Monday, November 04, 2013

Sex for the soulless man

NZ is in the midst of a scandal, with a group of teen boys boasting online how they 'scored' with under-age girls, then humiliating them and posting the details online. They referred to their sexual conquests as 'Roast Busters'. This has precipitated a witchhunt of sorts, with fathers threatening to hunt down the youths. 
Does this strike anyone else as bizarre? There is no justifying the action, but I have the greatest of empathy for these youths because:
1. This is NZ culture. Before coming to NZ I'd never encountered a NZ'er who did not have a predatory attitude towards women; nor cheatened on them. I was chastized by a friend of a very good friend for reproaching one. That's not to say that the same attitude does not exist in other countries either; its just that NZ's small, slow-growth economy results in men displaying the most carnal behaviour.
2. These kids might be the worst examples of sexual predation, short of rapists, but that is because these kids are just that - 'kids'. Since when did we give kids such high levels of moral agency, yet turn a blind eye to the parental influence, or the values of society more broadly. We don't allow these kids to vote for a reason.

So how might we appraise the parents role in this. Well, let's first consider the broader mindlessness of relationships depicted by:
1. Parents, siblings and other relatives - who probably talk of their conquests
2. Celebrities who dress sexually as if they were 'sex objects'; with a corresponding lack of mental engagement displayed, or not overtly presented.
3. Relationship books that mindlessly talk about how the problem with relationships is that they don't 'spice up' their sex lives; that they have allowed sex to become boring. 
4. Gay and lesbian parades that turn sexual displays into a cause celebration
5. Artistic expression that 'mindlessly' depicts sexuality as art; with a corresponding dubious expression of values.
6. Conservative reaction to all this mindlessness is similarly 'mindless' renunciation. Not the expression of positive values; but that one should choose sexual abstinence rather than think. 

So you might wonder why such moral condemnation is being poored upon these kids, because they are surely the most vulnerable in society. Of course the girls they 'conqueror' are also vulnerable, and should not be ignored, but the problem with all this; the reason why such social condemnations always fail, is because they are mindless. They fail to address fundamental issues. They treat the symptoms, whilst ignoring the cause. The cause is an underlying absence of values, which sees people attempting to derive a sense of value from conquest. Not displays of value; but relativistly projecting that the person whom one 'conquers' has no value. A great many insecure men act in such way, and you will find women who act in the same fashion. This is the nature of ambivalent people with a poorly developed set of values, who are intellectually apprehensive; who feel compelled to project a lie, that they are full of confidence. Don't berate him for failings of the broader society, when it was 'others' lack of intellectual engagement that made this possible. Parents need to acknowledge that they have a responsibility, that that it comprises not simply meeting the material needs of their children, but doing several other important roles:
1. Modelling values - showing practical life-affirming values
2. Intellectually engaging with their kids - describing to their kids in 'concrete terms' with real life issues (like this) what healthy relationships, ethics, etc is all about. The intent is to educate them, so they are conceptually 'wise' and that this knowledge is not floating ideas, but grounded and practical. i.e. That it serves their life. The problem is that society is vulnerable because the parents lack these skills.
Governments, in recognition of these issues, are inclined to 'again' appeal to the self-evident; to treat the 'symptoms', by overlooking the custodians, and attempting to treat the kids, whilst they remain under the custodianship of the child. They cannot afford to do that. The parent cannot be ignored. The parent needs to be educated to treat the child. Instead we have:
1. Government punitively engaging with the community
2. Vigilantes who mobilise to take action where governments are ineffective. 
This is the false dichotomy we are presented with by conservatives and liberals. Vote libertarian! Then stop voting - its extortion!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sex education in NZ schools

The issue of sex education in schools has arisen again. Several pertinent points :
1. If we disempower kids they will they want to be adults sooner.
2. Adults don't grasp the role of sex; so few advocates are going to match the populist extorted agenda of lobbyists.
3. Dispersed school authority over sex education gives parents and principals the power if student assignment to schools was at the parent's discretion.
4. A school system which dumbs down the student mind is going to leave children jaded in their relationship choices. Adults are having relationships and sex for the wrong reason...exactly to whom would you have kids turn? A political or populist decision will make less sense than any other. Better for kids to question and be given the minority perspective.

So what do I think? I think sex is overrated between adults because thinking is underrated. Anyone who thinks sex adds spice to a relationship needs to engage their mind.

Caring, succeeding and building relationships

Someone sent me this quote, which is one of the better ones I've come across, and so pertinent to contemporary times. 
John C. Maxwell: "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care about them”.
It is however not complete in itself because the dynamics of any budding relationship are not simply defined by one person, and reading this quote is not going to spontaneously give you the values to present yourself in the way that is going to win you relationships. The values of the counterparty and the experiences which shaped them are also important. The implication is that:
1. Perpetrators have a capacity to feign consideration, and for the sake of money, sex or gratuitous need, they breach our trust; and then we hate ourselves for trusting them. 
2. Counterparties don't care how much you know until they are aware of how you can help them.
3. Counterparties are cynical with scarce time, so they dare not risk wasting their own time by engaging in your space.
4. Counterparties have to overcome a 'wall of worry' before they will allow themselves to be vulnerable.
5. Counterparties don't want to pass through life alone; but they need a commitment to higher values than their dollar, body, material security. Some are more tragic than others. 

This raises two questions:
1. How are people destined to be engaged?
2. How can we best engage people?

How are people destined to be engaged?
There are a number of things which will engage people:
1. Conveying that you care - The first step is to convey that you care. The question is - care about what? Should we convey care for a person devoid of merit? The first point is that no one is devoid of merit. They would be dead otherwise; and if you are at least talking to them, then they actually embody the capacities for civility. There is an efficacy in helping others; so there is a basis for personal pride. This need not be a waste of time. It need not be an opportunity cost. So your care should be coming from two places: (i) A desire for personal efficacy, and (ii) A sense of generosity which is a source of surplus; in terms of generosity with time, money, conceptual engagement, etc. The threat posed with some psychopaths is that they convey the high-level thinking, but they have a tragic desire to destroy the good in others.  
2. Appealing to what they want - Asking people what they want; finding out what they want...It is easy enough to give people what they want. Its greater still to exceed their expectations. Exceeding people's expectations is a threatening thing to do because you are conveying that you understand a person more than them. People don't resent the information; they resent the sense of being judged or their own self-appraisal that others knew better than them. This is a negation for people wanting an unearned sense of pride. There are several ways to deal with that. The lowest maintenance approach is to delivery expectations; the harder approach is to take more interest in the counterparty, so you can speak from a position of empathy and trust. This is not an easy position because people are very vulnerable, and most of us are too rushed to actually engage people optimally. 
2. Conveying that you can deliver - It is important to convey that you are dedicated and efficacious in that area where you offer value. This is actually the easiest element to building relationships because its simply an achievement of 'relative merit' or economic relativism. Being ahead of the market actually makes it harder to engage, so if that is your approach, then you need a higher value clientele, otherwise in business you will be expending huge amounts of energy for little gain, and a great deal of frustration. This is your learning curve, but its not going to be overcome in a day. So if you need a means of living, its a false economy, though you will need to challenge that wall, if you are going to breach it.
3. Conveying good values - It is not sufficient to be good at something; people need to believe that you have good values, and that you are an honourable person, because most people are not desperate for the things they want. The implication is that its not sufficient to be a great landscaper; people need to believe that you are an all-round good guy because they are not just trusting that you will prepare a nice garden, but that you will not resent their judgement, that you will not burglarise their house, that you will not rape their daughter, and that they can broadly trust you with their vulnerabilities. You might ask - Can't they just quarantine their 'vulnerabilities'? Of course they can, but then such security measures perhaps speak more to their tragic state of mind. Wealthy people don't go to slumming in 'Jonesville' in order to hire a gardener; they hire within their community. The fact that these people come from their community conveys a sense of trust, and they will pay a premium for the confidence that arises from knowing that their community would spurn anyone who did not reach their standards. They are therefore destined to recruit people from their social circles. For most of you; this is not surprising. Its merely dealing from your comfort zone. 
The flipside is that those coming from 'Jonesville' want instant recognition, respect for being a good gardener. They do not expect to be appraised for all these other qualities that they didn't know a gardener needed to be. They are therefore either destined to learn a hard lesson on a steep learning curve, or they are inclined to resent a distinction they never understood. This is not to say that they will not learn. If they are not intellectually challenged by attempts to engage in wealthy communities, they will engage with the 'home-boys' of Jonesville. Standards might be lower in Jonesville, but they are still growing. 
I have made a distinction in values purely on the basis of wealth. This is not the sole consideration; merely described to make a point about value or moral imperatives. I would argue that the wealthy are just as anti-intellectual as the poor; because society as it stands is divided by a false political dichotomy that is destined to entrench this dumping down, which was conveyed in Judge Napolitano's speech before he was sacked by Fox News. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The 11 Commandments of Bill Gates

I received a chain mail in my inbox. It is attributed to Bill Gates, but one wonders whether it is done so merely as an appeal to authority. I'm inclined to think that Bill Gates would make a press release. In any respect, I wanted to break down these '10 commandments', as I have previously done with Bill Gates advice on parenting. This advice is for youths - whom Gates might well look to with despair. Below I will critique his advice....which again....might not belong to him. 

Rule 1 : Life is not fair - get used to it! 
This is a silly assertion because it is justification for moral appeasement. If it were valid, then it would contradict his later statement that you are free because soldiers fought for your freedom. Clearly they would no have fought if Hitler was fair-minded, and you got used to him. This is the typical moral relativism or repression that you can expect from Conservatives. So what positive thing can we say instead? How about: That life is unfair, that you should fight for a system which actually protects your personal autonomy and gives you a rational framework for political discourse, and not an extortion racket controlled by lobbyists.
Rule 2 : The world doesn't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something. BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Having recognised that life is not fair; how about recognising that people's self-esteem is diminished by unfair systems which disempower and moreover support your means of survival in a modern economy. Yes, probably 70-80% of poeple in many Western economies have diminished self-esteem because we have state & religious education which advances ambivalent values, and in the process teach people that they are mindless animals. Conservatives expect you to achieve 'something' detached from means. Unless people get an education that prepares them for life, you cannot expect 'ends' because you are denying causation. A Conservative's ends are detached from rationality because they cannot conceive of them. They accept it on faith, and any evidence is just reason for them to repress facts, and deny responsibility. That's not to say that I support modern Liberals either, who offer unconditional love, and hold their emotions as the source of their claims. What we have to do is end this system of expropriating wealth and sanctioning unhealthy values through our purported 'representative democracy'. It is an extortion racket. Self-esteem is very important; our current political system destroys it. So support those who want to replace it with a rational system. See our website MeritocracyNow - our NZ advocacy. 
Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
I say never say never. It is however unlikely that in the current society that many, if any people, will make large sums coming out of school. Having said that, if you are going to do it, now is the time. At the end of the day, one should not heed dogmatic statements like this devoid of evidence or argument. Its the equivalent of a parent saying 'You will never amount to anything'. So Bill should not say it. There are child-CEOs around these days who have done exactly as he dispels - who have sold an iphone 'app' for millions whilst at school. The point ought to be - to be real - to respect facts - and to respect ideas that derive from facts, and respect your mind's capacity to determine the difference.  
Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
This is more Conservative dribble. The issue is not soft vs tough; the issue is rational vs irrational, legal vs illegal, moral vs immoral. One does not want to sanction any action which is going to cause injury to oneself, and in the long turn, not to others as well. Toughness implies compliance, subordination and tolerance. These are all unhealthy values. We need to engage our minds, and withdraw our sanction for idiotic people. We can do it on our terms though. So, if we don't like our employer, do as I do....resign along with the rest of the staff. In my case, it caused by employer to lose his job. Many teachers are hardly custodians of  positive values. After all, most of them live their entire life on government-sponsored welfare. 
Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: They called it opportunity.
Partially agree with this point. Many kids will spurn McDonalds because of image issues, i.e. What others thing. But the problem is, if Conservative parents are so anti-intellectual, that they fail to develop their child's minds, then their morally deficient children will subordinate their values to those of 'popular' society. So, on this point, the Conservative shoots themselves in the foot with their moral incoherence. McDonalds I would argue is a well-run business which will expose a child to a very successful business system. That is a value proposition, and a reason to stay there at least a few weeks. Thereafter its just about the money, or the time until you get another experience. That's your opportunity, aside from spending those mind-numbing hours flipping burgers to come up with your own 'better' business system.
Rule 6 : If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
This is more Conservative nonsense. Parents are the most important role models in a child's life. Given the legacy of perverted values in society; a legacy rich in extortion, collectivism, persecution (religious & collectivist), you have good reason to expect some residual impact on the descendants of those times; and those times are still with us. There are implications for bad parenting, and denial or detachment from that cause is part of the problem. Another problem is the modern Liberals purported solution to those problems. The modern Liberal preaches unconditional love, when we need conditional love. You get rewarded for the good; not in some hope of it. So I say, 'whine', but don't impose your values upon others, having already conceded that you have been imposed upon. That is contradictory, and in our anti-intellectual society, its enough to scare Conservatives into their current 'unempathetic' state of mind, which sadly, only makes them less thinking than they already were. This is the modern problem - a false choice.  
Rule 7 : Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were: So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
Silly statement. Parents are 'boring' because they fail to offer a value proposition. i.e. They are either stating the bleeding obvious, they are not speaking in the context of the child's values, they are probably not offering an argument, merely giving directions, they are probably failing to engage the child's mind, so they are just a waste of time. Self-righteous parenting merely reinforces the cihld's lack of confidence in their capacity to live in contemporary society, so what do they do. Take advantage of their parents and seek stimulus in any drug, activity which gives them short-range stimulation. 
Rule 8 : Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. *This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
There is some truth to this, but actually, its not strictly good advice. You do not become a mouthpiece for your customers values. You don't subjugate your truth for your customers. Bill Gates would never have succeeded if he did that. Perhaps he has forgotten. The education system has been perverted by Liberals, so point taken. But life actually gives one the flexibility to take your time, but you do need to respect the rights of others to not support your existence. Even if they offer it, you don't want to place yourself in a position of depending on it, or morally feeling entitled to it, as the modern Liberal does. So this is a rather malevolent statement which does not represent the 'benevolence' of capitalism when it functions with a healthy philosophical theory of values. Conservatives often support capitalism; but they fail to offer a compatible value system, and so end up undermining capitalism. I am reminded of my grandfather. Aged 19yo, I asked him 'How do you manage to reconcile capitalism, which is based on trade - value for value or voluntary self-interest, with religion, which is based on altruism?' He could not answer, but apparently went to my father to complain. Conservatives do not want you to identify their cognitive dysfunction. They live on 'faith' because they have no compelling truth. Its an intellectual fraud they perpetrate; and they would sooner destroy the minds of their children (or invalidate them) rather than acknowledge that fact of reality. So much for self-esteem. Having said that Christianity spurns self and advances do not under-estimate the incompatibility of religion to your life as a human being. It was a system to control advanced by people who were evading their cognitive dysfunction. 
Rule 9 : Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. *Do that on your own time.
True enough, but governments dictate the nature of the education system, and competition is largely precluded. And that's unfair. Complain. Mind you, you can always fill those times doing productive things. I worked, traded stocks and studied philosophy. 
Rule 10 : Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
There is nothing wrong with TV. The issue is what you watch on TV. I tend to focus on intellectual content like documentaries, however comedy and other forms of entertainment serve a purpose. That is ultimately the standard - does it serve a purpose - is it a legitimate purpose. 
Rule 11 : Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.. 
Yes, but critique Conservative and Liberal idiots at your leisure. Do not sanction idiocy unless your career depends on it; and beyond the next pay cheque, it probably doesn't. 
If you can read this... Thank a Teacher.
If you can read this in English... Thank a Soldier!
And for life and everything else you have... Thank God!!.
If you understand my perspective, spread the wisdom, sign up to your MeritocracyNow campaign, and despair that your teachers, soldiers, nor (a non-existent) God will help you, but only rational, wide men like myself can give you the moral convictions to defeat the cult of senselessness permeating society. 
"Love him or hate him , he sure hits the nail on the head with this"
I don't love or hate Bill Gates. I just think he presents an opportunity cost; in the first instance by selling me a substandard operating system for 20 years, and then for offering as 'wisdom' the type of folklore wisdom that  precipitates wars. Rest assured that it will not be a CEO who directs society into the next century, because they are simply too pragmatic to advance a coherent framework of ideas. Which brings us to his 3rd advocacy - the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - a huge opportunity cost. Fortunately for us, it is he who is carrying the cost. Unlike the governments that you continue to sanction. Your vote for your political leaders is the equivalent of a 'power of attorney' for your politicians to steal and waste 30-70% of your nation's wealth. Why have they done to your sense of self-worth, that you feel compelled to serve them? 

Monday, January 03, 2011

The pseudo-science of media

There is a great deal of pseudo-science around which is posited by news media as real science. The Miami Herald blog in this latest 'Xmas Cheer' is a case in point. Cindy Krischer would have us believe that there is a higher thinking in 'positive thinking'. Let me unravel the confusion. But first read her article at her blog.

My response is:
Call me a 'hater' Cindy, or dare I say 'negative', but your blog is hogwash. People are stressed out because of the Xmas rush & shopping congestion. The notion that there is some value in repressing how you feel is pseudo-science. The appropriate response is to recognise the nature of any indignation. You call it 'hate', I call it people with 'narrow-minded' agendas. There is no hate involved.
How to get over it? Don't substitute others agendas or values for your own. Those people exist. The good news is that if you have good judgement, you don't have to marry them. But given that 50% of people get divorced, maybe they would steer a better course if they repudiated pseudo-science.
More broadly, unless we have more healthy social or institutional structures, i.e. like better education, government and corporate values, then we can expect to conflict or be confounded by unreasonable or concrete-bound thinkers. In this respect, your ideology is part of the problem.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mind what you read

Have you noticed that people can be divided into categories. If you want a sense of how you might categorise people, consider the following groups:

1. Sense of reality: By that I mean people's perspective or how they relate to reality. People either have a subjective or an objective sense of reality, and this impacts on their attitudes. Consider them:
(a) Subjective: These people consider reality as a product of their consciousness, which has primacy. This means that they wish things which depart from reality, as if they had control of reality, or if their mind was divorced from reality. Examples are: The idea that what's right for you is right for you, what's right for me is right for me. This is of course a repudiation of science and objectivity, and people usually do this as a departure from judgement (external standards) or responsibility. I also note that this type of person is very selective about what they hear and read. They will only read material which agrees with their views, so this serves to keep the mirage alive. These people are people-orientated, because they would prefer to seek subjective validation from people whom they know are going to provide it, rather than validation from any achievement in fact.
(b) Objective: These people have a great respect for facts, an objective truth. They place facts above their own beliefs, which they attempt to reconcile with the facts. These people give primacy to the truth, and they have confidence in their ability to do so, so they are problem-solvers in this regard. They thus have the confidence of judging evidence from any perspective with impartiality.

People can display objectivity and subjectivity in different context as well. The reasons why people might do this are:
1. Fundamentality: People can have fundamental values which depart from more concrete premises which are difficult to refute. For this reason there can be some discomfort to attacking these if they don't reconcile with your concrete premises.
2. Compartmentalisation: Ask yourself how a politician can support competition in the private sector, but not support it in parliament. Contradiction, which they quarantine because it does not serve them.
3. Vulnerability: People will tend to be more concrete-bound, when they are in a stressful situation or feel vulnerable. This tends to pull them towards subjectivity, but it depends on the person.
4. Accountability: People who are ultimately held accountable tend to be more objective, but they can also preserve some subjectivity as well, e.g. Minimising their personal responsibility, pleading how sorry they are (insincerely), etc.

So the point I am making is that each of us has a perspective of reality that is shaped by our early experience. People build up a hierarchy of knowledge which is robust or shaky to the extent that it has firm structure, i.e. Coherence of ideas, correspondence to facts. Critical to this is clarity of definition and a great deal of evidence. We are of course born with very little evidence. We are also raised with embedded ideas derived from our parents, peers and broader society. It is not until 12 years of age, more or less, depending on our experience that we are able to challenge other people's ideas. Some people will not have a handle of their contradictions until they are in their 40s, others never learn. They instead evade being challenged or keep the company of people who similarly don't like to be challenged.

The problem is that people don't appreciate the value of challenging their embedded ideas until they do. Even then the value might not be readily apparent because they don't live in a vacuum. In a social context they can be alienated for holding a different value system. They too readily tolerant the status quo, in the process neglecting to reflect on the fact that they are affirming the status quo.

One cannot grow unless one challenges ideas. Synthesis is the basis of empiricism, but deductive reasoning requires differentiation. Unless we are prepared to differentiate ourselves from others there is limited scope for intellectual development. Instead science descends to groundless correlation, ideas are held out of context, and you end up with the modern science and parliament. In a sense, you asked for it.

Anyway, I would hope that people preserve a desire to read and analyse a broad body of literature; not just with that which they will agree with. If you read material you don't agree with, challenge it. Understand how the reader came to think that way. For instance, I am currently reading 'The Power of Now' by Eckhert Tolle. Everyone is talking about this book. It is well written, but I would suggest the book will drive you to repression, just as this type of material has done in Asia. That is not a reason to not read it...but rather to read the counter-arguments and more importantly to develop your own. Basically I don't read books anymore. My joy is in writing and pulling apart others arguments.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The nature of money and evil

Years ago people often said that ‘money (or the pursuit of it) is the root of all evil’. You don’t hear that so much these days. Some would argue its because we are more materialistic, or is it because we are just more enlightened? I think its just a practical way of living, but to give it some ethical justification its worth considering ‘what is the root of money?’
Money is a means of exchange that facilitates trade. Before we had money people had to barter for the things they wanted – causing a mismatch of wants. The divisibility, the portability and universally acceptance of money overcomes this constraint. Some would argue that had driven us to want to much, and in the race to achieve, we have lost sight of the ultimate value. So should we blame the bank or the manager of the money?
Money is a value traded for other value. Trade is inherently selfish since your prime concern is the satisfaction of personal wants – you offer a ‘value for value’. Of course you don’t mind if others benefit from trade, and trade would not proceed if they didn’t, but that does not change the fact that the trade is motivated by self-interest. This was Adam Smith’s conception of the ‘invisible hand’
Money is an inanimate object so it carries no moral significance – just as other inanimate objects like guns are not evil – they are merely tools that can be used by good or bad people.
I am currently reading a very good book – ‘Master Your Money Type’ by Jordan E. Goodman which highlights the psychology underpinning our attitudes to money. And the anti-materialism of religion and socialists grumbling about the ‘evils of money’ is highlighted as a reason for people developing destructive spending patterns. Consider the entrenched Catholicism of the Philippines where financial literacy is at a low point. People are generally self-indulgent and make little provision for the future. Its no surprise that they are poor. Might those attitudes towards money arise from the Catholic sentiments towards money – as the only Catholic countries that seem to buck the trend are Ireland and Chile. Well I would argue that attitudes to money are just one manifestation of it. But you cant argue people are all Catholic….everyone is a compromise because religion is such an anti-life set of values. Basically its about living a set of values divorced from your nature.
We all get it eventually – just some are more cynical about it – which is a matter of personal integrity. It is only in recent years that some Catholic countries have become more practical? Even the Philippines is changing. Reading from the Philippines’ Business Week Sept 7-8th 2007, Reverend Antonio Cecilio Pascual saids ‘Money per se is not evil’…that it ‘is actually our attitude with regard to money and the accumulation of material things that makes money evil’. Well I am not a religious man, but I can agree with that. Your attitude to anything (including money) is a moral judgement. All human action is based on a moral premise. The implication of this statement is that our motives are more critical than the goal.
The problem with religion is that it broadly offers no such guidance. Religion would have us believe selfishness and judging others is evil, and faith offers no value since it is merely acceptance without evidence, confidence or any sense of reality. If there were any sense of reality, you would be less virtuous. But neither am I in favour of a self-indulgent or fear-motivated attitude to money that places subjective values above the reality of human nature.
Rev Pascual perhaps lacks an understanding of philosophy because he makes no case for what types of motives are morally wrong and which are right, but that’s ok, the book above might fill in the gaps. He saids: “Education and knowledge nowadays are sought to outsmart, outpace, ‘out-knowledge’ one another so that one can be ‘successful’ as soon as possible and become rich as soon as possible” – the implication is of course that competition drives people to sin, so people loose a sense of prospective. I would argue that it’s a lack of their ability to think which develops as a response to collectivist philosophies like religion that call on humans to sacrifice their minds and values to the service of others and God. Why else would people try to impress others but because of a value system that places above self. That’s why they loose their sense of reality. Critical thinking is the gatekeeping mechanism that prevents contradictions from entering your mind. That is the basis of egoism and sound thinking, but that’s what religion poses is a threat. But really a true egoist does not define their value in terms of others standards – the superficial values of ‘non-self’ that the Reverend is concerned about.
He also says “How many parents actually try to seek good education for their children will actually become social workers and help a lot of poor people? To actually raise our kids so that they can help those in need?”. I did not think it was the parents role to decide what career a child should pursue, but you might ask why a great many clergy see imposing values on others as moral. Well since ‘fear’ is offered as a value in religion, so manipulation is a practical consequence. The sordid sex crimes in western orphanages being a case in point. But according to religion, these clergy are ‘only human’.
Next point: “Money is sinful….when it becomes an end in itself, when it is no longer just a means”. I would suggest that there is an always an end, and just the Reverend has failed to identify it. Any action is motivated by some thinking. In this instance I would suggest money serves the ‘means’ of impressing others, looking ‘successful’ in other people’s eyes. The paradox is of course is that religious undermines people’s mental efficacy, and thus makes them more beholden to what others think, and thus less likely to manage monetary matters effectively. It doesn’t help that ‘money is evil’.
Next point: “A lot of people become rich because they do not care about other people”…they ‘resort to sins to further accumulate money & power”. I don’t think money does isolate people – in fact successful people are usually very attentive to client/customer needs. Sometimes its superficial, and perceptions have primacy over real service, but surely religion which subjugates facts will only elevate this thinking. Look at the Philippines. Walk into any store and you get the empty expressions of respect like ‘Good morning Sir” that is intended to make you feel like a king, but ask them a question and you will have to repeat yourself 3 times…its not a dialect problem – they don’t listen to other Filipinos either. They treat the office or store as a playroom. It’s a testimony to their sense of reality – which is overwhelming social and not purposeful.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The philosophy of ketchism

I have a confession to make...I am sooo tight with money. I would rather wait 1 day in a queue or transferring planes rather than spend $200 on myself....but in defence when it comes to girlfriends...I'm just slightly better. I'm tempted to call this philosophy 'ketchism' after my ex-Japanese girlfriend called me 'ketchi' = Japanese for 'tight'. I was tempted to make this my philosophy, but really, on reflection, it has deeper roots than that. It has more to do with my sense of life, or sense of struggle. Afterall life was meant to be easy right? Well it hasn't been. Why else would a mining analyst, who should be earning $150K a year and living in Sydney, end up living in the Philippines on his savings. Well ok those career doors are closing to me, but the good news is that other doors are opening...yeh ok, there isn't much money in it, but the savings are great.
You might wonder where this sense of struggle comes from. Well I think its been entrenched in me for a long time. For a starters its well-known in the Philippines that Australians are tight with money. I can understand that...the origins of Australia were based on struggle, there was endless droughts so colonial Australia had alot of difficulty establishing an independent food supply. We had to depend on stockpiles or Mother England. And for a century more we very much looked to the English Empire...we looked to England to protect us, and then the USA. It took several decades before we became financially independent, not until we discovered gold and nothing else mattered :). But exploration is a risky business too, so little surprise that most of the money to finance activity had to come from England. Even today Australian mining companies are listing in England because Australians have an aversion to risk - now they have a problem investing in foreign lands. The English have no such aversion. So even today the sense of scarcity, tragedy and self-doubt persists in the Australian psyche. The anti-intellectualism of the nation is an extension of that on an epistemological level (PS: I dare say you wont hear that word from another Australian).

Contrast Australia with the USA where crops readily grew since water was plentiful. Americans are big on 'the grand symbolic' gesture. Whereas an Australian would be saying 'Whats the bloody big deal' or 'Why all the fuss?'. The other big element was my aspirational family upbringing which placed am emphasis on savings & I was always living for the future....and investing the proceeds. As a result since leaving school I have worked about 8 years (as an employee) and done little else productive for the balance of 8 years. I've spent most of that time investing and trading with my savings...was doing ok until my current GF dragged my attention off the markets. Written alot, not never put my mind to publishing. Its not that I dont like some sense I'm always working...I could even show you a picture of me working, but in ernest I just couldn't stand working for 'dicks in finance'. So what was a critical analyst to do...but as he is trained to I analysed and came to the conclusion that these 'dicks in finance' were not going to let me get ahead because I was good at what I do...and made them feel inadequate. Of course I'd prefer to invest millions and get fat commissions where I deserve them, but I'm tired of looking for it. When you meet more than a dozen 'dicks in finance' you start to see the pattern.
Now when I watch people and I observe how they think, I recognise that they approach life with a sense of 'tightness' or 'generosity', and I mean this not just with respect for money, but with respect to their broader value judgements as well. Well having grown up in Australia you might not be surprised to find out that no one ever showed any appreciation or recognition for what I did. Now I read the 'self improvement' books and they say you should praise 5x more than you criticise. I frankly reject this approach. I think this is what creates 'finance and other dicks' because they are unable to accept criticism. Thats one aspect...the other is a deluded (subjective) sense of reality. Thats what creates economic bubbles, and yes you can attribute those to financiers as well. These people actually think they are good because they appear successful to others, they work with Merril Lynch or something. They inflate market outlooks because thats what they profit from. They dont get generous bonuses unless the market little wonder the market is geared to expansion. If you are critical of the market outlook, you are a pariah, and quickly marginalised. But the other aspect is just how easy it is to make money when everything just keeps going up. You no longer have to be analytical, you just have to be a salesman. You have to sell it. That was another issue...I'd have thought people want to know the arguments for and against an investment. But thats not how 'dicks in finance' work. They write to convince irrespective of the merits because they get paid for raising money...and few people make money in falling markets as falling markets undermines confidence. Well this builds all manner of false economies which is beyond the scope of this post.

So I am a great believer in a balance of criticism and praise when and if they are deserved. But I've come to realise that few people truly have a sense of objective reality. They only hear criticism. There have been times I have made a statement 8-10x and its not been heard, but they will readily hear the bad news. I suspect when 'markets are climbing the wall of worry' breaking out of a downtrend, its the same thing.
Now the amazing thing about the Philippines is that people here are very generally very good at praising others, but they have their fair share of criticism as well. Now you might think that these people are surely great listeners, but paradoxically they are the worst. I used to think it was because they didn't get my accent, but thats not it. When I observe Filipinos talking to other Filipinos, they dont listen at all. So this drew my attention to flaws in the Filipino culture too. People here lack a sense of purpose, lack a sense of organised structure or discipline, they blow as the breeze takes them. Those that are more aspirational go overseas, and Christian guilt if not close family compell them to send half their savings home.
So that still leaves me still trying to find out where I belong...but I do love that I can buy an apartment here sooo cheap. Living here is not as cheap, but its not bad. Yep...I'm that tight.
PS: Refer to 'Tools for Life' for how to apply the Principles of Ketchism to your life.