Monday, June 29, 2009

just thinking

So I was thinking about a health care system where some bureaucrat decides who's ailments are worth spending the money to treat and who's aren't; who's life is worth the money to save and who's isn't. Then I got to wondering how euthanasia fit's into all this; couldn't we save a lot of money if we just "put down" some of our more expensive fellow citizens? Where's and how fine is the line between voluntary and involuntary euthanasia? Who get's to decide? Heck, if we just offed everyone over 65 we could put down the social security crisis. Imagine how much we'd save on medicare.

Then today I began to wonder how eugenics and abortion fit into the question. I haven't dug deeply into it, but a quick scan of the net resulted in a few interesting links:

I haven't read through all this information and these don't necessarily reflect my own views on the subject.

Anyway, I'd love to know what you think.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

thoughts on happiness and control

“Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.
Alexis de Tocqueville

In Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert describes a couple studies about control and happiness. In the first study (E. Langer and J. Rodin, “The Effect of Choice and Enhanced Personal Responsibility for the Aged: A field Experiment in an Institutional Setting,” Journal of personality and Social Psychology) two groups of elderly nursing home residents were given a house plant. The first group was told they were responsible for the care of the houseplant. The second group was told the staff would take care of the plant for them. Six months later, thirty percent of the of the residents in the second group, the ones with no control over their plant, were dead, while only fifteen percent of the first group, those who had control, were dead.
The second study (R. Schulz and B. H. Hanusa, “Long-Term Effects of Control and Predictability-Enhancing Interventions: Findings and Ethical Issues,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology) had a more tragic outcome. They arranged for students to pay regular visits to nursing-home residents. Members of the first group were allowed to control the timing and duration of the visits. After two months, the members of the first group were happier and healthier than those who had no control over the visits. Several months after the study was concluded, however, a disproportionate number of the first group had died. Imagine being stuck in a nursing-home and having little control of your own life. It would be tough. The first group was given a taste of control over their own lives and benefited greatly, but when that was taken from them, they were worse off than if they never had it to begin with.

The Declaration of Independence states that governments are formed solely to secure our unalienable rights, namely life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It also states that when any government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to abolish it. Now we can debate the what happiness is all day long, but what I do know is that no man, no matter how powerful or eloquent, can give it to you.; you must pursue it yourself. You are your own property. You are also your own responsibility. If you hand over your responsibly, you hand over control. If you look to someone else for happiness, you will never be happy.
We are in the process of handing over control of our employment our income, our retirement, our education, our children’s education, the care of the needy in our families and communities, our housing, our transportation, and the list goes on and on. The federal government gets all of it’s authority from the people, hence “We the People…” As the government gains more and more authority over more aspects of our lives, such as how much we can pay our own employees, it gets that authority from us. We, as individuals, are losing control of our own lives. Not only is this destructive to liberty, obviously, it is destructive to the pursuit of happiness and possibly even to our physical well-being. History is full of example of how governments with unlimited power are destructive to the individuals right to life.
If I continue I’ll start rambling even more than I already am. There should be plenty there to chew on. Think about it and let me know what you think.

Monday, June 22, 2009

all things in common

Picture this:

You’re in school. The teacher assigns a research project to be done with a group. What are the chances there’ll be at least one member who slacks off and lets everyone else do the work? What are the chances there’ll be one member who does most of the work? What are the chances that everyone will bring the same amount of effort, talent, knowledge, etc. to the table? Is if fair if everyone gets the same grade regardless of their input?

Almost every situation I’ve been in where I worked with a team, there were those who slacked off, and those who picked up the slack. At times I felt like I carried the whole operation on my back, and times when I knew I wasn’t pulling my weight. Though there were times when I got frustrated with doing more than my share of the work, I always felt, and slept better than when I didn’t do my share.

If you haven’t read Animal Farm by George Orwell, do so. It is short and well worth your time. My favorite character is a horse by the name of Boxer. He wasn’t the brightest animal on the farm, but he had the biggest heart, and the biggest muscles. Out of loyalty, he practically killed himself working to keep the farm from collapsing. Everyone sang his praises, but most were content to let him do most of the work; why should they work hard if he would do it for them? He eventually wore himself out and the pigs rewarded him by sending him to the knacker’s.

Of course, Orwell didn’t pull this story out of the air, it is a story that has been played out time and time again throughout history. As long as there’s someone to pick up the slack, there will never be a shortage of people willing to produce the slack. That’s human nature, and no gifted orator with an even more gifted teleprompter will change this.

Here’s some links you might find interesting: