Tag Archives: Morality

Liberty Is The Only True Moral. The Rest Are Differences Of Opinion

Republican staffer Elizabeth Lauten was recently under fire for making a moral judgment about Malia and Sasha Obama’s chosen attire. She rightfully resigned her position at the GOP; it was a stupid thing to do and would only hurt her party going forward if she stayed.

Lauten stated that the girls needed to show “a little class,” that they should “act like being in the White House matters to you,” and that they should “dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised public events.”

Elizabeth Lauten
Elizabeth Lauten

Certainly Lauten has the right to her opinion, but that’s just it, it’s her opinion. I saw the outfits in question, (see pic below)and considered them not even remotely offensive or suggestive.

Elizabeth Lauten is everything that is wrong with the GOP in a nutshell, because she is behaving like the Democrats that her party rightfully condemns for sticking their nose into people’s personal lives.

Lauten attempted to make a moral judgment, but there is only one true moral—liberty. The rest of these issues are differences of opinion.

If you look at laws that we all generally agree on, they’re laws against assault, murder, theft, and other victimful crimes.

But if a moral judgement in question is deemed by some people to be perfectly moral, that’s a good sign maybe your “moral” issue is not in fact affiliated with morality in any way.

Things like homosexuality, drug use, prostitution, and clothing choices are matters of opinion and have nothing to do with morality, except in the context of a particular religion—a belief system a growing number of us are not encumbered with.

Pic of Malia and Sasha Obama that Lauten was offended by.
Pic of Malia and Sasha Obama that Lauten was offended by.

So when politicians and their staffers are considering making a moral judgment about someone, then opt to share via social media or interviews, they need to think about what they’re about to say before they say it.

So I’ve prepared a simple checklist for politicians to consider before spouting off:

  1. Is the person I’m about to character-assassinate harming anyone in the act I’m about to criticize them for?
    1. If the answer is no, stop and don’t say a thing.
    2. If the answer is yes, have at them. Most people will agree if you can show causational harm being done. You’re on solid ground in such arguments
  2. Can science back up the thing I’m about to present as fact?
    1. If yes, cite sources. You’ve done your homework.
    2. If science refutes it, are you educated in science?
      1.  If no, stop! Don’t say a thing. You don’t know what you’re talking about, so let it go. Debunking controlled studies is not in your wheelhouse and you’ll look stupid doing it.
      2.  If yes, unless you can cite a study as noted above, feel free to point out the flaws in the study as you see them, but be prepared for other peers to either side with you or against you. Good luck.
    3. If neither you, nor scientists have done any properly controlled studies you can cite, it’s likely a matter of opinion, not fact, and you should present it as opinion with a clear omission of any intent whatsoever to impose that opinion on others. If you can’t handle that, then stop, don’t say a thing.

Sarah Palin was ridiculed for wanting schools to teach intelligent design. While as an atheist, I am not in favor of this in the science classroom (it’s OK for social studies), to her credit, she stated she was not pushing for this legislatively, it was just her belief. While I may not be Palin’s biggest fan, that’s how it’s done when speaking on matters of opinion—all credit to her.

Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin

The word moral is defined as concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character.

So if something is immoral, it must contain an interaction between two people, where one of them is harmed. Unless Elizabeth Lauten wants to argue her eyes were intentionally damaged by Malia and Sasha while looking at these pictures, she should have kept her opinion to herself.

I think the majority of us feel Elizabeth Lauten showed a far greater lack of moral character by verbally attacking the two daughters simply because she didn’t agree with their fashion choice than Malia and Sasha ever showed with their fashion choices.

The issue here is a simple enemy complex. Those of us who are not hip to the president’s policies are split into two groups.

Logical people like me, who can offer praise to the president when he does something I agree with, remain neutral on things that I could care less about, and disagree when I feel like we have a moral dilemma we can never agree on.

But then there are people like Elizabeth Lauten who are so full of hate for the president, that they will latch on to any opportunity to bash the president, even going so far as to attack his children’s clothing choices. It’s as if she was going to make some brilliant argument about how the Obama’s are poor parents, but it failed miserably.

She became a blight on her party, thereby hurting her cause, not helping it. This was not that dissimilar to when Senator Todd Aiken foolishly spoke about “legitimate” rape; a comment that somewhat haunted the 2014 Mitt Romney effort.

Todd Aiken
Senator Todd Aiken

Such over-enthusiastic hate for the president, which results in an attack wherever one is seen possible, is no different than the nonsense Rev Al Sharpton brands as racism which usually isn’t. It’s the “crying wolf” dilemma where constant attacks from everywhere destroy your credibility, instead of targeted attacks when they are truly warranted.

Too often, those of us on the side of liberty forget that most voters are independent and could be swayed one way or the other. We will not help our cause be being the Al Sharpton’s of the right—people will run away from us in drives. Sometimes, it’s better just to shut the hell up. If you’re opponent is behaving in a way that many people do not like,  let them harm themselves. Most people will naturally take notice, you don’t always need to point it out yourself.

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The Left vs The Right: Who Has The Moral High Ground?

Democrats often wish to portray Republicans and libertarians as immoral beings who are greedy and don’t want to help the little guy.

So far, it has been an effective tactic for getting votes. We’ve got plenty of historical evidence to show that statism doesn’t actually work, yet people who know very little about the historical effects of statism keep voting for more government on the principle of morality. But is it the more morally sound method?

Morality is a man-made concept where we behave in such a way as to either not do harm to others, or to help those who are in need. Even if you’re not religious, morality is an evolutionary trait social beings like humans use to advance our species—a subject Michael Shermer elaborates on quite well in this article.

Michael Shermer
Michael Shermer

So then the question begs, does capitalism or statism jive better with the concept of morality?

I’ve mentioned on several previous posts that there are four officially socialist nations in this world. North Korea, China, Cuba, and Laos. Two other former socialist nations worth mentioning—the USSR, and Nazi Germany. Is there anyone who honestly wishes to argue that those nations were either:

A) More moral than the United States

or

B) Had a citizenry whose poor had a better quality of life than the poor of the United States.

I don’t believe any honest debate can say that America is the less moral nation, but what about the idea of a happy medium? Is some socialism good?

I would argue socialism is like smoking, there’s a decent amount you may get away with without killing the user, but the safest amount is the least amount. That’s the libertarian opinion, but do the facts support it?Statism-c-c[1]

We know that all animals instinctively work to advance their species, it’s the underpinnings of evolution. Organisms on this planet have been innately competing with one another to become the dominant species since the day single-celled organisms first sprung into life.

You’ll notice I said competing—competition is the foundation for capitalism, not socialism. Therefore, I feel I can logically conclude that capitalism is congruent with the natural behavior of all living organisms. But that doesn’t necessarily make it more moral, does it?

All life competes with other life for food and resources. In doing so, through the process of natural selection, life as a whole is advanced. Without this, we would still be just single-celled organisms floating around in a primordial soup. Forcing inferior organisms to either improve, or die trying, advances life far greater than nursing a losing battle. While I don’t believe asking for help is immoral, demanding help at the point of a gun sure is.

If we look at communist era Russian cars, have you noticed there is no real collector’s market for them? There are plenty of 100-year-old model T’s puttering around the globe, the market for them is still quite strong. But look around for a communist era Russian car, and you’ll be hard pressed to find one. They were horrid and hateful machines that no one wants.

Even when America allowed the socialist made Yugo to invade our shores, it was clear that these things were racking up more miles on the back of a tow-truck than they were under their own power.9780809098910_custom-815d71859a4a1992cb9174e6290928df7b86bac7-s99-c85[1]

If we were under socialist rule, we’d still be driving them, or something similar, but free markets and competition brought us better cars at a lower price, and the Yugo, along with communist Yugoslavia took their rightful place in the annals of history as failed experiments.

Many Democrats accept this, and claim they are pro-capitalism, but still believe we should have more government regulation and assistance for the underprivileged. They argue that social programs help the poor and needy, something they feel rich people wouldn’t do voluntarily.

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are two of the richest men in America, and they voluntarily give billions away to charitable causes every year. Even old stalwarts like Andrew Carnegie, someone famous for being a monopolous and ruthless businessman, gave away most of his money in the end.

Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie

There is plenty of evidence to show that people will give to charities, rich and poor alike, so long as they feel the money will go to a good cause, will be appreciated, or will benefit mankind in general. It’s effectively a capitalist charity system where the best and most worthwhile charities garner the greatest contributions, and the ones that are not so deserving rightfully lose out.

The part where Democrats go wrong is that they fail to understand that government is not a charitable organization, it is an agent of force. You cannot argue that putting a gun to someone’s head, and forcing them to give to a cause they do not support is moral. If the cause needs support, and is worthy of the assistance it asks for, it will gain support on its merits, not because glad-handing politicians decided it was worthy.

What Democrats are pushing for when asking for more government isn’t moral, it’s lazy and selfish. They have their causes that they wish to support, but instead of making a case in the marketplace of ideas as to why the rest of us should support it, they try to pass laws to force us to do so whether we like it or not. Does that really sound moral to you?

Penn Jillette
Penn Jillette

The argument that if they don’t, people won’t help has a lesson in there that they routinely fail to see. People don’t support it, because it’s often not a good idea. Just because someone’s intentions are well-meaning, doesn’t mean they are right.

I might want to help the doctor saving the life of a loved one, but any help I attempt to provide in an operating room would likely be less than helpful at best. I don’t know what I’m doing, and can help the most by staying out of the way, something government officials should understand, but the desire to do something always seems to overwhelm them.

Famous examples like Solyndra, where we invested $500 million taxpayer dollars with little knowledge of the solar industry, and lost it all. Or with General Motors, where we invested $49.5 billion that GM didn’t even want, only to lose $10.5 billion when all General Motors needed to do, according to ousted CEO Rick Wagoner, was to file bankruptcy, which they ended up doing anyway.

Rick Wagoner
Rick Wagoner

Both instances, Obama and his administration meant well, just as I would in the aforementioned operating room, but good intentions still yielded bad results.

The problem for many Republicans is that they are quick to paint Democrats as evil, or immoral in response to the Democratic attacks. Ultimately, they’re often just wrong, and we’d be smart to focus our message on the factual inaccuracies Democrats use to justify their agenda.

Name calling has never advanced society, and it never gives you the moral high-ground. Republicans and Libertarians alike, should acknowledge the altruistic intent of every Democrat-proposed item on their agenda, but then break down why they are bad ideas with logic and reason. People will respond to this better than bickering and insults.

Our government is designed to be a guarantor of rights, which it must do at the point of a gun. That is a morally sound thing to do when using an agent of force.

But deploying the might of government into free markets, free will, and the individual pursuit of happiness, is oppression. It isn’t oppression like we saw in the 1700’s under monarchies, or into the 1800’s with slavery, but it’s still forcing people to be subservient against their will. Much like government, oppression of any kind, should be minimized as much as reasonably possible and should never be portrayed as moral.

The fact is, both parties mean well, and should be portrayed as moral. We simply disagree on the methodology and implementation of how to best advance our nation. We on the right feel freedom accomplishes this best, Democrats believe government regulation does. Since the historical evidence is on the libertarian side of the argument, I will always contend we are effectively the most moral.

I never tell a lie, and I’m never wrong. Let’s have some legal reform!

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

As we all know, politicians are often known for two things: lying and the inability to admit when they are wrong. If you want to see a prime example of both in one instance, look no further than this example from the chairperson of the DNCDebbie Wasserman-Shultz (DWS).

Lying and the inability to admit fault are traits that are generally considered immoral, and are upsetting to the populace these people are elected to serve, but what’s the real reason behind it?

Let’s first discuss the lying which can be either malicious or altruistic.

I’ll give you examples:

  • Malicious: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinsky ~ Bill Clinton
  • Altruistic: No honey, that dress does not make you look fat ~ Every husband in history

An easy way to tell the difference is to understand who is being protected by the lie. If it’s the liar, then there’s a good chance it’s malicious.

So are all lies that roll off a politicians tongue malicious? Of course not. But, we all understand how malicious lies come about and agree they are wrong, so let’s focus on the altruistic ones instead.

What’s the one type of altruistic lie that’s good? Every time someone called the government because they saw a UFO and were told, “We’ll look into it” when in reality they knew it was the latest super-secret plane the government was testing and weren’t at liberty to discuss—I’m OK with that. The B-2 Stealth Bomber alone is estimated to be responsible for hundreds of reported UFO sightings before the curtain was lifted on it.

B-2 Stealth Bomber
B-2 Stealth Bomber

There is no way for the government to tell Americans their secrets without telling our enemies too. So some things simply must be kept out of the public knowledge base.

With politicians however, most of their altruistic lies are born out of arrogance. Many think voters can’t understand their superior knowledge or intellect well enough to support their ideas. So they lie to get elected, then proceed with their original agenda because “they know better.”

For instance, many on the left lie about the origins of their proposed social engineering policies, calling them anything but socialism, because they know people in America aren’t very fond of the socialist doctrine, even though these politicians honestly believe socialism can be good.

Many on the right lie about their intent to cut government assistance because they know telling people they intend on putting the kibosh to their government aid will be seen as cruel and heartless, when they truly believe it will help promote self-reliance and actually help those it’s expected to hurt.

I would argue that if these policies are good, they will stand on their merits. An intelligent person should be able to explain their position in such a way that reasonably smart people will understand. If socialism or capitalism are good, just make the best case as to why, and let us decide.

It’s hard to paint politicians as completely immoral here, they legitimately think they are doing what is best. But I find the hubris for them to assume they are more intelligent than me, the person they are nominated to serve, distinctly offensive.

Moving on from the lies, let’s discuss the inability to admit wrongdoing.

Although DWS has a degree in political science, not law, she does serve in Congress with a few hundred other law makers, many of whom do have a legal background; our president too.

I’m not attempting to disparage lawyers, it’s a noble profession. But it is common practice for them to vehemently avoid any admission of wrongdoing or offer any apology for a wrongful act. This practice has sadly become part of our fabric, and it affects all of us morally and financially.

Scales of Justice
Scales of Justice

In our current legal system, an apology is admissible evidence against you, so we have been conditioned to never admit wrong-doing. Lack of personal responsibility is everywhere these days, and I think it’s in no small part to our legal system’s exploitation of apologies.

As you saw DSW pirouette around the issue like she was on Dancing With The Stars (They do share the same initials after all), it became clear she knew she had lied, but was adamant about not admitting it.

What can we do about these two issues? While we will never be able to stop people from lying, we can do something about the admission of guilt issue by changing our current legal system.

If we look at health care, many doctors who know they erred when giving treatment will often refuse to give an apology at the insistence of their legal team, due to its evidential liability. Interestingly enough though, a 2001 University of Michigan program showed that while the liability may increase, the number of actual lawsuits decrease as patients are far more apt to accept an apology as restitution than most lawyers give them credit for.

This study shows that we humans care more about personal responsibility than money, and we are capable of forgiveness if it’s simply asked for. So, I have a simple proposal to make a meaningful reform to our legal system.

Introduce legislation that provides certain indemnities to a person when they accept fault. If a person admits their error, apologizes, and/or makes a sincere attempt at restitution prior to legal action being taken against them, (ruling out criminal activity), they should be immune from additional punitive damages in civil court over and above their actual fiscal liability for the damages inflicted.

This one simple change to our legal system could not only introduce a better moral code in our society by encouraging people to accept responsibility, but imagine the dramatic lowering in prices of goods and services, as insurance premiums and general business operating costs drop due to a lower or complete lack of settlement costs.

There you have it, I have improved our sense of morality and helped our economy with a few strokes of my keyboard, and that’s no lie!

Utopia: The Grand Oxymoron

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

The Associated press recently reported here that in Michigan, after a year of repealing their mandatory helmet law, motorcycle injury costs were on a significant rise. Since more riders are riding sans helmet, this makes sense. But is it a problem? I say yes and no.

As you may know, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) which passed in 1996 prohibits a practice called patient dumping, thus requiring hospitals to treat critically ill or injured patients regardless of their ability to pay, or the reckless actions that may have put them in that situation.

Helmet Law Map
Helmet Law Map

EMTALA is a very good example of how one law often leads to another which is only justified by citing the first. We libertarians argue that the duty to protect our rights is the only duty of government. EMTALA gives the left a reason to use our own arguments against us by saying that we have to enact helmet laws to protect the public from having to pay for their reckless decisions, when if we didn’t have EMTALA in the first place, that wouldn’t be an issue.

Health care is part of the market place, but people often see hospitals as a public service like local police, fire, and rescue, then pass laws that treat them as such. Their argument being that if government has a duty to protect your life, then health care is, by extension, a right as well, and thus a role of government.

Why do I believe otherwise? Because government mandated health care means I have to pay for your poor choices; like doing drugs, over-eating, or riding a motorcycle without a helmet. Therefore, it violates my right to property to preserve your right to life. A conflict that only occurs if you choose the opinion of those pushing for health care as a publicly mandated service that must be provided to everyone. If it’s a private service available to those who can pay for it or those whom doctors choose to help pro-bono, the conflict is gone.

We feel it’s morally wrong to let someone die—I do to, to some extent. But it’s a moral issue, not a legal one. Just as I don’t want the government outlawing adultery, lying, or just generally being a jerk, I don’t want them outlawing the ability of a doctor to decide to help or not help someone who has done themselves harm—passing those costs on to me afterwards.

Health Care CostsWe all agree that when someone dies, it is sad, even tragic. But we also all know that no one gets out alive. Death is a natural and unchangeable part of life, at least for now. So if we understand we’re all going to die anyway, we cannot spend ourselves into oblivion trying to evade the inevitable.

When asked about the difference between libertarians and authoritarians, one of the distinctions I feel is often overlooked is that authoritarians are idealists, libertarians are realists. Authoritarians believe that government can create a Utopia if they just spend and regulate enough to rid the world of every immoral or dangerous act; creating a perfectly sterile and safe society. Libertarians see this as foolhardy and misguided goal.

While I generally abhor comparisons to Hitler; they’re so often hyperbole used for shock value, in this case it is somewhat appropriate here. Hitler also believe he could create a Utopia through ridding the world of all but the master race and by using advancements in genetic engineering. What he wanted to do violently and unethically, authoritarians aspire to achieve through legislation and regulation.

“The rich should all be like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, giving their money away to charity and happily paying more taxes. If they don’t, we’ll legislate it away from them” is just a financial version of “People should all worship this particular god or be killed.” One is an infringement of property, one life, but our Constitution guarantees rights to both. So why tolerate the first if we wouldn’t dream of tolerating the second?

I don’t want a boring life without any danger, and I defy you to honestly tell me you’ve never done something reckless just for the thrill of it. But if we take the authoritarian mentality to its logical conclusion, all risky behavior will be illegal.

Casual BASE Jump
Casual BASE Jump

We ride motorcycles without a helmet (I alternated depending on my mood), jump out of airplanes, or engage in extreme sports because we enjoy the freedom and the excitement that comes from the inherent danger. Humans love pushing the envelope, and without it, we wouldn’t be happy. So doesn’t that defeat the point of a Utopia?

I’m sad for these people who got injured without helmets. I was wearing mine when I wrecked and despite my noggin surviving in tact, I still got a collapsed lung out of the deal. Maybe we should legislate a suit of armor for motorcycle riders, and training wheels while we’re at it? The last two of course seem silly, so why is the first not?

Risk is fun, but risk means there’s also a chance of harm. While death may be the downside of risk, no one wants to live in a world without it—we’d all effectually become drones.

So I say that Utopia is an oxymoron. It’s supposed to be a perfect world where everyone is happy, but human nature dictates that almost no one would actually be happy in a Utopia. So let’s always mourn the lost—I’m not arguing that death is good; but let’s champion the freedom that allowed them to live and die by their own accord instead.