Voluntary Segregation  

Posted by RogueDash1 in

Other people are noticing this, so I guess I'm not crazy.

Well, alright, maybe crazy, but not insane.

Is Failure the Goal?  

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Yesterday's post was deliberately inflammatory. It was designed to infuriate and offend the politically correct while still being honest. But I want to revisit a certain point. When I say 'white' and 'black,' I am not referring to the color of a group's skin, but rather the culture of that group. Specifically, I am referring to Christian culture and ghetto culture (for lack of a better term). These cultures are dominated by whites and blacks respectively, but there are plenty of good, Christian black people, and plenty of ghetto white boys I'd rather avoid.

Let's define our terms here. By 'Christian culture,' I mean that culture that adheres to biblical principle, as personified by my Lord Jesus Christ, and taught by his apostles and the prophets that preceded him. It is personal responsibility, kindness, hard work, generosity, serving others, bettering yourself. And by 'ghetto culture,' I mean that culture best exemplified by rappers that glories in violence, drugs, sex, crime, single motherhood, gangs, broken families, disrespect.

It should be obvious why the Christian consistently outperforms the gangbanger. Here is the difference between blacks and whites. It's not the color of their skin, it's not the continent from which their ancestors came, it is the culture in which they live.

We have now answered the question of why people end up being segregated by 'race' every time we measure how well Americans are doing at life. The next question is why does such a self-destructive culture persist? And why are many on the Christian side of the equation abandoning it for the selfish debauchery that so marks barbarianism?

The answer, in part (or maybe in whole), is liberal policy. If you recall the quote that started this rant, academics think it is illegal for one group to outperform another group, and that the better group should be held down to the lowest common denominator. Policies that encourage bad behavior and discourage good behavior have become the norm. The effect has been to create a lower, usually criminal class, and indeed to encourage the middle class to join them. To go into why the leaders of our country do this would be a very long post. Mencius Moldbug takes a pretty good stab at it (a six part series, at the time of this writing).

But the evidence is that our government and academic institutions are actively destroying society and civilization. I have not yet found a way around this conclusion. And it frightens me.

Designed for Failure  

Posted by RogueDash1 in ,

But the nation's foremost scholars in middle-school education are worried the fast-growing trend is leaving minority children behind. They also question whether the practice is legal because, nationwide, it has tended to result in students being segregated by race.

The quote in question is on the practice of middle school students taking high school classes.

I'm going to go ahead and say it: if two distinct groups of people habitually perform differently at some measured aptitude, then perhaps they really are different. To put it more bluntly, if you are a minority (I'm sure they mean black and Hispanic) then you are less able to succeed in life than a white person.

Now if you've simmered down some from that racist statement, I'll explain what I mean by that. I really don't think genetics is the determining factor here. It appears to me that the culture associated with race has far more bearing on this difference in ability than your ancestry.

I know that there are very intelligent, driven black people out there, and also very dumb white people. I've met some of them, spent some time with them. And yet, the data show that on average, white people commit fewer crimes, less violent crimes, do better in school, do better on the job, make more money, have more stable families, and just generally do better at life. Now as is normal with any bell curve distribution, some white people will be worse than most blacks, and some blacks will be better than most whites. But there is a definite distinction between the center masses of these two curves.

The scholars of the quote at the top acknowledge this fact. But their solution is to prevent whites from succeeding, so that they are on par with their less capable counterparts. They have looked at the data and said only white people are getting ahead, there must be something wrong with white people.

To say that there is something wrong with black people is blasphemy of an unrivaled scale. (Don't get me started on the hypocrisy between these two positions.) Because to say that is to say that black people need to change their culture so that it stops handicapping them. But that is the obvious conclusion the data present. Black people do not succeed because they live in a culture that prevents success.

In fact, I've heard my successful black friends be called 'whitey' by their ghetto brothers. Like the ability to work hard and provide for a family is a white trait. Actually, there is some truth to that. White people (well, alright, Christians) believe that hard work and responsibility are the keys to success. And look, they are ahead of everyone else. So you know what, if white culture breeds success and black culture does not, then blacks could use a good white washing.

Whites are not immune to this either. Many people could use a good dose of old fashioned Christian values. That is where the real difference lies. The productive, stable, successful cultures adhere to biblical, Christian principles. The rest live in an impoverished world of violence and distrust. Unfortunately, our leaders are asking everyone to emulate the failures.

Random prediction: if Christianity is outlawed society will collapse to little better than subsistence living, much like the middle ages (and much like third world countries today).

Hat Tip: Conservative Grapevine

Chicago Tea Party  

Posted by RogueDash1 in ,

Hat Tip: House of Eratosthenes

Art for the Home  

Posted by RogueDash1 in

The other weekend was the Mt Dora Arts Festival. I went looking for something with which to decorate my townhouse. I am trying to avoid cheap decorations. I have several posters in plastic frames I could hang, but I want my home to be a home, not a college bachelor pad.

At any rate, I found some paintings I liked. They are Chinese in style, done by a man named Godwin Kou. Actually they are prints of paintings, but whichever.

I plan on hanging this one in my foyer. I'm currently trying to find a little table with a drawer that I can put in there. I want to hang a mirror over that, and put this painting up next to that, at the base of the stairs. I'd like to find the table and mirror first, so I know where to hang this painting.

I want to hang these two in my living room. I have a large amount of wall that needs something on it. These paintings are a good size, but I still have some room for other stuff. The Chinese on the tiger painting says 'when the tiger roars, you can feel the wind.' The painting below is the Chinese word for meditation. I still need to frame the tiger one before I hang it.

I was trying to make the foyer in a somewhat Oriental style. I have a wooden wall carving of a dragon I got while I was in Thailand on one wall now. But the living room is supposed to be an old world European feel. I think I can still use these last two in there. I really want something that is slightly exotic and fantastic, without being over the top or outrageous. With the right furniture and accent pieces, I can do it. And there is still plenty of wall space to cover.

Programming Insanity  

Posted by RogueDash1 in

There is a popular definition of insanity that states that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

As a software engineer and programmer, I find this assertion perplexing. When I am debugging code, I very frequently do the same thing over and over again and get different results. Which pisses me off, since computer systems are supposed to be deterministic systems. I expect to get the same results when I do the same thing. But sometimes I don't.

I know from experience that my software will not always work the same way even when I tell it to do the same thing. So either I am insane for expecting things to not work for no good reason, or my inanimate software is insane.

I offer two examples. The other day I added a few lines of code to our software, in order to add another variable which would be read by another part of the code. It didn't work. After much heads scratching and yelling at the computer, I deleted what I had wrote and retyped it. And it worked. The catch is that there was no difference in the code. I retyped it, character for character, and one worked and one did not.

A couple years ago, I wrote some code that read some data from flash memory. I had gotten some test code working and had ported it to our actual software. Of course it didn't work. I spent two days trying to figure out why. In the end, I put my original try back on. It has worked ever since. I still maintain that the moon was out of phase.

The point being, I not only do the same thing over and over again and expect different results, I often do get different results. I don't think I'm insane. I usually expect the universe to be rational. It's just that sometimes, it isn't. Is it insane to notice that?

The Stuff is Wealth  

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It's time for another long article on worldviews and philosophies and how they form the foundation of our actions. Our underlying premise here is that your beliefs, your view of how the world works, whether you know those beliefs or not, determines how you act in the world. As opposed to your actions being simply random. There is a method to the madness. The reason I want to know how and why the world works, why I want a coherent and comprehensive worldview, is that I want to make informed decisions. The reason I want to know other people's philosophies is so that I can take their probable actions into account.

And here I must make an important distinction. A worldview does not necessarily conform to reality. That is, some people accept as fundamental truths things that are not true. But their actions may be reasonable based on that belief. The question is, what are those fundamental beliefs, both the ones that are true and the ones that people only think are true? What do people really believe? And is it really real?

Differences in what people accept as truth cause most of the partisanship in America today. The biggest point of contention is what to do about this economic crisis. On the right side, we have people saying that government regulation created a bubble that has now popped, and to fix it, the government needs to leave things alone and let the free market sort things out. On the left, people are saying that immoral capitalists created a bubble at the expense of everyone else, and to fix it, the government needs to take over everything to prevent any kind of unfairness. Both sides are claiming the other side's solution was the root problem.

Or at least that's what the people in general appear to believe. The Democrats in power seem to be playing by Saul Alinsky's rules, and while that says a lot about their beliefs, it doesn't say much about their beliefs about the economy. So what are people's beliefs about the economy? The ones they base their actions on, not the ones they just say they have.

We're going to approach this problem rather obliquely. And we'll start with a simple question: what is wealth? Wealth is stuff. It is the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the house you live in, your shiny baubles, electronic gadgets, tools, art, toys. Wealth is the physical things you consume or collect because you value you them for some reason or another.

I like this definition because it is both absolute and easily quantifiable. Absolute in that you either have a thing or you don't. You either have a big screen TV or you don't. Quantifiable because you can determine who has a thing and how good a thing is. Who has a TV and how big is it. I think most people accept this definition of wealth.

If that is wealth, then it follows that wealth is created when people make stuff. At the very front end, wealth is made from the raw materials found in nature, whether food from a fertile field, wood from a stand of trees, or metal from mined ore. The this raw wealth is combined and modified ad infinitum until stuff people want is produced. An iPod is a long way from the raw ore and oil that went in to its component parts, but that's what it was when it was dug out of the ground. Again, I think most people accept that for stuff to exist, someone has to make it.

But who gets the stuff? Do you get to keep what you make? Or do you put whatever you make in the global commons for whoever needs or wants it? Most people believe that the things you make are yours. If you make a bookshelf, it's your bookshelf. You may keep it or give it away or trade it as you choose. When you are talking physical things that an individual has made, people expect to keep and do what they want with what they have made. See this incident reported by House of Eratosthenes. And yet the idea that the things a person has made should be taken by the government and given to someone else persists.

Let's revisit our definition of wealth. Notice what this definition excludes. Money. Money is not stuff. It is a medium of exchange, a measure of the relative worth of the actual stuff. How many purses to the giant TV? A currency allows everything that people make to be ranked on a common scale. A person makes X number of purses and sells them for Y amount of the currency. That person then goes to someone who has a TV and buys it. He has effectively traded his purses for a TV. But the wealth is the purses and the TV, not the money used to make the trade.

But that means that borrowing more money or printing more currency doesn't affect the amount of stuff. Or even the relative worth of stuff. It just changes the absolute number at which the stuff is valued. You can only trade what you really have. If you have two purses, you cannot trade away three of them. When you trade for a TV, you want the TV now, not six months down the road.

This is our first disconnect. Some people see that money buys stuff, and the more money, the more stuff. If you stop there, then acquiring money to buy stuff is reasonable. It doesn't really matter where the money comes from, so long as your relative amount of it goes up. Take it from someone else, print more of it, borrow indefinitely, with more money you can buy more stuff. And with more stuff, your relative wealth goes up.

But in none of those do you actually produce any wealth. You merely consume. Conservatives believe that stuff is wealth. Therefore, to get stuff, you must make stuff which is yours, and then trade it around for other stuff that you want or need. Liberals believe that money is wealth. Therefore, to get money, you can print, borrow, sell, or steal, and then exchange it for stuff that you want or need.

This is why I have not been overly bothered by the current recession. I make stuff (software) that people want. I sell it to them (or strictly speaking I sell it to the company I work for, who the sells it to other people). I go buy things I want that other people have made. Nice, neat, and simple. And as long as I make stuff people want, I can get wealth.

But notice something else. Because I see wealth as stuff, borrowing means I take stuff from someone now and promise to make them stuff at some point in the future. Well, at that some point, that someone will want the stuff I promised them. If I can deliver, great. If I cannot, I am in trouble, because now I have stolen their stuff. So I try to borrow as little as possible. But if money is wealth, then you are not delivering stuff in the future, so you don't have to worry about making any. You can just give them money you got from somewhere.

But the problem is that people insist on having stuff instead of just a bank account. So everyone who borrowed money to acquire stuff is being asked to produce some stuff so that the lenders can acquire stuff. That stuff has failed to materialize, so people are trading stuff for stuff, instead of stuff for future stuff, and we've ended up with a huge market correction. And this problem will continue so long as people continue to confuse currency with actual, physical stuff.

What Does Hard Work Get Us?  

Posted by RogueDash1 in ,

An extensive survey by the Pew Research Center found that three out of four Republicans believe that people can get ahead by working hard. Four out of five believe that everyone has the power to succeed. But Democrats have much less faith in the value of hard work. Only 14 percent believe that people can get ahead by working hard, according to the survey. And only 44 percent believe that everyone has the power to succeed. This is not a case of 'rich' Republicans believing one thing and 'poor' Democrats another. Even when you compare Republicans and Democrats of the same income, the gap still exists.

John Eberhard

This isn't really surprising news. Based on behavior, liberals want to redistribute success, and conservatives want to earn it for themselves. (Quick question: would the discrepancy be more pronounced if respondents to the survey had identified as liberal or conservative instead of Democrat or Republican?) The real question we need to ask ourselves is why.

My father has had to work with Muslims on business. One of the things he told me is that Muslims don't believe in planning ahead or working hard or otherwise doing things of their own initiative. They wait on Allah's will to give them success. They believe that what will happen will happened, regardless of what they do. They don't believe in cause and effect.

Liberals seem very much in the same mindset. They have replaced Allah with random chance, but they still deny that their actions have a relation to their circumstances, success or failure. This is a very irrational position, as it accepts that other people can affect your circumstances, but you have no affect on your circumstances. I really don't understand why someone would want to place himself in a position of helplessness.

But I do know why I work hard. One, I work hard because God has made me a steward of His creation. I am responsible for my little bit of it and want to do well by it in God's eyes. This is called the Protestant work ethic. The second reason I work hard is so that I can gain the various luxuries that make life more enjoyable, from my own home, an over sized TV, or the ability to travel to far off locales. This is called the American Dream.

Hat Tip: Conservative Grapevine

Principles of Good Government Redux 3  

Posted by RogueDash1 in

This will be my last post on the principles of good government. We've talked so far about where governments come from and how they relate to the economy. Our last set will cover what a government should do.

"Where government must act, the smallest and most local entity capable of doing the job should do so - as it is closest and most responsive to the people."

This is true of any organization, whether government or corporations. The part of an organization that is closest to a problem will generally have the most information about the problem, and know how best to solve the problem. What we really mean by this is that the boots on the ground need the authority to act without having to ask permission forever on up through the bureaucracy.

"All government policies should favor long-term health of the country over short term gain."

Again, this is just good advice, from the individual on up. However, what's good for me is not necessarily good for the country, and what's good for the country is not necessarily good for me. As an individual, I desire long-term contentment. But when you talk in large aggregates of people, sacrificing a few for the benefit of the greater makes sense. But it really sucks for the sacrificed.

But some sacrifices are necessary. You work hard now so you can relax later. But the idea is that you do get the payoff later. And that it is better than getting it now. What we really mean by this principle is that government shouldn't sacrifice long-term health for short-term gain. Short-term gain is fine, as long as it doesn't cause more damage over the long run.

"Where government policies are necessary, they should not encourage irresponsibility, dependence, vice, or sloth among the people."

A government policy encourages that behavior. A government regulation discourages that behavior. This is basic cause and effect. When you create an incentive for something, you get more of it. When you punish something, you get less of it. Therefore, when government gives money for something, or makes it easier to to, people do that thing more. And when a government taxes something, or regulates it (making it harder to perform), people do that thing less.

The idea here is for government policy to encourage good behavior and discourage bad behavior. This one I know is a biblical principle.

"All government policies must be judged in light of the principles of federalism and the division of powers (checks and balances) as envisioned by our Founders."

This seems rather like a catch-all principle. Federalism is a null word that means different things to different people, including contradictory things. But the writers of this principle meant that local and state governments should have authority over their jurisdictions and the federal government must abide by those decisions. Division of powers means that no one entity in government has absolute power. They can always be overridden by some other part of government.

This is completely backwards from how any other successful organization works. All organizations have a hierarchy with a single point of leadership, whether a general, CEO, or king. That central authority delegates power downwards to captains, managers, or barons, and they carry out their duties to the best of their abilities. But the local authorities are held accountable to the higher authorities, not the other way around, as is the case in federalism. Note that this kind of command hierarchy is compatible with our first principle on today's list.

Likewise, a division of power prevents any one division of government from taking decisive action. They can always be vetoed. This, then, necessitates infighting, alliances, bribery, and other forms of 'you help me and I'll help you' (or its backstabbing opposite) in order for one of these divisions to actually get something done. It is designed as a hindrance, so its a great way to slow things down when you have a dictator oppressing random victim group of the week, but if you actually need to solve a problem, you're out of luck.

As stated earlier, a strong government is needed to accomplish anything, including protecting the people. But it needs to be designed in such a way as to encourage the authority to use its power to help its citizens rather than the authority itself.

Having now chewed through all ten principles, I am certain that neither our current American government nor the government designed by the Founding Fathers matches my new and improved list of principles of good government. Which basically means I think democracy and republicanism are a wash. They might work if the people in them are virtuous, but there are some serious design flaws that can be (and have been) exploited by the unscrupulous or the unwary.

Principles of Good Government Redux 2  

Posted by RogueDash1 in ,

Let us continue where we left off, reviewing our list of principles for good government. We are trying to determine if it is a good list, and if it leads to democracy or something else.

"People, through private enterprise, create wealth; government does not."

Yes. But let's expand on that. Wealth is stuff, and should not be confused with money, which is a measure of the relative worth of the stuff. By stuff, I mean physical things like your house, food, car, computer, and other odds and ends that you collect because you have some use for them, and intangible things such as car repair, good service at a restaurant, the ability to travel wherever, and other services that make your life better. All these are made or provided by people, often organized into large groups to take advantage of specialization and economies of scale.

But historically, government has been one of the worst organizations at making or providing. For if the wealth you create is not wanted by anyone, then you have not really created wealth. Your organization should either change what it does or go out of business so they don't waste resources. This is how a free market economy is supposed to work. But a government can't go out of business. And a government can force the people to take what it provides. This means that the people can't change providers and so bad decisions on wealth creation stick around. Note that this is a problem with monopolies in general.

"Government can give nothing except what it first takes from someone else."

This is generally true of any market transaction. Delta cannot fly me to Hawaii without first taking airplanes from Boeing and fuel from BP. I can't write software without first taking food from a grocer or clothes from a store. This is the basis of trade. Whatever is provided is a change in wealth from whatever was taken (say from food into software). But the exchange is bidirectional, I transfer some of my existing wealth back to whoever I took wealth from (I give money for the food).

Saying that the government can only provide what it takes isn't much of an indictment, since most industrialized people do the same thing. And those who create without taking from someone else are taking from nature, such as a farmer or miner. The problem here is that many people don't think what the government provides is worth what the government takes, and we are not allowed to opt out of the system.

We'll keep this principle, since it drives home the point that a government ought to be held accountable for what it takes and what it provides.

Principles of Good Government Redux 1  

Posted by RogueDash1 in

A couple weeks ago I posted a list of ten principles of good government. I want to revisit them, as I said at the time that there was something a little off about them. What strikes me about them is that none of them suggest either democracy or republicanism. Go back and read them again. Where in that list does it say that democracy is good or a dictatorship is bad?

If you had a violent reaction to that question, you are not going to like the rest of this post. As Americans, we are conditioned to think that democracy (and/or republicanism) is good and totalitarianism is the worst sort of thing imaginable. But what do our ten principles of government actually suggest? And are they even right?

"The rights of the people come directly from God."

This principle I agree with. Our rights, as well as responsibilities and duties, come from God. Which means they just are. They do not change over time, though the specific actions that result from them may change. I'll not go into what those rights and responsibilities are, but suffice to say that they establish a code of conduct and behavior among individuals.

"Government derives its power from the consent of the governed."

I don't think this one is true. Some governments derive their power from holding a bigger stick than their citizens. This brings up the "who will guard the guardians" question. But we are talking about good government here. But if the people are strong enough to draw their consent from government in a meaningful way, then they are the effective government. In which case the government is more a puppet organization. But if nothing changes when the people withdraw consent, then the government obviously does not draw its power from the consent of the governed. It seems to me that a government derives its power from its ability to enforce the rules. If it can't enforce the rules, then it requires the consent of the people to follow its laws. If it can enforce the rules, then it can do so over the people's objections.

This would suggest that a good government is a strong one, capable of making people play by the laws it has set. This sounds suspiciously like an authoritarian regime, but every government requires force of arms to prevent criminals or foreign soldiers from infringing on our rights. I would much prefer the government that can keep things civilized to the one that allows people to do anything they want. Remember, people are evil.

The engineering question, then, is what laws are good laws. And how does one arrange things so that our strong government keeps those laws rather than preying on its citizens. Democracy attempts to answer those questions, but quickly falls to anarchy wherever morality is absent.

"Government should only perform those functions delegated to it by the people."

This is very similar to point two. Again, this point makes clear that the people are in authority over the government rather than the government in authority over the people. Which rather defeats the purpose of government. A government which only does what the people want is unable to enforce what the people want when it becomes inconvenient.

Points two and three make an unspoken assumption. It is that the power and function of government cannot be easily revoked, else it really has no power or function. Which means that the government is either strong enough to not care about the consent or delegation of the people, or that the people are understanding enough to know that sometimes you have to do things you don't like (else they'll just vote themselves an easier time).

So a good government should only perform those functions that provide for the rights and responsibilities of the people.

"Government is instituted to protect rights, not create them."

Actually, this is very much into what I changed point three. The purpose of government, at least from the perspective of the people, is to protect the rights of its citizens. Rights which are given by God, as stated in point one, not granted by the people, as point three suggests. This also ties in nicely with what I said about point two. If the government is to protect the rights of its citizens, it must be able to do so even where the people do not want something else.

So far I have thrown out consent of the people and the people's delegation of authority to the government. Both contradict people having inalienable rights and having the government protect those rights. That alone moves us very far from democracy and republicanism, and we have only looked at the first four principles of a good and democratic government. We'll wrap this installment up here, and continue working through our list in the next post.

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