Archive | October 2014

Misleading Conceptions

We inhabit a world where the lie is decently disguised that virtually nobody dares to see it as it genuinely is. Democracy is part of this lie. People hear many things, they view tons of propaganda, and are invaded with numerous rhetoric. “You, the people, are the ones who hold the authority, it is you who govern and choose the best policies for your nation. Your vote is what makes the difference, but remember to keep it a secret.” Forgive me, but this is just plain bogus. Democracy is an illusion that enables the easy manipulation of self-interested people whom hold office and claim to represent the people.

Today, we have people and politicians believing in the falsehood of political representation. One man is placed as a leader to represent more than 700,000 people. This population has distinct ideals, philosophies, points of views, necessities, desires, and interests. Obviously, these people will not be in absolute or any accord with one another. In addition, not all of these people voted for that one man to represent them and the majority who voted for him only know him on superficial grounds. How can a man represent contradictory beliefs? How can you place a single resolution to satisfy contradictory beliefs? You evidently cannot do this, you will necessarily terminate favoring some and disfavoring others. Who do you think the politician will end up favoring?

Most, if not all political representatives are not to be taken as trustworthy people who will administer government to the convenience of the people, even if this one is not in accordance to their personal interests. They are not obliged to carry out the will of the people and they will not answer back to the thousands or millions they supposedly portray. As a matter of fact they are essentially free to do things as they please. Why? The answer lies inside the reason that people are poorly informed about politics and that representation today is on behalf of opposite ideas. Therefore, if it is practically impossible to actuate a depiction of this magnitude then we must ask ourselves, “does democracy really function and, who could the politician possibly stand for?” Let us be straightforward with our response, this system does not work and those who hold its offices will most likely just represent their interests.

Government´s Monopoly

Government power is upon the shoulders of a few. Perhaps you have not realized it yet, but this handful has a monopoly in all of the things the government is alleged to do. A monopoly is a firm in the market which has acquired nearly the whole of the market share. If you have the fullness of the portion in a specific market, you will be the only one sought for the provision of such product or service. Hence you will be able to increase the price of your product and offer it at extremely poor conditions, little by little, without the fear of losing your customers.

The government taxes and offers justice to the people. They have a monopoly on these two things, thus they can do as they please without the fear losing their “customers”. Consequently, the tendency to raise the price of justice and the incentive to drop its quality will both be latent.

Such things occur due to the mere fact of preferring leisure over work, known as the disutility of labor. When the government is the only one who can tax and the only one who can proportion this or that, do you not think that they will favor less work over greater charge? Justice will also be increasingly distorted to the favor of the government. Some might debate and say that this is the reason why we have a constitution that impedes the government of implementing its proper laws. To those people´s surprise, I say that the rule of law is a myth. This could sound as an outrageous declaration, but allow me to develop it.

Mythical Law

Governmental courts are the ones responsible of interpreting the constitution and they will most likely use it to satisfy the government´s interests. Why can I say this as if the constitution was a flexible document that could be utilized to suit any individual´s inclinations? Because the constitution is precisely that. The law is self-contradictory.

I once watched a movie with a computer that was programmed by the government to monitor and follow the laws of the United States to the letter. The USA, as usual, was looking for an Arab terrorist and based on their intelligence, they thought they had found him. Nevertheless, the computer gave them a low percentage possibility that it was the terrorist and placed an abort recommendation. It turned out the computer´s calculations were correct and they ended up bombing innocent people, violating, in this way, the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and the Geneva Convention. All major political officials in the United States violated these documents, except for the Secretary of Defense. Therefore, “regime change” was the solution that would abide the United States laws.

Ultimately, the computer decided on its own agenda to apply the death penalty upon these officials and other American citizens on the basis of national security. This was because their acts had caused a burst of terrorist attacks on US soil, making them accomplices. Since the computer was programmed to follow the law perfectly, everything it did was legal, including mounting a major “terrorist” attack during a meeting in the United States Capitol building. In the end, the computer was stopped and it could not achieve its objective. The movie ends with something like this, “We must remember that sometimes the very things we use to safeguard our liberty may become threats to liberty itself.”

The law is written in such a vague and general language that it can be interpreted in whatever way necessary to achieve the desired result. Imagine an art auction where a painting is sold at $100, when it is actually worth millions and no one knows. Here, there is a consistent norm that governs similar situations: “a contract of sale may be rescinded when there has been a mutual mistake concerning a fact that was material to the agreement.”

The painting´s seller made a mistake and he takes the case to the court where he will win if everything succeeds as in the case of Sherwood vs. Walker. Considering this case, a farmer sold to another a cow which was thought to be sterile by both. Notwithstanding, the cow was fertile and the seller was granted a recession in the contract of sale on the ground of mutual mistake. If the case is performed as the one of Wood vs. Boynton, the seller will lose and the buyer will win. In this case, a woman sold a jeweler an unknown stone at the price of $1. It resulted that the stone was an uncut diamond worth $700. The woman sued for recession of contract on the foundation of mutual error. Well, the court rejected her claim and the contract was upheld. Both parties had known they were dealing with a stone whose value was unknown, so there was no mistake.

Do you see what I mean? A law can be interpreted in whatever way necessary that suits the objectives of people. This is why we have such a “big government” in the nations. People prefer to live by the rule of law than by the rule of men, when it yields the exact same outcome. People are more presumable to accept the exercise of power over them when this one is specially fixed to seem objective, impartial, and impersonal.

Voting

It does not matter who we vote for, they are lastly forced to follow the written law, which, as we have realized, can be interpreted however they desire. For this matter it is very important that we thoroughly analyze our decisions when it comes to voting. Today, there is a wide consensus among social scientist that voters are uninformed. Yet, we are told that our ignorance does not matter due to the miracle of aggregation.

The miracle of aggregation says that the voting mistakes people commit cancel each other out. In other words, the errors of some voters will go in the opposite direction of others, giving victory to the votes of the informed or vice versa.

Take this for example, a common man is running for president against a man like Hitler. A remnant of 10% of the people are informed about the politicians and they will not vote for Hitler. 90% of the people only know each candidate by their favorite color, their pastimes, their skills in golf, etc. This majority do not know Hitler´s real dictatorial intentions, ambitions, and so on. The 90% will vote for either candidate, depending on who they like most, let´s say, they vote 45% and 45%.

The miracle of aggregation says that the 45% who voted for Hitler lose, because the 45% who voted for the common man added votes to the 10% of the informed. In the end, the result is 55% vs 45% and Hitler loses. However, what happens when 70% of the uninformed favor Hitler?

The scholar Bryan Caplan says that the miracle of aggregation is also bogus. He states that voters are not committing random errors, but systematic errors, because they are biased towards a certain direction, not distributed arbitrarily. When you vote, do you close your eyes and vote for whoever your finger lands on?

Caplan mentions that “rational ignorance”, as exposed by Public Choice, is not the reason why people gravitate towards false beliefs, instead of remaining agnostic. Uninformed people are very confident in their decisions and angry at those who disagree because of irrationality, not ignorance. If it was just a matter of ignorance, then you will make a random mistake, but you do not for the mere fact that you indeed favor someone.

Caplan says, “In a sense then, there is a method to the average voter´s madness. Even when his views are completely wrong, he gets the psychological benefit of emotionally appealing political beliefs at a bargain price.”

False beliefs are cheap, but they can destroy you. Politics is filled with misleading convictions, democracy enhances them, the law abides them, and voters support them.

Erroneous Ideas

People commonly believe that the Industrial Revolution was a time when almost everyone worked in extremely horrible conditions. They hold this idea practically based upon a fifth grade textbook picture. Implicitly hidden within this thought is the claim of saying that this is the consequence of not having sufficient government intervention. As with almost everything they tell you, have you thoroughly analyzed and inquired the facts about this revolution by putting aside your preconceived ideas?

Have you asked yourself what was life before the Industrial Revolution, and what could have convinced the people into obtaining a job of such “terrible” conditions? Do you think the factory owners coerced the people to start working for them? If so, under which power or authority? The heart of the matter is that the owners were only able to hire people who were ready and willing to work for the wages offered to them.

Before these factories appeared, many people were living in absolute poverty. Women had nothing to cook with and feed their children. The children were miserable and starving, they entered the factories because they were the only refuge they could find. Agriculture and trading were the only things people could participate inside the economy before the Industrial Revolution. Well, many of those people had nothing to farm and no tools to trade, the factories were obviously their option to avoid death by starvation. Therefore, saying that the owners dragged the women out of their kitchens and forced the children out of their play is nothing more and nothing less than a mere deception.

Furthermore, there are some people that declare that the reform and protest movements are clear evidence of the worsening conditions. Nevertheless this is also incorrect. Poor people during the 1000, 1100, 1200, 1300, 1400, and so on also lived in detestable conditions, and no one protested. Could that possibly mean that due to the lack of protesting, all people lived in a mansion with ten Ferraris? No, actually, people did not protest because they did not believe that something could be done about their devastating status, until the Industrial Revolution demonstrated them the opposite.

In point of fact, real income, real wages, food consumption, and birth rate all increased, while death rate decreased. Additionally, the environment and the nutrition improved during the Industrial Revolution. More and more common people were able to acquire goods that before would have just been provided to high social classes.

Both, the standard of living and the economy are augmented effectively without government intervention.

The Fantasy Government and Today´s Government

Today, there exists a false belief within the general public considering government officials. Popular thought is that they are public servants devoted to enforce the good of “their” people. Reality is though, that individuals are self-interested and they remain self-seeking when they enter the government.

Politicians desire to maximize their vote total to ensure reelection, bureaucrats want to potentiate their income and power, and voters want to upgrade the material benefits they receive from the government while minimizing what they pay into it. If we are not people with the same mission, then we will never achieve anything profitable and attain a rewarding outcome. The Public Choice school of economics exposes the following.

When you are thinking about purchasing a good of some sort, say, a tablet or a smartphone, you exploit time in your decision-making process in order to do the correct thing. When you buy a smartphone, for example, you begin to analyze thoroughly the benefits of each smartphone and the costs of acquiring them. After researching for a certain period of time, you become fully informed and make a secure choice to buy the one that suites your needs and budget.

However, with the state, things do not function in the same manner. Here you probably see the gains, but you have no idea what the costs are. Therefore, the decision process will be different, because we do not obtain the bills, but get taxed for things that we will perhaps never use. Is it not true that when you do not see the cost of something, you do not pay much attention to your choice, like free food? This situation will create different incentives inside of you.

If you pay for pizza, you get pizza. But if you vote for a politician and his policies, you will probably earn what you want only if 50% of everyone else agrees with you. Acting in the market yields a direct benefit or a definite cost loss, if you took the wrong decision. Nevertheless, there is no such feedback within voting, hence, there is less percentage of procuring what you long for. Through this we know that our quantity of thought invested will be utterly different in making either of these decisions. Private exchanging ensures a mutual profit, but “public” exchanges do not guarantee any “general” good, only groups of people benefit.

Afterwards, we also have logrolling in politics. Such tactic is used to favor the minority, therefore, when your candidate wins elections, do not expect that he will still be doing the things you want him to. The tyranny of the minority is utilized in order to force the majority in bending votes towards some projects. These minority politicians can feel content about their “favored” regulation in which they will not bear the costs of applying. Then, bureaucrats face no market feedback, thus they can ideate acutely mediocre and costly regulation without facing any consequences.

Inform Yourself

Maybe you say that you are informed enough to not make a dumb vote. Well, do you know who your U.S. congressman is? If you do, then, do you know what your U.S. congressman´s last vote was?

See, why are people poorly informed when it comes to political issues and candidates? The answer is simple, opportunity cost. The majority of people prefer to earn money, spend time with their families, exercise, and enjoy their leisure, instead of acquiring political knowledge. Enjoying leisure and all those things has a direct, positive impact in one´s life, unlike the mere act of voting. In other words, many people do not want to pay the price of sacrificing their family time for political knowledge and voting.

Then, voters realize that their vote has zero chance of influencing an elections outcome, so they have no impulse in gathering information. This “rational ignorance” in voters causes them to vote on the basis of big issues and slogans. For this matter, negative advertising becomes very effective and because many base their choice on shallow grounds, preposterous attacks over politicians regularly influence voter´s selections.

Adding this whole process together, will obviously equal to inconvenient choices. Poor candidates will be elected and their policies will eventually jeopardize the people. Thereby, people are rather unimpeded in giving vent to whatever emotion or anything else while they vote. Consequently, voting is basically done for personal satisfaction, like when you cheer in a sporting event and the athletes cannot hear you. You feel falsely involved in doing something significant for the nation.

As mentioned before, choosing a politician is not analogous to choosing a product on the free market, and not just because you do not earn what you want only if 50% agrees. In a supermarket, you drive an empty cart where you place in all the things that you need or desire. Let us say you place in it some wine, butter, cheese, shampoo, and beauty cream, but you don´t put in it bread, diapers, and a facewash, that you do not want and need.

A candidate is like going into a supermarket that only has prefilled grocery carts. Cart A has a facewash, cheese, wine, bread, and no butter. Cart B has shampoo, butter, diapers, and no beauty cream. Possibly, you can choose cart A despite the fact it has the facewash, bread, and no butter, or you choose cart B ignoring it lacks the beauty cream and has the diapers. Imagine each candidate has a position from A, B, C, or D. Do people prefer certain candidate because of his position on this or that situation, or in spite of that? Even so, when people vote for that candidate he or she feels they are supported by the people in all of their political views.

To continue with the analogy, the prefilled cart is so full it might also have a little “surprise” under all the products, and it will only come out after you have removed everything from it. For instance, you did not see the diapers until you emptied the cart. This occurred because the diaper manufacturers asked the store to place their product in all carts. Things like these happen with a politician; some of his policies are revealed after he has taken office. Many of those policies come from special interest groups who gave him money.

Conceivably, next elections you might want to read the economic papers and inform yourself profoundly on who is trying to become a leader in your nation.

Examples of Today´s Government: Front-loading and Political Engineering

A somewhat helpful example of the way government functions in America is front-loading. Here, for example, in the military, they overpromise about a weapon to get the government to start funding the project. They say that the weapon is the newest, most accurate, effective, cheapest etc. The government is convinced and they begin raising tax money, as soon as possible, to pay for the project. Nonetheless, when the weapon project is finished, it turns out it is not the newest, most accurate, effective, and is highly expensive. Some might think that the army is doomed and the project will be turned down, but the taxing has already been done and it is too late. Also, this institution is astute and they apply another strategy.

Political engineering is activated and they have to build the product all over again. The project´s jobs, profits, and tax revenues are propagated all around the country to as many political and congressional districts as possible, where the congressman is an influential committee chairman. By doing this, they will now have congressmen with vested interests to keep the project going.

Issues like these have befallen numerous times, like when they propose to design a weapon against a specific enemy, and the enemy ends up not existing. Yet, the production of the weapon continues to unfold laying oppressive taxes, which are difficult to stop, on the public´s back.

What is this in practical terms? The governmental plundering of the public to give money to a certain group that benefits mutually with the government.

Examples of Today´s Government: The Success of Africa

Another great example of politics without “romance” is the “success” that Africa had with governments that wielded great power over the different African economies.

These countries were not exactly socialists, the heart of the matter is that you cannot truly define their form of government. What you can say about them is that they had plenty of government intervention, specifically upon their nations´ economies. There was also a great cult of personality around the leader, “enhanced” by the daily news.

In Zaire (known as Congo) there was a man whose name was associated with corruption and undeserved, formidable wealth. He was Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled from 1965-1997. During the 1970s of his governing, there was a raise in copper prices, which benefitted the copper rich nation of Zaire. Unsurprisingly, basically all the money earned went to the 11 palaces of Mobutu, the buying off of his enemies, and the immediate millionaire prosperity of his friends.

Mobutu became one of the wealthiest men on earth, by accumulating approximately 3 billion dollars in his “big” pocket. This man also said that the future of Zaire looked bright, but went and placed his money in European banks (apparently that is where the real brightness was).

Mr. Seko, too launched what could be known as the African “authenticity” program. To prevent people from standing against him, he “united” Zaire. All Zairians were told to change their Christian names for African names and they could not wear western clothing. Mobutu Sese Seko also canceled Christmas and placed his portrait on all of the churches. Next, he drove out Asian merchants, Belgian technicians and businessmen, and snatched $500 million worth of foreign business property.

Now, Zaire would be prosperous and keep all glory to itself, until the 1980s when copper prices fell and the country´s economic boom ended. With this said, Mobutu had to invite the Asians, Belgians, etc. back to Zaire. In the end, there was high price inflation, the transportation systems were broken down, there was a heavy debt, and hospitals were left with no bandages, oxygen, machines, etc.

There are many other examples, like this previous one about politicians to be thought of as public servants, but ultimately creating policies that destroyed their peoples. The last one I will expose to you, is that one of Julius Nyerere who ruled Tanzania from 1961 to 1985.

Nyerere said that his country would not have an army, they would be neutral in the cold war, there would be a tiny difference between rich and poor, the country would receive no outside aid, and that he would welcome an opposition party.

Many western intellectuals, specifically left liberals who believed in lots of government intervention in the economy absolutely exalted Nyerere. They said that he was going to save his country. According to them, he was a smart man who said that wise government did not believe in the superstition of free market and capitalism. It was claimed that he would demonstrate the capability of the government to make people prosperous. Julius had a western education, was a smart guy, who gave the appearance of nobility by working on a low salary and making budget cuts in his nation.

Well, all things came to light and he ended up toppling three neighboring countries, and did not allow the newspapers to disagree. No one could dissent with “the teacher”. In 1964 he appointed a commission to design a “democratic one-party state” whose job was not to consider whether Tanzania should be a one-party state. That decision had already been taken, their task was to say what kind of one-party state they should have.

Julius Nyerere received more foreign aid than any other president in black Africa, nationalized the economy and rental property, and raised taxes to redistribute wealth. During the year of 1967 he formed the Arusha Declaration. It dictated people to work hard, not strive for personal gain, and grow more; then they would have the Tanzania they wanted. The declaration, though, was just an excuse to arrest capitalists in the country, like Asians.

Therefore, he crushed all incentives in the people to produce and be rich, due to the 95% of taxes that were charged to those who gained $30,000 a year.

What beautiful governments that do the best for their nation, and are not self-interested at all. You think these are outrageous rulings? Well, the truth is that our government is not far from them.

Chordates and Vertebrates

What is a chordate? How are vertebrates different than chordates?

Chordates are a phylum within the kingdom Animalia. They are animals that commonly possess a notochord, a hollow dorsal nerve cord, pharyngeal clefts, and a muscular tail. Some of their traits are only present within their embryonic phase of development.

A notochord is a long and flexible rod-shaped body found between the digestive tract and the dorsal nerve cord and is in all of chordates´ embryos. In some chordates, like certain fish, the notochord remains perpetually to be their area of support for their bodies. The notochord for these animals is made of stiff, fibrous tissues and fluid-filled cells, with which their muscles push against to enable their swimming. In other chordates, the notochord develops in their embryonic stage to further become their spinal discs.

Only chordates have a hollow nerve cord, non-chordate animals have a solid nerve cord, if any at all. Most non-chordate animals have a ventral nerve cord, which means that their stomach resides “on the back” of their bodies. Anyway, in chordates, this nerve cord is created from the outer layer of cells after gastrulation occurs. During this process, a flat plate of cells basically rolls up into a tube. In embryos, the nerve cord will unfold to become the brain and the spinal cord of animals and humans.

A pharynx is a region of the head and neck posterior to the mouth. Chordates have pouches or clefts on the sides of their pharynx, these are known as pharyngeal clefts. For aquatic animals these become into their gills or suspension-feeding organs. In the case of humans and terrestrial animals, these come to be the head and neck structures, like the ears.

Finally, chordates contain a muscular tail that extends beyond their digestive tract. Nevertheless, this structure often shrinks or disappears throughout development. For example, the embryo of humans has this tail that is later reduced to the coccyx or popularly known “tail bone”.

Out of chordates derive craniates. Given this name, we understand that craniates consist of a head. Normally, inside of the head, these organisms carry a brain at the front end of the dorsal nerve cord and they also hold sensory organs in it (eyes, ears, etc.). Craniates own highly complex and coordinated feeding and movement.

Inside the group of craniates are the vertebrates. Vertebrates have an extensive skull and a backbone composed of vertebrae. All animals and humans have homeobox (hox) genes that withhold the specific design for the skeletal, nervous, and muscular structure of each animal. For this reason, every animal species is different, but the same in their group. In other words, all frogs have a frog-like skeletal structure that differs from the dog skeletal structure, thus all frogs are not dogs. Likewise, all vertebrates have hox genes to design for them the brain, skull, and backbone.

Therefore, in conclusion, vertebrates practically differ from chordates in that only vertebrates are completely formed with a skull, a backbone, and a spinal cord, while other chordates are not. In short terms, all vertebrates are craniates and all craniates are chordates, however, not all chordates are craniates and not all craniates are vertebrates.