Archives for category: hard things

Scientists expect to be able to test everything. Perhaps, but it seems unlikely. There are things that might be real that might be untestable, unverifiable. Multiverse is untestable, yet many believe. It is equivalent to deifying infinity to the infinity power. Hawking recognized and devised maths to limit the possible number of universes to a finite set. Yet, the notion is still totally untestable. To me, the notion of the transcendent is required. Denying anything other than the quantum foam and the matter/energy of space-time, quite frankly, denies the possibility of knowing anything. It denies rationality and reason itself. I simply don’t find that reasonable. It is irrational. I suspect science will find reproducible ways to test for transcendence. I’m not sure the results will actually tell us anything useful. I suspect proving the existence of “a transcendent” will not make us wiser. It won’t answer the big questions. It won’t answer the ultimate “Why?”.

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Philadelphia Dec. 23. 1791.

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it. — Thomas Jefferson

A friend posted on Facebook about the Oklahoma State Question 788 legalizing marijuana per doctor’s note. I had commented about the legal prohibition forcing me to be responsible for the harm caused by the law.

I was camping for a few days, so now I’m able to take time to write a bit. We Oklahomans vote on the matter tomorrow (26 June 2018).

To be blunt, I oppose all legal prohibitions of vices. If there is no victim, there can be no justification for laws criminalizing the action. (Rationalizations and mental gymnastics should be employed for liberty, not for coercion.)

I’m using the word vice to mean actions that are reasonably called bad, even harmful to oneself, and perhaps, by extension, hurtful to ones loved-ones. I mean actions that are done willingly, even if unwisely, with malice toward no one. That is, if I abuse a substance, I will likely harm myself, but I’m not doing it with malice. I don’t intend to harm anyone, even if the end result will hurt those who care about me. On the other hand, there are natural crimes where my actions intentionally, or at least directly, harm someone else. The most obvious is murder.

It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have. Will Munny (Clint Eastwood’s character in Unforgiven.)

If I may use “natural crimes” to mean that which victimizes at least one other, and vices to mean that which harms no one directly except the doer, then perhaps I can be clear.

I first must set forth my consideration of law, any law, every law. When I consider whether a law is justifiable, I use this criterion: If someone was about to violate the law, and if I had a gun to the would-be criminal’s head, would I be willing to say, “Stop, or else!” If they persisted, would I be willing to pull the trigger?

If the law they are violating is life, if the perpetrator is about to commit murder (a natural crime), or inflict grave injury and harm, then, yes, I could suppose I’d be willing to pull the trigger, and I suppose I would be justified.

If the law they are violating is texting while driving, or smoking a joint, no. Don’t be absurd. Of course not. Yet, we have the laws.

Sure, driving while intoxicated or negligently distracted is dangerous, but it is not intentionally malicious. If someone is negligent along such lines, we have reasonable and justifiable liability laws. We hold them accountable.

Someone might object that a negligent driver may accidentally take a life as a result, and liability and reparations cannot bring back the dead nor satisfy the bereaved. Certainly, but let us consider the natural and often likely extreme; if law-enforcement attempts to apprehend the negligent driver (for citation or arrest), the driver may refuse to comply, and it doesn’t take much for someone to die in such circumstance. A high-speed chase is too often fatal. A “criminal” who objects to being criminalized for a vice often becomes belligerent, and, far too often, such situations end in someone dying.

In many instances, our protection is merely hypothetical. How can we justify proactively coercing someone to protect a life, when the coercion itself is an evil act and very well may result in loss of life. Life for life in the abstract is not justifiable. Life for life can only be justified when the threat of death is clear and imminent. Even in war, it is morally reprehensible for me to take the life of an enemy combatant who is clearly attempting to surrender.

Here is the point I hoped to make on Facebook regarding State Question 788 and the decriminalization of marijuana if a doctor signs off on it. The Law currently criminalizes the possessor or seller of a naturally grown plant. Said criminal is subject to all manner of force and coercion at the hands of law enforcement officials. I cannot justify sending our police to enforce such unjustifiable laws. Our police are armed, and they are trained to use force, even deadly force, to uphold the law. Whether the law is justifiable or not, I am literally responsible, given that is our system, and in it, I am the authority and basis of the government. The government rules by my consent. If I consent, I am responsible.

As Thomas Jefferson pointed out, I am much more willing to deal with the problems attendant to too much liberty. I do not have a clear conscience if I am responsible for too little liberty. I am responsible, in our society, here in the USA, here in Oklahoma, if our government is, in fact, tyrannical. I will act in legal, civil, and voluntary ways to increase liberty and to minimize tyranny. I must make a legitimate effort to repeal unjustifiable and unnecessary laws. I must support decriminalize of drug use, even if it is only halfway.

The same goes for immigration, but that is not the topic here. We must have constraints on immigration, but our laws are too restrictive, and worse, too complicated and hard to enforce. Many of our laws are based on fear. Many of our laws are based on favoring some at the expense of others. That is tyranny, and it is wrong.

I hope my point is clear. I oppose prohibitions on vices because I find the prohibitions more immoral than the vices prohibited. I oppose prohibitions on vices because such prohibitions require our police to enforce unjustifiable laws. Further, unjustifiable laws result in unfair enforcement and unfair judicial practice because mercy and justice cannot be consistently considered. Further still, excess laws, unjustifiable or simply unneeded, push our police beyond their warrant. Excessive laws force our police to overextend, increasing their risks unjustifiably.

Specifically, how many police have died because of a marijuana arrest? How many times have drug raids and drug enforcement deprived a more worthy use of police capabilities?

Again, all of this is my fault, our fault, collectively, because we vote for it. We don’t bend the ears of our legislators and peacefully persuade them to repeal the unjustifiable laws. We don’t vote them out and install representatives who will listen.

Prohibition of vices causes more harm than good. Prohibition of vices is more immoral than the vice.

We have the example of alcohol. Of course, it is different. Yet, it is simply a vice. Many people, good, bad, innocent, and otherwise, died trying to prohibit alcohol in our country. We have many problems associated with alcohol. Many people suffer, and many people die. Yet, we don’t cause it. We, collectively, are not responsible for suffering and death resultant from free choices of free people. Our responsibility ends with our innate obligation to love our neighbor as ourselves. I have a simple obligation to my neighbor, my relative, my friend, who has a problem with addiction, or whatever, in so far as I care about them and want the best for them, within my capabilities.

Passing a law and sending the police to enforce it is not the same; it is not a way to fulfill my obligation to love my neighbor. It is coercion, and coercion is evil.

Coercion, being evil, is only justifiable when the coercion enforced is obviously less evil than the harm prevented. By obvious, I mean a clear and imminent harm.

Again, I stand with Jefferson. No doubt, there are problems associated with decriminalizing drugs, but the problems of liberty are not immoral. The problems caused by coercion are immoral. Let us all choose to stand for liberty. Let us all honor every individual as self-sovereign. Let us all refuse to coerce.

 

 

 

Simplistic, but valid: From nothing comes nothing.
Either something exists, or nothing exists.

We can side with the likes of Stephen Hawking and assert eternal existence of gravity and quantum vacuum and, also, assign it practical [and mindless] divinity. Then we can reasonably speculate that myriad minuscule fluctuations in the quantum foam converged to burst forth from the singularity. Inflation, then space-time, which is running down, back down to the nothing.

Or, we can assume transcendence. That is, we can assume an eternal something that is truly beyond nature. Eternal is the key, and transcendence is required, or it is just natural, and we are back to nothing. There are some significant hurdles to deal with in assuming the divine, but an eternal transcendent actor can only be referred to as god. (Peterson says as much, often.)

If we hold to the first, methodological materialism, or naturalism, or atranscendence, then we are stuck with nothing and there simply is no such thing as agency. No choice is any more significant than any event. It takes two things to do anything: Time and Energy. States and systems exhibiting disequilibria will tend to equilibrate, taking time and using energy. Disequilibrated systems do anything that takes time and uses up energy, as long as it lessens the disequilibration. Often, order arises, emergent phenomena. A simple example is a dust devil in a dirt field. The ground heats unevenly under the sun, and the air warms slower, disequilibria. A warm thermal begins to rise, often beginning to spin, and up arises a dancing, self-organizing, dust devil, chasing the warmest spot near it. It is a dissipative system, more efficient at increasing entropy than simple convection. Assuming atranscendence, the dust devil is the same as any choice I make, any idea I conceive, any action I take. It all, only, tends to use up time and energy bringing the universe back to closer to the absolute and eternal nothing of its beginning.

Given my definitions above, the options are god or not-god.

That is, god is that which is eternal and transcendent.

Not-god is that which is yet eternal but nothing, that which momentarily and currently is subject to unwinding the initial winding of the singularity, and the unwinding is simply the using up of time and energy. (It makes no difference in this assumption whether the big bang is a single freak occurrence, or if it is quasicyclical, repeating randomly for all eternity.)

If we accept the god assumption, we are faced with eternity. We exist in time, but we will exist in eternity (and perhaps have always existed in some sense). The questions religion and philosophy address boil down to this: In eternity, with-god or without-god? One choice with two options. We will enter eternity having chosen god or refused god.

In that assertion, I’m assuming the god condition of eternal and transcendent reality. Given that assumption, the choice, the ultimate choice, true agency, is between with-god and without-god.

There either is choice, or there is nothing.

I admit I am defining nothing as meaninglessness.

I’m defining eternal and transcendent as meaning, reason, and rationality. It is my assertion, my premise. It is fundamental within me. (It is fundamental within the universe.)

Choice, agency, is the only thing that matters. If not-god is the reality, then there is no choice, no meaning, no rationality, no reason, nothing. If god is the reality, and there is no choice, no agency, regarding eternity with god or eternity without god, then we are back to nothing, back to no choice, no meaning, no rationality, no reason.

Given any reality approximating that, truth has no meaning in any case where choice, true agency, isn’t foundational and intrinsic. Individual agency must be real or there is not even anything that can be called truth, not in the abstract, not in the concrete, not in the ideal, not even in the notional. If I have no choice in the matter, no agency, nothing matters and nothing is the only true reality. If there is such a thing as reality, choice is real; agency is real.

Obviously, I cannot get away from the notion of truth, and one might argue such persistence makes it deeper, more real, than choice. No. First, we must not conflate Truth with Reality. That which is real is not the same as that which is true, not even in the ideal. It goes to meaning. If the not-god reality is real, then all that we seem to know is simply a random confluence of quantum fluctuations that happen to have congealed into a mass hallucination. If my mind is merely matter and energy and chemical processes running in patterns dictated by quantum fluctuations, I have no mind, and I have nothing on which to base any assumption. I can have no reason to assume any of it will continue. I have no real reason to base any of it on.

In that case, I have no reason. There would really be no reason and no such thing as reason, only matter, only energy, only a persistent, sequential running down and unwinding.

Frankly, I find it unreasonable to assume there is no such thing as reason.

I find it irrational to assume there is no such thing as rationality.

It seems as certain as anything else that there must be an eternal transcendent actor. Being confined to time and nature, we cannot hope to know this super-nature directly. We can only hope to systematically and rationally investigate it and aim at truth, as we do with all of nature. The nature of nature, our reality, seems to include something transcendent that we typically call mind. There isn’t a significant difference between “mind” as we use it, and “spirit” as we use it. There is no quantifiable reason to suppose mind is any less real than matter. Consciousness is really a thing, a thing we do not understand. Our religions may be so far from truth as to be laughable, but so may our sciences.

Again, without choice, there is no truth.

If I am not really a free agent capable of making real choices with meaningful consequences, then there is simply nothing, at least nothing that has any meaning, nothing that matters.

Only Matthew records the tale of the day-laborers in the vineyard.

http://biblehub.com/cev/matthew/20.htm

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”

The commentaries expound well, but they don’t dig deep. http://biblehub.com/matthew/20-13.htm http://biblehub.com/matthew/20-15.htm

I think it important to remember Jesus’ closing of it, “The last shall be first, and the first last.” We know, we experience so often, this truth. Mark tells us, and Matthew records two instances, where Jesus tells us that from he that hath not, even what he had will be taken away.

http://biblehub.com/matthew/13-12.htm

http://biblehub.com/matthew/25-29.htm

An obvious point is the fleeting nature of worldly goods.

Paul seems to have noticed, and he stated he was content regardless of what he had.

There is a lot in the parable, a lot for every era and time, but I think especially for our time. The day laborers, the notion of fairness, the uprightness of faithfulness even without generosity.

Wikipedia, of all places, has a nice note and interesting details, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Workers_in_the_Vineyard

Perhaps Jesus expected us to assume the owner of the vineyard remembered the command, “You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the LORD, and you be guilty of sin.” http://biblehub.com/deuteronomy/24-15.htm

This instruction seems a good thing to remember when considering migrant workers, even foreign workers. (That is a thorny and complex topic. I’d settle for few, limited, simple laws, consistently enforced, that considered each as an individual, not a labeled-group.)

The central point seems to be an individual responsibility to be content with agreements. If I agree to a price, or a wage, that is it. I have agreed. If other considerations make it seem unfair, my obligation is to remain faithful to the agreement. I’m responsible for what I agreed to and fulfilling my part of the agreement. Me, each of us, individually. I am responsible for my agreements and obligations. (Yes, I like redundancy.)

Jesus seems to be condemning the attitude of envy, and that seems consistent with all we know. Life rarely works out fair. Don’t begrudge the fortune of others, for no life is trouble-free. Wealth and influence generally make life less hard, but life, in general, is hard.

I note and emphasize that the owner asserted the right to do with his own as he pleased. That seems especially obvious when the use benefits others.

The owner had no obligation to explain or justify. He had a need, he hired workers to accomplish it. Each worker agreed to work for pay, and apparently only the first hired had established the set amount. (Note that the amount was the then current wage for a day’s work for a day laborer.) Those who went out for less than a full day likely expected a fair portion of the full-day rate. Those last hired were probably resigned to fasting for the day, so what little pay earned could go to feeding the family. Can you imagine the joy and relief each felt while accepting the full portion of pay?

Note that the money belonged to the owner. He, apparently, had earned it. He seems likely to have been a good and honest man. He chose to be generous with his worldly goods, and he chose to pay a full day for everyone that worked for him, even for only a twelfth of that day.

Changing tack, people who work for the government are in a different circumstance. People who work for the government are paid from taxes, money taken from others, for no reason other than the majority voted for it, at least in some roundabout way. Tax expenditures are governed by law, not generosity.

Again, tax expenditures, even if worthy wage paid for worthy work, are governed by law. Generosity is the sole domain of the individual. The government has no positive value. It makes no money of its own. It takes from citizens, and it uses the money according to law. While individuals run a mutually enriching system of agreements and exchange, the government’s system is zero sum. Whatever it gives to one, it took from another (and wasted some along the way). There are valid activities we want the government to do (but that doesn’t address governmental overreach), but when one group riles and rouses the majority and demands more, the fact remains, the favored are gaining at the loss of others.

This brings me back around to envy. It is an individual responsibility to avoid envy, especially that which begrudges and hates others.

Also, faithfulness. Fulfill your obligations, even if someone claims a higher calling. You can’t faithfully fulfill an obligation by abandoning another.

Finally, given the parable is about the kingdom of God, I take the lesson as showing us God treats all equally, and it often doesn’t seem fair.

Oklahoma is in crisis.

The unions are reporting increased parental support, but they’ve lied so much already I won’t accept anything they say.

I’m heart torn. I hurt. We homeschool. So, it doesn’t directly affect my family, but we’ve always supported our local schools and the teachers we know. The slogan is the walkout is for the kids, but the only fact establishable by empirical evidence is the teachers walked out on the children. It is abandonment, betrayal.

I don’t understand it. I know so many teachers, friends, family (including my daughter), younger, older, former, and current. I cannot doubt the heart of any one of them. I honor and respect everyone one of them. They each have accomplished so much, given so much. I trusted them, would have trusted them, but they did not remain faithful.

Again, I don’t understand. I know these teachers have the biggest, most giving, most loving hearts of any people I’ve known; yet, they walked out.

Not only did the teachers and their unions warn they would hold the children hostage and extort the parents, the parents (and legislators) believed them that their plight was dire (It was.), and the State paid the ransom. The legislators bit the bullet and raised taxes, a large tax increase. Sadly, the old adage held. Pay the ransom and embolden the extortionists.

It is interesting, even praiseworthy, how the teachers have acted, and, moreover, how many in our community have responded. Many private people and businesses have provided goods, services, and cash. It is with very mixed emotions that I watch it all. Despite being intimidated and threatened, we love our teachers and continue to work with them.

Of course, there is very little of anything good can be said of any politician in this whole mess. (Well, a small few, but that is not of concern here.) It is hard to condemn the politicians being under so much stress, intimidation, and disparagement. Some messed up, some just didn’t act right, and a few grandstanded and put on the show at every opportunity, never shying from any deriding or devise remark.

An oft-repeated chant aimed to deride the legislators was, “Do your job!” while teachers constantly thronged them and posted derogatory reports whenever the legislator was trying to attend business rather than offer a sympathetic ear. Teachers have boasted of overcrowding the legislators. Teachers complained when their disruption wouldn’t be tolerated. Teachers (and the grandstanding pols) pitched royal fits when the legislature adjourned early one day, and started slightly late the next. Lose-lose for all the legislators but the grandstanders.

As to doing their job, what is their job? The teachers seem to think it is to raise taxes and give the failing education system more money. Is it the job of the legislature to penalize the citizens of the state to appease the teachers unions?

No, the job of a legislative representative is to represent the people who elected him or her. Being in the district of the chief grandstander, it just might be that the majority in my district did so want more expensive failure in education, and the majority may very well have thought it right that grandstander-in-chief opposed all tax increases for being too small, until the strike was certain. (I wrote him often asking him to not raise my taxes and to not make such spectacle of himself.)

However, it is clear from recent history that most of the voters in most of the districts wanted their legislators to represent their interest in holding the line on tax increases. Maybe moods have changed, but it is simply disingenuous to assert the representatives were failing in their job. The legislators were, in fact, fulfilling their duties and obligations. Again, there is blame can be handed round all round, but on the whole, the legislators were doing their jobs, even while being railed against by the grandstanders and union activists.

Amongst the railing and intimidation and threats, the legislatures settled on a package of tax increases that drew compromise agreement of the required supermajority. A large, and likely painful, tax increase, and there were celebrations and dancing in the streets, even a high-five from the Governor as she rushed to sign the measure.

Yet, the strike was still on.

Come Monday, with new tax increases and new laws funding education confirmed and in the books, the strike came. The teachers walked out of their classrooms leaving students and their parents holding the bag. Betrayal of trust by any objective evaluation.

Yet, the parents bucked up and voiced support. I’ve heard no estimates of how many people had to take off work. The cost has to be over several millions of dollars, just for that first day of the walkout. In Oklahoma, it is illegal for teachers (unions) to strike against the school board (their actual employer). However, the school boards also believed the dire circumstances, and many authorized the walkout, keeping it legal.

Still, day two. Surely the teachers had made their point. Surely, with the extraordinary raise (16 to 18% per teacher, and more money for this and that) and tax burden tolerated, the teachers would be happy, but no. The unions had started the mantra Monday that it was never about the raise, never about “the money,” but about the classrooms, about education in the state as a whole. Oklahoma already spends half of its budget on education. One can argue particulars, but one cannot claim Oklahoma doesn’t care about education. That fact mattered not to the unions.

Now, we’ve muddled through the week. Some schools have called the teachers back to the classrooms. A few never walked out at all. (At least one small district sent a delegation of teachers to represent them while classes continued. Quite reasonable, I believe.)

Still, most, including all the larger districts, day by day canceled class for want of teachers. I know not what most of the school boards have done, but they face the very real possibility of having to fire, perhaps even prosecute, teachers if they (the board members) grow stubborn and insistent. There is no win, only harm, in that prospect. It is still possible. It may come to it in some instance.

I’ve waxed verbose, and I offer my appreciation for reading and sharing my pain. I aim to express my disappointment in the teachers, even in those who have vehemently supported them, but my primary aim is to end the betrayal. I hope the teachers will return to class. It is a sad fight. It is sad that it is a fight at all.

While the teachers say the government has failed, it cannot be said the education system is better. There are systemic problems of myriad sort in our education system, even more than our government system. Both are flawed from inception, with error compounded upon error over the decades. Our defects have grown for more than a century. No thorough fix is possible in even a few years.

But we can start, but not while teachers raise ruckus and disgraced politicians show no shame. The legislators cannot do their job while teachers hinder them.

While I sincerely hope the teachers will return to class Monday, we citizens of Oklahoma, all of us, must continue to call upon our legislature to address the flaws in our systems, all our state systems. They are badly broken. The problems are clear, but the causes are not. The remedies are even more elusive, but we must. We simply must find repairs, and we really must install workable systems before we make them all more expensive. We may find we need more taxes. We likely must revamp our taxing system overall.

No easy answers. We won’t find any if we get complacent. We will repeat this hurtful, tragic fiasco again in a few years if we don’t keep at honest effort for accountability and solutions.

 

But hatred is best combined with Fear. Cowardice, alone of all the vices, is purely painful—horrible to anticipate, horrible to feel, horrible to remember; Hatred has its pleasures. It is therefore often the compensation by which a frightened man reimburses himself for the miseries of Fear. The more he fears, the more he will hate. And Hatred is also a great anodyne for shame. To make a deep wound in his charity, you should therefore first defeat his courage.

Screwtape to Wormwood, per C.S. Lewis

Who Do Teachers Work For?

First, why, in public education, are teachers paid, pretty much, all the same? In life, everything sorts. Some are good at something, most are not. Those who are good sort further into adequate, competent, good, better, outstanding, etc. Shouldn’t the best be paid more than the mediocre? Can’t the mediocre acknowledge their lot and either be content or strive more diligently?

Think back. Didn’t you have a few poor teachers? Weren’t most of your teachers good? Perhaps you had one or two really great teachers, perhaps none, very unlikely more than two. Obviously, the compensation and recognition of the best should be more than the lesser. (Some won’t agree. They have their reasonings and rationalizations.)

Back to the question: For whom do teachers work?

If I hire a teacher to tutor my child, obviously the teacher works for me. Of course, government-organized schools add several complications, but let us consider this simple case.

If I hire a teacher, we two set the pay. We two set the conditions and guidelines for the education. For the most part, I can alter any pertinent consideration, and the teacher can agree or tender resignation. Where circumstances set such arrangements, they are typically mutually beneficial, and mutually satisfactory and fulfilling. This one-on-one arrangement cannot exist in the public school, in the government dictated school. It is the nature of authoritarianism. (Perhaps some of the downside can be mitigated, but that is another topic.)

Let us assume the teacher and I have agreed her duties also include full supervisory responsibilities during the workday, such that she is caregiver for my seven-year-old as well as teacher. Perchance, she recognizes that just down the road, she could earn at least 20% more than I pay her. If she decides she needs a raise (or she will seek her fortune down the road) she can ask for a raise or other consideration. Let us assume I simply am at my budget limits. I cannot pay more or provide any additional consideration that extracts from my budget elsewhere, or I will fall in arrears. Assume I am blacklisted and no one will lend to me. I have no ability to pay more. It is reasonable for said teacher to give notice. She has no future obligation past a reasonable notice. However, would not all agree that she treats me diabolically if she calls me at work the next morning and states she will abandon me and my child at this very moment if I agree not to an 18% raise. (She asserts she is compromising, meeting me part way. Of course, she is also insisting I hire a helper for her.)

Think it through. How is a teacher walkout here in Oklahoma any different in the general sense?

Certainly, there are differences in the details, but how is what the teacher’s unions propose any less extortion versus what I suppose of this fictitious nanny-teacher?

Am I exaggerating that the budget is set? Am I exaggerating that no money can be borrowed? Am I exaggerating the example of extortion with the child held hostage at threat of abandonment?

You may not like my candor, but you cannot call me a liar. These are the facts.

Teachers in the government-dictated public schools still, notionally, work for the parents, yes? Of course, yet there are many complications.

While the ideal is that the teacher is accountable to the parents of the children in her classroom, the fact is, most of those parents are hardly involved. Sadly, most of those who are involved draw the ire of the teachers and administration for being meddlesome. Involved parents may help in one area, but such parents hinder accomplishment of legislative dictates and administrative objectives. If you doubt my assertion here, I consider it probable you are not significantly involved in your children’s school.

The practical matter is the teacher answers not to the parents, but to the signer of her paycheck. She answers to the principal, to the school board, and to the bureaucracy. Let us not overlook the complicating factor that the bureaucracy includes that of the school, that of the state, and that of her union.

In the final analysis, she works for and answers to the principal and this complex of bureaucratic requirements and expectations. When the bureaucracy demands she abandons the children, holding them hostage and extorting the parents, what else can she do? While she probably worries that she will not be paid while on strike, she knows she will not be paid if she is pushed out by the bureaucrats. Our teachers are in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t conundrum.

While the ground truth is harsh, the right thing is clear. Teachers owe loyalty to the students and the parents. If teachers abandon and betray the students and parents…

No one respects a betrayal. Cowardice is the one failing that always hurts, always hurts in every way, always hurts everyone affected, everyone who remembers, everyone failed by the coward, especially the coward.

Hate has its pleasures. Hate is too often used to cover the pain of cowardice. Blame and shame casting, likewise.

The simple fact of the matter is teachers are betraying those they work for and those for whom they are responsible. There is no sin greater than betrayal.

Frankly, if you can’t hack it, get out. What is the adage? First, do no harm. Only harm comes from betrayal. Accept responsibility and acknowledge the truth and stand faithful. Lead by example, not coercion.

Again, remain faithful. Lead by example, not coercion.

Micah 6:8

While teachers and other state workers plan to hold me, the rest of Oklahoma tax payers, and our children hostage, our education leaders do things like extend the contract of the Tulsa Superintendent, paying her roughly a quarter-million per year (plus any official expenses, of course). http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/education/tulsa-school-board-strikes-three-year-contract-deal-with-next/article_cdd7589c-c7bb-5019-bba9-8a6347b35fd2.html

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/education/deborah-gist-s-contract-renewed-tulsa-public-schools-superintendent-remains/article_b183e73a-6023-57c2-af55-dbfca517b8f8.html

Apparently, new teachers should only get $31k, and generally not get raises for years (and experienced, proven teachers don’t end up making much more in many instances), but administrators pull in the big bucks, and news editors proclaim how much they deserve it. Hmm…

Still, apparently, the situation is my fault.

I mean, it must be. The teachers and other school officials (and state workers) all clamor that I’m not paying enough taxes. They say shaking me down is the only solution to their problems.

Well, obviously, I disagree.

If the Oklahoma City Superintendent, making only a little less than Tulsa’s, wouldn’t stick it out, I think the problem is not the money. I mean, who walks away from a $220k per year job because of a bad day at the office? It must have been a really bad day.

Sure, the Supers have to be paid something, and that quarter-million won’t cover much of the needs of the districts, but we keep pouring more money into education, and education keeps declining. It isn’t a money problem! The problems aren’t such that money will fix!

If teachers walk out of classrooms in Oklahoma, that says plainly that teachers don’t care about the students. Sorry, no other way to look at it. You can pretend the teachers have no recourse, but that is a lie. It is simply untrue.

In general, in most individual instances, we pay for perceived value. Sure, many things skew this or that, but for the most part, compensation is consistent with perceived value received.

I suspect most people will argue that teachers deliver more value than they are paid for. Well, true. Really, our teachers are delivering more value than they are being paid in compensation, but (you knew there’d be a but) Oklahomans are paying for an education system, not just teachers.

I, for one, think Oklahoma is taking more from me than is justifiable.

Oklahoma governments (including local) take from me in multiple taxes, and they take from me every year–in sales taxes, every day. They take from me with every utility bill, and they take from me every time I buy fuel.

Scott Inman, my representative (who has me blocked on his Facebook page), voted against raising taxes on me. I thank him for that, but he said he did so because the tax increase wasn’t large enough! Good heavens! He shouted that the proposed tax hiked taxes on the little guy, but not on the fat cats. I’m not sure who he meant, but he called them the Republican’s fat cats. Since Scott wanted more taxes on oil, I reject his argument.

Scott Inman and other Democratic representatives insisted on more cost imposition on oil companies. I suppose he thinks “the little guy” is too dumb to realize that the imposed cost is simply passed on in higher fuel prices, higher utility bills. I suppose Scott thinks “the little guy” will feel better about pretending “big oil” is paying a fair share, while each paycheck stretches tighter with increased cost of fuel for getting back and forth to work. I’ll simply remind that no business actually pays taxes. All businesses have costs, and taxes are simply costs. Prices charged must exceed all costs, or the business is bankrupt. Taxes on business, all taxes on business, are simply and only taxes on the little guy.

Overall, the governments of Oklahoma (and the USA) take more from me, by force, than can be justified by the services (including primary and secondary) rendered.

It is too much. Government is too much. The education establishment, with all its state employees, administration, and staff is too much!

We can pay teachers more without tax increases. We should pay teachers more, but it won’t help with the system. Education is broken, and no amount of money will fix it. (Just ask Aurora Lora.) Superintendents have some ability to fix things in their districts, but school board administrators must cooperate. Teachers unions have to get out of the way. Still, all that is only a small part of the problem. The first step is to end compulsion. While we coerce children and parents into State-sanctioned schools, the education cannot but worsen. The plight of teachers cannot but worsen.

Regarding unions in general, they exist to oppose the “boss,” yes?

Of course. Unions exist to collectivise the workers against the employer. The notion, which has sometimes been true, was employers exploited workers for greed.

Okay, but when have parents been greedy and knowingly exploitive of teachers?

Don’t teachers work for the parents?

I know unions disagree, but don’t we all say that teachers work for the parents, for the students? Isn’t that what we all assert?

Then the unions oppose the parents and students.

Yes, there is no way around it. Teachers unions exist to coerce and tyrannize parents, students, and taxpayers in general. That is who teachers work for. That is who unions oppose.

We err with teachers unions. Teachers err with unions.

Union coercion is part of the problem. Nobody likes to be coerced.

Coercion is evil.

 

 

 

There is a disappointment and anticlimax after all beginnings. “In every department of life it marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing. The Enemy takes this risk because He has a curious fantasy of making all these disgusting little human vermin into what He calls His ‘free’ lovers and servants–‘sons’ is the word he uses…. Desiring their freedom, He therefore refuses to carry them…”

Screwtape

Too long ago to try to imagine, we humans took our most important step of existence; we became human. It is mind boggling to consider all that had to fall into place to get us that far, and so far still.

Somewhere around 10,000 years ago, we turned a corner that had more to do with climate change than our accomplishment. We benefited from global warming to such extent that not every waking moment need be expended in exertion or contriving to provide for the bare necessities of life for self and family.

With only a modicum of leisure, we started accomplishing remarkable things. We built monuments. We organized. We developed society and governance. Somewhere in there, we gained consciousness and the knowledge of good and evil, we internalized our limitations, our finitude, and in inexplicable ways, God breathed into us.

Sadly, we ignored that divine infilling, rudely, knowing both good and evil, we spent more effort in selfishness and evil than most anything else.

Still, we built.

We innovated and developed.

Somehow, some, only a few, grew beyond selfish spite and malice, and we advanced, sometimes with the help of selfless individuals, sometimes without regard to them.

Tragically, the world simply was a world of haves, and have-nots. The haves had things primarily as a function of power, power and status managed by social structure and supported on the backs of slaves. The situation held for millennia through countless circumstances, cultures, and peoples, held together by what may, though usually with violence underpinning. There are very few exceptions to point out.

Violence was our way. Subjugation of the majority by the powerful was simply the way civilization grew. Prosperity meant toil and misery for most, and a life of ease for the few.

Nearly 3,000 years ago, a spark of truth ignited in more than just a few individuals. It made little difference, and grew in only the hearts of a very few here and there. Regardless, it was seeping into culture. About 2,000 years ago, history turned. Truth took hold, and individuals began to value each other as having the breath of God within, and having some potential spark of truth in all. Everyone was considered of worth, not just the nobles or powerful.

Still, little changed. Though slavery was technically abolished for a while in most of the known world, it was still a situation of the haves and the have-nots, and the have-nots were the essential, subservient support of the haves. Of course, slavery returned with a vengeance, to sufferings untold.

Not long ago, in the mid-1700s, something changed. We developed technology that would replace the slaves and allow all to be free, and this development would facilitate the possibility that all could at least aspire to join the ranks of the haves.

We call that change the industrial revolution, but really, what is was, we learned to burn fuel and harness the energy of the burning to replace the burning of food in the bodies of the subjugated.

Here is the most important fact since: Readily available energy, electrical energy now-a-days, and transportation fuels are the key to the have-nots having enough. Poverty and slavery can certainly be lain at the feet of dictatorial monsters, but for most, it is directly resultant from lack of electricity and transportation fuel.

To be clear, I am equating fossil fuels with freedom. Conversely, I’m equating opposition to fossil fuels with homicide and enslavement.

Though our technological prowess will likely keep fossil fuels dominant in our quest for freedom and prosperity for all, we are running out, and it is getting harder and more energy intensive to extract these resources. We are already seeing diminishing returns. We must develop more efficient energy systems.

We have an alternative that we must pursue immediately while grave suffering can be avoided. Nuclear fission.

Eventually, we will use nuclear fusion, but that is not in our lifetimes. We will be suffering from lack of energy before fusion can fill the gap. Fission is today, uranium, plutonium, and thorium.

We can. We will. It is not a prediction. It is unrelenting reality.

We will suffer in blood and slavery if we wait too long.

I don’t appeal to the pipe dream of renewables. Solar power simply is inadequate. Wind turbines are a grievous atrocity, causing harm in all.

Biomass burning, likewise, is harming far more than is admitted. Filth is the only word appropriate for most of it.

I cannot overemphasize how paramount is the importance of readily available energy, affordable to all and reliable.

While it is inarguable that Greco-Roman thought, and the life of Christ, changed the world to truth, one simply cannot argue that the associated culture and religion(s) are of critical importance. In less than four centuries, the Christian faith affected the lives of over half of the earth’s total population, but within a few more decades, the numbers that could be called Christian dropped to roughly one-third of all humans, and it has been between 20% and 40% for the several centuries since. The Greco-Roman culture cannot be attributed either. It mattered, but it was not essential, not the key.

Truth mattered. Truth was the key. Greece, Rome, and Christians had no monopoly. They simply managed to make it a priority of the powerful. Thus, truth prevailed, but Christian theology gave rise to what Nietzsche so astutely foresaw. We had killed God. We had forgotten our divine attribute, and we were adrift. The blood of hundreds of millions attests to it. Our suffering for it is greatly diminished, but not concluded.

So, what?

What next?

We must stay focused on truth. We must individually take responsibility and not lose sight of our connectedness. We must not overemphasize individuality and individualism. Yet, we are individuals. Our identities do not reside in any group. Each individual’s identity can never be distilled to any externally quantifiable characteristic. It is a hard thing, a hard balance.

Still, the important part for humanity is energy. We are eliminating abject poverty and slavery with energy. We must have reliable electricity and available transportation fuel. Pushing for unreliable, unpredictable sources based on wind and sunshine is no better than trusting unicorns.

We are what we are. We fall, we resort to selfishness and violence when we don’t have better options. Our better options are afforded by readily available energy. Energy is the basis of freedom and incentives that allow cooperation and respect to flourish.

Energy, and freedom. It is the only possible means of advancement. The alternative is suffering, and eventually extinction.

 

Here is a hard thing. “The only way to grow out of the state is to not treat it as an alien “other” but as a reflection of a violence-addicted culture.”

We, you and I, commit violence against others with our laws, with our regulations, with our prisons.

You and I have blood on our hands. Our lawmakers ensure it.

For every evil a state-enforced regulation alleviates, it perpetrates more, maybe many more, maybe many times worse. You and I are responsible.

When one causes suffering, that one is responsible. When our government, our state, our laws, our police cause suffering, we are all responsible. All of us have the blood on our hands.

“Don’t be evil,” the saying goes. What is evil? It is at least the causing of suffering unnecessarily. Do our prohibitions cause suffering? Yes. You know our drug laws, our prostitution laws, our petty prohibitions of this and that, our requirement of this or that, they all cause suffering. They all result in harming people and families in prisons and other obvious harms. Why continue?

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.” Thomas Jefferson, Philadelphia Dec. 23. 1791.

If we live to “protect,” how? How can we protect anyone older than about six years? We can only protect people by imposing on them. Coercion is evil. Coercion is always evil. Why commit evil to protect? There is one reasonable justification: when the evil prevented is obviously worse than the evil imposed by the coercion, when that evil prevented was clear, present, and imminent.

Coercion, imposition of law, needs to be stripped of its layers and accoutrements, especially the pretty ones. We pretend our laws are for the good, but what good? Strip the law down to its ultimate: Every law has you, ultimately, holding a gun to someone’s head and saying, “Comply or else!”

You scoff. You recoil. You would never do that. Heck,  you may even protest you own no gun, you may even claim you’ve never held a gun, but did you vote? Did you pay taxes? Don’t you sanction the police, at least when you need them? Did you cheer when the law passed? “No more texting and driving,” you cried in triumph. Yet, what of the young person who does so anyway, who is seen, caught red-handed, by an officer of the law? Who, when the siren sounds and the lights flash, refuses to submit? What then? High speed chase? Property damage, injury, loss of life? All because you insisted on assigning enforcement, the guys with the guns, to enforce your coercive, self-serving, even narcissistic and egotistical, will.

You! You supported that. You are responsible. There is blood on your hands.

We must change our ways. We must change our laws. We must abandon punishment in our civic culture. We all know what harm is. When there is a responsible party, intentional, negligent, or something similar, we understand justice. We understand the harm, the wrong, must be set right in some way. Punishing the responsible party is seldom warranted. Locking the person in a cage, how have we remained so evil so long?

When someone is harmed, we must find ways to set it right, ways that may involve substantial hardship for the responsible party. We can be reasonable, merciful, and still see justice done.

The old rule of eye-for-eye and life-for-life may need to be applied on rare occasions, but we normally have much more rational, even more effective, options.

Imposing harm willingly is the height of evil. Yet, we do it every day.

We harm those who violate our laws daily, and we harm those who love them or depend on them. We cause the harm, and we know it! That is the evil of our society, not supposed slights and unconscious bias.

Our laws need to focus on harm done and reparation. We must abandon punishment in most civil and criminal matters. We must figure out how to stop locking up all but our most dangerous fellow humans.

Here is another idea we must internalize, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

I am the monster. You are the monster. Our society, our laws, our enforcement, our systems! We are the monster! “There is none righteous, no not one!

Think, are you not frightened whenever you think of doing something out of the ordinary? Don’t you wonder if it is illegal, if someone might call the police, if the police just might show up for you? Oh, what evil we have wrought! We live in a society where the sensitive among us live in fear of the police, the state. Why?

When we impose regulation on children, on parents, on education, we are restricting, coercing, demanding what is not rightfully ours.

For many thousands of years, we have made do just fine with no imposition of regulations on parents. How can our hubris reach so high as to think this or that rule improves the human lot? Nemesis visits us already. Her reminders to return to humility, to minding our own business, are not usually extreme, but they will become so if we continue our imposing, coercive ways. It is simply the nature of existence. TANSTAAFL and “Mind own business.” That is the existence we have. It is what we should celebrate. We can only have the best when we all trust one another to the good, to be honest, to accomplish our own necessities. Our meddling only, almost always, increases suffering more than necessary.

I allow for the needs, for the necessities, because nothing is ever perfect, at least not in the existence we live.

I want less government, less law, less meddling, less imposition, less coercion. I’m not advocating for overthrow. No! What we have works pretty well. Let’s not blow it up. But, we can start restricting it. We can start repealing laws. We can start lowering budgets and eliminating programs. Such is the road to less harm and more general welfare.

There are no government programs that don’t cause harm. Get it? All government programs, all government action, causes harm. Government programs and actions harm some, some individuals. In many instances, the government action is causing more harm, more human suffering, than it alleviates, even when the best of intentions are legitimate and even when well supervised.

Government causes harm. It is inarguable. Freedom is better. Of course, there are those who will take advantage when opportunity arises, and that is why we need the sanctioned violence, the enforcement, the police, the guys with the guns. Yes, we need them. (We also need to be able to defend ourselves from them.)

However, we need less than we have.

Our needs our meager when it comes to government, yet we surfeit! Why?

Why is government excess the one excess we revel in. Is revelling in excess not sin, simply by definition! Of course, it is. Let us stop insisting on continuing this sin.

Less government, and let’s start with less laws.

 

 

 

An unrelated article brought this to mind.

Argue all you want, complicate all you want, but God is, or God is not. If you prefer, there is a divine ultimate, or there is nothing.

If we acknowledge the divine, then we are eternal, it seems a certain consequence.

I assert free will. “Good heavens, gentlemen, what sort of free will is left when we come to tabulation and arithmetic, when it will all be a case of twice two make four? Twice two makes four without my will. As if free will meant that!” (Fyodor Dostoevsky [c8p2, c8p3])

There is no free will if one may not choose eternity to at least the extent of with-God or without-God.

I assert the good. I assert that choosing to add harm to life is the evil.

We have before us life or death, good or evil. Therefore, choose life.

Sin

We usually define it as messing up, missing the mark. We know, for the most part, what we need to aim at, yet we often miss, either from simple failings or bad choices.

We don’t get around to doing the things we should. We don’t show a kindness when it was deserved. Or we know good and well we shouldn’t do a thing, yet we did it.

Most such, we deal with by repenting, formally for the religious, but in other ways for all the rest. Charitable giving, resolutions (especially at the New Year), we all do it, trying to make right, trying to do better. Good. That is the way of it, and nearly all of us get it, and most of us are pretty tolerant of it because we’ve been there, done that.

There is another sin, though, of knowingly causing harm, inflicting suffering. In general, such are what we, as a society, judge as worthy of punishment and prison. For the most heinous intentional harms, we tend to want our officials to take the sinner’s life. For better or worse, that is the way it is. (It could change. Perhaps we should engage.)

There is a sin, however, one that causes grave harm, that nearly everyone commits, and no one is ever punished for: Supporting compulsory education.

Making laws and forcing people to send their children to government schools, school designed to indoctrinate and to regiment, schools necessarily forcing compliance, conformance, and all things sedentary. These schools would be better for simply removing the compulsory requirements. Why do you support something that so obviously, demonstrably, repeatably, results in harm for so many?

You force it. You cause it. You are responsible. Why do you persist?

Outlaw truancy laws. End this intentional harm.

 

Sex is natural. Sex is as important, and as natural, as breathing and eating.

But sex is so much more.
Sex is part of each of us. It is part of what we are. Our mental state, our psyche includes sex.
That is why it is so personal.
That is why it is so important.
Sex makes up a part of our very soul. Deny its importance at your own peril.
More importantly, deny its importance to your partner, and you become responsible for an increase in evil in the world.
Yes, if you carelessly, inconsiderately, involve another in your sex, you are hurting them. You are causing pain and increasing suffering. That is evil. Don’t be evil.
Frankly, sex is sacred. Sure, being so natural, there is a fair bit of liberty many can take with little ill effect, but not all. Not all! Some people can’t, and you really don’t want to be the one who contributes to that person’s suffering.
Don’t take advantage of people.
Your sex is between you and your partner and god. (Yes, I’m not defining god, here, beyond the divine spark within you. That is god as you must deal with, god as you must answer to in those quite moments, those dark moments. You know I’m right even if you claim to believe in no particular god.)
Your sex is nobody else’s business. Frankly, if society can’t handle the several exceptions, society needs to improve. As long as most of us accept sex as properly natural and properly sacred, and we act with faithfulness and integrity toward one another, especially with our partners, things will stay good for society overall.
No need to fear those who don’t follow the old rules. Integrity and honor. We need that. We suffer together societal when integrity and honor slip.
Who doesn’t hurt with these victims of sexually related improprieties? Who isn’t angry with the perpetrators? Who doesn’t want punitive action against those who’ve abused their positions, power, and authority?
Know that you have a higher duty when it comes to sex. It isn’t just a base instinct. It isn’t a simple hunger. Read the Proverbs and the wisdom of so many other cultures. Sex is a big deal. Don’t take it lightly. Never abuse it. Ensure you have developed trust and know you have consent. Otherwise, run away. What did Jesus say? Gouge out your eye? I hope no one goes to that extreme, but extreme measures of restraint on you, your own part are warranted whenever sex, even simple sexual implications, are involved. Don’t be promiscuous. Don’t be evil.
Respect!
God we need more respect, more integrity, more honest consideration.
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