Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Government, a god?

While grandpa and I were walking out to the back forty, he started rambling as if talking to himself. I always had to chuckle a bit when he did but I usually just kept quiet and listened as he did. Here are the words he spoke;

"I’ll have to admit that politics, at times, can be very confusing to me. There are times that I think that people believe that government has the power and authority of a god. They may not admit it and they may be serious in their denial. It seems though, that every time things are not going as they’d like, they think that government has the solutions. And what better measurement can be used of a god than who do we turn to for help?

One thing never comes to their mind. They never think of the fact that it might be government itself that was the cause of the problem in the first place. Governments regulate society in hopes of creating a civilized society. Governments regulate businesses to protect the people. It regulates business to hold them to an ethical standard.

I don’t know of a single law or regulation that can said as being of a perfect nature. If this is true then each and every law or regulation must result in some detrimental manner, if not to society itself then it must be detrimental to the individual. I might even argue that this applies to greater extent to those civil laws or regulation meant to deal with interrelationships rather than those of criminal intent.

As a people, we gave government the authority and power to deal with the criminal aspect of society. This, I believe, we can all agree on. Whether or not we gave government power and authority to control the lives of the individuals of the society is another issue all together. If we did then we need to know how much power and authority we gave government to control our lives so that we can know when to stand up against it or to submit to it.

That line, if there be one, of which government is not to cross can be very blurred at times from the tears in our eyes. It can be very hard at times to just stand back and not do anything when we perceive a brother or sister in need of help. Yet, there are times when doing nothing is the best way to help someone. It is one of the lessons we learn as parents.

When I use the word nothing here, that does not eliminate the idea of encouragement. What it does eliminate is the doing it for that person rather than allowing that person to do for himself. What it does eliminate is the doing of something to make it easier on that person. What it does eliminate is the doing something thus making it appear that the person is on equal terms with others and I emphasize the word appear. Life was never meant to be easy. Furthermore, appearances can be very dangerous.

We have become a world of known diversity. We have also become a world where groups are emphasized over individuals. We have become a society where the only problems are seen as problems of a group and try to address it in that manner.

We have forgotten that groups are made up of individuals. We have forgotten that you cannot address the problems of a group of people until you address the problems of the individuals of that group. We have forgotten that the problems of an individual are unique unto that individual. If they were not unique there would be no value in individualism.

What pains me more though, is the fact that as a society we no longer place any value on risk. Throughout society, you see the attempt to eliminate that factor in our lives. Doing things that only are safe is the goal now days. If risk is seen as unavoidable then there is a drive to spread that risk throughout society. It’s as if people see risks as the primary imperfection of life instead of its most perfect factor of life."

With these words said he just looked down at me, patted my head and went silent. Somehow I knew that no questions were to be asked.


BB-Idaho said...

Risk (chance, gamble, play odds) in the large sense seems inate to us, varying perhaps with some personality aspects. Hence many games and sports, carnival rides and Los Vegas. In the economic sense, assuming you write on that,
risk-averse stragegies abound: spreadsheets, books, articles..based in large part on the mathematics of chance pioneered by John von Neuman
(that sort of takes the excitement out of it!) IMHO, the greed (payback) factor can be specific to how we play the market; being
an initiating explosives chemist,
the study of risk was critical for me and I tend to be cautious by nature. Thus, with timid investing, I retired at the end of the tech bubble at 62. My marketing and engineering friends, far more daring, lost their investments in the burst, are still on the job...and tending their portfolios. Back to the term in its larger sense; we can tie it to your previous post on
soldiering. Often, prior to major battle, civil war soldiers put a note under their cap..[John H. Doe,
pvt, 3rd Bn, 19th Ohio/ killed in action] They knew the risk was very high that they would not survive; they would prefer not to take such a risk, but were duty bound. In a sense, such risk was
both individual and group. And,
at "the risk" of veering way off course, such soldierly concern led the the development of the military dogtag:
..apologies for longwindedness, but addressed both your last postings. :)

The Griper said...

maybe, BB, that is the beauty of risk taking. given that risks are involved with every decision we make we, as individuals can determine the amount of risk we are to take. you, for an example, you were more cautious but it still was a risk and you chose the risk as did your fellow investors.

i guess what i was getting at is that it appears that risk is the singular constant in decision making. it can never be eliminated in this world of uncertainty. and it can be declared as a measurable constant just as the laws of physics are.

we just haven't found out how to take it from a random measure and make it an absolute yet. maybe it never can. it could be this factor that supports the idea of free will as opposed to determinism.

Lista said...

Hi Griper,
You know, I've been getting to know you and in a lot of ways deciding I like you and yet so often when I come to your blog, I keep coming across the same thing. You seem to be talking about an extreme. Maybe I'm wrong, but you keep coming across that way to me, just as again, viewing the Government as a God is an extreme and only those on the extreme Left feel that way.

On the other side of the issue, the extreme Lack of Regulation results in things such as the Financial Crisis that is now going on in Wall Street and also the extreme position of "NEVER do a Bail Out, under ANY Circumstance" could result in another Depression and in this case, the action is needed even though the Government is indeed the problem.

Let's consider this, though. In this case, was the Government the problem because of their over involvement or because of their lack of involvement?

The fact that no Law or Regulation is Perfect does not establish that there will be a Detrimental effect. The word "Detrimental" is again an extreme. All that lack of perfection results in is the presence of a negative, not the presence of something so negative that it is "Detrimental".

What is usually true is that a certain regulation or lack of it is inconvenient to one party and "Detrimental" to another. The regulations that are needed on Wall Street, for example, are inconvenient to Wall Street, but the lack of them are Detrimental to the Economy.

Some Regulations on Businesses are the same way. They are Inconvenient to the Businesses and yet the lack of them can be Detrimental to the Economy. One example of this would be Regulations that are put in place in order to keep jobs here, whether than over seas.

There are other Regulations that are Detrimental to Businesses, such as excessive Regulations relating to Evironmental Issues. Sometimes Evironmentalists just plain get out of hand with their ideas of Protecting the Evironment at all Costs.

To be balanced in this issue, one has to ask whether or not the Regulation is Detrimental, or simply Inconvenient. Due to the selfishness of man, however, this question is rarely ever asked. Instead, we insist that what's needed is absolutely no Regulation ever, under any circumstance, which is an extreme position, plain and simple.

This is only half of what I've actually written. I decided to break it down.

Lista said...

You accuse me of arguing the Extremes, Griper, yet this is primarily because I keep seeing in you extremes whether than balanced view points on things.

Dealing with Criminals is a form of controlling "the lives of the individuals of a Society". The control is so severe, in fact, that people lose all of their freedoms and are put in prison. This control is necessary because if it didn't occur, we would have anarchy.

When to help someone and when to do nothing is a very confusing issue indeed. If this is hard to decide on an individual level, than how much more difficult is it on a Governmental Level? That is why these issues are never easy to decide in a fair manner. When to Regulate and when not to is a similar dilemma.

Government does not have the ability to interact directly with individuals. Individuals interact with Individuals. All that the Government can do is interact with Groups. As soon as one changes the focus from a Group to an Individual, the focus changes to something else besides Government, but if we are to discuss the role of Government, it will always involve Groups, that's just the way it is.

Rules and Regulations are based on the needs of Groups. It is impossible to make different rules for each and every individual in our society. It just can't be done. On the other hand, perhaps for the sake of Individuals is just the reason why perhaps "Rules are Meant to be Broken." Unfortunately, though, this is not generally how Government works.

As to the subject of Risk, again that can be seen as a matter of degree, in which what we need to avoid are the extremes.

The Total Absence of Risk is not a realistic goal, yet when Risks are too high, people as a whole become fearful and are reluctant to take the necessary Risks in order to keep the Economy going. Risk, therefore, needs to be kept at a level at which enough people in a society are willing to take the Risks needed in order for an Economy to thrive. If the Risks are too high, people become fearful and the Economy suffers.

Risk, in Economy, is like putting a Price on a Product. When the Price is too high, nobody buys the Product. The Price needs to match "what the Market will Bear". Risk has a similar effect. In this case, if the Price (Risk) is too high, no one will start their own business. Risk, just like Price, has to match what the Market will bear, otherwise the Economy will suffer.

Lista said...

It's interesting that you mentioned the word Determinism again in your above comment. You also mentioned that on my blog in relation to Evolution verses Intelligent Design. Here is a repeat of some of the dialogue...

Your Words...
"The only argument I can give in regards to Evolution vs Intelligent Design is that by the nature of the meaning of Science is that it presupposes Determinism, thus must restrict itself in its scope of study to that. To allow the argument of Intelligent Design as a theory in competition to Evolution within science is to no longer restrict it to Determinism."

My Response....
"Determinism is a Philosophy, not a Science, and Philosophy has no more place in Science than Religion does. The only way to be a true seeker of truth is to 'Follow the Evidence Where ever it Leads.' This is not possible to do, if Science is limited to 'Determinism'".

Your Response...
"Determinism is a fact of life, Lista, only not in the manner that you think."

My Response....
"If you think that I'm not understanding Determinism, Griper, than maybe you should explain it to me."

I guess by "Determinism" you mean the Absence of Free Will. When I looked it up in the Dictionary, I got the following Definition...

"The Doctrine that everything is entirely Determined by a sequence of causes" and "The Doctrine that one's choice of action is not free but is Determined by a sequence of causes independent of his will."

Since a Determinist believes that there is no such thing as Free Will, it would be easy for one with that position to believe that that which can not be observed and studied does not exist, or that Science is all that exists. Science does not necessarily have to lead to that conclusion and therefore is not in and of itself Deterministic.

Just because Science is limited to that which can be studied, observed and Determined, does not make it necessarily Deterministic. Believe it or not, though, the evidence of Intelligent Design is something that can indeed be observed.

Forgive me for getting a little off subject, but the Comment Thread below the post on my blog that this relates to is much longer than the Comment Thread here.

The Griper said...

determinism is a theory of behavior just as free will is. the word determinism is to science as the word predestination is to religion.

all forms of matter in the universe behaves in some manner. the only question then is by what manner any object does behave as it does. the only ansswer to this is one of two means as far as i know. 1. it behaves as it was determined to or as it was predestined to. 2. it behaves on its own free will.

all objects of the universe can be divided up into two classes, life forms or non-life forms.

one thing is clear. that is, that alll non-life forms behaves as it was determined to behave. the laws of physics are the result of this.

science, when it began, restricted itself to the study of non-life forms. so, is it possible to declare that determinism is a reality? yes, in regards to the behaviors of all non-life forms. whether determinism can be applied to all life forms is still in question.

the accuracy by which object's behavior is measured is proof of the fact of determinism. so, when i say that science presupposes determinism that is an accurate statement.

the soft sciences, as they call themselves, patterned their studies after the hard sciences. in fact, they use that to say that they are a science but they never considered one fact. that is, by patterning their studies after the hard sciences they were also accepting the proposition of determinism also. and this is revealed in their conclusions by declaring that behavior is caused rather than just influenced by something outside of free will.

Lista said...

As is so often the case with you, you have forgotten the third option. You so often seem to think that there are only 2 options, which is what I have labeled "Black and White Thinking".

The third option is limited free will. For example, when the dog is in the yard, he can chose to go anywhere within the yard, but his Free Will is limited by the fence. There are all sorts of things in life that limit our choices and thus also our potential and this makes our lives Partly Free and Partly Determined.

Evolution is a Science involving Life Forms, not Non-Life Forms, and because of this, it is a soft Science. Maybe the commitment to Determinism within the Soft Sciences in an error in their focus.

The Griper said...

no i haven't lista, we are all limited by our physical environment in regards to the use of free will. only God has the unlimited free will you describe.

free will or determinism is a concept of decision making, nothing else. do we make the decisions of our behavior or not, that is what the two concepts addresses.

non-life forms cannot make decisions thus their behavior is declarable as determined.

Lista said...

Sometimes the limits to a person's environment are so severe, that it is ridiculous to call such a person free to choose their own destiny. The whole idea of Free Will is connected to taking responsibility for one's actions and being blamed for bringing hardship on oneself.

This does indeed occur in life, yet sometimes the blame does not fall on the backs of those who suffer to the extent that we may think and this is where judgementalism comes in and this issue has a lot to do with deciding who to help and who not to.

The Griper said...

yup, and this is why the concept of free will is not considered as an absolute yet.

but also, if you believe in the concept of free will you would also need to recognize it in regards to the limitations of carrying out that decision also.

everybody, if free will exists, can make a decision but at times needs help in carrying that decision out. and the amount of help needed is determined by our personal limitations. that limitation would also include the ability to make a decision.

a baby cannot make a decision on its own but that does not mean it does not possess free will. it would only mean that free will has not developed enough to allow it to.

a person in a coma would be declared as someone who could not make a decision but that does not mean he does not possess free will. it just means that, in that state, his brain cannot function as it needs to function, during that period, in order to make decisions or if they can, carry out those decisions.

the same could be said of a person sleeping.

we must remember that decision making and the execution of those decisions are two different functions of behavior.

Lista said...

When I press you on this issue, Griper, I see that you do understand about the limitations of people, yet you continue to leave this detail out when you express your political opinions. You come across as an extremist not because of what you say, but because of what you don't say.

The Griper said...

another thing you might consider lista is the fact that what i say only applies to those affected, not to everyone.

you might ask yourself a simple question, "does what he says apply to everyone or not?"

if it doesn't then it would only be true in regards to those it applies to. if it does then yes.

or on a personal scale ask if what i say would apply to you or not. if not, i cannot be talking about you. if yes then what i say does apply to you.

if there be a question about it people should ask so as to better understand and that is something people seem to be unwilling to do now days. they'd rather make assumptions.

i am not a politically correct writer or thinker and won't dumb down my words so as to make them apply to everyone. i recognize there are exceptions to what anyone says.

that may be one of the biggest differences of the generation gap today. past generation spoke in terms of absolutes but recognized that absolutes does not exist and exceptions to that statement of absolutes were always possible or probable.

today's generation declares that there is no absolutes and try to structure their words so as to be absolute in what they say.

Lista said...

I guess it's a good thing that I checked this, for some reason your most recent comment did not come into my Email box.

The issue that is always in the back of my mind whenever I talk to you about the limitations of people is the need for at least a few Government Programs to help such people out. The fact that not everyone needs these programs is irrelevant. The point is that some people do.

Politics involves a lot more than what is or isn't true about me or about you, so that is irrelevant too, except in regards to what I can learn about others by evaluating both the past and present strengths and weaknesses in myself.

When the Government makes decisions about things, they need to consider all people, not just those who life comes easy for.

The subject of Absolutes and Exceptions to Absolutes is a whole separate topic. I do not follow how it has relevance here. It's like we are talking about two totally different subjects.

I'm just concerned about those who struggle and are misjudged and expected to do more than they are able to do and not offered any help. I find extreme Republicanism to be a little rough on such people. That's all that I keep trying to say.

The Griper said...

and what you need to remember lista are your own words. government is not there to help the individual but groups. and those groups are defined in accordance to the population that each government rules over. and if you ever carried yout thoughts out thouroughly, you'd see that what you are advocating is help for the individuals.

one more thing, lista, is that the governments themselves are limited too. they can't help everybody that needs help. and there is the problem of looking to government for help. there is only so much money governments has to spend on what it is suppose to do. and there is never enough people to carry out the tasks we expect from government when we demand that it helps. look at all the people complaining now about how poorly the government is doing in regards to helping people.

if the governments employed all of the people it needed to serve the people as you and others advocate it should, there would be very few people in the private sector and they are the ones paying the taxes to support these programs not the people who work and get paid by governments.

only Jesus could take the fishes and loaves and multiply them so as to take care of the people, governments are not Jesus.


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