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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Thrashing. 
22nd-Nov-2011 08:59 am
Inspiration
An interesting cri de cour:

“I think the whole situation is nutty,” said Jan O’Connell, a 47-year-old artist from Los Angeles. “Somebody’s got to save us, and if the government can’t, who can?”

A choice of words that might perhaps be best addressed to your parish priest.

From here, where similar failures to understand bubble.
Comments 
22nd-Nov-2011 07:26 pm (UTC)
One of the roles of government is to deal with crises. I assume you would consider it an unwarrantable breach of liberty for a government to claim to direct a war.
23rd-Nov-2011 12:48 am (UTC)
One of the roles of government is to deal with crises. I assume you would consider it an unwarrantable breach of liberty for a government to claim to direct a war.

One of the roles of politicians is to manufacture crises. It was a recognized part of the strategy of your friend Mussolini, for example. It allows them to appeal for unity, to disregard democratic requirements, and to call loudly for "action" until they are granted the power they need to abuse people.

One of the roles of reasonable people is to keep an eye on the bastards. All of them, and to insist that whatever the crisis is they claim, they still have to follow the forms, and they are, and will always be, accountable on a regular basis for their actions.

Is it an unwarrantable breach of liberty for a government to claim to direct a war? Thankfully, the Constitution speaks directly to the issue, placing the power to declare war in Congress and the role of commander in chief in the President. Therefore, unlike you, I have no need to invent terms and create laws from the meaning of the terms so invented, e.g. Natural Law, but can simply say, "Not a meaningful question."
23rd-Nov-2011 07:05 am (UTC)
One of the recognized roles of paranoiacs is to imagine guilt and conspiracy where none exists.

Incidentally, do you realize that you quite probably just made me God? I certainly did not invent ius naturale or ius nationum; they were natural parts of law and philosophy long before there was an America, and the Founders would be horrified by your denial of them, and highly amused by your ascribing their "invention" to some insignificant Italian in London.
23rd-Nov-2011 02:06 am (UTC)
Indeed ... why does "someone" have to "save them?" In a purely temporal sense, why can't they just save themselves?
23rd-Nov-2011 03:33 am (UTC)
That would mean them taking responsibility, and it looks like that's not in the cards for the people in this article.
23rd-Nov-2011 07:06 am (UTC)
Because any collective action demands someone making decisions and the rest following them. IN other words, they demand a government. Otherwise you fall into the ludicrous left-wing utopia of everlasting assemblies with everyone opening their mouths and nobody ever getting anywhere.
23rd-Nov-2011 07:11 am (UTC)
No, I mean -- why does the "salvation" have to be collective? When I'm in financial trouble, I don't expect the government to do anything to help me. Why do others?
23rd-Nov-2011 09:26 am (UTC)
I don't know where you live, but on planet Earth, if a large employer goes bankrupt and sacks 10,000 workers and ruins 20,000 shareholders, it could not matter less whether those pathetic ruined guys had been as virtuous as angels with their money: they are FUCKING RUINED. Let's not even get into what happens if a bank defaults. And in an economic crisis, THOUSANDS of companies go burst and MILLIONS of people lose work and home. In your country there are people who are now living in underpasses and eating, if at all, at soup kitchens. Go tell THEM it's their own fault, see what answer you get.
23rd-Nov-2011 02:46 pm (UTC)
I don't know where you live, but on planet Earth, if a large employer goes bankrupt and sacks 10,000 workers and ruins 20,000 shareholders, it could not matter less whether those pathetic ruined guys had been as virtuous as angels with their money: they are FUCKING RUINED.

Yes. They are ruined as long as they sit around in that location waiting for external "salvation." The issue is actually not who is at fault, but rather how one is to be saved: counting on politicians and bureaucrats to bail one out is both bad for society and, more importantly, VERY UNLIKELY TO WORK FOR THE INDIVIDUAL.

Go tell THEM it's their own fault, see what answer you get.

Different reactions based upon different people. If the most common reaction was to pull out pistols and shoot me dead on the spot, would that make my argument false? If the most common reaction was to toss rose petals in my path and hail me as their savior, would it make it true? This is the problem with argument ad popularum.

Oh, and by the way: in the winter of 2001-02 I came within an inch of being one of those people. And it most definitely WAS my fault -- other people contributed, but I made all the key bad decisions that lost me my fortune, and all the (subsequent) key good decisions that saved me from complete homelessness. Does that mean that my argument is now automatically true?
23rd-Nov-2011 03:50 pm (UTC)
You really DO live in a world of your own, one that has only a very tangential resemblance to planet Earth. If an economy only produces twenty million jobs and there are twenty-five million people looking for work, five million will be unemployed. That has nothing to do with their character, since they can't alter the laws of mathematics. Now, in real life, economic crises don't end at a country's borders. (Unless, as in Germany in 1923, that country is ran by dangerous maniacs who deliberately engineer its destruction for political reasons. And I'm sorry to have to inform you, but that is a very rare event.) In real life, moving from one place to another will not diminish the likelihood of being unemployed. Arabs from Egypt and Tunisia, where cities are immense and work is nonexisteng, flock to Europe to work, and find that cities are immense and work is nonexistent - and that they are not only as poor as they were at home, but away from the whole network of social support, family, friends, mosques, that they had in their country. And if you tried to escape the frightful crisis that is gripping the United States, you would have the pleasing choice of immigrating to Mexico. I am trying to spell out some common sense here, but I'm afraid that the differences of language and perception between planet Earth and wherever you live are such that I cannot geth through.

Oh, and if you misrepresent a man's life to that man to the extent that he gets mad at you, then you are very obviously fucking wrong. Either that, or that man is a criminal of the deepest dye, willing to beat someone up rather than be told the truth about himself. Is that your solution to the homeless problem? Discover that they are morally villainous and ship them off to America's enormous and ever growing, crisis-proof jail system?
19th-Dec-2011 06:19 pm (UTC)
I believe you don't appreciate the diversity in the United States appropriately, even if it isn't on your Earth.

e.g. that.

I note in passing that "the economy" produces 0 jobs. None. Businessmen, and people desiring to go into business, on the other hand, do produce jobs.
23rd-Nov-2011 09:28 am (UTC)
P.S.: One way to make me see red is to do a Hermann Cain. You know, "if you're unemployed it's your own fault." And if you find the idea of begging a corollary of your idea of manly self-reliance, it ain't mine. I don't pay taxes just to be thrown in the latrine when things get bad.
23rd-Nov-2011 02:41 pm (UTC)
If you are (long-term) unemployed, whose fault is it other than your own? Sure, it may not be your moral fault, but you clearly made a mistake which led to your lacking the skills or connections or charm to negotiate a new employment contract.

This may not be a great fault -- it's nowhere near as bad as being, say, a career criminal -- but it is a fault, and failing to acknowledge the fault prevents the remedial behavior of acting to improve one's employability. So you're not helping yourself by trying to blame society at large.

I don't pay taxes just to be thrown in the latrine when things get bad.

You pay taxes so that politicians will have favors to give rich constituents, so that they in turn will receive campaign contributions, and so that the State will not come with armed men to arrest you for the fault of not paying your taxes.

Or am I being too cynical?
23rd-Nov-2011 03:51 pm (UTC)
You are being infantile. You have no understanding of the meaning of citizenship, duty, and obedience to the laws. And I have said so before. Please read Plato's dialogue CRITO, since I am not getting through.
2nd-Dec-2011 01:16 am (UTC)
The social contract theory strikes again, in Crito. Yet I seem to recall nothing but contempt from you about the social contract in other circumstances. Why do you disagree with yourself?
23rd-Nov-2011 04:04 pm (UTC)
If you are (long-term) unemployed, whose fault is it other than your own? Sure, it may not be your moral fault, but you clearly made a mistake which led to your lacking the skills or connections or charm to negotiate a new employment contract.

This may not be a great fault -- it's nowhere near as bad as being, say, a career criminal -- but it is a fault, and failing to acknowledge the fault prevents the remedial behavior of acting to improve one's employability. So you're not helping yourself by trying to blame society at large.


This is a classic instance of the logical error of imagining a contradiction where none exists. A contradiction means that two propositions are such that one absolutely and totally makes the other impossible, or false, or nonexistent. You cannot have your cake and eat it. You can't have money and spend it. But you can perfectly well be in a situation where you might have work if there is full employment, but you will be dumped and not picked up, whatever you do, if there is a permanently high employment rate. The idiotic superstition that you can educate people out of unemployment by endless courses in taking interviews and so on has done as much harm (and wasted immense amounts of taxpayers' money) as any of the other features of that primitive, illiterate cult called Thatcherism. If there is no work, the only prospect people have is in trying to make it themselves - find something you know how to do and try to sell it, become a bicycle repairman, a plumber, a hairdresser, a cook, any sort of artist. And even that will fail more often than it succeeds. But whatever you do, you will only get anywhere if you take it for granted that you will fail. Because if you do, the failure will not crush you; you will know that it was a probable outcome, and, if it is due to something you did (like my disastrous attempt to set up a comics distribution business in the nineties) you will be able to look back on your errors without shame and learn from them. But if anyone is stupid enough to take seriously the Hermann Cain idea of unemployment, then he or she will sink further and further into despondency, become convinced that their failures are their own fault, and eventually come to believe that failure is what defines them. So the only hope you have to make it in a difficult economic climate is to assume that you will lose - and go ahead and do it anyway.
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