Thursday, October 31, 2013

Liberal Hypocrisy: Claiming Ignorance

Most people can remember how much flak George W. Bush took while in office.  Only time will tell the true impact of everything he did while in office, but it should suffice to say that there were some mistakes made while he was at the helm.

The one thing that sticks out in my mind, however, is how many liberals called GWB a "war criminal," especially when word got out about Abu Ghraib.  When the photos of American soldiers mistreating prisoners of war surfaced, there was a goodly number of liberals who called for the President's head.  To me, the notion that GWB should have to answer for the actions of some dumbass soldiers always seemed ridiculous.

"It's not like he knew about it," I always said.  "We both know that GWB didn't authorize torture in Abu Ghraib.  So how is it his fault that some asshole soldiers went rogue and broke the law?"  The response to my question--which in my mind was of the rhetorical nature given the simplicity of the concept--was almost always this:

"Ignorance is no excuse."

I get the sentiment, that the captain always goes down with his ship.  It's supposed to be a matter of honorable leadership.  But I know that the fools calling for GWB's head weren't looking at it that way, no matter how hard they insisted that to be the case.  Here's how I know.

Should the captain go down with his ship when, say, some idiot sailor thinks it's a good idea to crack open the jet fuel pipes in the JP5 pump room and light a match?  Should the captain willingly allow himself to die--sinking with his ship, as that scenario would no doubt scuttle even the sturdiest of warship--because someone was too stupid to follow the rules?  No rational person would ever suggest that the captain should sacrifice his life on the account of some asshole who made a ridiculous mistake.

And no, the captain would not be tried for destruction of government property.  So why did so many people insist that GWB be tried for something that A) He didn't do, and B) Had no knowledge of?  Why was pleading ignorance not a viable enough excuse for him?  It's because for liberals, honor and responsibility was never the true motivation.  They had a vendetta against GWB, and they wanted to punish him for everything, regardless of whether or not it was his fault.

That's all well and good.  I can relate to a good vendetta.  But for the love of God:  don't be such blatant, hypocritical assholes about it.  I am referencing the big NSA debacle that has been unfolding, particularly the details surrounding America's purported spying of Angela Merkel and other allied world leaders.  When the first headlines hit the newsmedias, what was the immediate response from the White House?

"The President didn't know."

Well I'm sorry Mr. President, but according to the very people who no-doubt voted for you and continue to support you to this day, the captain always goes down with his ship.  So if GWB deserves to stand trial for what happened at Abu Ghraib, then President Obama should be held responsible for spying on our allies.  More importantly, the President deserves to stand trial for the NSA's illicit intelligence collection against US citizens.

Democrats are no more pragmatic and logical than the Republicans.  They care more about vendettas and ideological cheer leading than they care about silly things like honor, integrity, and accountability.  Just like the most ardently die-hard conservative Republican, the Democrats only care about accountability when the opposition screws up.  When they screw up, it's all okay because, you know, they were only trying to help people.

So to all of you foaming-at-the-mouth Democrats, please take this advice.  Stop idolizing your political heroes, and come back to the realm of reality.  We, as a nation, can accomplish so much more if you would only take an objective look at the world around you, and if you would stop pretending that your illogical ideas will solve any of our problems.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Politically Correct: Do Indians Dress Up as Themselves for Halloween?

Some may find this offensive, I find it hilarious.
As if it wasn't bad enough that we can no longer say whatever we want about whatever we want, those who want to limit freedom of speech through the crusade of Political Correctness have turned their sights to Halloween costumes.

I read an article a few weeks ago about how some Native Americans don't think it's right for people to dress up as the Indians of old, i.e. the Native Americans who lived in North America before the 20th Century.  Their reasoning?  They say that it demeans their culture and makes a mockery of it.  That idea is both laughable and retarded.

First off, it is fact that items like a feathered head-dress and moccasins were, in fact, worn by Native Americans.  True, they didn't roll in the ceremonial garb every damn day, but yes, they wore that stuff.  "But Jack, those weren't costume items to them.  It meant something!"  True, but wrapping a corpse up in bandages meant something to Ancient Egyptian culture, but we don't complain about people dressing up as mummies on Halloween.

Are we saying that it's okay to dress in costume of another culture so long as those cultural elements have been out of practice for a couple thousand years?  Is it okay to "mock or demean" a culture so long as there is no one left alive who practices said culture?

Well, the next time I see someone dress up as a pilgrim, I'll remember to tell them how insensitive they're being to my cultural past.  Or if I see someone in a Roman centurion outfit, I'll say "hey, man!  The Romans were super-serial about how their soldiers dressed!  You shouldn't make fun of them like that!"

Gimme a break.

I suppose that I find the double-standard more frustrating than anything.  This is how free speech and political correctness work in America: it's okay for people of color to mock white people, but it is a hate crime for white people to make fun of people of color.

If you think that people of color do not hold demeaning stereotypes of white people in their hearts, then please do yourself a favor, and remove your head from your rectum.  When a black comedian cracks a joke about white stereotypes, the crowd laughs.  But what if a white guy cracks a joke about, say, Mexican stereotypes?  It's an outrage!  He's insensitive!  He's perpetuating racial stereotypes!  He's offensive!  HE'S A RACIST!

Sure, white people spent the better part of human history being complete assholes to other human beings on the basis of skin color.  But that doesn't mean that every white person alive today should be shat on just because their ancestors shit on everyone else.  If people are truly interested in a more politically correct society--if they truly want American expression to be less offensive--then words like "cracka," and "honkey," need to be bleeped out on TV, just like the N-word and other racial slurs.  Otherwise, PC is just being used as an excuse to permit people of color to engage in the same unjust behavior as a retributive privilege for years of white oppression.

But I have a better solution:  how about we stop trying to hinder free expression?  I'm not asking black people to stop feeling hurt and offended when someone legit calls them the N-word.  What I am asking is that we stop pretending that certain things are offensive just because a couple hundred asshats can't get over the fact that the dress of their ancestors is out of place enough to be costume-worthy in modern society.

Go ahead and get upset that Julianne Hough wore blackface because she wanted to go as a black TV character for Halloween--but don't ask for an apology.  She shouldn't have to apologize just because she offended the sensitive feelings of someone she's never even met.  Perhaps you need to examine your own thoughts and feelings, and figure out why you would even allow yourself to be upset over something that has zero bearing on your life.

But I guess personal responsibility, self-examination, and asking people to recognize that their feelings are not, in fact, the center of the universe is just asking too much.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Move-Up or Move-On: Stop Complaining about Your McJob Conclusion

Clearly, nothing stops Vladimir
Putin from pursuing his career
goals.
I know that a lot of what I have said up to this point may sound like an awful lot of over-generalizing, so
allow me to make some clarifications.

First, I know that not everyone who works at McDonald's is a loser or some product of the welfare lifestyle.  The economy being what it has been in the past 5 years, a job is a job.  I always felt that working in a call center was beneath me, that I was meant for bigger things.  I still believe that, and not because I think the job itself carries some sort of inferior status, but because I know that such a job is way below my skill sets.  With the way the department was set up, I knew that I couldn't move up, so I moved on.

When I worked as a job coach at my previous place of employment, I enjoyed the work and it was challenging.  I felt like I was making a real difference in people's lives, and I knew that I was a huge benefit to the company; it was small, so I had a sense that I was making meaningful contributions to the bottom line.  However, the pay was not enough, and I could not consistently get 40 hours per week due to the nature of how the company is funded.  I also did everything I could to move up, but I was ultimately passed over for the supervisor position.  So I moved on.

The McDonald's employees who are complaining about their wages are not people like me.  People like me--and I would argue that most Americans are like this--either move up or move out.  The complainers are either not marketable because of their lack of experience and/or credentials, or they have given up and consigned themselves to work at fast food.

These are not the types of people who deserve to be paid $15 an hour.

If you know that you have an impressive resume, and you know that you have valuable skill sets, then you need to focus on moving on.  Micky-Dee's is just a transitional phase, and so long as you treat it as such, you will have no problem moving on.  If you really want to stick with fast food, then do your best to move up.  Be the best fry cook you can be.  Show off your leadership skills.  Volunteer for the extra-shit jobs that no one else wants to do.  Eventually, you'll be in a supervisory or management position.

If you're young and still haven't had illegitimate children then please, keep your legs closed and keep it in your pants (or at the very least, just spring for some protection).  If it's too late--if you already have a little mouth to feed--don't panic.  Be the best worker you can be, and continue to look towards moving up or moving on.  If you don't have a high school diploma, then go get your GED.  Although I can't speak for all locales, I know that GED classes in Columbus are free through the Columbus City School district.

If you do have a high school diploma, then consider completing some college-level training to become certified in something.  Healthcare continues to boom, and I can tell you right now that becoming an STNA (State Tested Nursing Aide) is not difficult to obtain.

The people complaining about their shitty McJobs are people who either A) Don't know that there ARE options or B) Are too lazy to pursue a better life on their own.  That's why I have no sympathy, and neither should anyone else.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Move-up or Move-On: Stop Crying about Your Crappy McJob Part II

I don't fault the victims of the recession for needing to get a crappy McJob.  Layoffs affected a lot of good"move-up or move-on." people, and you gotta do what you gotta do.  I only fault them for not trying to

But there is another group of people complaining, and they are in a different situation.  Some of the whiners are those who actually have no other valuable skill sets, and they have to take a McJob because they are otherwise unmarketable.  In many cases, these are people who also have families and claim that their dependent status should net them more income.

Two words:  No.  Sympathy.

I work with this demographic every single day, and I can tell you from personal experience, that most of them have one thing in common: they had kids when they shouldn't have.  Surprisingly, there aren't a whole lot of teen moms that come through the doors.  These are usually women in their early twenties.  Most of them are unmarried, and the father of their child is not in their life.

You can see it in their face: most of them realize they made a really poor decision.  Yet for some reason, they still think they should be paid more just because they didn't use protection.  "This is not a living wage!  I can't raise my baby on $7.85 an hour!"

Some more personal experience.  I had my first child when I was young, about the same age as many of these kids coming in the doors.  I believe I was 21 at the time.  But there is a key difference between me starting a family at 21 and "Shaquayla" starting a family at 21: I had a job that paid very, very well (at the time I was an E-5 in the Navy), and I had my son with a woman to whom I was married (and I say that because there was a reasonable expectation that she wouldn't abandon our son and me).

When we got married, we both agreed that we would not have children unless we were reasonably certain that we could financially support them.  Granted, it wasn't long after we married that we decided to start a little family, but that was because we soon realized that I was bringing in more than enough money to feed a third mouth.

"But Jack, it only hurts the kids.  This sort of poverty is generational, and their children will have no chance to succeed if they are subjected to living in near poverty."  That mentality is a load of horse-shit.

Yes: this sort of poverty--the perpetual welfare cycle--is generational.  And yes: most of these children will have no chance to succeed.  But it's not because mom can't pay the bills: it's because mom is already too stupid to teach her children any better.

Jersey, before you jump down my throat and tell me how "wrong" I am, just know that I am speaking from direct interaction with this demographic.  The fact is that they were stupid enough to get knocked up.  They were raised to depend on welfare.  They are uneducated, and they truly believe--in their heart of hearts--that the way they are living their life is okay.  They truly believe that their pay-scale is/should be based on their family size rather than their pay-scale being based on their individual contributions to the workforce.

It's not that they're lazy. (Yes, a majority of them are, but there are some very diligent workers in need of assistance).  It's just that they have an inflated sense of self-value in the workforce.  One time, a woman came in here and was upset over something, and she scoffed at us (the people trying to help her) saying "I could get a job in a health care field right now and make twice as much as all of you."  We laughed, because she didn't even have a GED--let alone any specialized training in anything that related to health care--and if she truly were marketable in healthcare, she wouldn't be on cash assistance.

But she was dead serious.  And if she knew that she was full of shit (perhaps she was using a defense mechanism) then that would still be just as bad because she clearly does not possess a marketable demeanor.  So, these kids aren't going to turn out to be shit heads because McDonald's doesn't pay the cashier $15 an hour: they're going to turn out to be shit heads because their parents are raising them to be shit heads.

So again, I'm sorry, but I have little sympathy.  The people in this demographic are constantly looking for hand-outs because that is what they have been taught.  They come from generations of Americans who discovered that their poor life choices would be paid for by the American tax-payer.  They don't know any better, because no one ever taught them anything about hard work and perseverance.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Move-Up or Move-On: Stop Crying about Your Crappy McJob Part I

Complaining about minimum wage jobs seems to be all the rage these days.  In the past week, I've seen
several articles on this topic specifically targeted at the fast food industry--McDonald's seems to be the most popular punching bag in this case.  In this series, I will address a few different angles on this issue.  Today's post is going to be geared towards the people who have been boned by the new economy: the overqualified, unlucky sod who got laid off from a decent job and now has no choice but to get a low-wage, entry-level job to support his/her family.

The essential gripe is that fast food workers are angry that they are not paid enough, that minimum wage is not a "living wage."  They argue that while McDonald's is making record sales, the CEO pulls in about $13.7 million as a salary, and the company is growing, they should get a bigger piece of the pie.

How much bigger do they think their slice should be?  These people are insisting that they be paid a "living wage," of $15 an hour.

What?!

I recently made a job change to a company that deals in workforce development.  My position is considered entry-level, but it has a minimum requirement of a bachelor's degree in social work with no prior experience, or a bachelor's degree with 1-3 years prior experience in workforce development.  What do I get paid for my entry-level position?  $33,000 a year, which roughly works out to about $15.85 an hour.

So you can imagine my incredulity when the drive-thru worker at McDonald's demands he/she be paid nearly as much as me.  Like my position, the job of "crew member," is considered entry-level, but it should be painfully obvious that there is a huge difference between the two positions.

Why should someone who flips burgers and sticks some fries into a deep fryer get paid just as much as me?  "Well Jack, because of the new, crappy economy, many overqualified people have no choice but to take these low-paying jobs.  And these people have families they have to support."  So what?  Are we arguing that pay-scale should be based on whether or not you have a family?  I have a family, so does that mean I should be paid $30/hr instead of $15.85?

Some people need to face the facts: you are paid according to the difficulty of the work you do and the availability of a replacement should you decide to quit.  If you work a job that requires minimal brain function, that is entry level, and has a nearly endless applicant pool, then you are going to be paid minimum wage.  This is why doctors and architects make the big bucks.  This is why you can expect to make $100k+ a year if you run a nuclear power plant: because the skill set is astronomically complex, and there aren't many people who can do it.

If you don't like being paid minimum wage, then do what everyone else has done: better yourself and work towards moving on to a more prosperous career.  Towards the end of my high school career, I knew that I didn't want to go to college right away, but I also knew that I didn't want a McJob.  So what did I do?  I joined the Navy.

After a pretty successful 4-year stint in the Navy, I decided that it wasn't for me.  I wanted a career that wouldn't require me to leave my family all the time.  So what did I do?  I got out and went to college--and yes, I had to raise and support a family while I was in college.  In that time, I worked during the summers with a youth employment program, and I tutored during the school year.  I didn't have to do any of this, but it helped to build my resume.

There wasn't a whole lot of meaningful work to do when I graduated college.  So what did I do?  I got a crappy, entry-level job in a call center (Nationwide Children's Hospital).  I wanted to gouge my eyes out working in a call center.  So what did I do?  I used my network of peoples, and I found a job as a job coach.

I wasn't getting paid enough in that job, and the hours weren't steady.  So what did I do?  I put in some job applications, and I found a job that would pay me more for doing less (at least, I think this job is easier than my last one).  What I do is not glamorous, and $33,000 a year is less than what first-year teachers make, but here's the key to my career trajectory: I don't plan on staying in this entry-level position forever.  My current position will serve as a springboard for the rest of my career.  Either I eventually will move up in this company into a supervisory/management position, or I will use the years of experience as an excellent resume point.

So if you're stuck in a McJob and you truly are meant for bigger and better-paying things, then you will move up or move on.  If not, then perhaps the only job you deserve is making chili-cheese burritos at Taco Bell.  In today's economy, your career success is impacted by your ability to build yourself towards your ultimate career goal.  Don't expect a hand-out from people who have been there--people who have struggled, just like you, but instead of asking to be paid more, they worked hard to better their situations.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: My Analysis

Jersey actually presented me with a study about the notion of decriminalizing drug use. The study focuses on Portugal's decriminalization of drug use in 2001. The study claims that the decriminalization of drugs in Portugal--all drugs, as the study makes no distinction between "hard and soft drugs,"--has had positive effects. The study has some merit to it, but I think that much of the data has been taken out of context. Here is my analysis.

The first data point that I have a problem with is the citation/prosecution rate of drug use. the study says that citations and prosecutions of drug use has decreased dramatically since decriminalization. Well, duh. Jersey mentioned this the other day: if we decriminalize it, then fewer people will be prosecuted. No shit, Sherlock. That's like saying "if speed limits are removed, there will be fewer speeding tickets issued."

In fairness, the study does mention that some people say the reason for fewer citations (because drugs are considered an administrative offense, not criminal) has decreased because it simply is not worth the time of the cops to issue a citation for something that is now considered a minor offense. The cops would rather go after law-breakers who commit bigger crimes that result in criminal prosecution. This data point seems incredibly useless.

It seems even more useless when you consider what the study calls the rate of "life-long drug use." According to the findings, reported life-long drug use increased between 2001 - 2006. In each increase, the study claims that it was only a slight to moderate increase. The explanation for this is that the increase is because of a generation that had greater access and experimentation than the previous generation--so the reports of life-long drug use would naturally be higher.

The problem I have with this is that the increase of prevalent drug use only decreased in the age groups between 13-15. Age group 16-18 had a net increase of 7% (there was about a 10% initial increase, but then it declined to 7%). The problem I have with the study is that the study claims that the "most important age group" is the 13-15 age group, so the study says that decriminalization has worked because that age group benefited. What if the 16-18 crowd had decreased in reported drug use? Would the 16-18 crowd then be suddenly considered "the most important age group"?  Plus, one of the charts seems to throw in the 13-15 crowd into what is considered the "key age group" of 13-19.  That shows a decrease in drug use.  But if you look at drug use from age 16-24, the increase is pretty significant.  The increase is fairly significant even from 16-19.

And just as a reminder: age groups from 19 and up all increased, even though slightly.

The next point I have a problem with is the decrease in arrests for distribution, and here's why: how many people who were arrested for drug use and faced criminal prosecution turned in their dealer in exchange for a lighter sentence? If fewer users are being pressured to turn in dealers, then it could make it harder to catch the dealers, thus resulting in less distributor prosecutions. The statistics show that there was an overall increase in drug use, so there is no evidence suggesting that there is a shortage of drugs or that there are fewer people dealing drugs.

The study also says that there has been an Increase in people seeking treatment. I don't recall the study ever mentioning any hard statistical data about the increase of people seeking treatment. The only way that this would be at all significant is if the increase of people seeking treatment far outweighs the increase of drug use. Otherwise, one could say that it's obvious there are more people seeking treatment because there are more people using drugs.

Finally, why did opiate related deaths decrease from 400 to 300 BEFORE decriminalization? The study openly admits that drug related deaths began to decrease before decriminalization, but it doesn't offer an explanation. Does this suggest that drug related deaths were already on the downward trend before decriminalization? Yes, there was a dramatic decrease in drug related deaths between 2001 - 2002, but the rate held steady from 2002 - 2004 and then increased in 2005. The problem I have is that the study does not include drug related deaths after 2005. Why?

Perhaps my analysis of the data is wrong, but this is how I interpreted the information given to me. So far, I don't find this to be very convincing. This is not me being obstinate, or me just rationalizing. I think I have asked some very good questions. The evidence is not so cut-and-dry. Sure, Portugal's current rates of drug use are lower than in the US, but the study shows that Portugal's drug use rates increased after decriminalization. And since the increase was only "slight" according to the study, this means that drug use in Portugal was already much lower than in the United States when drug use was a criminal offense in both countries.

And I found this link interesting. This comes from the US government's analysis of the data. What I find interesting is that this analysis also highlights many of the issues that I brought up in my own analysis. And just so you know I read this link AFTER I wrote this article.  To me, this confirms that some of the information presented in the study is misleading.  If anyone has any updated information, that would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, October 14, 2013

"Drugs are bad, mmkay" Conclusion

Do I think that current drug laws are perfect?  No.  Marijuana is probably over-regulated, and society would not likely fall apart if it were legalized in the US.  A law that prevents someone from using an incredibly destructive substance is not an arbitrary law: it is a law that is meant to protect people.

And yes, some people need to be protected from themselves, because they lack the capacity to make responsible decisions.  Case in point: it's no secret that it is easy to become addicted to heroin, and heroin will ruin your life . . . yet people still do it.

If you are caught selling drugs, you will go to jail, and it will ruin your life . . . yet people still do it.

Tell the child of a drug addict that everything is okay, because drug abuse is a "victimless crime."  Tell the parents of a crack head that it's all going to be alright, because "it's his choice to destroy himself."  The next time you complain about taxes being so high, remind yourself that you shouldn't be mad because the money someone gets for disability--because drug addiction is considered a disability--is well spent, because you're just funding their ability to be free.

Go find a junkie and pat him on the back and tell him "congratulations, you're exercising your right to kill yourself!"

People should be free to run their lives as they see fit, but not at the expense of everyone else.  Anti-drug law proponents seem to think that the only related cost of drug abuse comes from the enforcement of drug laws.  The truth is that most people who argue in favor of complete drug legalization simply do not know the cost of cleaning up a junkie's mess.

If you believe that all drugs should be legalized, then I have a few questions for you.  How many junkies have you met?  How much time have you spent in low-income areas in which drug addiction is rampant?

If you truly believe that drug addiction is a victimless crime, then my guess is that you may not have much experience in working with that particular population.  Just an observation from someone who has experience working with them.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Drugs are bad, mmkay" Part 2

People have the right to ingest whatever substances they want, and it's not the government's business to tell them otherwise.

There can be an argument for that.  For instance, I would not appreciate the government regulating how much I'm allowed to eat every day simply because eating too much might make me fat.

Yes, people should have control over their lives, and that would mean that people should be allowed to destroy themselves if they so wish.  But I have to ask: do you enjoy footing the bill for the irresponsibility of your fellow man?

How many hard core drug addicts do you know are able to hold a steady job?  Addicts have jobs, but they are more likely to land themselves in unemployment-land.  And if they have children, guess who gets to pay their bills and their rent?  You, the tax payer, because those unemployed addicts will go on welfare.

Just as well, there IS such a thing as drug violence that has nothing to do with gangs or organized crime.  Do we really believe that no one has ever killed someone because they didn't have enough money to get their next fix?  Drug addicts have never committed robberies or anything like that?  I guess we're just supposed to believe that junkies are really just kind-hearted, docile people who keep to themselves.

Well, if you believe that, then keep living in Candyland while the rest of us try to deal with the destructive reality of drug abuse.

So yes, philosophically, people should retain the right to destroy themselves.  But since humans do not live in individual vacuums, self-destruction often has an associated cost to the ones they love and to society as a whole.  So no: drug abuse is not a victimless crime.

Drug laws carry stiff penalties that ruin lives.

When I was a job coach, I knew a guy who had served 5 years in prison for a drug charge.  He is a hard worker, and he would be successful in anything he does.  But of course, because he has a felony drug charge on his record, he has a hard time finding a job.

What I found interesting about this man is how he approached his situation.  He never once said to me that the drug laws are unfair.  He never once told me that he thinks drugs should be legalized, and that he is somehow a victim of an unfair system.  Instead, he took responsibility for his actions and expressed his eternal wish that he never sold drugs in the first place.

Selling drugs is like giving a kid a gun.  It's irresponsible.  It's immoral.  Drug dealers enable addicts to feed their addiction and further destroy their lives.  They profit off of the misery of others.  Forgive me for being a "moralist," but I think it's safe to say that there is something very wrong with that.

So do I think it's wrong to severely punish someone who makes his money by contributing to the addition of destruction and misery to the world?  No.  I'm going to go on record here and say this: drug dealers are scum, and the ones who are caught are justly punished.

A drug dealer actively contributes to the ruination of lives, so why shouldn't his life be ruined in return?  I subscribe to the notion of Aristotelian justice: render unto each what each is due.  If you help someone destroy his life, then you can't cry when your life is destroyed in return.

That's not moral absolutism (in case anyone is confused).  That's justice.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"Drugs are bad, mmkay?" Part 1

AHB's article about the Socratic Method sparked an unexpected, but very well
executed, debate about the efficacy of drug laws in the United States.

My official stance on the "War on Drugs":  it has largely been a failure.  But do I think that means that because drug laws are difficult and costly to enforce, we should strike them from the books altogether?

No.  I've heard all the arguments.

"Prohibition leads to black markets and organized crime."

"Cigarettes and alcohol are drugs, and both are more addictive and result in more deaths every year than illegal drugs.  So why are those drugs legal, but others aren't?"

"People have the right to ingest whatever substances they want, and it's not the government's business to tell them otherwise."

And a new one that I've heard recently:  "these laws carry penalties that ruin lives."

Of course, that is not an exhaustive list of anti-drug law arguments, but those seem to be the most common--at least in my experience.  So let's take some time to examine those arguments.

Prohibition leads to black markets and organized crime.

I will concede to that fact.  So in theory, if all drugs were legalized, then we should expect to see a decline in drug related violence perpetrated by organized crime.  People who make that argument are making a naive assumption: that people in organized crime are rational, civilized human beings, and not the type of people that will behead 100 women and children just to make a point.

If terrorists are willing to blow up a school bus full of children for an idea, then what makes you think that the cartel lords are above blowing up a legal, commercial meth lab in order to protect their monetary interests?  Money is an extremely powerful source of motivation, and the drug lords have shown that they will commit unspeakable horrors just to maintain and expand their profit margins.

Think lifting prohibition will stop the madness?  Dream on.

Cigarettes and alcohol are drugs, and both are more addictive and result in more deaths every year than illegal drugs.  So why are those drugs legal, but others aren't?

That one is usually a rhetorical question, but it's pretty flimsy.  Cigarettes are destructive, but in order for a human body to fully manifest the full destructive power of smoking tobacco, one would have to smoke regularly and heavily for many, many years.  Even people who have smoked since they were teenagers live to their 50s and 60s.  It takes decades of smoking cigarettes in order to destroy your life.

Want to venture a guess of how long it takes for habitual meth use to kill the average human?  Five to seven years.

Some drugs are prohibited because they are irredeemably destructive and highly addictive.  As far as I know, I've never heard of anyone that had to go to rehab in order to quit smoking.  Many people quit cold turkey, some use the patches or gum.  It's not easy to kick the habit, but it's certainly manageable without treatment.

It's not impossible to kick something like meth, or coke, or heroine.  However, it's common experiential knowledge that nearly all addicts will require some form of treatment in order to conquer their addiction and stay clean.

And alcohol.  Just like the hard drugs, you can kill yourself in one night by ingesting too much alcohol.  It impairs your ability to function, and it can be addictive.  However, alcohol in moderation has proven health benefits.  There is no amount of heroine that is beneficial to human physiology.

There's a reason that cigarettes are age controlled: because they wreck the human body, and no one wants their children to smoke.  Why should some drugs remain prohibited?  Because it's all about the children.

In my line of work, I've met many drug addicts and children of drug addicts.  I've seen, first hand, how destructive drugs are.  So I think to myself: do I want these drugs to be more easily accessible to my own children?  No.  Say what you want, but no parent who isn't completely retarded would ever say "yeah, I would be okay with my kid trying crystal meth.  Life is all about experimentation!"

Stay tuned for part 2.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Analyzing Internal Logic with the Socratic Method - AHB

The Real Howard Beale
For the unitiated, AHB stands for "The Anonymous Howard Beale."  He's an anon poster here, and a personal friend.  He and I both love The Network, and I've said before that he could easily be a Howard Beale-type person in real life, because he speaks the truth and is unafraid of telling people what they don't want to hear--so since he posts anon, I dubbed him "The Anonymous Howard Beale."  Occasionally, he writes articles for this blog to speak his mind and give me a break.  So without further ado, please enjoy another piece by the Anonymous Howard Beale.

The Socratic Method of reasoning is widely considered to be the blueprint Scientific Method was

You don't need another person to debate against to make this method work, you can test it against yourself. For instance... when I hear a particularly illogical sounding argument, my first instinct is to test it against what I feel/know to be true. Then I do something very few people these days do, I embrace the illogical argument and attempt to make a case for it.

"Putting yourself in their shoes" is not entirely possible, but you can at least make an attempt to frame your own logic around their argument. If your first step is to embrace their point of view, and you cannot adequately make a case for it, then you can use that information to make the opposite claim (your original gut instinct) and reinforce it.

For instance, the gun control debate. For me this is a very simple and basic circumstance of trying to legislate submission. Whenever I would try and frame my argument from the standpoint of "PRO GUN CONTROL" I would run into massively inconsistent data. I first tried to champion the reasoning of "way more gun control means way less gun violence"... which I found to be demonstrably unprovable.
built upon. In a nutshell, it is a way of debating and asking questions to distill information down to a low level, in the hopes of fully understanding a subject to the best of your ability to understand it.

"Guns are not required to protect yourself" is another line of reasoning I tried to see through, and it turns out to have a bit of truth to it. The #1 way to make your home instantly safer from intruders is... a dog. The presence of even a small dog completely undermines the shit out of home invasions. Turns out, criminals don't like it when they are trying to commit crime and a dog is yapping on the other side of the door, alerting everyone in earshot.

Then of course I came to the conclusion that a dog would not protect me from an apache helicopter, an abrams MBT, or highly trained marines implementing martial law, and while a single gun isn't adequate protection either against these threats, 100,000,000 guns is. My hope would be by the time they got to me, they would be so battle weary over having to slug it out door to door, street by street that I could take a few down on my way out, making it easier for the next poor bastard that is up next on the list. In the end, Freedom isn't free, and a firearm is just a machine. It has no mystical power or will of it's own to act. People are the problem, not guns.

So for me, I really do strive to see the other viewpoint. It not only helps you to understand where their thoughts may be for you to engage someone properly, but it gives your mind flexibility when a question or thought presented comes out of seemingly nowhere.

In any case, the worst thing to do is to instantly start discrediting their argument simply because it conflicts with yours. Ask questions, get answers, use those answers to form new questions, etc. It all sounds pretty basic but it is amazing how much of this is lost on people these days.

If you find yourself really at a loss to defend an alternate viewpoint in any way, then it's probably time to either do a lot more research, or a lot more soul-searching. Personally, I routinely fall into the intellectual trap of saying "Oh that's just fucking non-sense" because I have not really thought about what the other person is trying to communicate.

That being said, it definitely takes two to tango, and you cannot always have meaningful discussion with people who are completely unwilling to hear you out, not dodge questions, not derail the train, or who are so close-minded they cant even explain why they feel or think the way they do.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Virtues of Anonymity

Not a cwoard.
A recent post on this blog somehow ignited a debate about the notion of remaining anonymous on the internet as it pertains to expressing one's ideas.  Let's have a formal discussion about it, shall we?


In case there are still some of my readers who don't know me personally and still do not know: "Jack Camwell" is a pen name.  "Jack" after my son, and "Camwell" as a combination of my two favorite authors Albert Camus and George Orwell.  So what?

The ability to remain anonymous is important in a democratic society.  There is a reason that our votes for elected officials are kept anonymous: it frees us from intimidation.  Humans, being what they are, tend to become upset when they are confronted by others with ideas that oppose their own worldviews.  And so, humans tend to ridicule one another or attack their character simply because they disagree.  For this reason, many people stay silent for fear of being persecuted for their believes.

Anonymity assures that all opinions can be freely expressed without fear of reprisal.  Remaining anonymous is everyone's choice, and in a free society, that choice should be respected.

I use a pseudonym for several reasons.  First and foremost is because the internet is full of sociopaths, and I don't want to broadcast my identity to would-be assailants who don't like my views.  It's not that I live in fear--because I don't--but I have children, and I want them to be safe.

What difference does it make if my real name is known or not?  How does that diminish my message?  It doesn't.  The message means more than the messenger.  Whether or not my readers know my real name makes no difference, because all I wish is to spread truth and inspire others to seek out truth.

Does Nineteen Eighty Four hold less importance simply because "George Orwell" is printed on the cover instead of "Eric Blair?"  Is Huckleberry Finn less of a classic because Samuel Langhorne Clemens decided to call himself "Mark Twain?"

I do not presume to compare myself to these men, but choosing to remain anonymous is an author's right.  Those of my readers who know me personally know that I am no coward.  I speak my mind to whomever I meet should they ask me what I think (and sometimes even when they don't ask for it).  And if choosing to use a pen name makes me a coward, then I can safely say that I stand among proud company.

I am just a servant of the people.  My real name is inconsequential, because I'm not doing this for recognition or fame.  I do it because it's the right thing to do, and successfully inspiring others to live free and seek truth is a reward in itself.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fuck you, Congress. Fuck you very much.

No, I'm not suggesting revolution and dismantling our government.  It's painfully obvious that the
current asshats in congress don't really give two shits about the American people.  The Republicans are willing to furlough their constituents all to stop Obamacare, even knowing that the Democrats will never back down from it.

So what am I advocating?  Let's furlough our current members of congress.  How do we do that?  The old fashioned way, of course: don't vote for them.

Every asshole Republican that voted in favor of putting the Obamacare defund rider onto the budget bill should be voted out in 2014.  Every Democrat that refused to postpone the implementation of Obamacare should be voted out in 2014.

"But Jack, it wasn't the Democrats' fault!  It was the Republicans!"  No, hypothetical-nay-sayer, they are all to blame.  There are too few people in congress anymore that are willing to compromise, and I, for one, am sick and tired of the brinkmanship.

If the Republicans actually gave a shit about the American people, they never would have put the Obamacare rider on the funding bill.  Newsflash: they don't give a shit, because they're not directly affected by the furloughs.  If the Democrats truly gave a shit about the American people, they would have signed the bill and fought the Obamacare battle another day.

But neither party is interested in anything that closely resembles responsible governance.  Every single American citizen who votes for an establishment party member in 2014 only has themselves to blame.

If you want real change, it's time to start voting third party or independent.  I know it might be scary, but mark my words: as long as Congress is comprised of nearly all Democrats and Republicans, nothing will change.  Just as I predicted in 2008, Obama has not and will not effect any change in DC.  All he has managed to do is get a healthcare bill passed that will make my premiums go up.  That's not rhetoric, that's just fact.

So congratulations Democrats: you still suck.  Congratulations Republicans: you're still a bunch of assholes.

Vote third party in 2014 or you're just asking for more bullshit.