Stupid in Texas

There are times when I am convinced that if we actually were able to recover a live species of homo neanderthalensis, with their smaller brains, that they would come across as Einsteins when matched up to some contemporary Texans today.

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There was a time when I was proud to be a citizen of the Lone Star State.  It has a dynamic history and a lot of great people have hailed from Texas, including Sam Houston, Buddy Holly and Sandra Day O’Connor.  At age eleven I formed a Texas Braggart club from a kit I bought at the local five & dime store.  I was the President and my friend Raul Ramirez was the V.P.  It lasted about 3-months before disinterest set in and the failure to recruit new members or collect any dues could be secured to sustain us.

John Connally was running for governor of Texas as a Democrat but would change stripes in 1973, a few months after giving the eulogy at LBJ’s funeral.  Liberal Senator Ralph Yarborough lost his bid for re-election in the 1970 Democratic primary to the more moderate Lloyd Bentsen.  In 1979 William P. Clements became the first Republican governor of the state of Texas.

Following a scandal involving a slush fund for paying SMU football players Clements decided not to run again, paving the way for Ann Richards, a sensible progressive, to eek out a victory against an acerbic multi-millionaire Republican candidate, Clayton Williams.   But the writing was on the wall for progressives and the Texas Democratic Party by 1994. Richards lost her re-election bid to George W. Bush and the prospects of ever seeing a progressive or even a moderate hold that office again were clearly not in the foreseeable future.

It was at this point in time that a migration of political and religious extremists started flooding into the state from so-called liberal bastions like California, Massachusetts and New York, and in association with the native-born wing nuts, we have seen a dramatic dumbing down of the state.  Texas has since become the butt of many jokes and any pride I may still hold for it is quickly diminished by the eye-rolling I experience from people who reside beyond the opposite sides of the Rio Grande, Sabine and Red rivers.

This herd of fundamentalistic John Birchers have assimilated themselves into the state GOP changing the character of that Party where many now think Attila the Hun was a RINO.  Since taking control of both state legislative houses and the governor’s mansion, these people have managed to prevent the state from rising above its sub par level of academic mediocrity over the last two decades.

No better evidence of this exists than when the Texas GOP stated in their 2012 platform their opposition to critical thinking for fear it might reveal some of the flaws in the backward thinking that these people practice.

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.    SOURCE

Is it any wonder then that Texas ranks 50th among the states in the percentage of its population 25 or older with a high school diploma.   Why bother?   It doesn’t take a high school education to fill all of the minimum wage jobs Governor Perry has bragged about bringing to Texas. 

uneducated workers

This dumbing down of citizens in the state of Texas has been apparent for quite some time now.  It was becoming clear as the nation and the world watched with astonishment as the man from Crawford, Texas who occupied the oval office at the time invaded Iraq after creating the largest deficit to date by draining the budget surplus to give taxes to the wealthiest Americans.  It would become crystalized however following the actions of the Texas State Board of Education.

In 2010 some of the troglodytes on that commission  wanted to make some changes in Texas school books that demoted the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, while elevating the sociopath of the 1950’s “Red Scare” era, Joseph McCarthy.  Texas was sending strong signals to the world that stupidity was in vogue.

This low-brow thinking is not taking any holidays either.  In fact, it appears to be a badge of honor by conservative office holders.  Just recently the U.S. Senate voted on renewing the 1994 Violence Against Woman’s Act (VAWA) and it passed, despite the fact that 22 Republican men voted against it.  It will come as no surprise to learn that two of those men made up the Texas delegation to the Senate; new Tea Party candidate Ted Cruz and two-term Senator, John Cornyn.

Their reasons for opposing the bill have been trumpeted by ultra-conservative political and religious groups which include the Heritage Foundation and evangelist James Dobson’s creation, the Family Research Council.   But the arguments lack substance based on the research of an exhaustive VAWA fact sheet .

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The fact that all of the other U.S. Senators, including all of the women, voted for it would indicate that people like Cornyn and Cruz who voted against it did so because of their strong ties to organizations that poll heavily against anything suggesting government oversight or that even hints at “feminism”.

Violence against women gets worse every year as this study done by the American Public Health Association revealed.

Femicide, the homicide of women, is the leading cause of death in the United States among young African American women aged 15 to 45 years and the seventh leading cause of premature death among women overall.1 American women are killed by intimate partners (husbands, lovers, ex-husbands, or ex-lovers) more often than by any other type of perpetrator.2–4 Intimate partner homicide accounts for approximately 40% to 50% of US femicides but a relatively small proportion of male homicides (5.9%).1,5–10 The percentage of intimate partner homicides involving male victims decreased between 1976 and 1996, whereas the percentage of female victims increased, from 54% to 72%.4

The majority (67%–80%) of intimate partner homicides involve physical abuse of the female by the male before the murder, no matter which partner is killed.1,2,6,11–13 Therefore, one of the major ways to decrease intimate partner homicide is to identify and intervene with battered women at risk. The objective of this study was to specify the risk factors for intimate partner femicide among women in violent relationships with the aim of preventing this form of mortality.    SOURCE 

But clearly the lack of critical thinking by Senators Cruz and Cornyn have lived up to the ambitions of their state Party leaders.   Apparently a woman needs a little physical reminder every now and then to help her remember her place in the traditional social order for some here in Texas.

abuse victim 1 abuse victim 2 abuse victim 3

Sorry ladies.   You’ll have to develop some high levels of testosterone if you want to avoid this in the future.  But we have made it easy for you to purchase a pair of equalizers.   We’re a firm believer in violence begets violence.

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42 responses to “Stupid in Texas

    • Actually guy about 40% of Texas voters still vote Democratic. Austin is obviously a pronounced enclave of such voters but the demographics in Dallas has changed over the years and now that city usually has majorities in the Dem. Party. East Texas too, especially Harris country where Houston is at, has large swaths of Democrats. We keep hoping the GOP swings so hopelessly to the extreme fringes of the GOP that even most conservatives will start walking away. That and a continued growth with the hispanic population which tends to vote Democratic.

  1. And to them, their point of view is quite logical. It’s scary.When I read this kind of think, I have to look at the calendar to see if we were not all time warped back to the 1800s

  2. Larry, I wish I could say that I would be surprised….but little does that any more…..tmw I have a silly post about Mississippi…..there is enough stupid to go round…..

    • Yes. I look at some of my neighbors and people I cross paths with daily and think nice thoughts about them and then remember they are likely the people the elected stupid in this state. I don’t think harshly of them but I do wonder if they really believe the values they expect of their elected officials are being realized in ways that move us forward rather than keeping us stuck in the 18th and 19th centuries.

  3. I am absolutely floored by the statement opposing the teaching of critical thinking skills! I truly, honestly cannot believe that its real! Elected officials, in the 21st century, who believe that it is dangerous to teach children how to reason?
    Good God. Welcome back to the dark ages……

      • I just feel so bad for the kids! I recently had a child move to my classroom from Texas. Great kid, very bright, hard worker….you can’t even imagine how many gaps there are in his education!

  4. I have resigned myself that my son and family will never leave Texas. I am so concerned about my grand daughters’ education. The first grader is in a gifted class. I love her dearly, but , since I taught first grade for fifteen years, I know she is just an average adorable child. My son, from a long line of Democrats, even a governor, is so far to the right of me, I can hardly see him. I can walk a few blocks to the state line and enter Kansas – working hard to become a clone of Texas. And, I won’t even go into all the people carrying guns!

    • “My son, from a long line of Democrats, even a governor, is so far to the right of me, I can hardly see him.”

      I’ve had to work past this too Mary with many members of my family. We all struggle with this but it should never reach the level where we disrespect another because of how they believe. This is the trap we all fall into too often I suspect, including me.

    • I’ll start worrying about Arizona when their decision about school books for their state starts effecting most other school districts around the country. But it does help take the heat off Texas a bit when they have a fat ass bigot like Sheriff Joe Arpaio to distract everyone.

  5. Larry, don’t be so harsh on just Texas. I think there is a vast conservatgive conspiracy to dumb down America. Wisco Guv has attacked teacher;s union, slashed education budgets, ….and it scares me.. The joke is now…” if you dropped Guv Perry and Guv Walker from a tall building, who would hit the ground first? Who cares…..as long as they fall together

  6. One of the things the conservatives there should have gotten a warning about – but didn’t – was when they were talking about seceding. The reaction from the rest of the country wasn’t quite what they expected … mostly along the lines of “don’t let to door hit you!”

    One of the hopeful signs is more towards the future. Cruz and Cornyn are doing a wonderful job, along with the rest of the Republicans, of alienating large swathes of Hispanics, and given Texas’ demographics, it’s likely that they may be a minority party in Texas within the next decade. Can’t happen soon enough.

  7. “Outcome-Based Education” does not involve critical thinking skills. It’s more like dog-training but for humans. They often name things the opposite of what they really are. Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt is a good source for the analysis, though not a Democrat, as far as I know, in case that matters to you. I know a lot of people have trouble absorbing useful information when it comes from people with whom they disagree.

  8. “Outcome-Based Education” does not involve critical thinking skills. It’s more like dog-training but for humans. They often name things the opposite of what they really are

    Can you cite us a couple of examples of this Dave?

    • “Patriot Act”, which actually does more harm to true patriots than to anyone else. “Government Benefit”, which actually creates unhealthy dependence, not a benefit at all.
      “No Child Left Behind” which requires that every child test at grade level, which, in turn, requires that the test methods (or something) be tweaked to avoid detecting children who would “otherwise” be “left behind” – thus leaving them behind invisibly.
      “Justice System” which replaces morals with laws, thus rendering “justice” a simple mechanism that means “getting the state whatever it wants” instead of the moral rectification that it should mean. Ok, that one is a bit of a stretch.
      “Rape”, as in “statutory rape”, which is most often consensual – the opposite of what “rape” means.

      I think everyone should keep an eye out for more examples of this.

      I don’t remember Orwell’s 1984 well enough, but he might have several examples that pertain to modern times as well – just look for “doublespeak”.

      • I understand your concern for Orwellian concepts. Both Parties seem to be using such tactics, accusing each other of it while feigning innocence for themselves.

        I’m curious though how you would define a “true patriot” and who decides what’s “moral” and what’s not. Clearly some things are bad and harmful but when left up to some people these terms can be narrowly defined to suit the perceptions of different groups. For example, is sex between two consenting adults out of wedlock considered immoral and if so, based on what criteria? Is burning a flag in protest of some U.S. policies unpatriotic and if so, based on what criteria?

      • I never really bothered to define “patriot” for myself, but since you asked, I suppose a patriot is one who would turn against his government to protect his countrymen. When his own government provides no threat, a patriot would be someone who … Well, I can’t finish that sentence because “government” means that authority which maintains influence not through wise council, but through the threat of violence. Even while the US constitution was being discussed by the state representatives, the true patriots were those who recognized the threats and insisted on adding the Bill of Rights.

        Your question on morals reminds me of Jeremiah’s “God’s word is written on the hearts of men.” Even an atheist understands that some things are just wrong. I interpret Jeremiah’s assertion as meaning that there is no need for someone else to tell you or decide for you what is moral and what is immoral. Etymologically, “moral” comes from the Latin for “customary” (mores), and I think everyone would agree that customs change gradually through both time and space.

        I know people like hard rules, and I suspect that is because they would like to feel justified when they ignore that little voice of conscience about which Jeremiah wrote: “As long as I’m not breaking [the hard rules], I’m not doing anything wrong.” It’s a justification and a rationalization, and laws encourage it – to the detriment of society.

      • I don’t have much of an opinion about Ayn Rand. I read Atlas Shrugged and liked it, but I was young and reading it because of a girl. When I read (a tiny bit) about how Ayn Rand treated her acquaintances, I got the sense that she didn’t have faith in others’ tendency to figure things out “in the background”. It takes a long time to learn to trust the intelligence of other people, I know – Especially when it’s subconscious which seems to be pretty normal. I suspect she was a bit like me in that we figure things out consciously for the most part and expect others to do the same. I was like that until five or ten years ago. I have the sense that she demanded conscious reasoning too much and destroyed a lot of her relationships. I’ve learned to back off and give people time to think about things, consciously and subconsciously, and I think it helps a great deal in philosophical meetings of the mind.

        What I recognized is that we have instinct and emotion to counteract our reasoning because in reasoning, a small logical error or one bad piece of information ruins the conclusion. Emotion and instinct protect us from that, and often in a way very frustrating to people like me who are very good at logic puzzles. We do still make occasional logical or factual errors, and if we don’t have too much of an ego, those are the times we are really grateful to the more emotional people in our lives who block us from acting on our incorrect conclusions. But when we know we’re right and we just have to wait for others’ emotion/instinct to back off long enough, it’s frustrating.

      • ” But when we know we’re right and we just have to wait for others’ emotion/instinct to back off long enough, it’s frustrating.”

        It is indeed but you can only hope you are dealing with mature, rationale people on the critical issues. When you see that hard-nosed, immature types are in charge it becomes more than frustrating, it becomes insulting to all the hard work that went in to creating a system intended to benefit more than those who scream the loudest and have a greater treasure trove to promote their insanity.

      • “When you see that hard-nosed, immature types are in charge it becomes more than frustrating, it becomes insulting to all the hard work that went in to creating a system intended to benefit …”

        Frustrating, for me, is worse than insulting. Insults hardly bother me at all. Perhaps this is because I let go of the “group effort” thing a long time ago. For me, no one is “in charge”, though I realize that for most, there is a kind of dependence on having a leader of some sort, and that usually falls to the government.

        I don’t put any work into creating or changing a system unless either I own and control that system, or if someone who will take responsibility for the successes and failures of the system is willing to pay me to work on their system. For example, I abandon politics a few years back. You can find out more about this at http://www.voluntaryist.com.

      • ”For me, no one is “in charge”, though I realize that for most, there is a kind of dependence on having a leader of some sort, and that usually falls to the government.“

        The iconoclast eh? Maybe even … what, a loner?

        I too find authority less appealing and I have become less willing to participate in group functions. But I still recognize the need for social coherence. It’s a part of what makes us human. Entomologist and former Research professor at Harvard University, Edward O. Wilson, discusses the scheme of a grandmaster of advanced social evolution which includes “two levels at which natural selection operates: individual selection based on competition and cooperation among members of the same group, and group selection, which arises from competition and cooperation between groups.”

        Using comparative studies of thousands of animal species, from insects to mammals, they have concluded that the most complex societies have arisen through eusociality — roughly, “true” social condition. The members of a eusocial group cooperatively rear the young across multiple generations. They also divide labor through the surrender by some members of at least some of their personal reproduction in a way that increases the “reproductive success” (lifetime reproduction) of other members.

        Eusociality stands out as an oddity in a couple of ways. One is its extreme rarity. Out of hundreds of thousands of evolving lines of animals on the land during the past 400 million years, the condition, so far as we can determine, has arisen only about two dozen times.” Humans being among that small number. SOURCE

        The point to be made is that you can’t be both an “individual” and expect to accomplish what’s necessary to sustain personal freedom all alone. Governments can dominate and suppress personal freedoms but so can other large entities like churches and corporations. Entities that have established themselves overtime and have many people convinced of their “authority” over them. Religions use an invisible, wrathful God to keep people in line and corporations use the threat of an invisible market to keep consumers in line. When these two entities unite with government forces to promote their self-interests, personal freedoms are going to be lost, somewhere and at some level.

        The notion that you “abandoned politics” is like saying I abandoned the human race. Politics isn’t just what goes on inside the D.C. beltway or at your state capital. Politics is how we as humans interact with each other and achieve goals that help us sustain our personal freedom. When you give up on government and assign it to a few corrupt people you are saying you have no power in a system that was originally designed to serve everyone, not just a select few. Politics and government is only as bad as the people allow it.

        The state of government has diminished its capacity to serve as the founding fathers intended, I think, because too many people want to be left alone to do their own thing. This sounds great but in reality much of what you think you don’t own or control is the air you breath and the water you and your family rely on to survive. The state of education is being squeezed by special interests groups to promote an agenda that makes them good little followers of things you likely wouldn’t recognize as bad, like a devoted consumer and adherent to “free market” principles, despite the fact that consumption has serious waste issues and that free markets seldom are these days. When you allow all entrepreneur efforts to exceed their social responsibilities you are in effect guilty of the corruption and greed by that very entity you have come to despise.

        To think, as many before you have, that you can separate yourself from the forces that will shape policy and that will ultimately impact you is naive. Perhaps in our early history when there was a frontier to separate individuals and political or commercial special interests this could exist but that life no longer exists. Opportunities to live the “American dream” are shrinking though the myth is still as big as ever.
        Getting involved and viewing yourself as part of a collective force is going to be required to combat not just the “evil” forces you think exist only in government but are apparent, through just a cursory review of the situation, where wealthy special interests who elect or get elected to public office effect policies. Policies too often that undermine our democracy and its republican form of government.

        Conservatives from an earlier generation saw the threat of massive corporations and their impact on national and global policy. Eisenhower warned against it in his farewell speech. Henry C. Simmons, the founder of the University of Chicago school of economics begged fellow conservatives to recognize that “turned loose with inordinate powers, corporations have VASTLY OVER ORGANIZED most industries.”

        Milton Friedman and other respected conservatives believed that “America might now be better off if the corporate form HAD NEVER BEEN INVENTED OR MADE AVAILABLE to private enterprise.” Even supply-side god-father Friedrich Hayek conceded over three decades ago that “if we continue on the path we have been treading [toward what he termed the ‘monopolistic organization of industry’ closely allied with government] IT WILL LEAD US TO TOTALITARIANISM”. (all emphasis mine and my source for these comments comes from Gar Alperovitz’ book “America Beyond Capitalism”.)

        I understand your mistrust of big government Dave especially under what you see as a “socialist” president, but the bigger issue lies behind the curtain that many want you to ignore. These elite few are not necessarily corrupt career politicians but people who have been hand-picked by a powerful plutocracy whose goal is to capture as much wealth for themselves with little regard for how it impacts the average citizens.

        Perhaps without even knowing it, they are tightening the noose around their own neck while trying to convince poorly informed Americans that what they have is there for all to have. But as the wealth of the average American continues to shrink under globalization policies and legislation written behind closed doors by corporate-friendly legislators, the fortunes of about 1% of the income earners continues to explode exponentially. The once attainable American dream viable a century ago is no longer there and is only being played up by the plutocracy in this country to prevent the “masses” from arising up against the real perpetrators of those who would quash your freedom.

      • I agree with you that “…you can’t be both an “individual” and expect to accomplish what’s necessary to sustain personal freedom all alone”, but I think it’s more important to remember that “you certainly can be both an “individual” and expect to accomplish what’s necessary to sustain personal freedom while belonging only to groups to which you choose to belong.” The rotten apple that spoils things is coercion, and that is only possible when a large portion of the group finds it acceptable. Corporations and Religions lose their teeth when coercion (including government) is small or absent.

        You have provided a definition of “politics” that is a bit more encompassing than what I meant. You’re right: I haven’t abandoned politics at all. I abandoned the struggle to identify those who are granted by society the right to violate others – the politics of government. I agree with “Politics and government is only as bad as the people allow it.” In fact, that is the major problem. People ought to discourage rather than encourage everyone (even government agents) from violating others (by, for example, taxing or regulating them). I discourage that at every opportunity.

        You wrote “…only in government but are apparent, through just a cursory review of the situation, where wealthy special interests who elect or get elected to public office effect policies.” This suggests that you see some kind of distinction invisible to me between “government” and “special interests who elect or get elected to public office.” Until we agree on where the basis of governmental authority is in the continuum from “wise counsel” to “threats of violence”, I think this invisible distinction will grow more important in our efforts to understand each other. Can you explain it to me?

        You characterize me as mistrustful of government. I’m not sure why you call it mistrust. Do you mistrust a mugger? A rapist? A thief? It’s more a recognition of depravity. People think it’s acceptable for government agents to fine us, cage us, or take our stuff when we break laws the government has established. If *I* fine others, cage them, or take their stuff when I don’t like what they’ve done, people would recognize that I am depraved. But they think it’s perfectly fine for government agents to do those things. I don’t mistrust them. I recognize the evil created in them by the widespread acceptance of their “just doing my job” depravity.

      • ” I think it’s more important to remember that “you certainly can be both an “individual” and expect to accomplish what’s necessary to sustain personal freedom while belonging only to groups to which you choose to belong.” The rotten apple that spoils things is coercion”

        And where has this happened to you or someone you personally know? Or is this more of an underlying fear you have?

        ” I abandoned the struggle to identify those who are granted by society the right to violate others – the politics of government.”

        Wow! That’s pretty dark image Dave. Why do you focus entirely on government in such stark terms? Does society really grant their government the right to violate them or others? Doesn’t this occur when we sacrifice freedom for security? Aren’t there examples you can think of where society is violated by corporate policy?

        ” People ought to discourage rather than encourage everyone (even government agents) from violating others (by, for example, taxing or regulating them).”

        What about wrongful imprisonment and real physical torture? What about racial profiling and violating a woman’s right to choose an abortion of an unwanted pregnancy? A civil society has to have rules to maintain some sense of law and order. There will of course be times when some will see some regulations as over reaching but our system is set up to correct such issues if they indeed prove excessive and unnecessary but it requires citizen involvement.

        ” Until we agree on where the basis of governmental authority is in the continuum from “wise counsel” to “threats of violence””

        This notion of “wise counsel” needs a bit more clarification. Who decides what is wise council? Again, personal perceptions will often disagree with what is best for society as a whole and what is an invasion of our personal privacy. Rick Santorum thought it was the states right to spy on two consenting adults behind closed doors if it was suspected they were engaging in anything other than “normal” heterosexual acts between legally married people. Was this a form of wise counsel?

        ” You characterize me as mistrustful of government. I’m not sure why you call it mistrust. Do you mistrust a mugger? A rapist? A thief?”

        Wow! Again with the dark and stark characterizations. Would it bother you if I viewed many with corporate America and religion that way. Doesn’t the church steal and rape our minds with their superstitions. Doesn’t the monopoly that controls many markets rob our incomes and our health with wages and working conditions that make us weaker?

      • ” “The rotten apple that spoils things is coercion”

        And where has this happened to you or someone you personally know? Or is this more of an underlying fear you have?”
        After extended discussion with those who could tolerate it, I’ve discovered that most people pay taxes because of the coercion that backs it up. Likewise attending school (truancy laws) and buying expensive chemicals instead of smoking common weeds to relieve stress (drug war).

        “Why do you focus entirely on government in such stark terms?”
        Sometimes people need to be slapped.

        “Does society really grant their government the right to violate them or others?”
        Absolutely.

        “Doesn’t this occur when we sacrifice freedom for security?”
        Yes it does. It’s a foolish sacrifice. Or Ben Franklin and I are just plain wrong.

        “Aren’t there examples you can think of where society is violated by corporate policy?”
        Of course. That is what George Stigler’s analysis of “Regulatory Capture” is all about. Corporations get in bed with the coercive authority in order to be successful.

        “What about wrongful imprisonment and real physical torture? What about racial profiling and violating a woman’s right to choose an abortion of an unwanted pregnancy? A civil society has to have rules to maintain some sense of law and order.”
        How about aiming for a society that has a sense of order and leave “law” to the scientists who know how to discover it? What a society (civil or uncivil doesn’t really matter) needs to maintain a sense of order is not rules, but morals. The confounding of morality and legality is a serious plague. Wanna help cure it?

        “Who decides what is wise council?… Rick Santorum…spying…”
        If you hear something that helps you, it is wise counsel for you. Some people have a knack for saying things that are generally helpful, like “Be nice and you’ll have more friends.” “The authorities should be allowed to spy on you” is not wise counsel at all. It’s a pleasant thought for the jerks who want to control others, but not really helpful to anyone, is it? YOU decide what is wise counsel, Larry, for yourself. And here’s one I think you might appreciate: Using coercion to force others to follow the wise counsel that you’ve decided to follow is immoral.

        To sum up your closing, I agree thus: Corporate America and religion steal and rape our minds with their superstitions and use coercion when they can get away with it to rob our incomes and our health. If you’re willing to work for a wage or under working conditions that harm you (or both), then you are helping them do these things. Everyone is responsible for himself regardless how much you and I try to help them. We may feel a moral responsibility to care for them, but it would still be immoral to use coercion (regulation and taxes included) in order to fulfill that responsibility.

      • ”After extended discussion with those who could tolerate it, I’ve discovered that most people pay taxes because of the coercion that backs it up.”

        Oh! You’ve discovered this have you? Did you also discover that those people who want to walk around naked publicly are also coerced from doing so?

        But let’s stay with your coerced concept of paying taxes. Did the founding fathers get this wrong then when they made it part of our constitution? How should they have allowed for the need to man & supply an Army and Navy? How should common needs for infrastructure be paid for? By people’s charitable donations?

        ”Likewise attending school (truancy laws) and buying expensive chemicals instead of smoking common weeds to relieve stress (drug war).”

        Yes, why insist our children attend schools to educate themselves when they can do other productive things like sit around and watch TV or video games. Of course not all children would do such idle things but if they did that would be their choice. Anything else would be coercion, yes? Later they would likely develop some social behavior problems that required a certain amount of coercion to prevent harm to others.

        What would you say of the coercion applied to people who are expected to follow the Mosaic LAWS?

        ”Sometimes people need to be slapped.”

        Isn’t slapping people around a form of coercion?

        You say society “absolutely” grants their government the right to violate them or others?” So we’re masochistic? Do you exclude yourself from this?

        On sacrificing freedom for security you say, ”Yes it does. It’s a foolish sacrifice. Or Ben Franklin and I are just plain wrong.”

        I don’t think you’re wrong at all. Just curious though – did you vote for George W. Bush the second time around? Remember to answer in the morally-centered way. Clearly it didn’t improve things when Obama took office but we were led to believe otherwise at the time and some of us followed our “wise counsel” in making this decision.

        ”How about aiming for a society that has a sense of order and leave “law” to the scientists who know how to discover it? What a society (civil or uncivil doesn’t really matter) needs to maintain a sense of order is not rules, but morals.”

        I’m all for aiming for a society that has a sense of order but how do you achieve this without writing down some guidelines for people who may not have a sense of order, like small children, mentally unstable people and others who have been isolated from society for long periods of time?

        ”The confounding of morality and legality is a serious plague. Wanna help cure it?”

        You betcha. Where do we start?

        ”If you hear something that helps you, it is wise counsel for you.”

        That’s kind of a loaded statement don’t you think Dave? People who don’t have a “sense of order” or moral-centering may choose to follow the advice of someone who tells them something that helps them but hurts others in the process.

        People who work for health insurance companies have been told that their bonuses will be impacted by how many customers they can refuse coverage for. This helps them make more money but hurts the individual who needed the coverage to perform life-saving surgery. What appears to be wise counsel for some – based on your definition of helping themselves – proves to be not so wise for the poor schmuck who bought the insurance premium.

        ”Some people have a knack for saying things that are generally helpful, like “Be nice and you’ll have more friends.” “The authorities should be allowed to spy on you” is not wise counsel at all.”

        Again, I don’t disagree with your basic premise in this particular case. But say you work for the government agency that tells you to spy on a select group of people you feel are loyal Americans yet the information you are given strongly suggests that some within this group are planning to blow up a building which your spouse works in. What do you do? Assume they’re lying and being immoral or do you do what helps you and your wife, along with hundreds, maybe thousands of other innocent people, and spy on those American citizens?

        ”It’s a pleasant thought for the jerks who want to control others, but not really helpful to anyone, is it? YOU decide what is wise counsel, Larry, for yourself.”

        Okay. Let’s say I decide that it is wise counsel that my children should not view instances of what some may refer to as pornography which might me interpreted as viewing the naked bodies and actions of other people. Now my neighbor behind me chooses to sunbathe in the nude, in sight of my daughter’s second story bedroom window, usually when she’s there studying. She chooses to do the “right thing” by closing the window blinds and ignoring it but in so doing deprives herself of the visual beauty of a sunny day and all the other “morally-centered” activities outside her window. And she has to do this because she has been taught by me (a mild form of coercion?) that viewing this man’s naked body is morally reprehensible.

        Now maybe she has been helped by taking the action of her “wise counsel”, maybe not. But has she been helped by imposing these restrictions on herself for closing out the rest of the world. My (male) neighbor clearly has the right to sunbathe nude in his own backyard without consideration of other people, based on your explanations here of coercion and the law. Yet my daughter must now alter her behavior that she would rather not do, because it becomes the “moral” thing to do?

        ”And here’s one I think you might appreciate: Using coercion to force others to follow the wise counsel that you’ve decided to follow is immoral.”

        So I should let the coal-fired power plant downstream from me continue to dump their toxic waste into my drinking water because getting getting them to stop violates their sense of “wise counsel”?

        ”To sum up … Everyone is responsible for himself regardless how much you and I try to help them. We may feel a moral responsibility to care for them, but it would still be immoral to use coercion (regulation and taxes included) in order to fulfill that responsibility.”

        In some ideal world maybe so Dave. But we’re no longer in the land of Eden nor do we live in small clans where a sense of order and morality is easy to achieve. Greed doesn’t just disappear on its own. Greed is just an extreme version of a person’s self-interest without limits.

        There has to be a certain amount of “coercion” to limit these excesses. God allegedly imposed a certain form of coercion on Adam and Eve (“Eat of the forbidden fruit and you die”) where he would have been better off not putting something out there in the first place that he didn’t want them to choose on their own to eat of.

        And unless there is 100% employment with a livable wage that allows for adequate health care coverage for everyone around the world then you are going to have people who need assistance from time to time. When you encourage consumption where clearly we have limited resources somebody has to go without. If those who choose not to “donate” some of their resources to alleviate this then in effect they send those others a death sentence.

        We live in a world Dave that requires some of things you find repugnant. I wish we didn’t either. Pointing out the flaw in this and suggesting some moral imperative however is not likely to occur or change much of it. We simply can’t reverse what has been let loose. Wishing it were so and condemning others who don’t agree is a naive approach to this, IMO.

      • “Pointing out the flaw in this and suggesting some moral imperative however is not likely to occur or change much of it.”

        It just did occur, and it often occurs when I write, and it has had visible effects on people I know. Perhaps there are some reading this who might be affected positively by our writing. I was going to answer several of your questions, but I will wait until you deny a suspicion of mine that, if true, would make my effort a waste of time. The suspicion is that you are not willing to join me in pointing out the flaw and suggesting moral imperatives.

        You asked where we can start in curing the plague, and here you’ve got the answer right there inside a claim that it’s not likely to occur or change much. We work on individuals, and when you start doing that, you see progress. I’ve been turned onto it, and I invite you to join me. Voluntaryist.com has a lot of good information and history that is quite inspiring to those of us who want to cure the plague.

      • “I suppose a patriot is one who would turn against his government to protect his countrymen.”

        Do you see this happening anywhere in American history? Do you think Ruby Ridge and Waco were examples of this?

        “Well, I can’t finish that sentence because “government” means that authority which maintains influence not through wise council, but through the threat of violence.”

        Does it? Always?

        “It’s a justification and a rationalization, and laws encourage it – to the detriment of society.”

        Again you seem to be speaking in absolutists terms. Do you mistrust all civil laws? What about the Mosaic laws that the prophet Jeremiah himself was expected to follow? If they believed that their God codified behavior was not that God setting an example on how to maintain social order?

      • ““I suppose a patriot is one who would turn against his government to protect his countrymen.”

        Do you see this happening anywhere in American history? Do you think Ruby Ridge and Waco were examples of this?”

        Rosa Parks, Thomas Jefferson, Malcom X, John Lennon, Martin Luther King Jr., War Resistors, Irwin Schiff… I could go on. Ruby Ridge and Waco were not much like patriots as far as I know because they were just trying to isolate themselves from the government, not challenge it. I suppose I’m a bit more like them, but I hope to stave off government violence is kindness and subterfuge rather than facing it bravely and squarely as in those cases. I think the kindly and stealth tactic is safer for everyone and brings peace and awareness faster.

        ““Well, I can’t finish that sentence because “government” means that authority which maintains influence not through wise counsel, but through the threat of violence.”

        Does it? Always?”

        Probably not always, but we don’t want to keep making people sick just because some of them recover and end up stronger than before. On the other hand, if you can think of cases where government authority flows from wise counsel instead of threats, perhaps you’ll bring them up and give me a chance to agree or disagree.

        ““It’s a justification and a rationalization, and laws encourage it – to the detriment of society.”

        Again you seem to be speaking in absolutists terms. Do you mistrust all civil laws? What about the Mosaic laws that the prophet Jeremiah himself was expected to follow? If they believed that their God codified behavior was not that God setting an example on how to maintain social order?”

        Yes, absolutist. It isn’t mistrust, but rather a reflection on the nature of the thing. For example, the nature of illness is bad, so anyone arguing that we should make people sick because when they recover, they’re stronger, could point out that the counterargument “But sickness is bad!” is absolutist. Mosaic Law suffers from the same problem, wherein people are taught to listen to authority (religious authority) rather than their conscience. It’s one of the sources of violence committed in the name of God. Morality and legality wage war in a person wherever they are in conflict, and any kind of government will give an advantage to the immoral side.

  9. I can say with all honesty that there are at least 20 or 30 other countries I would live in before I would even consider living in Texas or most of the South. To me, the entire region seems much more foreign to me. I do hope the fundamentalists get marginalized to the point where sanity can prevail, but it does seem somewhat of a long shot right now, at least in Texas. Here’s wishing you the best, LB!

    • Thanks Jeff. It took us a while to get to this point . I suspect it will take a while before we see the pendulum swing in the opposite direction, unless every moderate and liberal moves out of the state and leaves the remaining hardliners on the right to their own devises.

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