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Johnny Mac

Role? Who defines that?, I need to get organized.

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Does "Liberty" mean the pursuit of one's self interest?

Explanation: Liberty in economic terms. By seeking one's own gain, they make gains for everybody. The economy is a mechanism for transforming private gain into public benefit. Each person is a cog in this machine.
Or are all social systems built on the proper understanding of the human person...This person I the source and end of all social and economic value. Which is it? or do you think it is something else?


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    Dec 21 2013: Liberty and equality go hand in hand—they’re two sides of the same coin. To the extent that a system diminishes equality at the expense of class or caste, liberty is also abridged.

    There are those who assert that Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is still relevant, and who find it fashionable to apply Darwinian “natural law” in addressing economic outcomes. It’s as if the “fittest” in the rat race of a capitalist system actually earn what they deserve, as do the “least fit” among us. But how are we bound by these opinions? And what has “natural law” to do with the economic systems created by human beings?

    Property ownership and the amassing of great wealth were only made possible by the organization of civilizations resulting from agriculture and animal husbandry. These economies produced divisions of labor and class systems. This we all know, and yet, how is this step in human history more “natural” than the hunter gatherer stage that preceded it for many more thousands of years? In other words, why is it more “natural” to possess land, accumulate wealth, stockpile surplus and hoard resources than it is NOT to do these things? And if it was “natural law” that drove humankind to domesticate animals, cultivate the land, build cities, create royalty and religion—each with their divine rights—it is just as “natural” that, using our “naturally developed” reason, we improve, modify, rebuild or completely eliminate systems that do not correspond with our evolving values.

    Although you may not have meant it, stating that “the economy is a mechanism for transforming private gain into public benefit” can point to redistribution in a “much is given, much is demanded” frame of reference—an ethos embraced in many cultures. What system benefits the public to the greatest possible extent? The one in which the overwhelmingly vast amount of gain is held by a fortunate few, or the one in which all gain is a public good?
    • Dec 21 2013: Positivist Nullifidian

      'Equality' obfuscates the fact of singular individual differences... under an ideological concoction meant to disempower the righteous while empowering the unrighteous... Does a liar have the same right to voice their opinion as the righteous? The whole notion of ownership stems from a long history of de-conflicting practices intended to maintain civility resulting from evolving settlements. Controlling resources and their allocation has been part of human existence for quite some time... The hunter gatherer shifted their prey from wild animals to domesticated ones... and would regularly go on a hunt to nearby territories... of course 'the prey' organized to prevent such matters... and we could even say that some hunter gatherers choose to settle down and protect their livestock from being hunted by others (only they could hunt their lands). If we look at the natural evolution of systems we would see that ecosystems develop to fill every niche with synergistic collaborative participants... that keep within certain parameters the whole interactions... Unfortunately many humans have lost touch with their natural integration into the system...

      Why is it that the talk shifted to "What system benefits the public to the greatest possible extent"? Do notice the implicit allure to a conflict between the individual and the system rather than a shared mutually enriching mutually enabling synergetic collaboration between the individual and the system ... kind of like the plants breathing in what we breath out and we breathing in what the plants breath out... just think of groups and individuals rather than plants and people...

      I used to consider the hunter gatherer vs the cultivators until I added a third notion involving the traders and merchants...
      • Dec 22 2013: Right? What do you mean by right? Law, social consent?

        Both of these are human artifice. In general, everyone can do anything, however some of the actions are practical and some are not. (Explicitly dodging the question of good vs wrong with praxeology.)

        The actions not beneficial are usually easy to be shown to be so, some have deleterious effects much later, but those are more rare.

        Equality does not obfuscate anything. What is meant by this word is actually equal (or preferably best) opportunity for everyone, which is currently not present, as there are extraneous factors such as inherited wealth and social status throwing a wrench into it.

        Similarly liberty is not about "you can do anything" since that does not need a specific word. It's about having a possibility to do as many things as possible, preferably beneficial to everyone or as many as possible. Or at least beneficial to those who further act beneficially giving a positive feedback loop.

        Then there are the hard questions when an action is beneficial for some and detrimental for others...
        • Dec 22 2013: Radosław,

          Will explicitly dodge the question of good vs bad, right vs wrong beneficial vs detrimental with praxeology that focuses on 'what be sustainable-congruent-desirable with the ways of life'. So to answer your question directly: by 'right' I mean 'what be sustainable-congruent-desirable with the ways of life'. Please note that life in principle can be replicated in 'what be sustainable-congruent-desirable with the ways of life' (SCD).. Also note that life gives to each what they desire with life; so to those who seek life --- life give them abundant life AND to those who seek death --- life gives them abundant life (which becomes the actual death of death). So you see life gives each abundant life and gives each what they desire. I could get into presenting other examples like truth, peace, understanding, tolerance, love, 'the visionary' all 'passing the SCD' hurtle and even how some notions like lies and charlatans fail the SCD test. The point here is that there are actions that are beneficial for everyone even tough someone may object and somebody may agree.

          For a while I have sought 'to dodge the invitations to fight it out' by seeking a graceful dance that guides and transforms 'blows' into 'caresses' while 'compelling' each into the dance - be it by choice or by compulsion. I would rather we focus on actions that are beneficial especially given the fact that some stuff can be easily to be shown to be so and some stuff can be a bit more complicated if not practically impossible to demonstrate.

          If equality means actually equality between what be preferably best and the alternatives then 'Houston, we have a problem'. Personally I consider that only certain alternatives ought to have and be allowed to develop. In other words IF somebody wants to be nice THEN by all means tip the field in their favor ELSE (when someone doesn't want to be nice) tip the field against them accomplishing what they want. That is: be it by choice or by compulsion be nice!
      • Dec 22 2013: There's rarely a known best, but there are usually a few options that can be considered generally +SCD with various degrees. You can of course ask someone why they're not picking the better option if there is one, try to compel, but not coerce. However this can degenerate to populism, some of which we see now, where the most compelling are rewarded - but there is the threshold when this becomes -SCD and this means there is a check built in. (Unless the systm is changed)

        The tricky part is deciding on which alternative is better - often there's no clear answer and there we should fall back on equality (of opportunity).
        • Dec 22 2013: Radosław,

          In recent weeks I have pointed out how often when we respond to someone who states "my way or the highway" with 'let it be the highway' someone rarely consents to followthrough and take the highway ! We are coming to a point where we need to figure out better ways to collaborate and coexists that move past older archaic forms of confrontation between the individuals and the collectives. 'Democracy' isn't supported on top of what the majority chooses because a single right individual may dictate the right course of action that will guide everyones actions. In the past this tended to be associated with the role the individual played though in the present this is shifting to be associated with the validity associated to the claim rather than who makes it.

          Indeed the tricky part is deciding on which alternative is better especially when often there's no clear answer and there we should always fall back on what actually be better (rather than give equality (of opportunity) to all possibilities). IN other words lets not confuse what isn't better with what is better just because we can't distinguish one from the other. Lets figure out a way to always pursue the better alternative...
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        Dec 23 2013: Equality is not synonymous with homogeneity. Are there two of anything that are alike? Not even two snowflakes or leaves or grains of sand—infinite diversity is the law. Equality must be measured primarily in terms of access, not outcomes.

        Hunter gatherers are not a panacea for an ideal society, but are useful in illustrating the point that it was just as “natural” for human beings to NOT possess private property and amass wealth as it was to engage in these practices. The mutually beneficial practices of trade and mercantilism arose as a result of agrarianism and animal domestication—surpluses carried on the back of beasts of burden were exchanged between communities, sometimes separated by great distances.

        As to “shifting the talk,” I am merely addressing Johnny Mac’s question: “[A]re all social systems built on the proper understanding of the human person[?]” The simple answer here is “no.”
        • Dec 23 2013: Positivist Nullifidian,

          Under the premise you put forth for equality being measured primarily in terms of access, not outcomes... I would then posit that there ought to be infinite disproportionate equality; the righteous ought have full access while the unrighteous ought to have no actual possibility of access (till they change and become righteous).

          As you sort of said Hunter gatherers, or even set agrarian cultivators, and merchants... forms of being hardly serve as a panacea for an ideal society. Within each there can be graceful humans and not so graceful humans. Each could be useful in illustrating this or that point ... as just the “natural” form of human beings to be.

          I agree with you that its unnatural to possess stuff through as I write this I have to say that as the entrusted tenant one may inherit certain rights, privileges and responsibilities; (which one may lose or keep) for 'being the entrusted caretaker of stuff' living within a certain domain. Note that 'The mutually beneficial practices of trade and mercantilism arose as a result of... ' interactions between different individuals! I used to hold the dual worldview of hunter gather evolving into cultivators which then evolved into more specialized service providers, industrialization, knowledge; until I realized that 'Merchants' coexisted with the hunter gather and cultivators forming an interesting triad. As you sort of said "The mutually beneficial practices of trade and mercantilism arose as a result of... (snipped)... surpluses carried on the back of beasts of burden were exchanged between communities, sometimes separated by great distances".

          Personally I do see that to hold private property and amass wealth as legitimate practices... unfortunately nowadays the notion of private individuals having private property is quite an urban myth. Tenants have to pay the king for all sort of dubious concoctions, including a fee for protection, protection from the king itself and other raiders!
    • Dec 22 2013: I would say that liberty and equality are two orthogonal but desirable traits. Complete equality requires the destruction of liberty, since some all-powerful authoritarian entity would have to shoot, imprison, punish, or otherwise threaten those who might dare stand out from the utterly equal mass. Complete liberty, on the other hand, results in stratification, since different choices lead to different outcomes. We will never have perfect liberty AND perfect equality, nor, perhaps, should we want this, since either looks likely to end up in severe injustice. However, the idea of a dynamic homoeostasis is too terrifying for mediocre minds, so they make up and believe lies that we can have everything at once, with no need for tradeoff.
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        Dec 23 2013: We will never have perfect anything, and the solutions to life's challenges seem most often to consist of tradeoffs. But at least entertain the concept, if only for a moment, that the goal should be for each to begin this race from the same start line--no head starts, and no special advantages for anyone. A meritocracy would seem appropriate for any society, but where equal rights and opportunity are not provided, the achievements and successes of the meritorious are cheapened. I denounce any system that produces advantages, or worse, obstacles to any aspirant, based solely on the gap in access to resources to improve one's chance for success, resulting entirely from an accident of birth.
        • Dec 24 2013: How do we implement such a paradise? Obviously, the state would have to exterminate a fundamental liberty by taking full control of reproduction. Second, it would have to kill off all infants who are too far away from the "norm"--no genetic handicaps or advantages allowed, or it would have to implement "Harrison Bergeron"-style handicaps for anyone whose abilities were above the lowest of the low.

          In short, you denounce any system that does not start off by exterminating humanity and replacing it with mass-produced machines. After all, genetic heritage is an unevenly-distributed resource. If you make a special exception for genetic heritage, then you must keep piling on additional special exceptions or be nothing better than a hypocrite who must be ignored.

          Inequality is built into life. No two independent organisms are identical, not even "identical" twins--indeed, they develop differences while still in utero.
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        Dec 24 2013: Replying to your most recent post here.

        I concur that infinite diversity is the law—there are no two anything alike. Equality of opportunity does not imply equality of outcomes, or, for that matter, raw talent. And whether it be sports, music or intellectual pursuits, our talents—which I view as largely genetic, but requiring effort as well—must be allowed to develop and rise to the top. And yes, I strongly support competition and decry efforts to diminish the value of peak performers, such as in the classroom, for the mere purpose of making everyone else feel good.

        The concept of an equal starting line does not come from a position of “bringing down” the truly talented, but rather “bringing up” the untapped potential in the most marginalized and underserved communities. There's no need for exterminations or hypocrisy when engineering systems that are truly merit based, not privilege based. Having served in the armed forces, I have witnessed the benefits of a meritocracy, first hand—hardly a paradise, I’ll grant you that!
        • Dec 24 2013: Want to highlight the notion of "systems that are truly merit based, not privilege based" coupled with a bit of opportune grants intended to bring about the cultivation of the best in each.
        • Dec 25 2013: "Raw talent" is part of "opportunity". There is not and cannot be "equality of opportunity". Likewise, upbringing is part of "opportunity". The only way to impose equality of upbringing is to exterminate all family diversity--bring children up in perfectly uniform environments, with no variation permitted at all. One must rip children away from the "advantaged" parents and make sure their upbringings are appropriately mediocre.
          What government should do is refuse to impose institutional barriers to accomplishment. Likewise, a willingness to invest in individuals who show promise is a good idea.
        • Dec 25 2013: Bryan,

          Take that a step further and have government and institutions promote individual accomplishments through fostering such actions... as it is presently them two tend to create drags that take away rather than help to create.

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