Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

19 June 2009

Erecting a Ladder

Last Saturday, I helped a friend remove a large branch which had fallen on her roof in a storm earlier in the week. She had borrowed an extension ladder from a neighbor who had stored it in his yard. The rope for raising the extension had rotted away and the springs which would cause the latches to lock in place on each rung as they came into alignment with it had rusted away. We wanted to put the ladder against a particular edge of the roof over a room which made a right angle with the main part of the house from the deck. The deck was edged with a somewhat high rail and two sets of parallel wires ran outward perpendicular to the main part of the house. We needed to erect the ladder amidst all of these obstacles and then extend it to a safe height.

When we finally maneuvered the ladder into the upright position after a couple of false starts, she asked me how many Ph.D.s does it take to put a ladder up. I laughed. She has a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering. We then had to use a stool to raise and lock the ladder a couple of rungs higher than we could reach from the deck. This was still not a safe height, so we brought a 5-foot ladder up from her basement and raised the extension ladder another two rungs and locked it. We took note that most any tradesman in the roofing business or tree-trimming business would have been equipped with a proper ladder and would have gotten it erect more efficiently than we had. Most American workers are fairly competent at what they do for a living.

But, I also reflected on an issue I have often thought about over the years. While I sometimes, well maybe frequently, am frustrated that most Americans give little thought to what I believe is the most essential issue of our time, and probably of most any time, namely the ever on-going fight for the rights of the individual, this does not mean that I have a low opinion of most people's ability to manage their own lives. The socialist elitists who want the government to make almost all decisions for the people, believe this is necessary because they actually do hold most people in contempt. They really do believe most people are unable to intelligently manage their own lives. Yet, when you see how well most people do their jobs, which is something most do care about and do put some real effort into doing, shouldn't you be able to understand that most people are also capable of generally managing their own lives? Besides, they showed that they could historical in the American wilderness, which we now are inclined to forget.

Now it is interesting to examine who is most likely to be an elitist who believes that others cannot manage their own lives. One such group is college and university faculty. Another is the teachers of the public school systems. Another is politicians and government employees. Lawyers and accountants are special interest groups looking for a validation for expanded government mandating the extensive use of their services. Another yet is women.

College professors have often become professors because they have a low regard for people who enter the free market and are willing to trade their productive work products with others using money as a medium to facilitate these exchanges. Professors are quick to heap scorn on these "money grubbers", losing sight entirely of the fact that money is the means to making voluntary exchanges much easier to arrange. They believe they deal in the realm of ideas, while others are simply materialists. This is a terrible oversimplification. Yes, there are many people in business who are very motivated by a desire to acquire money. But, then there are many in academia who are very desirous of prestige and the power to influence government to use force to make all of the people live by the values dictated by the professors. This is not a superior motivation. Power has served as the motivation of many a brute going back in human history to times long before money was even invented as a facilitor of trade. Few of these professors live like monks either, since most are fairly well paid. These same professors who decry the materialism of the businessman, analyze every difference of worldly goods that exists among Americans and people generally in the world and claim that all variations from equality are clear signs of injustice. They ignore the choices the people involved have made, the differences in dedication to learning and to hard work, the differences in intelligence, those of place, those due to partitioning the use of their time differently, choices of occupations based on factors other than remuneration, and those due to better or worse governments. They protest against materialism, but then they use almost entirely materialistic equality as the measure of social justice.

The teachers of the public school systems are to a degree the guardians of the children who study under their direction. To some degree, the teachers extend this accustomed mode of thinking as guardians into their relationship with the rest of society. Disproportionate numbers of the public teacher ranks are also women, who will also have maternal instincts in many cases for the care of others. The children they deal with are not yet mature adults and are not generally ready to fully manage their lives. The way the public schools work, they are not particularly encouraged or helped toward taking on the responsibilities of a self-managed individual. They are not even much encouraged to view themselves as individuals. Then, as though this is not enough to understand why teachers have a strong tendency to favor governmental nanny states, they are public employees who do benefit from transfers of wealth from the private sector to the government sector. Teachers are also union members. Teachers see their interests almost uniformly then as being tied to ever-growing governments.

Politicians and government employees are constantly looking for reasons to justify their positions and to increase their powers and budgets. This is clearly done effectively whenever they can convince the voters that many of the people are dumb sheep and need them as sheepherders. The lawyers find massive employment and income from the huge number of overly complex government laws and regulations. They play a disproportionate role in drafting the legislation that produces this end result. They work especially hard as a special interest group in control of the actual levers of government. They also enjoy the court system, which they principally control. That system's many delays, strange trial logic, and by and large, the choice of judges is all determined by lawyers. Accountants are more and more massive beneficiaries of our overly complex government taxation and regulatory requirements. Companies and individuals are forced more and more to pay accountants for help in producing the mountains of government-required paperwork on income, expenditures, employment, and taxes.

Finally, there is the predominant role of women in the socialist Democrat Party. This is the party of feminism and anti-masculinity. This is the party of those elitists who view themselves as the caregivers for the many adult children who do exist and the many more who are imagined to exist. As women have long been particularly prone to the appeal of the traditional religions, so too are they prone to a religious approach and zeal for socialism, equality of material results, the politics of envy and class warfare, the politics of group identity, anti-man environmentalism, and anti-business attitudes. They have a tendency to feel uncomfortable unless they are enveloped within a group. Male individuality, analytical thinking, and self-confidence are often offensive to them. Women are less than comfortable in the analytical thought required to gain mastery over science, technology, and economics than are men. It is not difficult to understand why the Democrat platform appeals to many of them. There are, of course, many women who are exceptions to these statements, but they are definitely a minority of women. There are also many men who are also susceptible to the Democrat platform, but for several decades, they have generally been a minority group among men.

I continue to believe strongly that most American men are capable of running their own lives with minimal interference from government. Despite the way they vote and the uncertainties that women seem to feel about having such an ability, I also believe most women are capable of managing their own lives, especially with the help of a decent man.

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