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Back from my Sabbatical July 17, 2022

Posted by shaferfinancial in Uncategorized.

I haven’t been posting or even looking at my blog for a good long time. I started this blog to speak about financial planning in general and EIULs specifically. And I think the posts have stood up to the test of time. Basically, I found myself in an endless loop of repeating myself ad nauseam. I specifically tried to stay away from politics as I found political ideology limiting and warping of the thoughts I was trying to convey.

So, as I start writing again, I am going to spread my wings and talk more philosophically about topics that interest me. There will still be tie-ins to financial planning and to EIULs, but the general thrust of this blog will mutate. I have taken the last couple of years to read extensively, to think about, and to critique on a variety of topics I have found interesting. There is a tendency to absolutism from folks. That is, to latch on to one view point or one person’s thoughts as the one right way. I have found that, even the best, have no more than 25% correct. Our systems are so complex at this point, that it is impossible, even using computer modeling and advance math, to come up with anywhere near a complete theory. What is even more alarming, is that some of the most popular thinkers, are closer to 1% right, than than 25%

I am going to start by writing on freedom. Freedom is something that has always been a part of the human psyche. The general course of human history has been positive for human freedom. But, human freedom is also something that is misunderstood by most. Politicians have warped the entire concept to their own uses. Suffice it to say both political parties have no interest in creating a “free” society. Both, want to establish rules that limit freedom, just in different areas. Of course, the thought of absolute freedom is psychotic and anti-social. Not, that some haven’t come close, but we now look at these folks as madmen (and they were). The various systems; economics, legal, social, political, are all designed to limit freedoms while encouraging others. I don’t think that is surprising to most people.

Now is a time for me to tell the reader where I stand on the basics. I prefer capitalism over other systems. I believe in democracy. I think our legal system makes sense, though there are huge problems within it. And I believe in loose voluntary social systems. I believe that Capitalism needs systems of redistribution through taxation. I believe democracy needs checks and balances to protect the minority from the majority. I believe violence is not to be tolerated whether a school yard bully or enforcement of social beliefs like drug laws, abortion, or equality of outcomes. I believe the military and the police are needed, but need to be tightly controlled to prevent them serving to maintain the status quo or acting in their own behalf. I believe freedom also means allowing people to make their own mistakes. You can’t protect people from themselves! Outside of violent behavior, we should be a forgiving society.

One of the most alarming thing that is happening now, is the rise of authoritarianism. Specifically, religious authoritarianism. It takes about 5 minutes of a google search to recognize the damage that religious orthodoxy mixed with power does to individual freedom. But, let’s also be honest, that any form of authoritarianism is a danger whether it is political, ideological or religious. Again, not a surprise for most folks. But, here is something to think about. Throughout history, authoritarianism was brought about as much from the bottom as the top. Feudalism was top down. But, capitalism was a people’s movement as was socialism. The Soviet system was brutal, run by brutal men, but it was fought for and maintained by true believers, most of which didn’t come from the top strata. Capitalism the same. (Just take a look at Charles Dickens, Karl Marx’s, and even Adam Smith’s work which looked at capitalism in 19th century England. Or take a look at the labor movement and Rockefeller’s et al. reaction to it) No doubt the people thought they would be better off with a new system of domination.

Pressure from below, the people, is not always a good thing. Especially if it comes from popular emotions of the moment. Our founding fathers knew this. But, that leaves us with another problem. Who to follow, who to believe. For 70 years now, there has been a willingness to not believe experts, to see experts as part of a conservative class holding down the average person, holding up the ruling class. Instead people want to install folks who have little technical expertise, but folks that can satisfy the emotions of the day. And that is where we are today. Populism……………But, history has told us that when the people install their new “experts,” they will quickly grow weary of them and demand a new set. This seems to be happening more quickly than before.

On one side you have a group wanting to allow historically oppressed folks to be relieved of obligations, laws and mores that we have developed over the last century. On the other side we have groups who want to be free of facts and historical narratives to rely of raw emotion. I don’t find either side to be palatable.

Two sides, fighting to see who can impose their will on the people. And the majority sitting in the middle watching our freedoms turn into dust. And the worst of this is we, the people, have allowed this to happen. Covid pandemic proved this. Supreme Court is proving this. Surveillance technology is proving this. Policing is proving this. (As an aside, defund the police, is probably the stupidest political idea I have ever heard. No one wants this, not the elites, not the middle classes, not the poor people living in the inner cities and rural counties; The second dumbest is to force women, sometimes really young women, sometimes rape and incest victims to have babies)

Since we have become human, there are behaviors that are basic to being human. The control of these behaviors is also consistent with all societies. But, most of these behaviors are not terminal to the group, and as such, are more about application of power, then survival. If you believe in freedom, then you need to understand that many behaviors are human in genesis, and as such we need to apply a light touch on prescribing them, generally only to protect the group’s survival. Explain to me how the drug laws have made us a better, more free, society? Or, how Title 9 panels in universities, are a fair way to hand out discipline? Or how teenagers carrying AKs make us a freer society? Or how today, in 2022, demanding favoritism to certain groups isn’t divisive? The list can go on and on.

People will argue against and for each idea that has been presented and will take sides on the specifics of the previous couple paragraphs. I’m sure emotionally. Not that emotions are bad, just it makes for quick and superficial discussions. But, they will miss the point. It’s not which side you are on that is important, but that you recognize you want to take away someone else’s freedoms. That you want to use force in some form to do it. Be honest with yourself in this matter. Own it. And don’t fool yourself with some expert’s words, or some pseudo-scientific explanation or some politicians ability to create emotions and turn it into actions. Recognize it is you in the mob, using the power of the government to get your way.



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