Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Re: Searching for Liberty's "Liberals: Touting 'Evolution', Yet Ignoring Its Lessons

I had a good rapport with Harvie over at Searching for Liberty but when I saw this I couldn't help but comment. But my comment got a little long so I gave it its own post.

Original Post can be found here

Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

Mention the theory of "intelligent design", and every liberal worth their salt will come flying out of their dark little caves in coffee shops and book stores and suddenly begin espousing Charles Darwin, and asserting themselves as experts on the "settled science" of Evolution.

And from my own perspective, so they should.

While evolution may have been a random occurrence of nature, or a creation of an intelligent God, there is no rational denial of the reality that, to simplify, things that work tend to survive and things that don't, tend to, well, not survive.

Intelligent design doesn't postulate that evolution was a creation of god. That's a reasonable reconciliation between religion and science. Also there's a bunch of evolutionary traits that have nothing to do with survival, but sexual selection. There are even cases where sexual traits are chosen above survivable traits. (See rock crabs).

Funny thing is, however, after finishing their strident defence of the theory of evolution, when they go back to their coffee shops and book stores, they do everything they can do to assure that the theory comes to a full stop for modern man.

In other words.. natural selection be damned. Regardless of how foolish we are, the state should step up and kiss our boo boos and assure that no negative consequence are suffered as a result of our own stupidity.

Yeah, "more socially adept," which means that we're social creatures... Hey isn't government a social creation?
Oh noes! We're using an evolutionary advantage to help us survive!

Imagine Liberals,however, 35 thousand years ago. While Cro Magnon man learned to use advanced tools, to organize in cohesive social groups and to hunt with more efficiency when times became lean - the Liberals would have, no doubt, said, "No, this is no good. Take your food and feed the Neanderthals.

Maybe, if they were living in our society. But this argument is the equivalent of saying, "Hey! That orangutan is hungry! I better feed with the limited food I need to eat to survive!"

I think liberals would have been more like: "Hey! if we work together we can get more food and then everyone can eat!"

While conservatives would pout and say: "No! I'm going to get my own food, and if you can't get your own food then you don't deserve to eat!"

Monday, June 28, 2010

Understanding Conservatives

I have been reading "The Political Mind" by George Lakoff and highly recommend it.

Lakoff postulates that people view their nation as a family and way a person structures the idea of family in their mind determines whether they are a conservative or progressive. When reading please understand that I am paraphrasing Lakoff's argument and that the views in the conservative model are his hypothesis for the basis of conservative thought.

The Conservative family model is based around the idea of a Strict Father who is the moral leader of the family and needs to be obeyed if he is to protect them from the evil in the world. He must 'win' in a competitive world in order to provide for his family. The father has to do this since "mommy can't do it." Children are born bad and need can only learn right from wrong if they are strictly and painfully punished to create an incentive to do right and avoid more punishment. This is how they build discipline, which enables them to do right and when they grow up they will use this discipline to be successful in the market and become strict fathers themselves without having to anyone meddling in their family affairs (including their own fathers).

Fathers need authority to rule and dole out punishment, children need to be obedient to learn discipline. This explains why conservatives are against homosexuality and abortion. The strict father model is highly dependent on a specific view of masculinity and any deviation from it threatens this type of family, thus homosexuality cannot be permitted.

Similarly, abortion is about choices made by women: between career and motherhood, whether or not to have premarital sex, etc. These are an affront to the strict father. Conservatives believe that the husband should determine whether his wife gives birth (hence husband notification laws), and the pregnant teenager has disobeyed her father and needs to be punished (hence parental notification laws).

There is an underlying presumption that discipline = winning competitions = success. This makes competition important as the forum to test and hone one's discipline. A father deserves his authority because he has earned it. Hierarchy is important to conservatives, but the logic works both ways.

If one is disciplined they will be successful.
If one is successful they must have been disciplined enough to earn it

I'm sure you'll agree that these aren't the same thing.

Similarly, in competitions there can only be a few winners so only the most disciplined will win and anyone who loses wasn't disciplined enough.

Therefore: Wealth = winning = discipline = moral
so wealth = morality.

In politic this means that the President or PM is the father, and we are the children and only byobeying the father can we be good citizens. Which explains why conservatives are so blindly supportive of their political masters.

Lakoff expands on this idea much more than I have and I encourage people to get this book and read it. I'll post about the progressive model later on.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Anarchists and Protesters: not the same thing

Reading around the blogosphere I've noticed that many people - I'm looking at you neocons - are conflating protesters with violent anarchists

Let me clarify

Protesters are the people who are peacefully exercising their democratic right as outlined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There's nothing about their actions that are undemocratic or fascist.

The morons who are assaulting the police, smashing windows, burning cars etc are not protesters. They're criminals who are using violence, vandalism, and looting; to advance their ill defined purposes.

The belief amongst some right wing bloggers that the police should use deadly force against the protesters is bullsh*t. Anyone who supports this idea must also believe our police to be so unprofessional as to let the situation to get so far out of hand to need to use deadly force.

These criminals deserve to be arrested and tried in a court of law.

G20: That's a LOT of Police

I was walking to the subway yesterday and needed to walk past the US consulate. There were easily over 100 RCMP officers parked outside, armed and carrying their riot helmets. And they were holding off the evil forces of myself and a couple walking their dogs. Now I understand that Harper is a paranoid nut and he wants to make sure that everything goes off smoothly but these guys were just sitting there all day doing nothing but chatting, walking to Tim's to get some coffee, and redirecting pedestrians off the consulate's street.

I have loads of respect for the Mounties, they're one of the top police forces in the world, but I can't help but believe that this was massive overkill, it would have made more sense for the standing force to be smaller and to bulk up the security when VIPs were transported to and from the consulate. On the other hand I'm sure the local Tim Horton's appreciated the added business.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Free Trade Tariff

One of the things that bothers me about free trade is that it promotes outsourcing of jobs to countries that have little to no labour standards because these countries can also produce goods at a lower rate. In a truly free market there is an underlying assumption that competitors are on relatively equal footing. Country 'A' may be able to produce textiles for less but their workers are ought to be treated as well as in country 'B'. Under these circumstances it makes perfect sense for a textile company to set up in country A and I have no problem with that. But suppose that Country A's textiles are cheaper because they demand longer hours from employee working in unsafe conditions, they don't pay them enough to make ends meet, and/or they don't give them benefits that make for fair employment. Is it right to support such business practices just so Country 'B' can buy tube socks for less?

For those of us who have the slightest inkling of humanity the answer should be a resounding NO. We need to create incentives that will encourage corporations to uphold basic workplace standards while not depriving the Country 'A's of the world of the much needed jobs and capital that comes with foreign investment. The answer is to impose a tariff on goods imported that have not been produced with fair labour standards.

If this were done it would still make sense to set up shop in less developed countries because the cost of living is so much lower. This means that even if companies paid employees equal purchasing power parity they would be able to live as well as employees in developed countries, but at lower cost. Similarly, if a company provides benefits in one country it should be reflected in any other country they choose to set up shop in. Any other option is exploitation, which any citizen of a democratic country ought to disapprove of because to exploit is to enslave and no democratic citizen should be a master of slaves.

I understand that I'm greatly simplifying this problem and if this solution were put in place it would quickly be condemned by the WTO and decried by both corporate interests and neo-conservative economic thinkers. But I welcome more detailed conversation in the comments.