Reflections on assumptions, principles, and world-view after a painful loss

It is easy to argue with others and say that they must be
stupid or insane or whatever to vote a certain way. But, when you lose, you
have to confront the fact that you were out-voted, and therefore, in a
minority. Introspection to see whether you
made a mistake, or if they were
mistaken, or if there are other forces at work, must be done or you will keep
losing. We all have our assumptions and principles, and these form our basic
world-view, and it may be time to check out or investigate theirs, as well as
my own. Assumptions and principles are different, and should be evaluated for
clarity and reasonableness.

All of Euclidian Geometry follows from a very small handful
of postulates, common notions, and definitions. People are more complex, but
that doesn’t mean that our assumptions HAVE to be far more complicated or
vastly more numerous.

Some people have a very simplistic “if it feels good do it”
sort of worldview, because that sums up their principles, and their sole
assumption / value is “feeling good right now is what matters most.” If you don’t
agree with that basic assertion, then you see them as shallow, hedonistic, short-sighted,
etc. But you can’t get them to change their view, or see YOUR view, until you get them to formally recognize
and question
those underlying ideas, and acknowledge yours.
Similarly,
you can’t understand why they do what
they do until you recognize and understand what their fundamental principles and values are. Same facts, utterly divergent
views.

Simplistic example: Men generally value freedom more than
security, and women vice-versa. Men generally earn more than women. A
politician offering much freedom and low taxes, at the cost of limited
safety-net and therefore personal uncertainty, will attract more men than
women. Another politician offering an image of dependability and security (such
as free healthcare) at a cost of high taxes and regulation, will attract a lot more
women than men. Men see the cost in taxes and on their freedom, women see
benefits of not having to worry about it. Same fact, different values, different
votes. Looked at short-term, before the cost of the free health-care bankrupts the
nation, the female vote is perfectly
rational, and if she votes against it she’ll be accused of voting against her
own self-interests
. OTOH, a man voting against it will be accused of being
selfish or uncaring. Looked at long-term, as the burden of it destroys many
other things and increases uncertainty, it’s
very self-destructive to vote for
the health-care pol
. But one just calling the other stupid or callous doesn’t
help find common ground or resolve the dispute and decide the best course for
both short AND long term concerns.

My basic assumptions about the people of the world are:
A) People tend to change their behavior when their perceived incentives change (see “O” below).
B) People will work much harder for themselves (to make more money or improve
their situation) than for anyone else, i.e., they will work in their own best
interests (as they see them).
C) Most people are basically good, and want to do good, BUT
D) people tend to be lazy, and can be envious, spiteful, cowardly, have other
anti-virtues, AND
E) some folks just are not wired right (psychopaths, narcissists, psychotics, sociopaths,
OCD, idiots, etc)
F) People are people – any assumptions you make about the “common man” or
business leaders, you must ALSO make about people with a badge, or in elected
office, or any other government employee. (Corollary: If you don’t trust folks
to take care of themselves or run business, you can’t expect them give them a
monopoly on government force and expect them to act like angels.)
G) Risk can never be eliminated, and trying to do so creates other, much more
subtle and dangerous, risks (Corollary: you CAN’T save everyone. NON-corollary:
it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to save anyone).


My assumptions about economics are:
H) The world is not a zero-sum game.
I) TANSTAAFL- ALL choices are trade-offs, and better choices can be made if
consequences are clear, direct, and known to the chooser at the time of the
choice being made. (Related: Costs should align with benefits, preferably in an
obvious-to-the-beneficiary way at the
time of benefit
)
 J) People tend to change their behavior
when the incentives change (yup, same as above – it’s important)
K) Things not earned are not valued properly or understood well. (Corollary:
giving people stuff, either “free stuff” or power, corrupts the spirit and
distorts values and other incentives).
L) Because people have different values, aiming for equality of outcomes is unwise.
M) There will always be relative winners and losers in ANY system, and changing
the rules simply changes who wins or loses most. (Related: the more rules there
are, the more people will attempt to game the system to personal advantage, and
the worse the side-effects)
N)  When incentives of self-interest are
aligned with desirable outcomes, there is little resistance to “good” action (corollary:
when they conflict, coercion will be required).
O) Failure is not a bug, it’s a necessary
feature, a feed-back mechanism. It’s not only an option, it MUST be a VISIBLE and
PAINFUL option, if people are to evaluate risk and reward to choose wisely.
P) What works best is usually what aligns self-interest with desired outcomes.
Q) Marginal costs can tell you a LOT about how well thought-out a plan is.
R) That which cannot be sustained, won’t be.


My principles and values are: more freedom is better than
less; private property is private, and that includes your body, your time, and
the product of your labor; I really don’t care that much about what you say about
the intended result of your actions –
I care much more about the actual
real-world results, effects, and side-effects; dependency is bad; coercion is
bad; coercion and charity are incompatible; clarity and accuracy are more important
than hurt feelings; things of value are best earned or given freely; a person
should do all that they promise to do; a person should not harm another, or
their property, without just cause (such as self defense); all people should be
treated equally under the law, BUT not all people are of equal worth; honesty
is good, even if it is uncomfortable.

Questions, challenges, any missing / contradictory /
redundant items? If I can get it concise – simple, clear, short, and complete
enough – whenever I get in an argument that I think can be broken down to
fundamentals, I can ask which ones they disagree with. If they DON’T disagree
with any of them, and don’t have any others, I could build up, like a Euclidian
proof, why my position makes more sense than theirs (or at least, why their
position doesn’t make sense to me), and if they DO disagree or have other
additional items, I can get a much better handle on why/how/if I can approach
the disagreement to find common ground.

6 thoughts on “Reflections on assumptions, principles, and world-view after a painful loss

  1. I think what you wrote was wonderful. But the woman with the earrings refutes it all with:

    Senor d’Anconia, declared the woman with the earrings, I don’t agree with you!

    If you can refute a single sentence I uttered, madame, I shall hear it gratefully.

    Oh, I can’t answer you. I don’t have any answers, my mind doesn’t work that way, but I don’t feel that you’re right, so I know that you’re wrong.

    How do you know it?

    I feel it. I don’t go by my head, but by my heart. You might be good at logic, but you’re heartless.

    Madame, when we’ll see men dying of starvation around us, your heart won’t be of any earthly use to save them. And I’m heartless enough to say that when you’ll scream, “But I didn’t know it!”, you will not be forgiven.

    The woman turned away, a shudder running through the flesh of her cheeks and through the angry tremor of her voice: Well, it’s certainly a funny way to talk at party!

  2. Joe – true, but if I can establish that their thought process is entirely emotional, and they are not willing to even make an attempt at understanding the logic behind opposing view, then I know that emotional appeals are all that will work, and I can focus on that, and ignore logic, consistency, and principle entirely in my attempts to persuade. It also lets me know that they are not really adults, just children, really, and I should aim for that level of discussion, and not be bothered by it, because they are not.

  3. I love trying to boil things down to their constituent essences. In that spirit I offer the following;
    Nearly every human being knows intuitively from a very young age, the justice of liberty (its core being property rights) and the injustice of coercion.

    All, or virtually all, adults know it intuitively when it involves them personally, i.e. if I extort a dollar from you, for whatever the reason, you will know that an injustice has occurred.

    I offer that concept as absolute, unarguable.

    Unless you are a saint, the injustice will also evoke an emotional response, and that is where the clever manipulator has you.

    There is something horrible going on, which causes about half of the population to not only accept but advocate coercion on a mass scale. They not only advocate coercion, but will defend it, practically to the death (or to your death) as something “good” and necessary. Any rationalization will do– We’ve seen thousands of them, and some of them are even contrary to others which that proves that it is a hypnotic state.

    To reiterate; humans naturally and intuitively know that liberty is right and good, and that coercion is wrong and bad, yet they often favor massive coercion anyway.

    Why?

    I do not think that the answer lies entirely in the sort of analysis, well thought out as it is, that you’re engaged in. I believe that the answer lies in emotions, and in the hypnotic sort of state that emotions lead to.

    Why does one choose gang affiliation over an honest and productive life?

    Why does an abused spouse so often stick with, and even defend, the abuser?

    Why does it happen, over and over, that some cult or other, and even whole countries, commit mass suicide?

    I think the answer to those questions is the same, and if you can define it, you have solved your puzzle.

    To explain the mechanics of success brilliantly, as I think you have, to many on the left is to tell them nothing new. Point out how the Dow fell after the election results were known, and the reasons for it, and even if they understand they’ll celebrate the fall. If they celebrate it openly they’ll later deny that they celebrate it. Point out how their leftist ideals lead to decline and mass destruction, and it won’t faze them. If anything it’s a feature, not a bug– if the objects of their hatred (free, vibrant and productive human beings) are harmed or killed, what’s the problem? There are too many stinking people on the planet, they’ve been made to believe. If you like them, you’re one of them, and so you must be harmed or killed also. All the better for the survivors, and for the planet.

    In short; we are no longer dealing with differences of opinion between well-meaning, thinking persons. We are dealing with communism, which is a hypnotic/cultist state of mind, even to the point where the very word cannot be uttered without evoking a rolling of the eyes, disgusted reaction as if you were so stupid you just said space aliens from Venus had landed in your backyard and were serving you crackers and beer.

    We’ve been in a psy-ops war for generations whether we know it or not, we’ve been losing the whole time, and we continue to lose. This is primarily a psychological/spiritual problem we face and it won’t be solved with hard economic facts because the hard economic facts have nothing to do with it.

    This is a de-programming and re-indoctrination problem, and we have almost no plan or infrastructure for it. Given the recidivism rates in our criminal justice system, and the difficulty that the traditional psychology “experts” are having with something like PTSD (another sort of emotional/hypnotic problem) we have some serious re-thinking to do, I submit.

    Think of government as the abuser or the gang/cult leader, and their voters as the abused followers. Then we have the media, most of the entertainment industry, and the government/education complex as the infrastructure supporting it all. How long will they even need their voters. Do they even now, really?

    We are way, way behind the 8-ball.

  4. Rolf; your response to Joe came seconds before I posted my long response above and so I didn’t see it. It seems you have arrived at a conclusion very similar to mine, but I see a couple of differences. My thesis is that emotional appeals are the problem. Virtually all media and entertainment are invitations to emotion. An emotional reaction or state is the pathway to hypnosis– to being controlled by someone else’s will. I used the example of children, innocent children that haven’t yet been damaged, to show that the child understands the simple concept of justice. It has been referred to as a state of Grace.

    If we’re unable to instill a sense of honor and Grace in others, then I suppose that hypnotic control in favor of justice would be a very distant, next best thing. Maybe. Ideally we’d be able to find a way to get people to snap out of their pathological state. Pressure and intimidation, wearing people down to a state of hoplessness and anger, are certainly not going to do it, as that is how they came to be communists in the first place.

    I’m only just coming to these thoughts myself, so I’m still trying to understand.

  5. Rolf, why are you trying to persuade people who not only (A) are among the most likely to just be persuaded right back the other way again as soon as you’re out of the room, but even (B) if sufficiently persuaded for the change to last beyond the immediate term, are, as functional children, more likely to cost you more in resources than their support will benefit you?

    What exactly are you expecting to get out of these interaction?

  6. Acksiom – good question. First, I like to understand why people come to the conclusions they do, simply because I find the thought-process interesting and educational. Secondly, if others are coming to a different conclusion than I, maybe I am missing something, so finding the root cause of divergence might be important. Thirdly, if I know that it isn’t a just missing fact that’s leading to different conclusions, but simply a totally different fundamental value-set, then I can either agree to disagree and change course as needed, or if it’s a situation where I need short-term cooperation (say, a vote on a jury or election) I can select a more appropriate tactic to achieve short-term agreement. Fourth, sometimes I hear an argument that I know isn’t right, but it takes me a while to figure out how to counter it well, so I am better prepared with a fast answer next time I encounter it. Fifth, I might be able to open the door for the next person using logical argument. Sixth, I have kids, and I’m a teacher, so formulating effective arguments that are not necessarily using perfectly clean logic has great practical value.

    Example – an emotionally-driven someone pushing for an expensive program might be countered – “I can’t believe you hate children so much you want to saddle them with crushing debt payments before they even graduate high school. I thought I read about a program that was a less expensive way to achieve the same thing.” Logical at it’s core (pointing out a cause and effect they are not focusing on), but phrased in much more emotional terms. It’s saying you want to believe they are a good person, but they ARE having a bad effect. It shifts the focus from the immediate benefit they see, to the problem / side-effect they don’t, acknowledges the value of their stated goals, but paints them bad for their methods. It personalizes it in a way debt-payment tables could never do.

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