The Myth of Social Progressivism (Oct. 23, 2011)

I’m going to start this blog with a somewhat serious question for you to think about for a moment. Which is more valuable… Freedom… or Safety? Take a moment and ponder that. Alright… on we go. Obviously, both freedom and safety are variables by degree. From a governmental perspective though, they’re at opposite ends of the same scale, when focused on an individual level.

Let’s look at complete individual freedom for a moment… you have no rules imposed upon you by anyone other than yourself. You are answerable to no one but yourself… you can do ANYTHING you want. In theory that sounds awesome, right? The particular problem with complete individual freedom is that everyone else has it too. So you’ve set up a nice cozy house and a garden that can feed you and those you love… if someone bigger and stronger comes and takes it away, you are the only authority who can get it back for yourself.

How about a quick look at the other extreme? There are a variety of “safe” environments… from the dystopian society of movies like THX 1138 or Demolition Man to the internment camps used to hold people of Japanese origin during World War 2. The occupants are provided with most, if not all, of their needs and varying degrees of comfort at the expense of being free to do as they wish. For the sake of argument, I’m going to state that slavery as practiced in the South prior to the Civil War also qualifies as “safety” under the criteria I’ve outlined.

A quick look the two extremes clearly indicates that neither are ideal in most peoples’ opinions. So then a balance of some sort must be achieved. But what kind of balance? Which way should the scale tip to create the kind of world where we will want to raise children? What about a world where you are able to raise your own children?

Right now our government is pretty focused on making us as safe as possible by telling us exactly how to live life. Sure it sounds good… but let me put it this way. I have met lots of women who are looking for men with ambition and drive… but I’d like to know “why” any man would want to be ambitious when the government is in the process of trying to tax away more of his hard work. For example, Canada has a health care system that makes most (some polls show as high as 91% satisfaction) people happy… and the current administration wants us to have something similar. That’s fine, but your typical Canadian pays between 2 and 3 times as much in taxes as your average American. In Nova Scotia, for example, a person who makes more than 115,000 CDN dollars a year pays at least 50% of that, just in income taxes. Good-bye six figures.

Likewise, in the “why” of ambition to marry and have children… Our current system is so skewed against the men in the family court, that it borders on ridiculous. A man can work hard, provide a house, two (or even three) cars, along with anything else his wife desires and, without cheating or beating her or the children, still find himself being removed from his own house and even put in jail and held without bail, for something he did not do. Ambition sacrificed on the altar of “safety”, socially progressive indeed.

I’m now going to tie this all back to my earlier comment about slavery. Sure it’s controversial, but it’s also correct. According to the Constitution, the federal government was established, “[i]n order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty…” So why is it, according to one of President Obama’s senior advisers, Valerie Jarrett, that a duty of the federal government is “to give people a livelihood so that they can provide for their families … to lift people up out of poverty and give them a better life and a footing…” ? The video of that comment has apparently been scrubbed from the internet.

It’s something that needs consideration, especially since the system is creating “slavery” in the guise of “assistance”. Something that people forget is that within 2 generations, being a slave becomes a comfortable way of life with no responsibility or decision-making required. Also, it is often forgotten that, in the vast majority of cases, the slaves’ living conditions were not appreciably inferior to the non-slave-owning, white Southerners. People like to assume things and generalize, particularly when trying to make a political statement. Reality offers a much different view: slaves were typically viewed as a type of property like a dog or cow. Obviously there are people who mistreat their dogs, but assigning that perception to all or even most dog owners is as ludicrous as the generally-held view of plantation owners. How can we verify the truth or falsity of my statements? By seeing them for ourselves…

There are places today (I know, I’ve been to them) in the US where the standards of living are virtually identical (accounting for advancements in technology) to the standards of a slave or poor, white, dirt-grubber in 1860, and most of the people living like that don’t make any effort to change their situation. Why not? Because the government sends them their monthly welfare check and food stamps and they don’t have any reason to improve themselves. They’re comfortable being enslaved to the system. Yes, we want to help; to feel like we’re making a difference and improving things. But it’s time to face the facts; “social progressivism” is neither progressive nor better for society.

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Gamertags: “Zone and Score” Any Value?

This is a repost from my 1UP page as I thought it applied to my Live identity.

Gamertags: Anyone who makes use of Microsoft’s Games for Windows Live, XBox 360, or XBox Live has one.  Ostensibly, they exist like a forum user id; to differentiate one person from another, the rest is just extra features.  Take Gamerscore… it’s a measure of achievements; a tangible number (theoretically) associated with and useful for measuring a player’s particular talent at any given game.  Or is it?  I have 130 points on Halo 3 and a perusal of my Bungie.net service record ( http://www.bungie.net/Stats/Halo3/Default.aspx?player=JironGhrad ) will attest that I’ve played a fair amount of Halo 3 and while not a world class player, I’ve done my share of killing of players who are ostensibly better than I am (if you measure such things by gamerscore).  Often while playing multiplayer Halo 3, I find myself confronted with voices beginning to enter puberty with the most irritating multiplayer question:  “Does anyone want to help me get an achievement?”  I’m quite certain it happens in other games as well, but I find myself responding with: “NO! EARN IT, LIKE I DID!”  Somehow, a large cross-section of the gamer population has lost the concept of personal pride in an accomplishment.

a·chieve·ment [ uh - cheev -m uh nt ]

–noun

1.

something accomplished, esp. by superior ability, special effort, great courage, etc.; a great or heroic deed: his remarkable achievements in art.

 

2.

act of achieving; attainment or accomplishment: the achievement of one’s object.

 

3.

Heraldry . the full display of the armorial bearings of an individual or corporation.

[Origin: 1425–75; late ME < MF achevement conclusion. See achieve, -ment]

 

—Synonyms 1. Achievement, exploit, feat are terms for a noteworthy act. Achievement connotes final accomplishment of something noteworthy, after much effort and often in spite of obstacles and discouragements: a scientific achievement. Exploit connotes boldness, bravery, and usually ingenuity: the famous exploit of an aviator. Feat connotes the performance of something difficult, generally demanding skill and strength: a feat of horsemanship. 2. fulfillment, realization.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

Somehow, these young gamers think that, “Everyone line up and I’ll run by and kill you all with a sword for the Steppin’ Razor achievement” is equal to the value of earning it by being good enough to get the kills in normal gameplay.  I have personally missed getting that achievement on at least five occassions and I don’t feel that I should be ashamed to admit it.  I’ve gotten triple kills before, just not yet managed to get one with a sword.  I’ll get it eventually… which brings me to zones.

Many of these same pubescent players put themselves in the Pro and Underground categories… apparently some people believe that those two things mean “swear a lot and talk trash, and then say ‘F-you’ and drop when they start losing.”  I’ve even been in matches (it’s particularly bad in Lone Wolves) where a guy will come in the lobby talk tons of trash about he’s so great and everyone else sucks and he’s a pro.  Then he’ll be the first one killed and immediate drop from the match. 

I’m a Recreational zone player; I have kids and do my best to support my family so I don’t have time to sit and play for 15 hours a day the way that some people do.  Before a lot of things started sucking up my additional play time recently, I was ranked 630th overall on the 360 version of Medal of Honor: Airborne.  Does it really mean anything? Not really, but it was something I accomplished, playing a lot less than many of the people I played with and for me at least; I think that counts for something.  People look at gamerscore and zone and make a judgement about the player sitting on the other side of the screen; I say don’t… Judging a book by it’s cover is a mistake, and so is judging a player by gamertag.

 

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