (consequently "entertainment" is most appealing).
In sum, I think we are fighting the proverbial uphill battle; I don't know how we are faring in the war, but it sure seems like we ain't winning.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Email to some friends...

Mother Nature is awesome...I think she does these things to remind us humans that despite all of the BS we tell ourselves, we ain't runnin' shit, SHE is in charge.

For better or for worse (worse in this case), nuclear power IS the best solution (currently) to the massive energy needs that we, China, India, Japan, et al have right now. If you set aside the dangers (hard to, I agree), it IS the cleanest form of energy production that we have on the scale that we need (and we ARE going to run out of oil someday). Sure, passive is great, but it is not at the capacity to replace traditional forms of energy just yet. I wouldn't be surprised if the reason solar and other sources are not more available is BECAUSE of oil companies, nuclear energy companies, etc. But unless we want to return to a pre-industrialized form of society (i.e., no electricity), then this is what we are stuck with. At Dharma Farm (our place), we are try to live with the least amount of energy, but not easy to do.

War...I have come to respect the people in the military -- they are all brave people (far braver than I). What pisses me off is how American Presidents use these people in such a cavalier fashion -- doesn't matter what President. I also think that our choice of wars reveals the duplicity of our government. There are "humanitarian" crises in many places around the globe (Darfur, Ivory Coast, etc.), but we don't give enough of a shit about them to enact a no-fly zone. Here we come back to the energy issue again -- sure seems to me that we only decide that a conflict requires military intervention when our "national interests" (read: access to energy resources) are threatened. I would have far more respect for leaders if they were at least honest with populations -- "We really don't give a rat's ass about the Libyan people, we are kicking the shit out of Gaddhafi because we need the oil underneath Libyan soil." And the reason for increasing gas prices around the world is NOT due to a lack of oil from Libya (Saudi is making up for any reduction), it is ONLY because of speculators -- the same assholes who brought us the financial meltdown that we are still reeling from. Of course, THEY get the bailouts while we get the shaft. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Sunday, December 05, 2010

From the mouth of the babe

My son went to an Xmas event at church the other night. He told me that some girl was bothering him, so he called her a "dumb ass." Then he clarified that what he really called her was a "dumb asshole."

My first thought was, "Son a bitch, son, you can't say shit like that at church!!!"

How I wish I could speak the truth. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop