I, Hypocrite

Hi. I posted this some time ago. I figured I would repost it because I think it is a worthwhile read.

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I am a hypocrite. Yes, little old me, waxing philosophical is a stupendously foolish hypocrite. But is that bad?

I think most people would regard that as bad, but I’m not sure I agree—at least, not always. Let me explain.

Hypocrisy is usually defined as saying that someone (usually someone else) should do one thing while you go about and do the exact opposite.

One of the most common forms of hypocrisy (and perhaps the most infuriating) is moral hypocrisy where an individual claims to embrace a moral code they do not practice. But what if they try to practice that moral code and simply fail? For example, what of the Christian moral code? The most striking thing about the Christian code is how high and demanding it is. In fact, it may be so high and demanding that no one can live up to it. Hence, the accusation of hypocrisy can be leveled at all Christians. But if Jesus was divine as He claimed to be, then the source of the code He left behind for His followers is also divine. And if it is divine, it may very well be the case that no one can live up to the code. Does that make the code useless? No. It can still serve as a goal to strive for, but one accompanied by the understanding that it can never be fully reached. As men and women strive toward the code, they will necessarily improve, morally speaking, but they will never reach perfection. They will be hypocrites, all of them, but non-threatening ones. So, I would classify that as a kind of justified hypocrisy.

There is another form of hypocrisy that is inherently justifiable: that of hypocrisy by experience. Basically, in life we learn things—call them life lessons, if you will. Such life lessons may serve to change our behavior as we grow older, because we learn, morally speaking, that our previous behavior was bad by some measure. For example, suppose a woman at a young age gets pregnant and has an abortion. She comes to regret that decision and counsels others to not have abortions. Is she a hypocrite? In some sense, yes, but if you acknowledge that experience can change a person and teach them valuable lessons, you will realize that sometimes hypocrisy may simply indicate that a person has learned something of value and wishes to pass that knowledge on to someone else. And passing knowledge on to the young is not only a great service to those who make up the young, it is also a duty of those who are older.

Anyway, by both these measures, I acknowledge that I am a hypocrite. I’m not going to share the full list of all my particular failings with the world because that would make me feel uncomfortable; still, I feel inclined to acknowledge the simple fact of my hypocrisy. I leave others to their own self-reflection.

Yes, I tried to defend hypocrisy. Did I succeed? I’ll let you decide.

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Donald Trump is Satan

Okay. I am convinced I am the antichrist. I have also recently come to the conclusion that Donald Trump might be Satan. I also believe that Barack Obama was Satan, too. As Satan is a shape-shifter, that doesn’t pose a logical problem for me. Satan served as U.S. President in the form of Barack Obama, then, when his terms were over, he started serving again as Donald Trump, billionaire businessman. It’s the ego that gives both of them away. I ought to know; I have a ginormous ego myself—not as big as Satan’s—but still, regrettably, very large.

Why would he pick one party and then the other? He is trying to pit us against each other by polarizing our nation. Like Obama, Trump is unimpeachable. Obama could not be impeached because he was the first black president. Trump cannot be impeached because that would tear our country apart. I really don’t know what to do about him, but I’m pretty sure he’s Satan. Or, at the very least, is possessed by Satan.

A ways back I made a post in support of Trump because I thought his business acumen would help us deal with our debt problem. I now think he is an embodiment of pure evil and would like him impeached, but not at the cost of my country. The only advice I can give is to keep standing up and speaking your mind to the best of your ability. You can’t change the mind of your entire opposition, but you can change one person’s mind and you can be flexible enough to change yourself.

Love and Prayers to Everyone. Satan (lies & truth, yin and yang, nature, the evil universe) is a Liar and Jesus Christ is the Lord.

 

Before leaving, I just want to say that I am offering my ebook, “The Children of Lubrochius” for free on Smashwords here. The coupon code is: KB84D.

The Immigration Issue, The Media, and Satan

Yes, I’m talking about Satan again. No, I am not making light of the immigration issue. Hear me out.

The immigration issue is dividing this country to the core. I watch Fox News—which, I admit, tilts right. I do not watch the other stations which tilt left—I should, but I lack the time. We would do well to remember that this is the United States of America and we are not monsters. The left has valid points to make, and the right has valid points to make. We should try to calm down and listen to each other before we tear this country apart.

The left is accusing the Trump administration of acting like Nazi Germany. The right is accusing the left of playing politics with the lives of children. Satan is pitting both of you against each other. No, I’m not kidding. Satan (lies and truth, yin and yang) can manipulate reality with ease (look up the Mandela Effect on the Internet—that’s him). I’m telling you, because of Satan, if the left goes to visit the children separated from their families (which no one likes), they will find the conditions terrible and atrocious—and they will report that through their media outlets. And I mean, they will see a rough equivalent of Nazi Germany and will say as much. If the right goes to look at the children separated from their families (which no one likes), they will find the conditions tolerable and staffed by people doing their best to deal with a difficult situation—and they will report that. Given what I know of the American populace, I’m inclined to think the right’s perceptions are more accurate here for a larger percentage of people, but there will always be bad apples in any group like those staffing the situation and Satan will manipulate matters, so that the left will have a “knack” for finding those children who are treated the poorest, thus reinforcing their preconceived notions. Further, media outlets give Satan a chance to manipulate populations even further. It is child’s play for him to screw with electrons in computers, project images that don’t match reality, etc… Just look up the Mandela Effect on the Internet. That’s him.

I am not being sarcastic. I am not insane. But I do know it sounds crazy.

Satan is a Liar and Jesus Christ is the Lord.

But in all likelihood, no one will believe me.

On Equality

What is equality as it applies to people? There are different types. One type of equality is equality in identity where two items are said to be equal only if they are identical. Such a form of equality, when applied to humans, would mean that everyone looks exactly alike, has the same strengths, abilities, and weaknesses. There’s not even room for gender. It is really quite boring and obviously not the case. Humans embody variety. As such, they cannot be considered identically equal.

Another form of equality is equality in treatment. This is basically an exhortation on how humans relate to one another. Basically, they should treat everyone the same. This is a more interesting definition of equality. It can apply to one-on-one relationships, in which it morphs into the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It is essentially a religious maxim. It requires a conscious and deliberate decision of the individual; and it is not a government thing. In fact, it would be bad for the government to try to impose a religious maxim like the Golden Rule on its population; such would violate the first amendment.

The next form of equality to be discussed concerns how the government treats different individuals of its population. In this case, we have Equality Before the Law. The rich man is treated the same as the poor man (the Founders believed in this). According to this approach, if you take 20% of the income of a rich man for taxes, you should do the same for the poor. We don’t do this anymore, having opted for a more progressive tax structure. There is more to this, of course, than money. For example, legal penalties. If the penalty for murder is a life sentence, it should not matter if the murderer is rich or poor, black or white, male or female, or what-have-you. Lately, our society seems to be more concerned with equality as it applies to economics. The terms income equality and income inequality are tossed about. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, related to income equality is the Equality of Economic Opportunity. This is an ideal that can’t be realized. Life is too full of chance and strange occurrences for this to occur. Rich parents implies better opportunities. Medical mishap implies poorer opportunities. Etc…. I think equality of economic opportunity is a goal worth striving for, but one should never make the mistake of thinking you will ever be able to achieve this and thereby sacrifice rights and freedoms in your pursuit.

Lastly, is the Equality of Economic Equality (that’s kind of repetitive, isn’t it?). In this case, everyone’s income is controlled by the government and is precisely the same. This is a species of socialism (or maybe communism) which has been tried in the past (and currently) usually with disastrous results. In a world of individuals, needs and wants vary. One man might be fine with $1000 a month, another might require $10,000. Variety is necessary for a healthy society. I’m not a fan of governments controlling incomes, for a number of reasons.

Anyway, those are my brief thoughts on the various species of equality.

Invisible Theft

I had a thought. I’m not really sure which category I should place this post in, but as I don’t have an “Economics” category, I’m stuck putting it in my “Politics” category. Basically, I want to say that, for the most part, I am a capitalist. Capitalism has its faults and weaknesses, but I believe it has lifted more people out of poverty than any other system out there. Is it perfect? No. But I think it is the best economic system our species has developed to date.

That said, I think it is worthwhile to point out … limitations or errors or weaknesses inherent in the system. Back in college I had a friend who was a dedicated socialist. One day, we were just talking and he said something like, “Locke gives you the ‘Labor Theory of Value’ and he takes it away, just like that. And I can show you where, too.” That’s when the light bulb went off for me. As a philosophy major I never studied economics, so the term ‘value’ had a different meaning for me. But after a moment’s reflection, it became apparent to me that my friend wasn’t referring to anyone’s hierarchy of goods or anything like that; instead, he was focused on money. Basically, he was saying that money is backed-up by labor. Money is labor, and labor is money. Or so my friend might say. I don’t think I necessarily agree with that in its entirety for a number of reasons, but it is worth reflecting on at least for a few moments. I call it the socialist point.

Basically (remember: I am not an economist, so I could be flubbing this point entirely), the socialist believes that the real currency that runs our economy is labor. The money you are paid for when you work is meant to compensate you for that labor. Hence, money represents labor. And that does seem to have some merit. After all, it would be exceptionally difficult for the economy to run without any labor. Without labor, nothing is done, and ultimately, everyone starves.

Once you make that connection, the socialist’s problem with capitalism should be easy to recognize. Pick the CEO of any major company. He is paid far, far more than any person in the lower ranks; yet, if you remove the labor from the company, the company ceases to exist: It cannot exist without labor. The socialist says that the company produces only what its labor force produces. Hence, its labor force is responsible for all of the company’s profit. Yet, it is the CEO who reaps the greatest reward.

How is that possible? The simple answer is that the CEO has power. The rank-and-file do not. The CEO benefits from a better strategic position in the company than does the average laborer. As a result, he can fire laborers who complain and there is little the laborers can do about it. So, the CEO—who seeks his own self-interest first—earns a big salary because the laborers produce a valuable product that earns a substantial amount of money. From that money, the salary of the CEO and the laborers is taken, and excess profit is put back into the company or maybe paid out to shareholders (who contribute nothing to the actual product of the company—their only value is that they provide monetary fertilizer to fuel company growth from time to time). The socialist is basically saying that the laborers are directly responsible for the profit the company makes, and yet, they never see a dime of it. Their labor has been stolen to produce it. Since, labor does not constitute a visible thing, such a theft is an invisible one. The labor/money taken from the worker is never seen.

So, the socialist feels fully justified in using the government to “steal” the money back from the wealthy.

I’m not sure I wrote that clearly enough, but I think it encapsulates a critical component of socialist thinking. For myself, I think socialists win a point, but not the argument. There are a number of counter-points to be made, none of which I have space for. Things like money shouldn’t represent labor, but rather accomplishment (I think—and only in a macro-economic sense). Intelligent decision making should be rewarded. Freedom should be promoted. And individual choices have consequences. And I’m sure there are many, many more, but, like I said, I don’t have space for them all.

Cultures are Not Equal

What is a culture? A collection of beliefs, rituals, institutions, and more that define a people’s character. That’s my answer. And I think it’s reasonably accurate. It is an obvious fact that different people have different cultures. The modern Left has embraced the notion of cultural relativism and posits the notion that all cultures are equal. The culture of the United States, which for many years incorporated the notion of exceptionalism, is no better or worse than the culture of communist China. That’s what they say. And I completely disagree.

And it’s relatively easy to show I’m right. First, just open the door to all cultures of all times and places. Then start making comparisons. Some things are sure to stick out quite profoundly and settle the question.

For example, human sacrifice has existed in the past. All those cultures that practiced human sacrifice are inferior to those that did not. I win. End of story.

To go further, cultures that practice suicide bombing are inferior to those that do not. Cultures that gather undesirables of any sort and put them in a gas chamber are inferior to those that do not. Etc….

Is any culture perfect? No. But some are better than others. It is probably impossible to do an exhaustive comparison between any two cultures, at least for the average individual. But we can make some general points and even some more specific points. I know it may come as a surprise to some people on the Left, but the culture of Nazi Germany was inferior to the culture of the U.S.A. in the 1940’s or today. We have our faults, but we also have our virtues. And it seems lately that the Left has made a habit of overlooking our virtues. What virtues? How about: 1) Consent of the governed; 2) Freedom of expression, religion, and press; and 3) Tolerance of dissidents.  There are more, of course (see the Bill of Rights), but those are probably some of the most important. If you compare us to perfection, we will always fall short. But if you compare us to what else is out there, I think we will hold up well (unless you are talking about pop culture and the over-sexualization of our society—like I said we have our faults).

Cultures change and evolve through time. Perhaps in the future we will change to a better culture; or, perhaps we will slide down the scale and become worse. The point is just to not throw out the scale. We are competing with other nations in terms of culture. It is worth remembering that.

What are some bad cultural influences? Much like virtues, these are large in number and will likely vary from individual to individual. For myself, I’d say: abortion, celebration of sexual barbarism (also known as male adolescence—I know I’ve been there), practice of racism, atheism (or lack of awe), paintings by left-handed artists, and denial of simple mathematical truths. Also, (and this is a big one … perhaps the biggest one) denial of the existence of truth. (And yes, the left-handed artists crack is a joke.)

Have a nice day!

Relativism Simplified

I used to utterly despise moral relativism (and to a certain extent, I still do). However, time and experience has blunted my fury on the subject. At a certain level, a relativistic (this has nothing to do with Einstein) viewpoint is useful and worth considering, if only briefly. Let me explain.

I recently watched a movie called Ip Man 2. It was a martial arts movie set in, and filmed (I believe) in China or Hong Kong. The hero of the movie was a martial arts master named Ip Man. In the end, he has a match with a Western Boxer who was white and from England, and basically the epitome of an arrogant jerk. Indeed, the way the westerners were portrayed in the film might warrant charges of racist bias against Caucasians perpetuated by the Chinese producers. I’ve noticed that kind of trend in a number of Chinese films. Anyway, I don’t want to get sidetracked. The thing to remember is that it was a Chinese movie and it portrayed the white antagonist as almost a caricature of an arrogant jerk.

Compare this to Rocky IV  (an old movie) where Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) fights Ivan Draggo (Dolf Lungren). Rocky is, of course, portrayed as the noble hero. Ivan Draggo is portrayed as almost a caricature of the “Russian bad guy.” Same phenomenon as in Ip Man 2, except in this case, we (the U.S.) are the ones guilty. So, if you look at this relativistically, both countries portray their foreign adversaries similarly … as evil bad guys, basically. So, on first blush, it appears that evil, at least, is relative; it depends on the perception of the sufferer, or perhaps, better yet, the perceptual position of the sufferer.

But that’s only on first blush. As a whole, it is a lackluster moral theory. If I punch you in the nose, that might feel good for me, but painful for you. How does such an analysis help? What’s missing is an analysis of the itty-bitty details … the facts, if you will. Relativism is only really helpful at a purely emotional level.

Another example. I read somewhere that the Japanese still think the United States was the aggressor in WWII. Basically, in a war between country A and country B, country A will likely regard country B as evil, and vice versa. But as I said, then there are the details. Take Isis, for example. They seem to be willing to plumb depths of evil we balk at: crucifixion, drowning, burning alive men, women, and even children. In such a situation, Relativism only tells us that Isis hates us, and we hate them. Not particularly profound.

So, what is to be done with this insight?

Emotions don’t occur in a vacuum. They are based on information … facts if you will. The true relativist will permit different facts to influence different sides in a conflict. In such a situation, the relativist will say the facts used by country A are true for it, and the facts of country B are true for it. There is no objective truth in the situation. Although it is true that both sides will behave as if that is the case, that does not mean that that is really the case. Some of the facts on either side may be wrong. Others may be shared by both sides. Others may be partially true. What is important, is that “truth” determines the value of the facts and is a separate concept. What is relativized is the information or knowledge of the facts, not the truth of them. The truth stands alone, objectively. Either country A invaded country B three days before or it didn’t. While country A and country B have the right to claim their own knowledge of a conflict, they don’t have the right to claim their own truth of it.