Tag Archive | "equality"

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It’s All About Common Sense

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2009-09-01 22:54:29. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Thomas Paine.
Image via Wikipedia

August 23, 2009

Each and every day a child is born into a world of truths and lies, rights and wrongs, haves and wants.  From its first breath, it is conditioned to understand the forces of action and reaction, the relationship between wanting and getting, and how to manipulate the circumstances to best serve its needs. Whether it’s crying to receive its milk or copping a smile to get a hug, the child quickly begins to understand how to acquire material and non-material things.

Our mind is conditioned to think in terms of acquisitions and possessions. It is human nature and, just like with any other emotion, there too is an emotion attached to one’s possessions. The value of one’s possessions (regardless of whether they are material, like a home or a car, or non-material, like professional respect or rich family traditions) is directly related to the effort exerted in obtaining them. The depth of the emotion attached to these possessions is similarly directly correlated to this effort, as well as their value.  The three form an inextricable triad which is deeply rooted in human nature and natural law. From this simple observation, a basic conclusion about the human condition can be summarized as follow:

Your happiness is directly related to the value of the wealth (material and non-material) you’ve created and the effort you’ve contributed in creating it.

When we are first taught to play in the sandbox, we are told not to take the other children’s toys. Why? Because first of all those toys don’t belong to us – we haven’t earned the right to have them. Secondly, it would make the other children sad, since that for which they likely had to do something to get (i.e. earn it), would be unjustly taken away from them. It’s just common sense, isn’t it?

value-effort-happiness

But some time very soon after the sandbox stage in a child’s development, these nascent links and deep-rooted relationships between ownership, effort and happiness begin to be eaten away. In the home this happens through parents who too easily accept the commercial media version of the world and who are not willing (or intellectually able) to espouse the basic principles of natural law and individual responsibility onto their offspring.   Outside the home the society takes over with incongruent representations of the real world, manifested in attitudes such as:

  • debt is good (and you don’t really have to pay it all back)
  • your mistakes are everyone else’s problem
  • less capable does not mean less deserving
  • every effort is just as good as any other, and should deserve the same outcome (i.e. it’s the effort that counts)
  • opportunity should not be equally apportioned, but instead should be skewed toward those who need it most, even (or particularly) if at the expense of those who can produce a better outcome from such opportunity

Does that make sense? Is a society which has these as its principles efficient, fair, equitable and sustainable?

Clearly, the answer must be “no,” since each violates one or more basic laws of human behavior and indeed common sense. Yet over the better part of the 20th century the American society has adopted and inculcated each of these values into its daily life and its government, media and cultural centers continue to promote even greater departures from the basic principles which make up the human behavioral DNA.

A modern society which is based on principles of liberty and freedom cannot at the same time be one which imposes unnatural laws and ordinances on its citizens. It is not, as most progressive liberals would like to see, a place and time where all are guaranteed an equal outcome, regardless of their individual contribution.  It certainly cannot be one which irresponsibly uses its financial and human resources and violates the most basic principles of supply/demand economics.

Like the sea farer that knows the immovable nature of the stars and how they provide him guidance to navigate the stormy waters, so too a modern society must have its anchor in tried and tested core founding principles. And this is particularly true in a world where change is occurring at increasing speed and where losing its national compass, a society risks eternal disorientation in the sea of conflict and divergence.

In his 1776 political pamphlet “Common SenseThomas Paine looks at the political systems of his time, the monarchy, the British parliament, commons and constitution and questions many of the prevailing ideas of the role of government and its relationship to the citizens. In so doing he applies a rigorous discipline of logic and of common sense, and exposes nonsensical laws and political traditions. Most constitutional historians agree that this scrutiny and deep analysis of the British system of government at the time made a significant impact on the writing of the United States Constitution.

We could say that much common sense was applied by the authors of the American Constitution in formulating the principles of our founding. We know that because of its common sense it has withstood the test of time.

Each time we step away from these guiding principles, we lose one more star in the sky to guide us by.

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Article may be published with attribution to the author and the NakedLiberty.com web site

Article is Copyrighted (c) 2009, XCIOS, LLC

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Is Meritocracy Dead in America?

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2009-06-29 20:46:54. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

It was a beautiful day on Long Island today, as my daughter fussed over her cap and gown, getting ready for her high school graduation. The rite of passage that is the graduation ceremony was to be the highlight of our day, the last ritual before going away to college and beginning her new academic and social life away from home and the heretofore familiar surroundings. As most fathers are at this stage, I am very proud of her and her achievements to date and am confident she will do great in college.

As we arrived at the school athletic fields where the ceremony was to take place for the over 600 graduating seniors, the school principal and various dignitaries from the board of education were all lined up to fulfill their respective roles in the process. Among them the familiar face of Charles (Chuck) Schumer, the senior senator from New York was to give the commencement speech.

Opening the ceremony, the senator started with his speech, and I was surprised to hear the exact same one I heard 2 years ago at my older daughter’s graduation. Thinking this to be a bit odd and frankly somewhat lazy, I paid little attention to the drone of “how I became a senator” until the speech’s concluding remarks. The culminating point of the speech was Schumer’s self-aggrandizing statement of having successfully sponsored a new $2,500 tax credit program for middle-class families. Under the program, which will run for 2 years, families will be entitled to claim a $2,500 tax credit per each student enrolled in college, provided that their income meets certain maximum threshold provisions, which he stated would be capped at $200,000.

“For each of you earning less than $200,000, you will now be able to afford to send your children to college,” said the senator. “For those of you making $200,000 and above – well, God bless you.” The audience reacted with an energetic applause to this not so subtle example of class warfare rhetoric.

Setting aside the inaccuracy of the qualifying income limit (according to our research, when combined with the HOPE credit and other tax laws, the qualifying income limit may in fact be $60K for single and $120K for families), the principle notion of government sponsorship of college education based on financial need as opposed to merit should be of some concern.

By targeting the nation’s financial resources on programs which aid less affluent prospective students, we have fundamentally abandoned any notions of meritocracy and replaced them with a need-based social construct. While clearly a popular position among most Americans since it is portrayed as a caring gesture of the government (who would object to receiving a seemingly free gift or in this case benefit, i.e. the proverbial something for nothing?), we should examine its consequences, as in most cases many of them end up being unintended and in the greater context, undesirable.

Should the affluence level of the student’s family be the driving measure in the allocation of government subsidies for the student to attend college?

We are conditioned to answer this question in the affirmative, since in our politically correct dialect the less affluent are part of an affirmative action class. It is therefore our societal obligation, we are taught, to provide access to our nation’s financial resources on a preferred basis to those who are most in need of them, without regard to their individual contribution or their ability to make best use of such resources.

To what degree do we value fairness in the distribution of government financial aid for college education, or does the principle of equality trump all others?

As modern day Americans we don’t seem to place much value on fairness in the manner in which government serves its people. I’ve written on the distinction between equality and fairness in the June 13, 2000 article “Let’s not Confuse Equality and Fairness”. The article exposes our progressively degenerating definition of equality from what was our Founding Fathers’ original intent (equality of opportunity and not that of outcome) to the present socio-marxist interpretation of “… to each according to his needs.” In the long run, the dogmatic adherence to equality according to one’s need necessarily must lead to a polarization of the society and, instead of creating the intended harmony between income classes, it creates an increasingly greater rift between them. Meritocracy has to be, to a dominant extent, interwoven into the decision process in order for a society to survive and thrive.

Since we are now competing for minds in a global economy, how do we rank in their midst?

Since we’ve conceded that the optimal distribution of resources to produce the most effective outcome (only achievable through a merit based allocation) is not the goal, we therefore accept mediocrity as a satisfactory outcome. This, beyond any other force, is likely to have the most far reaching impact on the quality of citizens our education system produces over the long run. Comparing our policies with those of China, India and most European countries, where college entry is earned primarily through exceptional performance, the divergence in the intellectual quality of their college graduates as compared with those coming out of US schools is already becoming more apparent.

Many who would not consider themselves to be affluent, have historically not been able to qualify for any meaningful financial aid precisely because of their tax dollars being dispersed according to an equality formula that has very little, if anything to do with the benefit that the dollars spent will produce. In the case of my daughter, who graduated high school in the top 5% of her class of over 600, her acceptance into a number of very good schools was not matched with any meaningful financial contribution from the government. We ended up making a reasonable compromise, but I have not yet come up with a good way of explaining to her why her excellent performance and exceptional efforts were not recognized by the government of a country of which she will once be a leader.

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Quotation of the Day:

“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”

John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963)

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We welcome your comments and suggestions, either directly inline, or via email to editor@nakedliberty.com. If you would like to have your article published in Naked Liberty, please contact the editor at the above email address.

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Our Values and Our Progeny

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2009-05-30 21:02:40. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

One of the greatest gifts we can pass on to our children is the portfolio of values that we spend our life’s years developing. And we hope that, as our children weave their way through the obstacles that they will undoubtedly face in their own lives, they will not only apply the values they’ve assimilated from us, but indeed grow them and, by so doing, create an even greater value legacy to pass on to their own offspring.

Impact of Observed Behavior on our Children

Our children are keen observers of life around them. They astutely learn from all that we do and they are much more apt to learn from observing of our actions rather than listening to our words. And contrary to general beliefs, over time they will more deeply assimilate behavioral traits from figures of authority, more so than from their friends and peers. To older teens and young adults such authority figures include not only parents, but also teachers, professors and coaches (especially those that are particularly liked and respected), and revered political figures. To many in the 18 to 24 age bracket, President Obama is certainly looked up to as such an authority figure.

So when a President holds such esteem in the minds of our young, as parents, we should be keenly astute about the messaging and actions that such a figure communicates to our children. Are his words and actions consistent with those that represent our values? Are the messages he communicates through the public media the same or at least closely aligned with the messages that we espouse on our children?

A Dangerous Message

In a speech on May 14, 2009 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico President Obama addressed the “crisis” in the consumer credit card industry, proposing sweeping new legislation to make the use of credit cards more consumer friendly. This he presented in a two part interaction with a local town hall audience. In the first, read directly from a teleprompter, he laid out his three principal pillars of the plan – simpler and easier to understand terms and conditions of credit, extended grace periods before assessment of penalties, and significant advance notice of changes in future credit terms. All, most would argue, reasonably prudent steps to aid consumers in the use of such credit facilities. The youtube video of the town hall meeting can be found at this link.

In the second part of the town hall meeting, the President went off the teleprompter and addressed direct questions from the audience. And there a troubling tone of the misguided intent behind the proposed plan became visible. The undercurrent in most all of the President’s responses can be encapsulated in the following:

* taking on consumer credit is an entitlement to which all citizens should have equal access
* access to credit should not be predicated on the consumer’s financial condition
* the credit issuers (i.e credit card companies) are the root cause of the overwhelming majority of cases of consumers’ credit excesses; the consumers share little if any blame for their own misfortunes
* there is an unfair class struggle going on between those with good and those with poor credit; this should be addressed by making credit equally accessible to all and on the same terms

One of his responses went as far as to firmly assert that credit should be available to all consumers, and particularly those who are not able to afford to cover their current expenses! As we pause to reflect, the magnitude of these assertions comes into focus, and we begin to deeply ponder the consequences of such a dogma.

Dissecting the Message

Credit is not a societal entitlement. It is earned, over time, as a result of fiscally responsible behavior. It is the reward for having made a positive contribution to one’s financial well-being. It is the leverage that we build for ourselves through the disciplined balancing of our earning and spending habits and of consistently meeting our obligations. No one is entitled to credit and it is not a right of passage.

Q: But are we not striving to create a society where everyone is treated fairly and equally? Should’t everyone have access to the same elements of quality of life (such as credit)?

A: No. Equality and fairness are not the same concept. In fact, in many situation they are impossible to achieve at the same time. One could argue that equality aligns with fairness only when decisions are based on a measure of quotas. In a merit-based environment, we inevitably find equality and fairness at opposite poles. To cite examples, the lottery would represent a quota situation – a fair and equal distribution of a chance to win a defined amount of money. On the other hand, high school seniors competing for entrance into Ivy League schools would represent a merit-based situation – there is no equality in the skills of the candidates, yet they end up being fairly distributed among schools of various levels of prestige.

Q: And which is overriding when both fairness and equality can not be achieved at the same time?

A: If we continue to believe in our founding principals, those which have served our nation for over 230 years, creating heretofore unprecedented prosperity for its citizens, the answer is remarkably clear. When our overriding objective is equality, the best outcome we can expect is uniformity and complacency. When our goal is fairness, we unleash great human potential that desires to distinguish itself from the equality of the masses and to soar high above mediocrity. Societal equality is an unbalanced state for the human mind to exist in. Fairness is a state of mind which reflects a peaceful and motivating coexistence among people.

Conclusion

What values do we want to espouse on our children? Do we want them to accept equality as a universal truth? Is the goal that we set upon them to strive to blend into the mass of equality? Should they be taught to await the improbable lottery event as the only means of possibly distinguishing themselves while staying within the dogma of fairness and equality?

The President’s message is teaching our children the worst possible lesson at a time when they are most vulnerable to misguidance and most susceptible to false promises How disenchanting is for our new generation of leaders to be taught that their aspiration in building their adult lives should be limited to becoming equal with others; that the results of their efforts will be no richer than everyone else’s.

We welcome your comments and suggestions, either directly inline, or via email to editor@nakedliberty.com.

Next week: “The Split Personality of the Common Man” addresses the inherent struggles between a desire for independence and acquiescing to become dependent.

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Let’s Not Confuse Equality and Fairness

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2009-06-13 19:56:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

With this opening statement in our nation’s Declaration of Independence, its 56 signers, represented by such great minds as Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and John Adams, established a core founding principle for what was to become a new nation; a nation different in its beliefs, values and government structure than any other at the time.

As is the case with many words in the English language, the word “equality” lacks certain precision and has historically been interpreted through different lenses. For example, mathematical equality assures sameness in quantity, but does not ascribe value to the equal results. An equal amount of rain having fallen over a rain forest and over a desert, although mathematically equivalent in volume, does not produce an equal effect. Nor is the magnificence of Niagara Falls’ cascade of water the same as that of a lazy river flowing through the plains, though again the volumes of water may be equal.

Equality as a doctrine in the 18th century was indeed a revolutionary concept. Not since the ancient Greek and Minoan cultures has equality been written into a societal code of beliefs. So therefore, the opportunity to build a new nation on such beliefs was in and of itself a revolutionary step forward.

In order to understand the intentions of our founding fathers, we have to understand the psychology of the times in which this concept of equality was being presented. Indeed, we need to use the prism of an 18th century intellectual to affix the proper meaning to the word. In particular we know that such prism would filter out any notions of equality in the context of modern day social systems such as welfare or affirmative action.

A reasonable and arguably most credible interpretation of the founding fathers intended meaning of equality is one where the goal of equality is defined as one of opportunity and not necessarily of results (or outcome). This is fundamental, in that it underscores the principle of giving each individual an equal opportunity to improve his own state but does not mandate that the results of such efforts be held to the same standard of equality as for others. In fact, an argument can be made that enforcing equality of results is fundamentally unfair in that it unjustly rewards low performance and is eerily akin to Marx’s “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” formulation, which would not be written until 100 years later (1875, Critique of the Gotha Program). The distinction between opportunity and results equality was recently taken up and extensively discussed by British Business Secretary Peter Mandelson at the 2009 Fabian Conference at the Imperial College in London.

In our modern society we can observe countless examples of divergence from the principle of equality of results.

  1. Affirmative action, previously mentioned, is perhaps the most glaring example of the up-side-down interpretation of equality, where results trump all other objectives – a starkly Marxist construct indeed
  2. Progressive taxation, though widely accepted as fair and equitable, in fact is not ubiquitously fair as it creates disincentives to higher productivity and redistributes the output of the individual’s labor to those who have not contributed to its creation
  3. Compensation pay grade systems such as within the government and many older companies, where rewards are defined within pay scale boundaries, regardless of the value of an individual’s contribution

A society which does not respect equality of its citizens is frail and cannot sustain itself indefinitely without the degeneration of its social fabric, inevitably leading to massive resentment of government and eventually social unrest. By misinterpreting our founders’ meaning of equality, we are at risk of steering our social policies toward the statist objectives of government welfare and control over our means and our lives. Our Constitution is a finely tuned and time proven instrument of democratic government with ideals interwoven such that in concert they support and amplify each other’s meaning and value. A misinterpretation or misapplication of one of these fundamental ideals not only diminishes its individual value, but also jeopardizes the document’s role as a compilation of our guiding values.

Next time you’re engaged in a discussion with someone who is justifying their position with arguments of equality, make sure to ask them: “What do you mean?”

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We welcome your comments and suggestions, either directly inline, or via email to editor@nakedliberty.com. If you would like to have your article published in Naked Liberty, please contact the editor at the above email address.

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My Destructive Generation

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2010-04-05 23:10:04. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

by Nancy Morgan
RightBias.com
March 29, 2010


My generation could well be the first generation in American history to leave our country worse off than we found it.

I am a member of the baby boomer generation. The generation that came of age in the late sixties during the turbulent times of Woodstock, Watergate and Vietnam. The generation that is now holding the reins of power in most American institutions, from politics to media, to education and culture. The generation that will likely be responsible for squandering America’s hard won freedoms and changing America into a third world country, all in the name of ‘equality’ and ‘social justice.’

A defining hallmark of baby boomers on the left is hubris and an absolute refusal to learn or acknowledge the lessons of history. They know best.

Moral relativism is the cornerstone of most baby boomers. Their theories rest on subjective, personal values instead of concrete scientific definitions. And they acknowledge no other authority or moral code larger than one’s choice. They have adopted the Rousseauian strategy of emphasis on passion instead of reason.* And despite the utter failure of the social policies they have instituted, they persist in believing that they can define their own reality.

Author Shelby Steele, in his book White Guilt, comes closest to explaining how and why the baby boomer generation believes as it does. Steele makes the excellent point that every generation, when it comes of age, seeks to challenge authority and tradition. Like most adolescent rebels, they are quickly humbled because they overestimate their own truth and underestimate the truth of their elders. They learn a valuable life lesson when they are smacked down by their elders and reality.

Baby Boomers ChartMy generation never learned this lesson. As Steele writes, "The sixties generation of youth is very likely the first generation in American history to have won its adolescent rebellion against its elders."

The reason for this: As baby boomers came of age, America had just taken the giant step of acknowledging and apologizing for its history of slavery and racism. At that moment in time, America had lost its moral authority, hence the progressive assaults on campuses resulted in defeating the traditional hierarchy. Heady stuff.

With this victory, my fellow boomers adopted the notion that they were invincible. "Their rite of passage to maturity was cut short and they were falsely inflated instead of humbled. Uninitiated, they devalue history rather than find direction in it, and feel entitled to break sharply and recklessly with the past."

The boomer’s adolescent rebellion was validated. They then proceeded to infect every segment of American society with their own, unproven theories.

The media that had historically acted as a watchdog became an enabler for the boomers. The media encouraged and validated the politically correct, utopian theories that were a result of hubris rather than sound policy. And convinced millions of unsuspecting Americans along the way.

Our universities not only succumbed, they incorporated and taught as fact the baby boomers’ notion of America as an oppressor and capitalism as evil. Courses in Western Civilization were replaced with women’s studies, black studies and queer theory. Indoctrination replaced debate and group identity quietly started trumping individual accomplishment as the road to success.

Fast forward to today. President Obama and our Democrat Congress are the end result of a generation steeped in successful rebellion. They are the quintessential perpetual adolescents that define the baby boomer generation. Never having had to pay the price for our freedoms, they are oblivious to its worth. To Obama and most of his fellow boomers on the left, the Constitution is a roadblock to their more perfect vision. Instead, they take their cue from Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals.

My generation is now in a position to radically alter America. There is a very good chance that boomers will prevail in their efforts to defeat capitalism, God and traditional values and instill their own version of ‘social justice.’ Despite socialism having failed abjectly in every country it has been tried, baby boomers like Obama have the arrogance to believe that with them in charge, it will finally work.

Under the leadership of my fellow baby boomers, there is a very good chance that the America that we all know and love could end up on the ash heap of history. James Madison gave clear warning in 1788. "There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations…"

America is in the process of being conquered from within. By an arrogant and elitist generation more concerned with their own status and power than with the good of the country. This is my generation. And I’m ashamed to be one of them.


Nancy Morgan is a columnist and news editor forRightBias.com
Article published with the author’s permission

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