Category Archives: Theory and Ideas

Self Respect > Self Esteem!

Readers who have become familiar with my writings over the past few months may have noticed a very prevalent theme – that of the individual and their own personal response to the world around them. Examples can be found in Do You HAVE Character, or ARE You a Character, Freedom OF Thought or Freedom FROM Thought, and Libertarianism = Personal Responsibility. This post also goes rather hand in hand I think with Quincy’s post on Humble equality vs. haughty equality.

The reasons that I am so enamoured of subjects pertaining to the character is that I clearly see that ONLY by cultivation of positive traits in the individual can we hope to ever engender a change in society.

I’ve titled this piece Self Respect (is greater than) Self Esteem, because I feel that a distinction needs to be made in how we have been and are being educated in our public schools and how that focus should make a shift to promote positive self-image through self-respect (not self-esteem) .

For many years, our schools, psychologists, psychiatrists, parents, etc. have pushed the notions that self-esteem is the absolute pinnacle upon which success or failure in life rests – that without self-esteem, we are unable to survive this world.

In fact, the evidence over the years has shown just the opposite – overinflated egos and grandiose impressions of self-worth abound. Parents allowing children to “do their own thing” for fear of stunting their growth as persons coupled with the ideas of “you’re as good as (with the implication being that you’re really better than) anyone else” being promoted in the public school system are ruining our youth, and have already had disasterous effects on our country.

Some young people are introspective enough to realize that something is amiss. The teen rates of suicide, anorexia, self-mutiliation, etc. have skyrocketed in the last 50 years. I believe there is a direct correlation of the self-abuse rate and the changes in what our children are being taught both at school and at home. Those Teens and even young children who have not been jaded by an over inflated self-esteem realize that there are others who are prettier, more handsome, taller, shorter, thinner, more muscular, etc. They know their own hearts and can see that all is not beautiful and lovely inside. It leads to poor self-image and hatred – depending on other factors – of either self or everyone else. Such hatred is what leads to anorexia, self-mutilation – and situations like Columbine.

Self-respect is what should be stressed to our children rather than self-esteem. It is self-respect that teaches children that the company of those who look down on them is not acceptable or desired. Within self-respect teaching is room for humility, and that’s a good thing. Gifts bestowed on some may be more readily apparent (physical attractiveness or sterling intellect) but if encouraged to seek out those less apparent gifts, young people can learn to not base their self worth on self-image or an inflated self-esteem.

My sister and I were chatting over the cooking of our family Thanksgiving Dinner yesterday, and this was one of the things we were talking about. We both have and have had friends, who allowed themselves to be treated like doormats by boyfriends or spouses. Thanks to the strong upbringing we had from parents who cherished us and were diligent to correct the misconceptions taught in public school, we both learned self-respect at an early age. As such, it’s hard for us to imagine giving up our self-respect to be treated as we see them allowing themselves to be treated. It’s important to teach children from a young age that if they’re mistreated by someone within their peer-group that they need not feel pressure to fit in or appease them – it’s best to just move on. No one should ever desire to be where they’re not wanted – because that leads only to heartache, frustration, and compromised values. And self-respect teaches children to move out and move on.

As an example – we were out a few months ago at a small public event where a group of folks we knew (and many we didn’t) were sitting around in lawn chairs. Our daughters (then 8 & 10) were playing and invited another little girl (unknown to them) and her sister to sit and play with them. The younger quickly accepted the invitation but her sister (probably about 13) responded “I don’t play with children”. One of my daughters spoke up and said to her “My sister and I play with anyone we want to play with, regardless of age.” I didn’t get to hear about the comment first hand – but heard about it later through a third party. It really tickled me, and I wondered if the 13 year old had the sense to comprehend the stinging rebuke issued her by a child she considered beneath her. It pleased me as a mother to hear that perhaps my teachings are not falling on deaf ears.

One of the maxims that my family hears me repeat fairly often is “there should always be some thing that you’re NOT willing to do for money”. We’ve never watched reality TV shows because, first off, they bear no resemblance to reality, and second, we have better things to do with our time. But it was when I first saw some of the teaser commercials for “Fear Factor” that I first issued that proclamation to my family – and I still feel strongly about it. Eating some kind of hideous or horrendous concoction is not something I would ever do for money. To keep from starving, perhaps – but not for money. And even if starving, there are some things I wouldn’t do – and cannibalism would be one of the boundaries I don’t think I could ever cross. There are things worse than death. You see, self respect would not allow it, as I don’t think I could live with myself if I crossed that boundary.

Self-respect is also important in the working world. It allows one to take responsibility for ones mistakes – and sometimes to concede if there is a question. It does not, however, lead to accepting responsibility carte-blanche. I’ve been in situations where I found I had to stand up for myself on principal and have done so. Sometimes to be promoted for it, other times to be chastised – but always to know within heart and mind that I’d done right. It’s a much better way to live – and easier to live with yourself when you’ve got self-respect. I’ll take it any day over an inflated self esteem.

Homeschooling Security Mom, Political Junkie, Believe in upholding the Constitution – and subscribe to the theory that gun control is the ability to hit your target!

The Sovereign Individual

When you combine this post with my earlier post on TANSTAAFL, you find the core principles that make up my political philosophy. Getting to know and understand me means understanding these things about me. Some of you will have seen this before on Eric’s Grumbles. I’m moving a few posts of this type over here, slowly, so that those who read here, but not there, can see these as well.

Around the Life, Liberty & Property Community, and some related blogs that aren’t part of the community, there’s been a burst of writing this week on individual rights. And it’s really good stuff. Brad Warbiany writes about a Right to Privacy and Abortion, one of the best posts on the topic I have ever seen. Stephen Littau tackled the War on Drugs in his entry More Mandatory Minimums Madness. Or, there is Coyote’s Immigration, Individual Rights and the New Deal, where Coyote lays out the foundation for individual rights as clearly and succinctly as anything I’ve seen in modern writing. There’s a lot more out there, and I’m fairly sure we are going to see much of it in the Carnival of Liberty this week. In fact, since Left Brain Female is hosting it, I would guess we’ll see her entry, Libertarianism=Personal Responsibility again. Since it was this entry that prompted me to write of the Sovereign Individual, I think I ought to show you why.

We talk much of individual rights, states rights, freedom of speech, second amendment rights, etc. but in all this talk of rights, we also must begin to stress that along with rights comes a great commission – and that is that of personal responsibility.

As usual, I appear to find myself in the smallest minority, the one that understands that rights and responsibility are inherent. They aren’t things that one can, or cannot, “take”. They are part of the state of being. And they are not affected by what sort of community one lives within, or government that one is subject to. Indeed, the core understanding of my principles is that the individual is sovereign. Ayn Rand once said “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.” This is one of the foundational ideas of Objectivism, which is a philosophy for individuals, societies and governments espoused by Rand. The key thing that Objectivism misses, though, is the idea of moral responsibility. It is not enough to hold individual rights or to make the best decisions based just on self. Because, always, TANSTAAFL is an immutable rule of the universe. And that is where Rational Anarchy comes in. Robert Heinlein, who first described Rational Anarchy, said “A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame . . . as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else.” To that end, we need to realize where sovereignty, itself, is housed. Which brings us, finally, to the title of this post, and the reason for it. Sovereign, as an adjective, means self-governing, or independent. We understand that a sovereign nation is completely responsible for its actions as a nation, the conduct of its leaders, the laws and police powers it applies to its citizens. And, just as importantly, we understand that there is no law that is superior to that of a sovereign nation, unless that nation chooses to agree to such law. Using this understanding of sovereign, and observing the behavior of individuals, both in and out of a social group, we can understand that ultimately sovereignty is housed within the individual. Which is what a Rational Anarchist believes.

This sovereignty does not exist because of the inherent rights of the individual, but rather because of the inherent responsibility and power of the individual. Every action is, ultimately, the result of the decision of an individual. This applies even to the ultimate expression of national sovereignty, making war. When the left wing anti-war pacifist declares that war will happen until individual citizens reject such behavior, they are implicitly acknowledging what I’m writing here, even though I’m certain that the vast majority of such folks are collectivists who will reject the entire basis of the sovereign individual. The fact is, though, that whether the combat of war involves pulling the trigger of a rifle or pushing the button to launch a nuclear missile, it is always a sovereign individual, completely and totally responsible for their actions, that must make the decision to commit the act. With our current understanding of government and societies, we recognize that they are established to protect certain inherent rights, including life, liberty and property. What is important, though, is to understand that those inherent rights are the result of behavior by the individual, behavior that establishes sovereignty. The individual creates rights by taking, holding and improving property, by defending their life, by the acts of free association and free movement. And in the very act of making the decision to take such actions, the individual establishes that they are sovereign.

Ultimately, there is no law supreme to the individual, except such laws as they acknowledge and agree to. The prohibition on murdering a fellow human would be of no value if the vast majority of us did not agree to abide by the prohibition. A government could pass a law prohibiting murder and empower police to take action against those who do, but if the mass of individuals subjected to such a law refused to obey it, there would be nothing that the government could do. In fact, we see such a truth in the War on Drugs, and other vices (such as prostitution), or the speed limits on the freeways. What would happen if all of us, within our own sovereign responsibility decided that we not only would not obey the speed limits but we would not stop and allow ourselves to receive a ticket from police officers? Suddenly the speed limits would be without value and it would be completely impossible for a limited number of law enforcement officials to actually enforce this law. Or, from a practical, historical perspective, we only need to look to the revolutions that brought about the downfall of authoritarian, communist governments in Eastern Europe and Russia. So long as the mass of citizens in those countries acknowledged the authority of their government, their government was valid and had power. When those citizens decided that the government no longer would be granted power by those citizens, the government ceased to be. The individuals constituting the government could have chosen, of course, to try and exert power to re-establish their authority, but this would not have undone the sovereignty of those individuals at all.

What’s the point of this discussion? Simply this. It is, of course, true that libertarianism equals personal responsibility. For responsibility for your actions and your moral decisions is inherent to you, the individual. Whether you want to accept it, or not. Your individual responsibility comes before your individual rights. It is what establishes your individual rights. And it cannot be taken from you, nor abdicated by you. No matter what anyone who believes in collectivism, of any political variety, may try to say, this fact, that you are sovereign and responsible for each and every action and decision is an unalterable, immutable fact of intelligence and consciousness. This fact, by itself, makes collectivism of any stripe morally wrong, but that isn’t really the point of this essay. The point is much simpler. Whether you choose to acknowledge it, or not, you are responsible for everything that you do, or don’t do. Trying to shift that blame is self-delusion. This is the difference between a child and an adult. An adult is capable, emotionally and mentally, of accepting responsibility for self, a child is not. You, ultimately, are sovereign, subject only to your own morals and ethics, responsible for yourself.

Originally posted at Eric’s Grumbles.

Security executive, work for Core Security, veteran, kids, dogs, cat, chickens, mortgage, bills. I like #liberty #InfoSec #scotch, #wine, #cigars, #travel, #baseball

Humble equality vs. haughty equality

In the history of the United States, the word equality has been held in the highest esteem. It has also been subjected to a multitude of meanings. Our understanding of equality has drifted far from what it was when Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” In Jefferson’s day, had one seen one man rich and one man poor, he would wonder if the two men we being treated equally in the civil realm. If they were, then the two men would have been considered equal. This is humble equality. Now, when one sees the same sight, he assumes that there must be an inequality between the two that society must rectify. This is haughty equality.

First, let us look at the concept of humble equality—that we can only level the playing field in the public realm (law, the courts, government, etc.) by ensuring that people are treated equally regardless of race, class, and gender. We do not know you should live your life, nor do we know how you should run your business. You have the same chances to succeed, and fail, as we grant ourselves. We do not care how you live your life not because we are mean or selfish, but because we are simply not qualified. Sadly, we are in the minority.

Now, let us contrast that with haughty equality. Such equality, in fact, is not equality at all. It is illusory. It relies on a fundamental inequality—that some people know, better than you, what you should have or how you should live your life. In thinking about equality, it is an amazing proposition—that people are truly not equal, and should not be treated equally, so that they may appear equal to observers. It is also an incredibly dangerous proposition, since it relies on people to determine what way of life is good and how to enforce it.

Imagine you come upon two people, one rich and depressed, the other poor and happy. They are clearly not equal and your goal is to change that. What do you do to change it? Do you take from the rich man to give to the poor man on the rationale that money is good and the poor man does not have enough? Do you do the same thing on the rationale that the rich man is too rich to be happy? Do you reckon that the poor man is happy as he is and take from the rich man to make him emulate the poor man, keeping the takings for yourself? What is the right course of action for these people? How do you know? Do you even care what is right for them, instead focusing on what you think is right?

How much information would it take for you to make a good decision in this case? Would you need to know why the rich man is depressed? What if he were normally quite happy but had just lost a close relative? Would that impact your decision? What if he had gotten where he is by betraying everyone around him and he was burdened by guilt? What if he were suffering from cancer and needed the money to fight it?

What about the poor man? Would you like to know why he is happy? What if he were married to someone wonderful and wanted nothing more than he had? What if he were about to have a child? What if he were an artist or writer who cherished the way he lived?

Would you make a better decision if you knew any of those things? Absolutely. If the rich man were suffering from cancer and needed his riches to fight it, you would (hopefully) find it unconscionable to take some of those riches to give to a happy, albeit poor man. Likewise, if the poor man actually cherished his lifestyle, you would probably think it futile to give him riches he did not want.

Believe it or not, I gave you more information about the two men than most “haughty equality” crusaders have. Usually, they can only see the cold bottom line: one man makes a lot of money, another makes a little money. They, based on this, decide that the rich man should—must—give up some of his riches to help the poor man. Of course, they do not often deal with two individuals. Instead, they seek, through government, to impose their beliefs on a multitude of individuals—a multitude of lives, of circumstances, of temperaments.

They may deprive a rich man dying of cancer the money he needs to save his life. They may give money to a poor man who does not want or need it. It does not matter. The advocates know, by virtue of intelligence and belief, what is good for each of those individuals even without knowing the details of each life. The advocates are more equal than the multitudes they impact.

This ego trip, though, is not the end of the issue. If, in a democracy, a minority used its power to the detriment of the majority, they would not hold that power long. The “haughty equality” advocates always manage to garner a good amount of support for their efforts. How? The advocates get a good number of people to believe that they will benefit from the scheme. Listen to FDR, perhaps the greatest of the “haughty equality” advocates:

The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:
Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.
Jobs for those who can work.
Security for those who need it.
The ending of special privilege for the few.
The preservation of civil liberties for all.
The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.
These are the simple, the basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding straight of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.

Many subjects connected with our social economy call for immediate improvement. As examples:
We should bring more citizens under the coverage of old-age pensions and unemployment insurance.
We should widen the opportunities for adequate medical care.
We should plan a better system by which persons deserving or needing gainful employment may obtain it.
I have called for personal sacrifice, and I am assured of the willingness of almost all Americans to respond to that call. A part of the sacrifice means the payment of more money in taxes. In my budget message I will recommend that a greater portion of this great defense program be paid for from taxation than we are paying for today. No person should try, or be allowed to get rich out of the program, and the principle of tax payments in accordance with ability to pay should be constantly before our eyes to guide our legislation.

-From FDR’s “Four Freedoms” speech.

With words like this FDR convinced an entire generation to trade away their liberty, and the liberty of their fellow citizens, in return for the promise of a brighter future. Roosevelt convinced a good part of the American population that the government could make better decisions for them than they could themselves. They saw the promise of mighty civic heroes acting to save them from the vagaries of circumstance.

The decision to give up control of one’s life to another, of course, is one every individual is free to make. The problem here is not that people are choosing to do this for themselves, but rather they are choosing to do it through the state, an institution that affects everyone. We all participate in and pay for FDR’s “great defense” program, even though a good number of us would rather not. Because FDR’s program is run through the state, a democracy, our preferences were ignored in favor of the majority.

Sadly, this process has been repeated time and again in this country and many others. Time and again, people decide that they deserve to run the lives of others. Time and again, they convince those others that they should be running their lives. Time and again, they will do this in the name of equality. Time and again, these people declare themselves more equal than others. Time and again, these people inflict harm. Yet, if enough time passes, it will happen again, unless we stop it. We should not bow to “haughty equality” again.

(Cross-posted at News, the Universe, and Everything.)

Why Leftists Hate Thanksgiving

Leftist author and University of Texas Professor Robert Jensen wrote an article for Alternet (hat tip: Instapundit) where he bashed Thanksgiving as

“the day when the dominant white culture (and, sadly, most of the rest of the non-white but non-indigenous population) celebrates the beginning of a genocide that was, in fact, blessed by the men we hold up as our heroic founding fathers. “.

In 2003, Mitchel Cohen had a Thanksgiving Day bashing article for Counterpunch where he describes himself as

“I am an American in revolt. I am revolted by the holiday known as Thanksgiving. I have been accused of wanting to go backwards in time, of being against progress. To those charges, I plead guilty. I want to go back in time to when people lived communally, before the colonists’ Christian god was brought to these shores to sanctify their terrorism, their slavery, their hatred of children, their oppression of women, their holocausts.

Clearly, these two leftists use Thanksgiving to attack America for its “genocide” against native Americans. What these men forget is that native Americans and white settlers fought a series of wars, wars that the native Americans happened to lose everytime. For reasons why Westerners have mostly won in warfare, I recommend Carnage and Culture by Victor Davis Hansen. I especially recommend the chapter dealing with the conquest of the Aztecs and Hansen’s explanation of the native American’s collectivism and lack of individuality held them back technologically.

But when you read both the linked articles, you also see attacks on capitalism as well. This is assisted by the leftist dominated government schools which omit the real story of Thanksgiving, which is that the real story of Thanksgiving is that capitalism works better than socialism. Mike Franc has an article about this at Human Events Online:

Writing in his diary of the dire economic straits and self-destructive behavior that consumed his fellow Puritans shortly after their arrival, Governor William Bradford painted a picture of destitute settlers selling their clothes and bed coverings for food while others “became servants to the Indians,” cutting wood and fetching water in exchange for “a capful of corn.” The most desperate among them starved, with Bradford recounting how one settler, in gathering shellfish along the shore, “was so weak … he stuck fast in the mud and was found dead in the place.”

The colony’s leaders identified the source of their problem as a particularly vile form of what Bradford called “communism.” Property in Plymouth Colony, he observed, was communally owned and cultivated. This system (“taking away of property and bringing [it] into a commonwealth”) bred “confusion and discontent” and “retarded much employment that would have been to [the settlers’] benefit and comfort.”

Just how did the Pilgrims solve the problem of famine? In addition to receiving help from the local Indians in farming, they decided allow the private ownership of individual plots of land.

On the brink of extermination, the Colony’s leaders changed course and allotted a parcel of land to each settler, hoping the private ownership of farmland would encourage self-sufficiency and lead to the cultivation of more corn and other foodstuffs.

As Adam Smith would have predicted, this new system worked famously. “This had very good success,” Bradford reported, “for it made all hands very industrious.” In fact, “much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been” and productivity increased. “Women,” for example, “went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn.”

The famine that nearly wiped out the Pilgrims in 1623 gave way to a period of agricultural abundance that enabled the Massachusetts settlers to set down permanent roots in the New World, prosper, and play an indispensable role in the ultimate success of the American experiment.

A profoundly religious man, Bradford saw the hand of God in the Pilgrims’ economic recovery. Their success, he observed, “may well evince the vanity of that conceit…that the taking away of property… would make [men] happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.” Bradford surmised, “God in his wisdom saw another course fitter for them.”

The real story of Thanksgiving is the triumph of capitalism and individualism over collectivism and socialism, which is the summation of the story of America. This is the real reason why leftists hate this day and seek to turn into a day-long Blame America fest. The Pilgrims are the historical reminder of the defeat of socialism, over 380 years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. My biggest fear this Thanksgiving is that America is steadily abandoning capitalism and individualism, which why we as classical liberals (I like this much better than neo-libertarian or the other names that have emerged to describe people like me) must work to preserve the ideals of our Founding Fathers and those who settled America.

Crossposted to Louisiana Libertarian

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at The Hayride.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Freedom OF Thought, or Freedom FROM Thought?

A comment on a previous entry led me to think a bit about how we let what we read, hear, and see affect our opinions and thoughts. Freedom of thought (not freedom from it) is vitally important to our survival in the future as people who love Life, Liberty & Property. As the old saying goes, those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and there are many things going on in the world today that bear some careful thought and consideration.

In our day to day world, there are many occasions when we make judgement calls about things in which we have valid, useful, first-hand information. These are situations where we can be relatively certain that our judgement is accurate. We’ve looked at all the angles, and using the knowledge we’ve gained, we’ve determined the correct way to proceed.

How many times, though, do we see, hear, or read about situations in which we make a snap judgement based only on what we’ve watched on TV, heard on the radio, or read in the newspapers or online? Have you ever changed your mind after that snap judgement? Do you ever go seeking to find out if what you saw/heard/read was accurate? You see, it a world filled with so much media, we must really be sure that we’re exercising our freedom OF thought – not our freedom FROM thought. Freedom of thought allows us to step back and say, “Wow, that really sounds interesting – I wonder if it’s accurate?” Freedom from thought says “well, it must be so or they couldn’t produce/publish it.”

Freedom of thought will lead us to search every avenue available on a subject of interest rather than jumping on the nearest bandwagon. And, if you exercise your freedom of thought, you might just come to some really interesting conclusions – conclusions that may turn your original thoughts or established beliefs completely upside down. This kind of thinking, be forewarned, is not popular – and may cause you a great deal of grief, because bucking the establishment in any form will cause you to be ridiculed or held up as an imbecile to others. Yet it can be richly rewarding to self – if you can get past the need for accolades from others – to know, within your own heart and mind, that you’re not just blindly following the crowd.

My dad, whom I mentioned in a previous post, is a Minister. Dad taught us well – by example – that we should never pass anything along to others without doing our homework to try to insure that we were not passing along gossip or garbage. Incidentally, LOL, friends can tell you that I have never passed along chain emails and spam – and that more than one of them has received a link back to one of the urban legend debunking sites!

Recently, dad and I were talking about the word “Knowledge”. Dad laid it out to me in a way that I’d never thought about. Breaking the word into its separate syllables, it becomes “Know Ledge”. When we think about acquiring knowledge, we think of it as a climb up a ladder. When we’ve learned something concrete, we’ve reached a “know ledge”. We can stand on it. It’s firm. It’s a ledge on which we can place our trust, and from it we can rest and “chew the fat” about what we’ve learned until we’re ready to climb to the next level of “know ledge”.

Now, getting back to the ideas of freedom of thought and freedom from thought, whenever we gain knowledge from our research, we must sometimes use all our senses to discern truth. As the saying goes “the truth is out there”. While there are things that we can’t ever know for certain, if we at least take the time to search, using the knowledge that we can stand on (be it understanding of human nature, concrete science, or first hand information) we can at least be sure of using our freedom of thought to do the best humanly possible to grasp the realities of any situation. And wouldn’t that be better, always, than letting our brains atrophy in the mire of freedom FROM thought?

Edited from original post at Left Brain Female

Homeschooling Security Mom, Political Junkie, Believe in upholding the Constitution – and subscribe to the theory that gun control is the ability to hit your target!

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