The American Myth?

A lot of Americans believe that the US offers unique opportunities for people to rise to the top if they work hard and show innovation.  It’s the American dream – the idea anyone can grow up to be rich, anyone can be President.  After all, look where success stories like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton came from; neither were from the ranks of the rich and famous.

Yet as the New York Times reports, that dream is quickly becoming a myth.   If you’re poor in America, you’re likely stay poor.   It’s no longer the land of opportunity.   Canada and most of Europe offer a better chance for the poor to succeed.   The findings are sometimes stark.   In Demark about 25% of men in born in the bottom fifth end up there, in the US it’s well over 40%.    Even Great Britain’s level is 30%, much lower than that of the US.   Two thirds of those born in the bottom 20% stay in the bottom 40%.

The top fifth is also “sticky” as the article notes.  If you’re born in the top 20% of the population in terms of wealth, you’re very likely to stay there.   It’s hard for those on lower levels to move into the top fifth.

The good news is that in the middle things are more fluid.   About 36% born in the middle fifth move up, while 41% move down.     It’s the very rich and the very poor who appear stuck.

What do we make of this?   First, you can’t deny the role of economic and social structure in creating opportunities and constraints.   Being born into wealth assures you opportunities that others do not get — that’s why so many people stay there.     Being born into poverty means a lack of opportunity and a series of constraints:  poor health care, poor schooling, bad neighborhoods, etc.

This is not something that Republicans deny.   The article points out that Rick Santorum and other conservative voices are pointing out the lack of mobility from the bottom.

Second, the US does not fare any better than other advanced industrialized states in any measure of mobility.    The inability for the poorest to rise is stark, but at other levels countries fare similarly.   The American dream and the ability to achieve it for those outside the bottom 20% is about the same as the Canadian dream, Danish dream, etc.

Why, though, do our poor have more difficulty than those in other states?    The answer is obvious: social welfare programs.   For all their faults, social welfare programs assuring health care, basic housing and nutrition to all citizens make a difference.   That’s why a Dane born at the bottom finds more opportunity to rise up than an American born in similar circumstances.    It simply is not true that social welfare programs only create a sense of entitlement and dependency; they actually get people motivated to pursue opportunities and move forward.

This also suggests that it does the top fifth little or no harm to increase taxes to create social welfare programs to help the bottom fifth.   This isn’t unfair since the top fifth already has so many more opportunities and chances for success.   They don’t earn these opportunities through their own choices and work, they achieve it by dint of where they are in the social structure.   A major causal aspect of their success is from outside their individual efforts.

That doesn’t mean that individual choices don’t matter — people have to take the opportunity that they receive and not waste it.    Still, somewhat higher taxes won’t change that fundamental social structure.   Moreover, one could make a strong argument that it is a denial of liberty to those down the ladder by allowing so many individuals to be given such greater opportunity and fewer constraints because of position of birth.   It’s not much different than the old aristocracy.

However, how such money is spent still is debatable.   I don’t think a Danish social welfare system would necessarily work the same in the US because the social divisions, size of the country, and the impact of years of neglect will make it more difficult to get real opportunity to the poor.   Also, while it’s clear that social welfare programs can work – they help people move up the ladder, they don’t necessarily create dependency – not every program is equal.   Some programs do create dependencies, especially if like in the US the programs are meager transfers that don’t really create opportunity.  If you’re not going to be able to move up, why bother?   Just take what you can!

For the US to create opportunity we need to focus on helping people help themselves, providing education, health care, and the basics that children need to be in a position to let their effort and innovation actually determine what they achieve in life, not their position of birth.   Perhaps the kind of welfare programs we have is part of the problem

To be sure, 8% of Americans (still the lowest compared to other countries) born in the bottom fifth make it to the top fifth.   It’s not that there is no opportunity or that the constraints are insurmountable.    But Americans tend to over estimate how likely it is for one to be able to do that, and under estimate the impact of social structure on opportunity.

This also vindicates at least one message from Occupy Wall Street.   The 1% are almost certain to stay at the top, the game is structured in their favor.   The poorest have real constraints, and even the middle class have limited means.   That doesn’t mean that the radical solutions the protesters sometimes suggest are right — there is huge room for debate amongst conservatives, liberals, free marketeers and social democrats about the best ways to move forward.  What we have to do, though, is accept the fact the class mobility in the US is low, especially for the top and bottom 20%.

Finally, the article points out that some skeptics note that 81% of Americans earn more in absolute terms than their parents.   While that is a sign that as a society we’ve become more prosperous, the American dream is not simply about making more money, but real opportunity.   A trash collector today earns more than a trash collector did 20 years ago.  But the children of trash collectors should have the same opportunity to become doctors as the children of doctors.

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  1. #1 by Black Flag® on January 5, 2012 - 9:40 pm

    Scott,
    First, a poor American is richer than most average people in other nations.

    Second, the simple answer to the “poor” not moving up in “class” is entitlements.

    If you pay people to be poor, you will get more of the poor, and the poor see little incremental value of doing anything different- as they attempt to move up by getting better jobs or even jobs, their entitlements are removed.

    Using taxes to solve this problem will not solve the problem, but most certainly make it worse.

    The wealthy will merely move themselves out of the thief’s grasp – hurt the economy, and put more and more people into the downward spiral of entitlements gained by doing nothing.

    End the entitlements, and lower or eliminate taxes – just like America in the pre-1930’s – and overnight, your problem will be solved.

    • #2 by Scott Erb on January 5, 2012 - 11:01 pm

      The comparison is with other advanced industrialized states. It’s better to be poor in Canada or Europe than the US. Also, in places with social welfare programs do have more mobility so empirical evidence is against you there. Places with more taxes and a stronger social welfare system do not have the bottom 20% as “stuck” as in the US. The wealthy in those states do not move away, even though they could easily within the EU. Empirical evidence trumps theory every time.

      • #3 by Black Flag® on January 6, 2012 - 4:13 pm

        Scott,

        Because both your measure and your view is short, you make such claims.

        The majority of poverty in America rests on those who have established a culture of entitlement and victimhood – the Blacks.

        This is no different in Canada with the Aboriginals. Merely in America the Blacks are more systemic through society where the Natives in Canada have traditionally been stuffed onto Reservations and hence largely unseen.

        Welfare is destructive – as all socialist concepts are.

        You degrade producers in favor of those that merely consume.

        This lowers the economic production of society – as producers leave the market, lowering prosperity.

        You create a class of entitlement-seekers.

        You reward doing nothing with goods that can only be obtained by doing something.

        Thus, this class will always grow and never shrink – until the system collapses – where then a very large class of people, long educated in producing nothing, now face a world where they must produce something of value or suffer horribly.

        Then you complain that the this class grows, the economy shrinks, and the risk to society is great – so you advise doing more of the very poisons that created the problem.

        As will all such insane programs, you offer ideas to solve a problem that the very application of these ideas created – dooming everyone around you.

  2. #4 by Juliano on January 6, 2012 - 12:15 pm

    it is a stinking dirty toxic NIGHTMARE …obviously? In ORDER for even the aspiring American ‘working class’ and ‘middle class’ dreamers to have cheap GOODS is dependent on those slaves in ‘developing countries’ where the corp ‘persons’ ‘outsource’ to get more profits. Are these slaves part of theee ‘American Dream’? —yeahhhh surrrreeee
    It is all a big con set up by genocidal ecocidists

    • #5 by Black Flag® on January 6, 2012 - 3:56 pm

      Juliano,

      Are these slaves part of theee ‘American Dream’?

      Your concept of slaves is a as bizarre as Scott’s concept of violence…..

      AndYes they are trying to live the American Dream – that is, improving their production will improve their prosperity.

      You can’t start from subsistence farming and leap into a high-tech desk job. They are moving upwards in production capability one step at a time – as they need.

      They are doing what the past Americans proved is necessary to become wealthy.

      The funny thing is the modern Americans have forgotten that.

      So the modern American interferes with the process that their forefathers acted upon, preventing others from achieving the same prosperity, under the myth they are helping.

      The best an American should do is merely provide the multi-generational example that shows that these steps are successful.

    • #6 by pino on January 8, 2012 - 3:04 am

      In ORDER for even the aspiring American ‘working class’ and ‘middle class’ dreamers to have cheap GOODS is dependent on those slaves in ‘developing countries’ where the corp ‘persons’ ‘outsource’ to get more profits.

      There is no indication that the employees of those corporations in developing nations are “slaves.” They self select employment, continue to report to work on a voluntary basis and often quit one company to go work at another for increased wages.

      Further, these individuals are literally putting down the tools of bone jarring poverty. They come from generation poverty that has years of the most bleak living conditions in the world. These people are leaving poverty and entering middle class by the millions.

  3. #7 by Scott Erb on January 6, 2012 - 4:26 pm

    Sorry, BF, but your ideological rant has no basis in empirical reality and no evidence to support it. You’re simply wrong, you’ve chosen a clunker of an ideology and for some reason you close your eyes to any argument against it and simply assert it more loudly as if that would make it true. The example of Europe having stronger social welfare programs and MORE mobility — as well as true economic prosperity and high quality of life — disproves your argument. You can fantasize that it’s all going to come crashing down — you NEED gloom and doom beliefs in order to hold on to your tattered and unsupported ideological faith — but REALITY argues against you — real world facts, not ideological flight of fancy.

    • #8 by Black Flag® on January 6, 2012 - 5:32 pm

      Scott,

      Sorry, BF, but your ideological rant has no basis in empirical reality and no evidence to support it.

      Nonsense.

      You ignore the fact that if you reward a behavior, you get more of it. It is your denial of this that is bizarre.

      You’re simply wrong

      You are wrong now.
      Your ideas were wrong in the past -everywhere-
      And your ideas will be wrong again, if used again in the future.

      You cannot create wealth by destroying producers in favor of non-producers. You are insanely arguing the opposite.

      The example of Europe having stronger social welfare programs and MORE mobility — as well as true economic prosperity

      Europe is teetering toward unavoidable economic collapse, yet here is Scott proclaiming “true” economic prosperity!

      The dose of reality that will fall upon you and your ilk will be devastating.

      Because you hold to serious fallacies, you will not see it coming.

      Because you do not see it, you will do nothing to avoid it – indeed, you will make it worse by your doings.

      When it hits, your ilk will be totally surprised, totally devastated, and completely ignorant of cause – your ilk will lash out in the most banal way such ignorant men do, with massive violence and orgy of slaughter upon each other.

      I would not care as such consequence is deserving – except such violence and slaughter is rarely confined to those that were ignorant and deserving, but upon all those around them as well.

      • #9 by Scott Erb on January 6, 2012 - 6:26 pm

        You assert things, often vague and general claims like “you cannot create wealthy by destroying producers in favor of non-producers,” which of course is meaningless.

        You assert that your subjective belief is true. To do so you have to deny reality (nowhere on the planet in all of human history has wealth and prosperity been built like it exists in the industrialized West – your ideology can’t except that so you fantasize all will collapse), ignore empirical evidence (Europe has more class mobility) and simply repeat your mantra. My response is as always: show, don’t tell. Give real world evidence. Reality disproves your ideology.

      • #10 by Black Flag® on January 6, 2012 - 6:51 pm

        Scott,

        You assert things, often vague and general claims like “you cannot create wealthy by destroying producers in favor of non-producers,” which of course is meaningless.

        What part of this sentence is meaningless?

        Do you not understand what the word “producer” means?
        Are you so confused that you do not know what “non-producer” means?

        The concept of “destroying” or “favor” has never been held in your understanding?

        You cannot understand the concept of “wealth”?

        Your nihilist tendencies are irritating.

        Every time you find yourself utterly cornered by your ill-consequences of bad ideas, you fall into your self-imposed confusion of common definitions, throw dust in the air as if it can hide your disastrous ideas.

        You assert that your subjective belief is true.

        argue the opposite is a contradiction – the non-producers create wealth and producers destroy it.!

        nowhere on the planet in all of human history has wealth and prosperity been built like it exists in the industrialized West

        Exactly! The INDUSTRIALIZED West is the greatest source of economic prosperity in history.

        It is you who denies how this happens – you therefore argue for magic!

        – your ideology can’t except that so you fantasize all will collapse

        You are blind to the reality by your ideology, because it is your ideology in action that is the cause of the collapse.

        As with all economic illiterates, you proclaim fallacies as the cause, hence fail to understand the consequences.

        (Europe has more class mobility)

        …and Spain was the wealthiest nation in history on the base of their stolen loot …. and when they could not steal, they fell into the greatest depression of history …. 300 years later, they are still not out of it…

        That is your problem, Scott – your time preference is so short, you cannot understand long term consequences.

        You champion theft as a means to solve a lack of capital.
        Those the benefit from the theft are happy, so you are happy.

        You completely ignore the disaster upon those you have stolen from – the ones that actually created the wealth.

        And that is as far as you measure

        Then when it all falls down, you proclaim more fallacies as the cause.

    • #11 by pino on January 8, 2012 - 3:21 am

      as well as true economic prosperity and high quality of life

      Well, remember, as a group, the EU15 is poorer than Oklahoma, the 46th poorest state in America. Individually, the UK, France, Finland, Denmark and Italy are poorer than Oklahoma. Spain, Portugal and Greece are poorer than ALL American states. This includes Mississippi.

      Further, the poorest Americans, on average, have more dwelling space –a good indicator of material standard– than the average, not poor but average citizen in :

      Austria, Belgium, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the UK.

      That’s the POOR.

      It is true that being poor in America is better than being average virtually ANYwhere else in the whole of history. And considering just the modern world, it’s better than almost everywhere.

      • #12 by Scott Erb on January 8, 2012 - 4:25 am

        Dwelling space is a very poor measure — that’s because the US is larger and more spread out. We have much bigger houses, land is cheaper. Land in the urban areas of Europe is more expensive due to supply and demand. That’s in fact a LOUSY mode of comparison.

        Take the successful states of Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands, France and the UK, and see better class mobility and high prosperity. Social welfare programs promote opportunity, work, and people moving up the ladder. Our system tends to make divisions starker and harder to break free of.

      • #13 by pino on January 8, 2012 - 4:41 am

        That’s in fact a LOUSY mode of comparison.

        Not according to a European:

        http://www.timbro.se/bokhandel/pdf/9175665646.pdf

        Major living standard surveys carried out in
        the USA at regular intervals show the poor to have a surprisingly high standard of living; see Table 3:2. A large proportion own their homes and have one or more cars. Domestic appliances of different kinds are also relatively common, as are one or more TV sets complete with video or DVD. Material prosperity, in other words, is high and not associated with the material standard of living which many people in Europe probably associate with poverty. Good economic development, in other words, results in even poor people being relatively well off. Quite simply, it is better to be poor in a rich country than in a poor one.

        And then the living space:

        Another indicator of the relatively good material standard of living among the American poor can be obtained by comparing dwelling space among poor households in the USA with average dwelling space in Europe.

        There is no reason to think that America isn’t the land of dreams. It’s the reason that explains why the world migrates here and not the other way around. In other words, why do the world’s poor come here? And why aren’t our poor fleeing our borders? If Canada were so excellent, we would see “illegal immigration” occurring from the USA to Canada.

      • #14 by Black Flag® on January 8, 2012 - 5:16 am

        Canada is too cold.

  4. #15 by Scott Erb on January 6, 2012 - 6:55 pm

    The long term is speculation. But you have NO empirical evidence on your side, it’s all abstract conjecture. Without evidence, your ideology is simply not credible. Your sentence is meaningless because it has nothing to do with reality. It’s too broad, vague, has no context or evidence. It’s like saying “you can’t walk with your legs if you have no legs.” OK, but it’s a meaningless thing to say in relation to dealing with reality.

    • #16 by Black Flag® on January 6, 2012 - 7:03 pm

      Scott,

      The long term is speculation.

      The long-term is only speculation to those that believe in magic.

      For others than understand:
      -that theft destroys producers,
      -those that suffer theft will either resist or leave
      -those that resist will increase social disorder
      -those that leave will remove their production from society
      -the outcomes of either action destroys economic production, lowering wealth of society.

      -that rewarding not working means you will get more people not working,
      -the more people rewarded for not working will establish a core belief that this is their entitlement
      -more demands of entitlements will increase demands for more stolen loot

      -that only measuring the happiness of those that receive stolen loot means you will ignore the damage
      -those that ignore the damage are doomed to suffer the sudden, surprise of the large consequences since they ignore the incremental increases as unobserved, and when the damage is insurmountable, only then the see the consequence …. too late.

      But you have NO empirical evidence on your side

      Only all of history.

  5. #17 by Kristine hunt on January 6, 2012 - 7:17 pm

    The thing that struck me at the beginning of this post is that Obama and Clinton took advantage of the superior education system we have in the US to rise above their more or less humble beginnings. They went to private schools (Occidental, Columbia, Harvard, Georgetown, Yale) on scholarships and clearly were intelligent and hard working (Phi Beta Kappa, Rhodes Scholar, editing the Harvard Law Review, graduating magna cum laude, etc.). They definitely don’t fit the concept of “entitlement seekers” who come to expect assistance for doing nothing.

    Clinton went to public elementary and secondary schools. These are funded via taxation and are provided to all citizens. Is this a socialist welfare state concept we should dismiss because it favors consumers over producers?

    • #18 by Black Flag® on January 6, 2012 - 7:36 pm

      Kristine

      Is this a socialist welfare state concept we should dismiss because it favors consumers over producers?

      Do you believe such people would not have succeeded had they received a home school education or education from private provisioned education facilities?

      As exampled in your own post, they “succeeded” not because of what was given to them, but what they did for themselves.

      But, usually such a question as yours comes from an assumption that before public education, the masses were ignorant.

      Yet, the literacy rates in England in 1776 exceeded 90%.

      Public education – a very recent institution, which is modeled after the Prussian concepts organized by Bismark in the late 1880’s, was an attempt to establish a measure of control over the masses, and not some much to educate.

      It was to teach the common man enough to do his job, but not enough to question his masters. It was a means to institute obedience to arbitrary authority, to learn how to work in boring, mundane tasks over a long period of time, and to understand common instructions given by such authority competently.

      Google “John Gato”

      Further on a matter of principle:

      Do you believe theft from one man to the benefit of another man is a good thing if the benefactor is happy with the result? Is that your measure of success – the “Ends” that a man who did not earn the goods is now happier than before?

      • #19 by Kristine hunt on January 6, 2012 - 9:33 pm

        I don’t need to Google John Taylor Gatto, because I’ve read him. I have also homeschooled my own children and fully support that as well as unschooling. I am well aware of the literacy levels through history, and in fact am doing upper division independent study on that topic in the Carolingian Empire. You make some rather large assumptions about what I do or don’t know!

        My comment had nothing to do with any supposed assumption about literacy prior to the advent of public education. It merely asked whether something funded by taxes and provided to all citizens was socialist, favoring consumers over producers. Which you didn’t answer.

      • #20 by Black Flag® on January 6, 2012 - 9:48 pm

        Kristine,

        You make some rather large assumptions about what I do or don’t know!

        You are the one who posited that “Clinton took advantage of the superior education system”

        and

        “is this a socialist welfare state concept we should dismiss because it favors consumers over producers?”

        I believe you connected the dots that a “superior education system” comes from “socialist government provisioning” – and my retort refutes the former – that such “superior” education existed well before any socialist system destroyed it.

        So specifically, it does not “favor” the consumer – the existence of the public school system is to provide human robots – when can debate whether that is indeed a favor for the robots.

        And second, I answered you with my question:

        “Are you an “Ends justifies the Means” principled person… like Scott…. where you measure a “good thing” solely based on the benefit to the unearned … and care not for the means of how such a thing was provided.

        So that the “Means” to provide some things you believe is “good” does not matter – thus you can justify theft to obtain it…..? How about killing? Where does all the justification to do evil become too much for you before you argue against it, nor matter how “good” the outcome is for you? Or there is no limit – as long as the outcome is good for you, no means is questionable?

      • #21 by Kristine hunt on January 7, 2012 - 12:54 am

        I’m going to make this much more simple.

        You said “Welfare is destructive – as all socialist concepts are” and “the simple answer to the ‘poor’ not moving up in ‘class’ is entitlements”.

        I in return am asking you, since public schooling is provided free to all citizens — what could be considered an entitlement — and is paid for by taxation — what could be considered a form of wealth redistribution, to my understanding a tenet of socialism — do you think we should end public schooling?

      • #22 by Black Flag® on January 8, 2012 - 12:03 am

        Kristine

        I’m going to make this much more simple. You said “Welfare is destructive – as all socialist concepts are” and “the simple answer to the ‘poor’ not moving up in ‘class’ is entitlements”.

        To be clear, Government Welfare is destructive – as all socialist concepts.

        You providing goods as welfare at your own discretion is your decision based on your own desires and wishes

        I in return am asking you, since public schooling is provided free to all citizens

        It is NOT free.

        Someone pays.

        There is no such thing as a free lunch, nor free schools.

        do you think we should end public schooling?

        Yes.

        There still will be schools, just like there are other competitive businesses selling their products.

      • #23 by pino on January 8, 2012 - 3:25 am

        do you think we should end public schooling?

        I’m a pretty big free-market kinda guy. And for markets to be free, the actors need to posses self destiny. And kids don’t. They don’t get a chance or choice as to their future.

        For this reason I support public education and public health care for kids.

        However, there is not one single compelling piece of data that suggests the state running the school does a good job. There is no reason that schools should be publicly run than the staplers in the governors mansion be manufactured by the state.

  6. #24 by Scott Erb on January 6, 2012 - 9:54 pm

    Just a quick reply: I do not believe the ends justifies the means. BF, you continually ignore what I’ve argued in order to assign arguments and labels to me and argue against those.

    • #25 by Black Flag® on January 6, 2012 - 10:35 pm

      Scott,

      Just a quick reply: I do not believe the ends justifies the means. BF, you continually ignore what I’ve argued in order to assign arguments and labels to me and argue against those.

      Of course you do!

      You argue often that an End -such as welfare- is “justified by those that receive welfare.

      You do not justify welfare on the means – you ignore it as irrelevant.

      The only time the Means becomes important to You is when the Means harms you! Then you are full on board with arguing against such a position!

      But as long as the “End” is a benefit to you, the “Means” matters not (or not much).

  7. #26 by Juliano on January 6, 2012 - 10:13 pm

    BF believes that enslaved workforce is the American Dream. I dont know what you do with these kinds of ideas sheeeesh frightening. good job i can see right through such nonesense

    • #27 by Black Flag® on January 6, 2012 - 10:27 pm

      Juliano

      BF believes that enslaved workforce is the American Dream.

      No, I believe you do not have a clue to what is “slavery”

    • #28 by Scott Erb on January 6, 2012 - 11:09 pm

      I think he actually thinks he believes in freedom, he just doesn’t realize that the result of the kind of world he imagines “correct” would be the powerful enslaving the poor. His intentions are good, his reasoning is off base.

  8. #29 by Juliano on January 6, 2012 - 10:55 pm

    slavery is degress of. Yes?? Slavery can just as well be the African slave in the cotton field under the capricious control of his master as it can the women under the capricious control of her partner as it can the factory worker who is known as a wage slave as it can the person on benefit who IF s/he loses it will become homeless. Degrees!

    • #30 by Black Flag® on January 7, 2012 - 10:30 pm

      Juliano,

      So you complain about a man who has accepted a deal to be the same condition of a man who has to work because he has a gun to his head.

      Because you are so confused, your observations and evaluations are horribly distorted.

      • #31 by Juliano on January 7, 2012 - 10:41 pm

        ‘accepted’ a deal?? So you think people who do shit jobs they hate but FEEL they have a gun to the head to do them –as in dont-do-it-and-we-take-your-money–is not slavery? Obviously you do, and you call ME confused.

        Let me guess: your either some middles calss sheltered person who hasn’t got a freekin clue what it is like to be ‘poor’ OR your one of those who did experience but worked their way up–the American Dream trip–and now loathe those of the ,,’poor’ who dont do what he did

      • #32 by Black Flag® on January 7, 2012 - 11:16 pm

        Juliano,

        accepted’ a deal?? So you think people who do shit jobs they hate but FEEL they have a gun to the head to do them

        I cannot measure a person’s subject opinion on the quality of the job they choose to accept.

        They do not have a gun to their head.
        No is forcing them to work there.
        They can leave if they wish.

        This makes their condition “not slavery” – and your emotional banter is nothing more than a weak attempt to justify real violence upon non-violent men to manipulate a situation where you are neither party to this deal!

        Obviously you do, and you call ME confused. Let me guess: your either some middles calss sheltered person who hasn’t got a freekin clue what it is like to be ‘poor’ OR your one of those who did experience but worked their way up–the American Dream trip–and now loathe those of the ,,’poor’ who dont do what he did

        I have lived in the streets behind a stripper bar with a Ford Van as my house, counting pennies so I could buy bread and peanut butter for a meal.

        I have lived in suite hotel rooms in a luxurious location you dream of going to as a vacation one day, costing $25,000 a month with daily maid service, my “own” swimming pool outside my room and 24/7 armed security.

        I have lived most of my adult life everywhere; in India, most of the Caribbean, Venezuela, and the Congo and all of North America.

        I have done more, seen more than you will do in your life.

        I do not loathe the poor.
        But I do not believe they are helpless either.

        You believe they are helpless, and make very bad judgements regarding their real situation.

        As such, you actually make it worse for them.

        You believe money solves all problems of the poor – it does not. A lack of capital – which is what being “poor” means – is not resolved by giving the poor money, for today his stomach is full, but tomorrow, he is hungry again.

        You do not understand that is the high division of labor that was born out of the Industrialization of the West that accounts for your prosperity. Because you do not understand that, you do not understand that a high division of labor depends on high level of skills – the demands of specialization demands ever more superior skill and knowledge.

        The person working in a factory has chosen to do so, because the alternative – dying in his poor subsistence farm – is worse.

        He is a the very bottom of the specialization ladder – unskilled – and therefore, his economy cannot receive the benefits gains by the high division of labor … yet. But his kids will start to see it, and his grandkids most certainly will … if you and your ilk leave them alone

        But you want to raise the costs of companies hiring these otherwise poorly skilled workers, believing these workers will benefit.

        You do not understand that the companies will not operate with those costs, and instead will close their doors – destroying the very opportunity that these poor people need to raise themselves out of poverty and into prosperity within a couple or three generations.

        For your short term, fictitious gain, that makes you feel better you destroy their hope for a long-term, permanent rise in their standards of living.

        To make yourself feel good, you are willing to destroy their future – their future built by their own hands

  9. #33 by Scott Erb on January 6, 2012 - 11:13 pm

    Of course the means are relevant — that’s why I defend a democratic process that allows a way to settle disputes about ethics, the nature of reality, proper role of government, etc. Your philosophy hits a black hole on those issues because you define any difference of opinion with your subjective view as WRONG and “evil” so therefore you’re left simply asserting a faith and claiming all who don’t share it are supporting evil. The process matters. You also group together very different acts and find one commonality and then commit an error of false labeling. You take taxation with representation and group it with robbing a bank as theft. That’s quite literally non-sense. I’m not sure who persuaded you that this belief system makes sense, but you need to reflect on the fact that you are fallible and may be wrong.

    • #34 by Black Flag® on January 7, 2012 - 10:55 pm

      Scott,

      Of course the means are relevant — that’s why I defend a democratic process that allows a way to settle disputes about ethics, the nature of reality, proper role of government, etc.

      Your means are not relevant – it the ends that you measure, not the means.

      Democracy is merely a tool that gives violence legitimacy.
      By waving your hand in the air, you believe you justify killing innocent people so to seizure their wealth for your own disbursement.

      You do not judge the means, Scott.

      You measure the outcome – a happy majority.

  10. #35 by sekanblogger on January 7, 2012 - 3:46 pm

    In my opinion, way too much time is spent here trying to reason with “BF”.
    I’ve seen “BF” mirrored on blogs for years. You can present facts in different forms; charts, graphs, statistics, expert analysis, etc., and the BF’s of the world always talk in circles and occupy all your time with inane, never-ending rebuttals. At some point, the whole game becomes pointless. There truly are “some men you just can’t reach”. I’ve been following this for awhile now, and it really does seem that any comment that goes against BF’s ideology is just going to garner a flurry of talking points until it becomes too tiresome to bother to respond.
    Just my observation.

    Just one comment, then I’ll butt out.
    The majority of ‘entitlements’ are paid out to white people.
    Not only the type of entitlements BF sees as evil, but also farm subsidies, corporate tax ‘holidays’, or the other myriad of ‘entitlements’ for wealthy (mostly white) people and corporations (producers). And BF bemoans a ‘culture of entitlement’, further attaching an entire race of Americans to that warped view. BF clearly has the view that blacks, by character, prefer the overly generous government handouts over good educations and an even playing field in the job market.
    Poor white folks are just as prone to be victims of a cycle of poverty that they are subjected to only by accident of birth.
    Of course, it’s useless pointing out that skin color is not indicative of the content of one’s character.

    • #36 by Kristine hunt on January 7, 2012 - 4:50 pm

      Funny how the biggest “entitlements” of all, Medicare and Social Security, are currently going to the Baby Boomers, who are known for their strong work ethic and are one of the most “productive” generations in recent history, not to mention commanding a huge portion of the discretionary spending that drives much of our economy. So much for the idea that if you give people entitlements they will succumb to “the downward spiral of entitlements gained by doing nothing”.

      • #37 by Black Flag® on January 7, 2012 - 10:44 pm

        Kristine,

        You raise a core point, but miss the mark.

        Indeed, the lack of personal financial support for their own retirement is a very disturbing trend of the Baby Boomers.

        One study suggests that 85% of retirees could not live on the funds of their own savings – and require SS.

        They have succumbed to the downward spiral – they are the first generation to have consciously ignored their own retirement financing – they have consumed their parents inheritance (funds left over from the parents taking care of themselves.) AND further saved very little for their own.

        Do not fool yourself by considering that because this group started in the middle class that they are immune to the downward spiral toward desperate collapse.

        When the government checks begin to bounce, these people will be in very serious trouble.

      • #38 by Black Flag® on January 7, 2012 - 10:51 pm

        Kristine,

        not to mention commanding a huge portion of the discretionary spending that drives much of our economy

        You hold fallacious economic understanding.

        “Spending” does not drive our economy.
        “Production” drives our economy.

        I offer you “Say’s Law” –
        “Products buy Products.
        Producers buy the products of other Producers”.

        If mere consumption (spending) was the economy, then the massive manufacture of money by the government would cure all economic ills – but, in fact, it creates massive economic disasters.

        A capitalist retiree consumes the excess capital he has saved.

        He has limited his consumption in his youth to be less than his earning – we call this “savings”.

        He does this in his youth – that is delay his consumption – for a benefit in his old age.

        It is NOT his old age consumption that creates an economy.

        It is his youthful production and savings that creates the economy.

        His old age consumption cannot happen if the youth do not produce.

    • #39 by Black Flag® on January 7, 2012 - 10:39 pm

      Sekan

      So you only like to engage in blogs that repeat your own misguided ideas.

      You can present facts in different forms; charts, graphs, statistics, expert analysis, etc., and the BF’s of the world always talk in circles and occupy all your time with inane, never-ending rebuttals.

      Interestingly, he has not provided charts – nor do his stats stand up to competent review – nor do I except “experts” opinions because merely they claim they are experts.

      I am sure you do, though – that is, you let others think for you.

      The majority of ‘entitlements’ are paid out to white people.

      Given they are the majority, this would not be strange.

      Not only the type of entitlements BF sees as evil, but also farm subsidies, corporate tax ‘holidays’, or the other myriad of ‘entitlements’ for wealthy (mostly white) people and corporations (producers). And BF bemoans a ‘culture of entitlement’, further attaching an entire race of Americans to that warped view.

      As you seem “new”, I complain as ferociously about “subsidies” and corporatism as I do to any entitlement.

      I am clear: all taxes are evil – no matter who receives the loot.

      I am for a permanent tax holiday for every real person – period.

      BF clearly has the view that blacks, by character, prefer the overly generous government handouts over good educations and an even playing field in the job market.

      No, that is a puerile misquote of my position.

      The majority of the poor, which is the topic raised, is dominated by Black completely out of proportion to their percentage of race within the whole USA.

      I offer the conclusions of man sociological study that suggests such a case is due to the overbearing issues of “victimhood” attitudes and a mulch-generational acceptance of entitlement over job.

      Poor white folks are just as prone to be victims of a cycle of poverty that they are subjected to only by accident of birth.

      No, there is plenty of entitlement expectations there too – however, as a group, they are very much underrepresented in the “poor”, as defined by Scott.

      • #40 by sekanblogger on January 7, 2012 - 11:49 pm

        The only valid reason to form a representative government is to tax a population and provide services in return.
        You can’t represent people without serving them in some way, and that requires funding. If our government collects no taxes, they can provide no services at all. Should we just have this large population with each person fending for themselves? Isn’t that the ultimate anarchist view?
        You ignore the basic and the obvious.

        Spare me the condescension that is typical of your attitude.

        Your ‘man sociological studies’ [sic] are the very thing where you say “they only claim to be experts”, yet yours are somehow magically valid, while opposing views are just due to the inability of others to think for themselves. I’m thoroughly familiar with sociology and don’t need to be guided by your preferred versions.

        My main point is that it’s useless to present you with alternatives to your ideology.
        Your simplistic ‘no taxes’ statement, along with your inability to recognize or admit your own racism, confirms what I already know; lengthy discussion with you will continue to be a waste of time.

        On the bright side, we agree that farm subsidies are completely out of order in free market capitalism.
        Corporatism?….well, that’s the hallmark of most modern conservative thought. Deregulate and trust the ‘free market’ (aka corporations) to bring order where they have already seeded chaos. Good luck with that.

        Okay, you can return to wasting someone else’s time now.

      • #41 by Black Flag® on January 8, 2012 - 1:45 am

        Sekan

        The only valid reason to form a representative government is to tax a population and provide services in return.

        The reasons you wish to use to justify massive thievery of your fellows does not dismiss the theft, nor the distortions upon society that such theft creates.

        You would not agree to me saying “the only valid reason to steal from you is to provide other people goods”

        – yet, if such theft is broad (that is there are more victims than just you, or you believe you receive more stolen loot of others then lost yourself), you think such a scheme is “good”.

        You can’t represent people without serving them in some way, and that requires funding.

        I most certainly can represent you without having to steal from you!

        And IF I have a service that you believe is valuable, I can sell that to you, without the need to steal funds from you, either.

        If our government collects no taxes, they can provide no services at all.

        If government cannot steal, it can do very little.

        (Aside: taxes is but one way government funds itself – indeed, taxes is not required at all. Taxation today has little to do with the requirement of funds but almost singly necessary to manipulate the population economically and politically)

        Should we just have this large population with each person fending for themselves?

        Shouldn’t we have this large population with each person cooperating with others as they freely see fit?

        Why do you believe that without violent force, cooperation is impossible?

        Do you achieve no cooperation yourself, in your own life, only if you put a gun to someone’s head?

        Isn’t that the ultimate anarchist view?

        The ulitmat Anarchist view is:
        No man has a right to rule another man

        Cooperation is the ultimate expression of anarchist viewpoints – men freely interacting with other men, with no violence necessary.

        You ignore the basic and the obvious.

        No, actually, I am radical – a man who gets to the root of things.

        And usually, these roots are darn obvious.

        , Your ‘man sociological studies’ [sic] are the very thing where you say “they only claim to be experts”,

        You do not understand well.

        When a man says “this is a fact, because I am an expert” is meaningless to me.
        When a mans says “here are the facts of a study” is meaningful to me, whether or not he is an expert.

        yet yours are somehow magically valid

        I am not Scott.
        I do not believe in magic.

        I hold to Natural Law, and the consequences of that.

        while opposing views are just due to the inability of others to think for themselves.

        If you take what other men say, without any thought of your own – then you do not think for yourself.

        My main point is that it’s useless to present you with alternatives to your ideology.

        You are very, very confused.

        I do not care one tiny, little bit about alternatives to my point of view

        You can live your life as you see fit.

        You can allow other men to steal from you if you think they are better at spending your money then you.

        You can agree that you want to fight and die for causes that are not your own.

        I have ZERO complaint to the way you wish to live your life.

        The problem:
        You refuse for me to live my life free from YOUR imposition.

        Because you think it is ok for men to steal from you, you get angry at me who sees it as what it is – theft- and hence refuses the theft.

        You believe “to be fair”, that these men must steal from me, and indeed, encourage these men to do so, and justify this theft based on how “good” the thieves and murderers use the money!

        I care NOT at all about what ever ideology you wish to live for yourself.

        It is that your ideology demands I must abide to yours and you are willing to imprison or kill me if I do not agree.

        along with your inability to recognize or admit your own racism,

        So you deny the fact that Blacks are disproportionally represented in the poor class of America?

        So to deny fact, you label those that understand fact vs. your emotional ignorance as “racists”?

        On the bright side, we agree that farm subsidies are completely out of order in free market capitalism.

        Absolutely.

        But if you want to end farm subsidies, you have to end taxes.

        Taxation exists to manipulate the people.

        What you want less of, you tax.
        What you want more of, you subsidize (tax credit).

        If you do not like the subsidization, you end tax, and end the tool of political manipulation.

        Deregulate and trust the ‘free market’ (aka corporations)

        “Corporations” are NOT free market – they are the spawn of government writ.

        They exist because GOVERNMENT makes them out of thin air.

        Government -by writ- reduces and mitigates the NEGATIVE consequences of free market action away from those responsible and onto innocent people while allowing all of the POSITIVE consequences of free market action to be delivered to the “shareholders”

        Such an act is completely contrary to the free market.

        Free market is a self-organizing system BECAUSE negative consequences are directly placed upon the actors as equally the positive consequences.

        Thus, to avoid the negative consequences, free market actors become much, much more cautious of their actions, as they are also responsible for the unintended, negative consequences as well.

        It is when government distorts this mechanism by specifically relieving economic actors from these negative consequences, called “limited liability”.

        With all the positives available, and mitigation of most of the negative, economic actors will engage is far, far more riskier and dubious ventures than otherwise.

        Suggest, sir, pick your battles better.

    • #42 by Scott Erb on January 8, 2012 - 12:17 am

      True – it’s the ‘true believer’ mentality.

      • #43 by Black Flag® on January 8, 2012 - 2:25 am

        ..vs the nihilist mentality

  11. #44 by Black Flag® on January 7, 2012 - 10:40 pm

    “mulch”= multi, as in “multi-generational”

  12. #45 by pino on January 8, 2012 - 2:58 am

    The answer is obvious: social welfare programs.

    The answer is not obvious. It could be marriage. Or more at risk children. Or more immigrants.

    It simply is not true that social welfare programs only create a sense of entitlement and dependency

    You are correct, they don’t ONLY create a sense of entitlement. But it is what they do.

    This also suggests that it does the top fifth little or no harm to increase taxes to create social welfare programs to help the bottom fifth.

    Thresh hold of harm is not how we determine taxes. In fact, that smacks excessively of “From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.”

    This isn’t unfair since the top fifth already has so many more opportunities and chances for success.

    What does “fair” have to do with it?

    That doesn’t mean that individual choices don’t matter — people have to take the opportunity that they receive and not waste it.

    There is no indication that any Liberal, Democrat or social entitlement program believes a word of that.

    • #46 by Scott Erb on January 8, 2012 - 4:09 am

      Don’t overlook how much more class mobility there is in the bottom fifth in Europe. That’s because social welfare programs create opportunity, they help people work to help themselves. That’s the goal of social welfare programs, it is not to simply redistribute, it’s to help people partake of real opportunity to succeed. The goal of progressive taxation is to assure that differences in wealth do not turn into barriers against those and the children of those who are poor. No liberal that I know of wants people to be on welfare or not work hard — look at social workers and community organizers and their focus is on getting people working, making money, trying to improve themselves and their community. You have a few talk radio types that claim that the Democrats want to buy votes with welfare, and that is the most insanely stupid, insulting and ridiculous claim I’ve heard in US politics — the goal is to help people have the capacity to make a life for themselves.

      I think the stat on class mobility is a strong bit of evidence that this works. I also think that our current programs need reform.

      • #47 by pino on January 8, 2012 - 4:27 am

        That’s because social welfare programs create opportunity, they help people work to help themselves.

        I will admit that the intention of the vast majority of the authors of social entitlement programs is well intentioned. So, to that degree, some most certainly succeed.

        However, I contend that the reason why American families are poor is that they are headed by single or at risk families. Not some component of poverty.

        In other words, you could take all my money and wealth, move me to Mississippi, still more wealthy than Greece, and my kids would grow up fully functioning and wealth accumulating adults.

      • #48 by Scott Erb on January 8, 2012 - 4:38 am

        Well it becomes a chicken or egg problem — has the family structure broken down due to lack of opportunity? I agree that there is a lot of room for improvement in US social welfare programs. The goal should be to liberate, not simply transfer wealth. That can indeed create dependencies. To the extent that happens, those programs need to be changed.

  13. #49 by Titfortat on January 8, 2012 - 3:18 pm

    You ignore the fact that if you reward a behavior, you get more of it. It is your denial of this that is bizarre.(BF)

    I say bullshit. There is no doubt certain people will be negatively affected by rewarding their behaviours. But, as in life, nothing is an absolute, all the time thing. The fact that you seem to think along those lines is somewhat alarming. I think they call that extremist, wouldnt you agree. ;)

    • #50 by pino on January 8, 2012 - 6:13 pm

      I say bullshit. There is no doubt certain people will be negatively affected by rewarding their behaviours. But, as in life, nothing is an absolute, all the time thing.

      I don’t think anyone is claiming that it’s an absolute. Rather, as an example, if you raise the unemployment benefit and the number of weeks of eligibility, you will get more people relying on that benefit.

      For example, pay $100.00 a week for 10 weeks you’ll get some people on unemployment. Raise that to $800.00 a week for 99 weeks and you’ll get many many more. In fact, at some point you could create the destructive incentive of having employees WANT to get fired.

      • #51 by Juliano on January 8, 2012 - 6:22 pm

        Of course the will, because they and me do not want to do shitty jobs and waste life doing grim tasks for a shit oppressed life of meaningless consumerism. And this is WHy people suffer from ‘mental illnesses’ because WE are not happy with this system you think can be healed with making suere workers are kept working by not allowing them to have welfare.
        People that you support robbed the LAND and the livlihoods of communities and created this evil industrial fascism of utter crappyness and no amount of your Machivelian tacists will undo the evil of it but obviously make it more and more WORSE

      • #52 by Black Flag® on January 8, 2012 - 6:53 pm

        TitforTat

        I say bullshit. There is no doubt certain people will be negatively affected by rewarding their behaviours. But, as in life, nothing is an absolute, all the time thing. The fact that you seem to think along those lines is somewhat alarming. I think they call that extremist, wouldnt you agree

        We are not talking about you – generalizations and all socio-political theory cannot apply “absolutely” on people.

        People, individually, are immune to being boxed in.

        Example, You act in a manner and you get punished – you drink too much and throw up. Does this necessarily stop you from drinking too much? Maybe, but maybe not

        But here, we are talking about an entire “class” – the “poor”. Here things said as “rewards tends (or gets) more of that behavior, and punishes tends (or gets) less of it” can be used to improve our understanding of our actions.

      • #53 by Black Flag® on January 8, 2012 - 6:55 pm

        Julinao

        You are one angry person. You should look into that.

        Pino is not supporting thieves and robbers.

        What I find generally is that he is saying you shouldn’t either, simply because you call them “Policeman” “Congressman” or President.

  14. #54 by Titfortat on January 8, 2012 - 6:44 pm

    @Pino

    The key is not necessarily cutting help or social programs but educating people that it is only temporary. I think when you look back at certain values from certain generations, handouts werent taken only when desperate. Many people had the mindset that to take endlessly was shameful. I think if we see more of that now it may be more indicative of what families teach their children. The social safety system isnt the problem, its the cultural view that it is owed and deserved.

    • #55 by Kristine hunt on January 8, 2012 - 7:07 pm

      I think values are a big part of this issue. I’ll give you a personal example. Some of my husband’s ancestors were extremely wealthy. One went to Harvard with FDR. He lost everything in the stock market crash, and immediately decided that to support his family, he would raise hens for a living. When that didn’t bring in enough money after a few years, he used his contacts via FDR to get a job at the new Home Owners’ Loan Corporation. From then on, they were able to have a comfortable life albeit never with the kind of wealth as before.

      Now, this happened before much of any social support existed. But from what I know of his character, he would have only taken something like unemployment or welfare for a short time until he could figure out how to be self-supporting.

      Personally I think we should have social services, but limit them to encourage self-reliance when possible, and provide other kinds depending on the point along the path the person is at — e.g., provide welfare but require the recipient to find a job within a certain timeframe (job training is a possibility, which further employs other people), and when they get the job and lose their welfare, then provide subsidized childcare (again employing others). The ultimate goal is for people to not need these services. I guess I see a metaphor with parenting: children need help, then teens need less, then adult children gain full independence.

      • #56 by Black Flag® on January 8, 2012 - 7:22 pm

        Kristine,

        But that is the system we have now.

        The problem Kristine, is that all government social programs are ripe full of exceptions.

        And the core base – no one is denied.

        If you do nothing, you will get something – guaranteed – “no person left behind, even if you choose to be”

        So you have a ratchet effect – more and more fall into the lowest category, increasing their political power – thus, begin to demanding more and more from the government that cannot say no.

        The problem is not the charity but the government.

        Private charities are accountable to the donor. People donate their money for a reason, and that is to solve the problem.

        Government is NOT accountable to the taxpayer – it is slightly accountable to the voter – a group that includes the entitled!

        With no surprise, it is an easy vote for politician to promise more for the entitled, and take his chances with the taxpayer on election day.

        The entitled are not much interested in any other issues – they are where they are either for that reason, or are too overwhelmed to care about anything else.

        The taxpayer is drawn to incredible range of issues, many contradictory. The entitlements are not high on his list as a defining point for his vote.

        Assurance from one class, ambivalence from another – it is no surprise government programs grow.

        Your example is important – because it could only exist in a period where that ratchet effect has yet to be experienced.
        Today, it probably would be very different.

  15. #57 by Titfortat on January 8, 2012 - 6:45 pm

    should read, “handouts were taken only when desperate”

  16. #58 by Titfortat on January 8, 2012 - 6:46 pm

    @Julian0

    You sound as extreme as BF, just the flipside of the same coin.

  17. #59 by Juliano on January 8, 2012 - 6:52 pm

    GOD the arrogance. Look–IF you take meaning away from people and push them like cogs in a machine into your vile souless dehumanized machine HOW do you think they will feel?? *YOU* get freekin education about THAT!! YOU be shameful!!! See what your founding fathers did to native peoples and put 2 and bleedin 2 together!!!

  18. #60 by Black Flag® on January 8, 2012 - 7:02 pm

    TitforTat

    The key is not necessarily cutting help or social programs but educating people that it is only temporary.

    The key IS eliminating these social programs as provided by government (as Pino corrected my point earlier).

    Social programs created by the people themselves, locally, via charity WORKS.

    It is the distance, bureaucrat, legislated social programs that create such entitlement.

    A local charity makes judgements on their aid – because the charity is accountable directly to the donors

    The donors want results – less poverty and suffering – and will not support pandering to laziness or other excuses. Those that need, get help … the rest are ignored. If the charity is not successful, it cannot raise donations – the donors move their money to where it does work and away from failure.

    This is opposite within government social programs – because it is NOT accountable – whether it lowers or raises the poverty changes nothing – it demands more and more funds. Its failures are permanent, are never removed – in fact, are used to justify even more money to be wasted

    That is where the problem is – the government – and not in the charity of humanity.

  19. #61 by Alan Scott on January 8, 2012 - 7:48 pm

    This is an amazingly long thread and as I am late to it I do not want to address any of the points made so far in the comments. I would like to say my peace about one point in the original post .

    ” The 1% are almost certain to stay at the top, the game is structured in their favor. ”

    Unfortunately I no longer have the article handy, I will try to dig it up, but according to National Review this is not accurate . There is a regular rotation in and out of the top 1%.

  20. #62 by Titfortat on January 8, 2012 - 9:15 pm

    @BF

    You seem to miss the fact that the government IS the people. The one they voted for and ALLOWED to stay in power. If they didnt there would be ANARCHY. I dont see people getting away from that complacency just yet.

    • #63 by Black Flag® on January 8, 2012 - 9:27 pm

      TitForTat

      @BF You seem to miss the fact that the government IS the people.

      No, it is not

      Yours is the great myth.

      Government is an institution made up of people.

      It is NOT the people

      Government exists separately from the people -hence the concept of “institutionalism” – it retains powers and demands that you, yourself, do not have and cannot make

      It completely depends on people, who beyond their own common sense and morality, to act in direct compliance with government decree – called “duty”.

      “You must wipe out a city of women and children who have done you no harm – now go do your duty

      The one they voted for and ALLOWED to stay in power. If they didnt there would be ANARCHY. I dont see people getting away from that complacency just yet

      “Voting” is also an equal myth.

      You do not get to pick the candidates you vote for. They are given to you.
      You do not get to pick the issues the candidates trumpet. They are created and provided to you.

      You are given political promises in exchange for your vote for a man you did not choose on a topic you did not create.

      If this candidate you voted for, but did not choose, wins, he has no consequences to his breaking his promise given to you for that vote. He can do whatever he wishes without your consent – even opposite his promise. You are powerless.

      So, you believe your vote for man you did not choose, on matters you do not create, for promises that are broken has meaning.

      And with that, you believe free men will do worse!

      • #64 by Black Flag® on January 8, 2012 - 9:28 pm

        TitForTat,

        For a good text to understand “Institutionalization”

        Butler Shaffer

        Calculated Chaos: Institutional Threats to Peace and Human Survival.

  21. #65 by Titfortat on January 8, 2012 - 9:33 pm

    @BF

    Ahhhhhh, youre so victimized. Everything is picked for you. You have no say in what goes on in your world. You have no choice but just to take it. If I remember correctly, as a boy, we called that a fucking whiner.

    • #66 by Black Flag® on January 8, 2012 - 9:41 pm

      TitforTat,

      You are ignorant of the institutions that surround you, and hide your ignorance behind ad homenien and nonsense.

  22. #67 by Titfortat on January 8, 2012 - 10:00 pm

    Its not ad homenien, its a personal observation. Trust me, I know systems, I also know I have a choice whether I partake in it or not. Whether or not I have a good choice is an entirely different matter. ;)

    • #68 by Kristine hunt on January 8, 2012 - 10:31 pm

      I think calling someone a “fucking whiner” pretty much defines an ad hominem attack.

  23. #69 by Titfortat on January 8, 2012 - 11:17 pm

    @Kristine

    So, if I think someone is a fucking whiner because they are unwilling to change their whining outlook on a certain subject, thats ad hominem? I guess youre right. ;)
    Isnt that the great aspect of perspective. :)

    • #70 by Black Flag® on January 8, 2012 - 11:27 pm

      TitforTat,

      You insist I change my outlook, but you do not give any rational or objective reason to why.

      I have thoroughly explained to you why government is not ‘the people’ – called institutionalization.
      I gave you a good reference which will aid you in learning about this.
      Nothing I have said can you refute here.
      You do not have the powers and nor the ability to demand as does government.
      Therefore, it cannot be OF you.

      You cannot grant what you do not have.
      Government has what you can never have.
      Therefore, what government has did NOT come from you.
      This is true for every person in the nation.
      The government is NOT the people.

      I thoroughly explained the myth of your vote.
      Nothing I said can be disputed about it.

      Yet, your retort is totally void of any substance other than “gee, he does not change his mind”.

      You are a strange guy.

    • #71 by Kristine hunt on January 8, 2012 - 11:54 pm

      Ad hominem is “an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or belief of the person supporting it”.

      In other words, instead of discussing the issues at hand, calling someone names.

  24. #72 by Titfortat on January 8, 2012 - 11:46 pm

    Oh my freaking lord………BF………of course I could attempt to change it. In fact, I could convince other people that my perspective is right and have them join me in a revolt. If I am very convincing I could get those individuals to rise up and combat the forces I believe to be wrong. Now here is the thing, is that easy, is that likely, probably not. But the great thing about life is that, I DO HAVE THAT CHOICE. If I dont decide to take that as an option and I complain about the status quo, then, guess what, Im a FUCKING WHINER.

    • #73 by Scott Erb on January 8, 2012 - 11:50 pm

      The irony of BF’s position is that the only possible way to get the world he wants is if a vast majority of the people thought like him. Otherwise, he’d need force and violence. Moreover, the best way for someone of any perspective to try to convince people to change is through democracy — it’s the only path to the kind of world he wants, though the path will only get there if people start sharing his world view (which is unlikely).

      • #74 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 12:10 am

        No Scott, that is false.

        I do not need the world to think like me – you require that for your world view to work – not I.

        We merely need people to place upon their institutions the same restraints people place upon one another.

        This really shouldn’t be that hard, Scott – since it has been codified since the Magna Carta.

        “The king shall obey his own law”

        The use of democracy – tyranny of the majority and no personal responsibility – is no solution.

        No matter how many people wave their hands in the air, Scott, you cannot dismiss the evil.

    • #75 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 12:15 am

      I do not need the world to think like me – you require that for your world view to work – not I. with a PS: and for those that do not think like you, you are more the willing to advocate violence on them to convince them, or ultimately kill them.

      • #76 by Scott Erb on January 9, 2012 - 12:23 am

        If people don’t think like you they’ll construct (and have constructed) a world whose rules you don’t like. That’s fine, you can deal with it realistically (change what you can change, accept what you cannot), or you stomp your feet and complain about how evil the world is.

      • #77 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 12:30 am

        Scott,

        If people don’t think like you they’ll construct (and have constructed) a world whose rules you don’t like.

        I do not care what construction they create, it is NOT mine to judge.

        IF they create a construction that imbeds contradictions, the construction will fail, and devastate those that obey it.

        I judge YOUR construction based on YOUR contradictions or the lack there of.

        Your construction is based on systemic contradictions.

        You entertain evil to attempt to correct your contradictions – and create more of it.

  25. #78 by Titfortat on January 8, 2012 - 11:55 pm

    @Scott

    And therein lies the rub. BF and myself and you have choice. The issue is the fact that he is so complacent in his worldview(victimhood) that he misses his option. It is irrelevant whether the option is violent, fair, unfair or whatever. What is relevant is that we have CHOICE.

    • #79 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 12:13 am

      TitforTat

      BF and myself and you have choice

      Indeed. But how do you make your decision?

      (Decision comes from the root word “to cut away)

      You can only make one answer to the problem in front of you. The near-infinte of other answers cannot be used once you use but one of them.

      So how do you decide?

      It does matter whether your choice is violent, or “fair” or whatever.

      Because your actions create consequences

      If you are as you are, merely whimsical and random, you will receive consequences that will end you.

      Thus, you must make decisions and “whatever” does not cut it.

  26. #80 by Titfortat on January 9, 2012 - 1:25 am

    Because your actions create consequences(BF)

    Hey, even non actions(whining) create consequences, though I guess you could say that is an action too. Its all what you are willing to bear. Also, I have choice of when and how I apply my questions and answers. In reality, does any other revolutionary just dance one dance?

    • #81 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 2:18 am

      TitforTat,

      You certainly demonstrate your intellect.

      Non-action creates consequences… only the irrational think this.

      As usual, the rest of your post is like your mind- empty.

      One day, you may actually have something worthwhile to post.

      • #82 by Scott Erb on January 9, 2012 - 3:02 am

        “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” I see a burning house, I act and save a life. I choose non-action, and the result is a life I could have saved perishes. Non-actions have consequences in that it creates a different outcome than action would have created.

      • #83 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 3:48 am

        Scott,

        No, sir, your reasoning is flawed.

        You see a burning house.
        You do nothing.
        The house burns.

        You are not there.
        The house burns.

        Whether you do nothing or are not there, the result is the same, the house burns.

        No action is NOT an action, nor has consequences.
        The consequences wholly derive from the burning, not your non-action.

        Therefore it is NOT the non-action of yours (whether you are there or not) that causes the house to burn.

        If you act, the consequence of THAT ACT is the house is not burning

        Claiming that no-action has consequence – when the outcome is the same as you not there (or not ‘existing’) makes the equal claim that non-existence creates consequences equal to actually doing actions – you would say doing nothing and something are both equal in doing something – but that is completely irrational.
        (A not C, B=C … A not B
        but you claim A not B, B=C , A=C … A must = B, but that violates A not B)

  27. #84 by Scott Erb on January 9, 2012 - 3:55 am

    If I’m there the choice not to act has a consequence – it gives a different result than acting would have provided. There is no logical way to deny that. If I am by a burning house and choose not to act, I’m assuring a different outcome than had I chosen to act. This kind of muddled thinking on your part is at the core of your problem. You try to turn things into simplistic logical choices of X or not X, and in so doing you completely lose touch with how reality works. You go from the beautiful complexity and interlinked web of reality to a cold abstracted effort to disconnect and turn things into clear formulas “X or not X.” You are part of a web whether you like it or not. That’s the nature of reality; the truth of human existence.

    • #85 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 4:12 am

      Scott,

      If I’m there the choice not to act has a consequence – it gives a different result than acting would have provided.

      Then you equally claim that your “non-existence” creates a consequence since your existence creates a consequence.

      But that is nonsense – that is saying that “magic” creates consequences, as does the lack of fairies and rabbits that lay eggs.

      Choice to act does not change non-action in to action

      You must ACT to make the consequence – in your case, you change the null (the burning house) into a positive (stop burning house)..

      You cannot be both on the null and the positive at the same time – which is what you are claiming here..

      You try to turn things into simplistic logical choices of X or not X, and in so doing you completely lose touch with how reality works.

      It is simple, but not simplistic.
      .
      You claim contradiction is reality. I think that makes you incredibly out of touch, sir.

    • #86 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 4:39 am

      Scott,

      If contradiction is called reason,
      If words change their meaning depending on the speaker and its application…
      If beauty requires up to be down, zero to be one….

      ….how can you claim to be a “scientist”?

      .

  28. #87 by Scott Erb on January 9, 2012 - 4:40 am

    So, Pangloss, you’re saying that if I’m going by a burning house with someone crying for help, if I choose to do nothing that is of no consequence. The utter ridiculousness and stupidity of such a view astounds me. At this point you have to reconsider your faith — it’s lead you to an absurd and obviously false conclusion. Black Flag says that even though a choice to go into a burning house and save someone is possible, if I choose to do nothing there is no consequence of that choice.

    This kind of logical error is what destroys your entire belief system.

    • #88 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 4:50 am

      Scott,

      .So, Pangloss, you’re saying that if I’m going by a burning house with someone crying for help, if I choose to do nothing that is of no consequence.

      No, sir, you are still confused

      I did not say “no consequence” – please read this again, above:
      “The consequences wholly derive from the burning, not your non-action.”

      I said Your non-action has no consequence – there is no action to do “something”.

      This kind of logical error is what destroys your entire belief system.

      Indeed, you require contradictions for your system — you claim I have a logical error but you are trying to demonstrate the A=B and A not B at the same time.

      .Sir, you are irrational..

  29. #89 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 5:03 am

    Scott,
    That my oft posted complaint to you.

    You change definition of words, so you can justify violence on the non-violent

    You claim non-action has the same force as action, so you can justify violence on the non-violent

    You claim complexity is a superior answer over the simple – reverse Pareto’s law – so you justify violence on the non-violent.

    Your world view requires massive contradictions, over and over again, to deal with the consequences of trying to manifest more and more contradictions.

    You are an anti-scientist.

  30. #90 by Titfortat on January 9, 2012 - 1:21 pm

    If you are as you are, merely whimsical and random, you will receive consequences that will end you.
    Thus, you must make decisions and “whatever” does not cut it.(BF)

    You certainly demonstrate your intellect.
    Non-action creates consequences… only the irrational think this.(BF)

    So let me get this straight Mr. Black Flag Intellect. If I am whimsical and random(which I assume is not taking action) I will receive a consequence because doing whatever does not cut it. But then I see that it is irrational to think that my Non-action will create consequences. I am sooooooo confused, but, I have no doubt that you will explain to me the error of my ways. ;)
    I get this sneaky suspicion you are a Christian.

    • #91 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 1:25 pm

      TitforTat,

      So let me get this straight Mr. Black Flag Intellect. If I am whimsical and random(which I assume is not taking action)

      Bad assumption.

      You can be whimsical and random and act
      You can be whimsical and random and not act.

      I am measuring your judgement of choice, not determining whether you act or not.

      . I am sooooooo confused

      Without a doubt, this is true.

      I get this sneaky suspicion you are a Christian.

      What do you define as “Christian”?

  31. #92 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 1:43 pm

    Consequence:
    Something that logically or naturally follows from an action or condition

    Action:
    The fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim

    Condition:
    The state of something

    Consequence-
    Something logically or naturally follows from doing something to achieve an aim or something logically or naturally follows from the state of something.

    Do nothing is NOT doing something – these are logically opposite.

  32. #93 by sekanblogger on January 9, 2012 - 2:25 pm

    BF: “I do not care one tiny, little bit about alternatives to my point of view”

    Then, as I stated, it truly is pointless to engage you in any conversation. Period.
    Just go ahead and publish your extremist manifesto, then move to the cabin in the woods where you won’t have to be bothered with other opinions or information.

    • #94 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 4:21 pm

      Sekan,

      Why would I care, if you do not impose upon me?

  33. #95 by Titfortat on January 9, 2012 - 3:59 pm

    I am measuring your judgement of choice, not determining whether you act or not.(BF)

    Explain this to me please.

    What do you define as “Christian”?(BF)

    Someone who calls themselves a follower of Christ and biblical teachings. Do you espouse any of those beliefs?

    • #96 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 4:26 pm

      TitForTat,

      Explain this to me please.

      A man can act with reason
      A man can act irrationally
      That is his choice.

      I am not looking at whether or not you act.

      I am looking at the reasons you have chosen to act in this manner or another manner.

      What do you define as “Christian”?(BF)

      Someone who calls themselves a follower of Christ and biblical teachings. Do you espouse any of those beliefs?

      By Biblical, I assume you mean “Old Testament” – so, no. It is historical read at best.

      By follower of “Christ”, I assume you mean Jesus of Nazareth, and not the Apostle Paul – there is a difference between these teachings.

      As far as the Nazarene, his teachings are poignant, and worth considering.

  34. #97 by Titfortat on January 9, 2012 - 4:55 pm

    So BF, is the Nazarene, God, in your system of belief?

    • #98 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 5:01 pm

      TitForTat,

      God

      Depends on your definition of God.

      If it is, for you, a man in beard sitting on a throne in the clouds and dabbles supernaturally in the affairs of men, then it is “no” for me.

      If, however, one holds to ONLY St. Thomas Aquinas “First Cause”, then “yes”, because it can be reasonably proven by Godel’s Theory of “Incompleteness and Consistency”.

      But beyond that …..

      • #99 by Scott Erb on January 9, 2012 - 5:07 pm

        No, the “first cause” arguments have been demolished by modern physics as well as philosophically. Your belief rests on a house of sand, BF. You also need to explain how Aquinas’ view is “reasonably proven” (whatever that means) by theorems about mathematics!

      • #100 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 5:26 pm

        Scott,

        First Cause is simply another way to say “unprovable premise”, and no “Physics” has demolished anything – what “Physics” says is simply “this has no PHYSICAL proof” – which is exactly the same it says about the geometric “point”, too.

        Physics begins at the moment of the beginning of the Universe – it is irrational to apply physics BEFORE the beginning of the Universe.

        But that is not the same thing as saying there is “nothing” before the beginning of the Universe.

        Godel, through set theory, asked this.

        “Does the set of “all proofs” contain a proof of itself?

        That is, can you prove the “point”?

        He found -yes, you can, but only in an irrational universe, where up is down, 1=2, black is white; Scott’s Universe. ;)

        But if you want a rational, consistent universe, the answer is “no, it cannot be proven” – there are things that are true, but cannot be proven to be true – that is, “the premise” -“axiomatic”- “the point” or “First Cause”.

        As the Universe is consistent and rational, it exists from a First Cause – an unprovable truth.

        And that is all one can say.

    • #101 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 5:03 pm

      …sorry, specifically is the Nazarene “God”.

      He as much God as you are.

  35. #102 by Scott Erb on January 9, 2012 - 5:39 pm

    The universe may be consistent and rational. It might not be. Quantum physics and Einstein’s relativity has taken away Newton’s “clockwork” universe. At best things happen in a probabilistic way, with observation somehow being important. The holographic theory seems to me to be a good bet for explaining it, but that might require projection from outside the space-time universe that we inhabit. That means that this might not be a closed system, and therefore the operation can be subject to unexpected external interference (indeed, part of us maybe outside the space-time universe in which we experience the world we find ourselves in).

    • #103 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 5:53 pm

      Scott,

      The universe may be consistent and rational. It might not be.

      The Universe is perfectly consistent – sorry, I do not believe in magic.

      What maybe true is that we do not know all the laws of the Universe and remain dazed about the functions.

      Quantum physics and Einstein’s relativity has taken away Newton’s “clockwork” universe.

      The addition of better theory does not dispute the consistency of the Universe – it merely lays testament that we do not know as well as we may have thought we did, and indeed, we may necessary to spend the entire universe of time to figure it out.

  36. #104 by Titfortat on January 9, 2012 - 6:01 pm

    Well BF, so long as youre not into talking snakes then were good. ;)

  37. #106 by Scott Erb on January 9, 2012 - 6:21 pm

    I suggest you read “The Fabric of the Cosmos” by Brian Greene, or “The Hidden Reality” (same author). Modern physics has pretty much destroyed the idea that the universe is some perfectly functioning machine running on absolute laws. People can choose to believe that it is, just as they can choose to believe in God — it all requires the same amount of magic.

    • #107 by Black Flag® on January 9, 2012 - 6:27 pm

      Scott,

      Thanks, I’ll look up the books…

      …however, I’ll probably stick with Feynman et al, in seeing the Universe as unknowable, but complete and consistent.

      PS: God does not need magic.

  38. #108 by Scott Erb on January 9, 2012 - 6:47 pm

    Feynman’s good but he’s dealing with old ideas. The pace of change since his death 24 years ago has been growing, and most of Feynman’s cutting edge work was nearly a half century ago. With science you can’t stick with a past great, you have to keep up dynamic change.

  39. #109 by Sean on January 10, 2012 - 11:40 am

    Scott,

    I disagree with this post primarily based on your view on the incidence of welfare dependence in Europe namely that with a stronger welfare state dependency is low or virtually non-existant. In the United Kingdom there are families whereby welfare dependency has been occurring for three generations. Let’s remember that this occurred before Thatcher came in and that welfare in many areas pays more than working does – why work when welfare income is higher?

    In Europe, if you are born poor you have free healthcare, schooling and housing. However you also need to be determined to use these opportunities if you want to rise up and here is where your argument falls down. Welfare can be seen as a “ladder of opportunity” but if requires people to actually lift themselves out of welfare in the first place. If you are comfortable and if you are born in an area/family/culture without the desire for work or to take on opportunities then you won’t whilst living in the public dime.

    These “opportunities” are corresponding obligations for the rest of society to pay. They are not voluntary payments: they are taken by law in the form of taxation. Now as Oliver Wendell Holmes said “tax is the price we pay for civilisation” there is a tipping point for many people. To expand a welfare state on the oft-hope that social mobility increases without corresponding welfare dependency or a drop in volunteering is a hope too far.

    People in the US are very generous by nature and many American citizens who live and work in Europe also volunteer but by creating a stronger welfare state you move the government into society. Instead of volunteering time, money and effort people will begin to argue that as the government taxes them it is not of their concern. Social bonds break down.

    Just as the welfare states of Europe are shown to be faulty you are advocating the same mistakes in the United States.

  40. #110 by Karl Jenger on January 10, 2012 - 12:35 pm

    That’s rubbish, with all due respect. Modern physics does away with a classical clockwork universe… but its successor quantum mechanics and the special and general theories of relativity are completely law-abiding. If anything the unification of quantum mechanics with relativity, first under quantum field theories (which was what Feynmann and his path integrals was about) and then more recently under string theories (which in its application to cosmology came after Feynmann), is an even more accurate depiction of the universe as a rational and law-abiding “machine”.

    Brian Greene is really nothing more than a wild speculator without foundation and to believe that modern physics gives some license to start playing fast and loose with the “laws” of physics, or that you can start attaching mystical concepts to it is a total nonsense. In that regard Feynmann is still many orders of magnitude more relevant than Greene’s baseless daydreaming, and if you learn how to do path integrals and QFT then you’ll be very soon up to a proper and physically consistent knowledge of physics (at least as it is known experimentally today).

    • #111 by Scott Erb on January 10, 2012 - 12:46 pm

      Karl, Greene is a Ph.D. in physics, has published on cutting edge research, teaches at Columbia, University – one of the top universities in the US — and is a successful author. As far as I can tell, you’re just a blog commentator. Forgive me if I don’t take your rant seriously — he’s proven himself in the real world. Have you?

      • #112 by Karl Jenger on January 10, 2012 - 1:16 pm

        Doesn’t matter what I am. The fact is that with his populist books and dire TV show he seems to have lead you to believe that modern physics somehow does away with strict laws and consistency. In that he is a wild speculator and lead you astray. Since, as you say, he has published in string theory and works at Columbia it is highly unlikely he really believes it himself.

  41. #113 by Scott Erb on January 10, 2012 - 1:25 pm

    Karl, I’ve read a lot more than Brian Greene on the subject. But it does matter who you are. He is an accomplished an acclaimed physicist. You are hurling ad hominems on a blog and making unsubstantiated assertions. It’s been long noted that modern physics opens up possibilities that not only destroys the Newtonian “clockwork universe” but recognizes that the universe we inhabit probably isn’t all that is. I’m not sure what you believe, but I’d recommend you take people in the field seriously and not cling to whatever you want to believe out of pure ideological faith.

    • #114 by Black Flag® on January 10, 2012 - 4:33 pm

      Soctt,
      Karl is not using ad homenien – he is saying Greene is a speculator (ironically, the charge you lay against Karl!!). – Greene appears to be talking through his hat claiming the the Universe operates on a whim – which makes him a speculator!

      I watched a couple of Greene’s videos and though entertaining in much of his presentation, it is made up for a scientific novice as well as tuned to make science “mysterious” and “exciting”.

      The thing about those that claim the universe is whimsical is that they further claim they can’t prove this because the universe is whimsical. Okie Dokie with that….

      I am positive that if Greene can prove his view, Karl will entertain the proof. But Karl is correct – until Greene demonstrates his proof, it is Greene, not Karl, that is speculating.

      Further, you misunderstand Newton. We use Newton’s Universe every day, very effectively, about 99.999999999999% of the time – and the answers we get work perfectly for us. This is hardly “Newton’s Universe” being “destroyed”.

      For the very minor and slim questions that Newton’s Universe is merely an estimation we have quantum mechanics, and for even more minor and slim questions, we will discover something else.

      But each discovery does not “destroy” the previous – no more than learning calculus “destroys” multiplication, which “destroyed” addition…

      • #115 by Kristine hunt on January 10, 2012 - 5:09 pm

        Two things: Scott based his comments on Greene’s books, not videos. I imagine they are quite different.

        Also, I would say Newtonian physics isn’t *wrong*. It’s just limited, now that physics has other paradigms under consideration.

      • #116 by Karl Jenger on January 11, 2012 - 12:07 pm

        Scott, no it is irrelevant who I am, or even who Greene is. String theory is nothing more than applied mathematics which anyone can learn and apply. Knowing your density matrix from your D-branes is no big deal.

        Greene’s use of modern physics, and even much of his basic outlining of it in popular literature, is fine. But it is the area where he goes into speculation where those who do not understand where the boundaries of mathematical speculation, experimental verification and personal flights of fancy trip up and start falling for similar daydreams that has typically befallen every earlier generation.

        And it is not ideological faith out of which I say this, far from it and I don’t know why you even bring up ideology or faith. Faith is what is required to extrapolate Greene’s fantasies from (as yet) unproven aspects of string theory. There are far simpler interpretations of modern physics that do no introduce the apparent baggage of a multiverse. Even string theory itself could well be wrong and one of the supersymmetric quantum field theories proves more correct.

        Greene isn’t the first respected physicist with a good position to get tangled up in unprovable or even ultimately disproven theories. At this point in time the best you can say is that he could be right, but more than likely is not as there are many competing interpretations of modern phsyics and it would be best not to build a view of the uni(multi)verse around a particular one, particularly when it is not even the simplest that explains all we can currently observe.

        If you want a precis of what I think then I think that Greene is at foundation basically committing an error as some others do, in that he wishes to attach some physical significance to the wavefunction as a manifestation of a wave on a physical field. The simplest explanation is that the wavefunction really only encodes the fact that at the quantum level, in any interpretation that does not reduce to hidden-variables or similar, the operators are anticommutators and have a magnitude on the order of the Planck constant. This naturally explains why our world looks classical most of the time but that quantum effects are unavoidable at smaller scales. If you accept this and that the wavefunction is not some actual wave in a field but just what it looks like, a probability encoding what we know and that there is no reason to expect prior distributions to be uniform (another assumption typically made by Greene and others) then the interpretation of modern physics requires less additional baggage and sometimes downright mysticism. It could be wrong, but it is far simpler and still totally consistent with observations, and is independent of the choice of string theories, quantum field theories, supersymmetries and so on.

        And nothing I said is ad hominem, I merely pointed out that in these matters he is a rather wild speculator.

  42. #117 by Juliano on January 10, 2012 - 4:41 pm

    ahhh surprise surprise, you love Newton’s universe!

  43. #118 by Scott Erb on January 10, 2012 - 4:46 pm

    Nobody says the universe operates on a whim. You’re the one using words like ‘whimsical.’ That’s your usual MO. You try to create a dichotomy where you put your position against another one that you caricature and ridicule. That’s sloppy thinking, weak argumentation and fundamentally irrational. I’m not sure what “view” of Greene you would want him to prove. Much of theoretical physics isn’t provable yet, but it’s still a major field of science. He has done a lot of his own work.

    Interestingly you use a pragmatic argument to try to avoid admitting what ALL physicists would admit — that Newton’s universe was overturned by modern physics. Yes, in pragmatic terms we don’t need knowledge of the new universe to operate. There’s a lot of things that we can do practically without knowing fully how they work. But unlike division or subtraction, Newton’s clockwork universe view has been disproven by modern physics. The world is not a big machine that runs with precision and predictability. In Newton’s view if you know the speed of every particle and location you could calculate all of the past and the future. In Newton’s view time and space were the same for everyone, space was just the emptiness in which the universe exists. Now we know that time-space is an entity, you experience time differently depending on your speed (photons do not experience time at all), and there’s a whole series of things that Newton’s been shown to be wrong about. This isn’t anything “whimsical,” this is real science!

    • #119 by Black Flag® on January 10, 2012 - 5:22 pm

      Scott,

      You suggested that the Universe is not consistent. This is the definition of “whimsical” – that is, “unexplained behavior”.

      You then suggest a man, who says that the Universe is not consistent, now has tools to PROVE this – impossible! The REQUIREMENT of proof IS consistency!

      Again, your upside down Universe of Scott – and the tendency you have toward nihilism – is demonstrated.

      And your emotionalism on Newton is irrelevant.

      Physicists do not chant in the halls screaming “Newton was wrong”.
      We say “Newton was incomplete” – even Newton knew his work was incomplete – but I am sure, as an the anti-scientist you are, the difference is totally lost on you.

      It was others, who do not understand science and Newton’s work that made declarations over and beyond what was known (and unknown) – they make the same error you are making now

      • #120 by Scott Erb on January 10, 2012 - 6:37 pm

        Go back and read what I said. Also, you have a very weird definition of ‘whimsical.’ As usual you create a false dichotomy (beware the excluded middle) and you are ignoring complexity. You also haven’t addressed the points I made, as usual you simply apply a label falsely (‘whimsical’) and argue against your false re-statement of what you want me to have said. In fact, you’ve avoided talking about the real science the whole time — I think you know that I’m right, at least deep down, but you can’t let go of a notion of science that you think supports your ideology.

      • #121 by Black Flag® on January 10, 2012 - 6:47 pm

        Scott,

        Go back and read what I said.

        What I read the first time is confirmed by the second time.

        Also, you have a very weird definition of ‘whimsical.’

        You often make me laugh.
        I give the dictionary definition – and you call it “weird”.

        I would suggest that it is you hold must be carrying a very whimsical dictionary, not me.

        As usual you create a false dichotomy (beware the excluded middle) and you are ignoring complexity.

        To you, there never exists true/false. For Scott’s Universe, there is only “huh?”

        As posted before, you set simplicity aside in a search for complexity – the reverse-Pareto syndrome.

        You also haven’t addressed the points I made

        I believe I did.

        Greene’s view of the Universe needs proof. He has a problem, though. Proof requires consistency. He denies consistency. Proof is impossible.

        So I set Greene “over here” in the container of ideas, where Santa Claus lives, Easter Bunnies and Fire-breathing Dragons.

  44. #122 by Scott Erb on January 10, 2012 - 5:22 pm

    He was also off about gravity, though one could say general relativity corrected a minor error. When people say the Newtonian universe was “destroyed,” they mean the idea of time as constant everywhere, space as simply an empty realm in which events unfold, Newton’s world also had size as constant — that a meter here was a meter everywhere. We know that not to be true.

    Most fundamental is that the claim that you could predict the future or the past if you knew the location and speed of every object in the universe has been shown wrong. Classical physics still works pragmatically for most earthly endeavors (though we couldn’t go to the moon without using modern physics!)

    • #123 by Black Flag® on January 10, 2012 - 5:25 pm

      Scott,

      (though we couldn’t go to the moon without using modern physics!)

      First, we couldn’t land a man on the moon today if we tried.

      Second, there is NOTHING about Newtonian Physics that would interfere with getting to the moon.

    • #124 by Karl Jenger on January 12, 2012 - 10:59 am

      Actually multiverse interpretations, such as those favored by Greene and others, lead directly back to a fully deterministic multiverse. The collapse of individual wavefunctions to randomly chosen observations is replaced with a universal wavefunction which never collapses but evolves fully deterministically according to the Schroedinger equation. Thus if such views are true, our reality is just as deterministic as Newton’s, only with a slightly different view of universe vs multiverse.

      • #125 by Juliano on January 12, 2012 - 1:58 pm

        This is WHY I think the idea of a ‘multiverse’ is being pushed. For the reason that they need us to believe the universe is predetermined and we are robots. For this ahnd other reasons I am not drawn to the myth of the multiverse.

      • #126 by Karl Jenger on January 12, 2012 - 3:17 pm

        Actually Juliano I think you’ll find the vast majority of physicists don’t want to be robots. But finding some sort of theory that looks kind of like classical mechanisms underneath the probabilities, well yes there are many who want to go back there for various psychological reasons (for instance, the failed hidden variable theories and their modern derivatives). But the multiverse was proposed to get rid of too much anthropic reasoning… So avoiding one glaring non-scientific problem leads back towards something else. What the truth is no one yet knows, but we won’t find out if things aren’t rejected on scientific grounds.

  45. #127 by Juliano on January 10, 2012 - 6:50 pm

    It is more meaning there are layers of meaning is what it means. For example there are depths of understanding. YES one can live in an understanding of a mechanical reality but you then just function on that level and poo poo events which confound that literal limited layer. Limited in regards that there are deeper, far deeper layers.

    SOME people, owing to ‘education’ and mass media assume, for example, that life means work, and consumerism, and that when your dead your dead so grab what you can now. Such beliefs as that fit very nicely with a Newtonian mechanical universe.

    WAY before I knew about Newton, and modern physics, and the deeper subjects I was going to learn, I horrifically found myself as a FACTORy worker (dont ask), and the street I plodded up miserably on the way to and from the sweat shop was called Newton street! Do you think someone or something was trying to tell me something?

    • #128 by Black Flag® on January 10, 2012 - 6:58 pm

      Juliano

      For example there are depths of understanding. YES one can live in an understanding of a mechanical reality but you then just function on that level and poo poo events which confound that literal limited layer.

      No I don’t.

      I am more aware of the “layers” than you are.

      I apply appropriately the layers. I do not confound them as you appear to do for yourself.

      IF I am building a rocket to go to the moon, I do not need to apply relativistic mass calculations to adjust my fuel consumption.

      IF I am building a particle accelerator, I do need to apply relativistic mass calculations to adjust the stress on the support structures.

      Limited in regards that there are deeper, far deeper layers.

      Indeed, it appears is an infinite number of layers deep.

      SOME people, owing to ‘education’ and mass media assume, for example, that life means work, and consumerism, and that when your dead your dead so grab what you can now. Such beliefs as that fit very nicely with a Newtonian mechanical universe.

      I do not think you can blame human desires on Newton.

      WAY before I knew about Newton, and modern physics, and the deeper subjects I was going to learn, I horrifically found myself as a FACTORy worker (dont ask), and the street I plodded up miserably on the way to and from the sweat shop was called Newton street! Do you think someone or something was trying to tell me something?

      Yes.

      For a man to live he must act.

      “Man wait long time for cooked chicken to fly into mouth”.

      Newton said:
      “Every action has a consequence”

      Every consequence offers a problem.
      A solution to a problem requires action.
      Every action has a consequence.

      Repeat until death.

  46. #129 by Scott Erb on January 10, 2012 - 6:58 pm

    No, BF, you’re not dealing with what I said, you’re ignoring the argument, instead assigning words to me I didn’t use, or positions I didn’t take. Your need for mangle and misstate another person’s argument shows the weakness of your position and your world view.

    • #130 by Black Flag® on January 10, 2012 - 8:00 pm

      Scott,

      If you are so sure that this is the case, demonstrate it.

    • #131 by Black Flag® on January 11, 2012 - 7:24 am

      For reasons I do not know, my response was deleted, so one more time…

      …Please present what argument I am ignoring, what words I am assigning and what positions am I pushing upon you.

      Since my last response was deleted – with no reason or response… my eyebrow is raised accusingly…. but cautiously.

  47. #132 by Juliano on January 10, 2012 - 10:11 pm

    what damage to the environement does going to the moon etc do? Looking at this is looking deeper.

    • #133 by Black Flag® on January 10, 2012 - 10:20 pm

      Juliano,

      what damage to the environement does going to the moon etc do? Looking at this is looking deeper.

      What do you define as being “damaged”?

      Cutting down bush to make clear for farm to grow food?
      Cutting down a tree to build a house?
      Digging minerals from the ground to make concrete?
      Extract metals from rock to build a rocket?

  48. #134 by Titfortat on January 10, 2012 - 11:18 pm

    Repeat until death.

    Im just hoping I can repeat some more after I die, well, physically that is. ;)

  49. #135 by Scott Erb on January 11, 2012 - 1:01 pm

    I find it interesting that “Karl” posts from one of the IP addresses Black Flag uses. Karl, you don’t like using science to speculate, many very brilliant minds do. I’m not saying you’re wrong not to speculate, but you’re acting like an idiot if you try to tell people who do that they shouldn’t. It’s like a child stomping his foot and saying “everyone should think my way.” Nope, we’re not going to. And if an Ivy League professor and respected published physicist wants to speculate, and others want to join in, that’s fine. If you don’t like it, well, that’s YOUR problem.

    • #136 by Karl Jenger on January 11, 2012 - 1:11 pm

      Scott, I am not telling anyone not to speculate. Quite obviously that would be a dumb and dull thing to do. I am merely warning that the boundary between what is consistent with what we know experimentally and what is a person’s own flight of fancy is not always clear, particularly from professors. Beyond that drawing metaphysical conclusions is nothing more than religion dressed up in scientific clothing, faith if you wish to call it that, but your mileage may vary.

      There is a pretty obvious reason why two independent commenters who have no connection with one another could be coming from the same IP address. See if you can figure it out without resorting to conspiracy.

  50. #137 by Scott Erb on January 11, 2012 - 1:08 pm

    Choosing not to act is an act.

    • #138 by Black Flag® on January 11, 2012 - 4:17 pm

      Scott,

      Choosing not to act is an act.

      Again, you do not understand.

      NOT acting is not acting.

      You are acting in some manner when you choose to do something.

      You are confused in your thinking to believe that NOT doing “A” by DOING “B” is NOT acting.

      It is merely not doing “A” but doing “B” and the act is doing “B” which in this Universe NEVER equates to “not acting”.

      • #139 by Juliano on January 11, 2012 - 5:32 pm

        your too busy lost in abstract thinking to act

      • #140 by Black Flag® on January 11, 2012 - 6:27 pm

        Scott,

        You’re in a world shared with others, you don’t get to make the rules,

        I sure do get to make the rules as much as “others do”!
        That’s the point, Scott!

        This is the essence on which we constantly battle.

        You believe that a group of people have more “rights” then the individuals in that group – that is, as a group, they can determine the ‘rules’ that they will then apply on themselves and others that do not agree to those rules

        Do I have your position accurately stated?

  51. #141 by Scott Erb on January 11, 2012 - 1:26 pm

    I note you do not deny your connection with BF, you just try to distract, Karl. Transparent.

    The point is that we don’t know the nature of the universe, and there are a lot of possibilities. Those who try to make claims with certainty are expressing faith. Those who are open to speculation are accepting uncertainty, which definitely is not the same as faith or religious belief. Those who think they know how the world works and close off the possibility that they may be wrong are the most foolish humans indeed.

    • #142 by Karl Jenger on January 11, 2012 - 1:38 pm

      Weird, OK Scott. I do not have any connection with BF.

      Can you say

      Proxy server???

      Sheesh.
      First you accuse me of ideological faith, then accuse me of throwing ad homs, then when you ignore completely what I say I think about the matter scientifically and then start imagining I have told people not to speculate and that I think I know how the world works because I urge caution amongst the speculations on offer. Then you’re off on some strange conspiracy theory with the Black Flag guy/girl.

      I thought you’d at least accuse me of being too Popperian maybe, or that my preferred view is too Copenhageny. I’ve said the whole time that there are many interpretations and that I happen to think that Greene’s larger views on balance are probably not going to turn out to be correct. Man, I don’t even disagree with most of string theory and that it is likely the best way forward. I once thought many worlds was a cool solution after working through the maths, but have since come to view it as less likely than the simpler alternatives. But some lecture against a strawman who knows how the world works? Really???

  52. #143 by Scott Erb on January 11, 2012 - 2:12 pm

    Greene’s writing is careful. He separates speculation, he notes when he finds the speculation unconvincing (which is most of the time), but recognizes that given what we know there is still a load of possibilities out there. To me that’s simply something to have fun with, not to take too seriously. BF has a very set world view where all government is evil and that’s because of ‘natural laws’ that he thinks governs human possibilities as much as scientific laws govern those (which causes him to prefer a particular view on science). Those are untenable beliefs, especially when it comes to humans because it seems that beyond a few basics humans have a malleable nature that tends to be shaped by the society they are a part of.

    I don’t know anything about proxy servers, but I’ll trust you when you say you have no connection to BF. Your initial response — which was a non-denial without an explanation — looked like the kind of response he’d use, which increased my suspicions. Sorry to have jumped to that conclusion, but my response was shaped by knowing his world view and believing you two were connected.

    So I’m not sure if we have a disagreement. I’ve always been partial to the holographic principle (even back before it was more mainstream — a former student did grad school work at Georgetown and reported that Karl Pribram was expressing delight that so many people who once scoffed at his theory of the brain as a hologram were not coming around to taking it seriously). But we don’t know, and that makes it fun to speculate. Perhaps we’re like ants in the White House — they know the world they can perceive, but they have no clue of the greater reality around them. As long as the question “why is there something and not nothing” cannot be answered, we’re really just speculating at anything that doesn’t pragmatically work in the world.

    • #144 by Black Flag® on January 11, 2012 - 4:34 pm

      Scott,

      I am always amazed at some guy who calls himself a political scientist is so blatantly anti-scientist.

      BF has a very set world view where all government is evil

      Violence on the non-violent is defined to be evil, and as government enforces its monopoly on doing this, it is evil.

      and that’s because of ‘natural laws’ that he thinks governs human possibilities as much as scientific laws govern those (which causes him to prefer a particular view on science).

      Boy, you cannot learn nor understand any one’s position, can you?

      I know why – to do so would undermine yours, since yours depends completely on certain basic contradictions.

      Human action creates consequences – this is bluntly obvious except to you.
      Understanding that this human action creates this consequences is called “learning”, so that when a man as yourself demands that course of action, I can say “you will create this consequence”.

      You do not believe me, because you have a deficit in your learning somewhere.

      You demand that “no, If I Scott and my ilk do this that consequence will not occur because we are different humans and the “natural law of consequences” does not apply to us if we choose not.

      But you are not different humans, you are the same human as every other human, and the consequence of your action will be the same as experienced by other humans. To believe otherwise is insanity

      Now, you believing and being insane matters not one wit to me – it is you who would have to suffer it except you and your ilk demand that I do suffer your insanity, that I act in the same manner as you and your ilk dictate, that I must drink from your poisoned koolaid and you will force that upon me by pointing or advocating the pointing of a gun to my head

      THAT is the untenable belief, Scott – the one YOU force upon others.

    • #145 by Karl Jenger on January 12, 2012 - 3:37 pm

      The holographic universe emerges from quantum gravity theories, that our 3D experience is equivalent to a holographic projection from a 2D cosmological horizon. A nifty phenomena.

      I don’t think it is at all related to the holonomic brain idea, other than that Pribram collaborated with Bohm in talking about it and Bohm was a proponent of non-local hidden variable theories of quantum physics, theories which have subsequently been proven to be impossible in reality. Personally it sounds a bit too space-cadety for my liking, rather like the fad of the “brain as quantum computer” and other ideas that pop-up now and then when new physics is discovered. Really I think the brain is no more than what it appears and is too much a decohered thermal soup to be much more fundamental (but I could be wrong). But the holographic universe has some potential.

  53. #146 by Scott Erb on January 11, 2012 - 4:22 pm

    Not acting is impossible. You are always acting. You just choose to do somethings and not do others. There is a consequence for that choice. There is a consequence of choosing to walk by a burning house instead of going in to try to rescue a screaming child. There are consequences for not acting if you had the possibility to act. If the act of doing “B” means you have chosen not to do “A” the fact you choose not to do something has a consequence. That consequence is added to the consequence of choosing B.

    You are enmeshed in the web, BF, no matter how much you want to abstract yourself out of it.

    • #147 by Black Flag® on January 11, 2012 - 4:38 pm

      Scott,

      Not acting is impossible. You are always acting. You just choose to do somethings and not do others. There is a consequence for that choice.

      Now, you are getting it

      There is a consequence of choosing to walk by a burning house instead of going in to try to rescue a screaming child.

      THAT consequence has absolutely NOTHING to do with the burning house.

      The problem you are -again- trying to enforce is A=C; B=D; thus A=D!

      For your world view to be enforced upon the innocent, you need to convolute two, different, consequences to have come from the precisely same cause.

  54. #148 by Scott Erb on January 11, 2012 - 4:45 pm

    Again with the victimization and accusations of “insanity.” You’re in a world shared with others, you don’t get to make the rules, whining doesn’t help. Everyone has things forced on them because that’s the nature of living in this shared world. If you don’t like that, well, welcome to reality – we all have to deal with it.

    OK, I got back into the conversation because the science stuff was interesting, but now it’s back to this kind of purposeless banter, so you can have the last word.

    • #149 by Black Flag® on January 11, 2012 - 5:00 pm

      Scott,

      It is insanity to continue to do (or advocate doing) the same thing expecting a different result.

      You’re in a world shared with others, you don’t get to make the rules,

      I sure do get to make the rules as much as “others do”!
      That’s the point, Scott!

      YOU do not have a special “Right” to make rules over me, unless I have that same special Right to make rules over you.

      whining doesn’t help.

      How easy it is for you to follow the sheep chorus. Anyone who is different from you is a “whiner”.

      Everyone has things forced on them because that’s the nature of living in this shared world.

      The question is not whether “force” is applied – the question is the RIGHT to apply such force.

      When a man defends himself, he is applying force and violence. So AGAIN, Scott it is the act of using violence on the non-violent which is evil – such an application of violent force is a violation of that human and his Right.

  55. #150 by Titfortat on January 11, 2012 - 7:29 pm

    After reading and re reading much of BF I have come to the conclusion he inhaled when he was younger. Or maybe it was yesterday. ;)

  56. #151 by Scott Erb on January 11, 2012 - 8:56 pm

    BF, the way the world works is determined by power relations. That’s reality. That’s an “Is” statement, not an “ought” statement. The only way to hold the use of power accountable is through constructing various social or political norms. This can be democratic principles, tribal customs, and the like. Separating out “violence” from other ways of using power to control the possibilities of others is arbitrary and unsupportable. So yes, you as an individual do not have the right to violate the rules of a society just because you disagree with them. That’s an “is” statement, again, not an “ought” statement. You do, as Titfortat noted long ago, have the right to be active as part of the collective group making project. If you choose not to, that’s fine, but the rules will be made without your voice, and you will have to follow them or suffer the consequences of not following them. That’s an “is” statement, not an “ought” statement. We have to take the world as it is, not what flights of imagination might think it should be. We can use our imagination of what should be to work to change what is, but that’s a slow process.

    • #152 by Kristine hunt on January 11, 2012 - 9:11 pm

      I think “rules” automatically imply violence, at least the sort of violence Bourdieu talked about. Any time there is a difference in power, as he put it, there is a form of violence in the interaction, because there is dominance of one entity over another. This can be systemic, as in unequal wealth distribution or limited access to resources, or it can be interpersonal, as when one person is armed and another is not, or even a parent interacting with a child. Because humans are necessarily interdependent, we can’t escape the “rules” or power or violence just because we choose not to interact.

    • #153 by Black Flag® on January 11, 2012 - 11:18 pm

      Scott,

      BF, the way the world works is determined by power relations. That’s reality.

      The way the human world works is determined by human action. And that is reality. And that’s an “IS” statement, not an ought.

      Power is fleeting and capricious. That is another “IS” statement, and not an “ought” statement too.

      Humans need to act upon things to live. That is reality.

      For his survival, a man needs to have exclusive access to the means of his survival excluding others from those means (known as “goods”). That is reality.

      For human SOCIETY to exist, social order must exist. That is reality.

      For social order to exist, an ORDERLY assignment of goods must be established.

      Such an orderly assignment creates RIGHT to a good and a RIGHT to exclude others from that good, so that should another person attempt to seize such a good from its RIGHTFUL “owner”, society views such conduct as a DESTRUCTION of the social order that society requires for society to exist.

      And that IS reality.

  57. #154 by Scott Erb on January 12, 2012 - 3:31 pm

    Karl, you prove my point — you can speculate and posit a deterministic universe. But there is nothing to make your speculations superior to those of others. We don’t know, perhaps we can’t know. It would take a leap of faith beyond what I am capable of in order to believe in a purely mechanisitic clockwork universe, or even multiverse. The idea that the small bit of reality that we can perceive in a material sense (matter or energy) is all that is, or that our limited perceptive abilities gives us enough to truly understand the universe is to me a completely untenable belief. Therefore, speculation and intuition are valid — as long as one doesn’t become dogmatic, there is nothing wrong with it, and discussions can yield interesting ideas and insights. I’m fine with uncertainty and paradox!

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