The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

The revolution will not be televised. We’ve heard this expression countless times throughout our lives, but have you ever stopped to consider what it means? The most obvious explanation is that the major news organizations have a vested interest in the status quo, and, having no incentive to broadcast the change in operations, hide the news of the revolution from the audience. This is a perfectly reasonable explanation, and given our current understanding of the bias of the major news media and their reasons for it, it is a likely one. However, I would like to pose a different explanation.

The revolution will not be televised because television as we know it will cease to exist by the time the revolution happens. We can see it happening more and more every day. Millions of people get their news and commentary from the internet. They increasingly look there for entertainment as well. YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming sources all provide far superior outlets for news and entertainment, and there are countless blogs and websites that are putting print media into the dust bin of history. This, however, is not the only reason the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised because the revolution itself is not a singular event. We might like to think that the global financial markets will melt down one day, and from the ashes of ruin, a phoenix of free market capitalism and sound money shall rise, however, this is very unlikely. Yes, the global financial markets are built upon a Ponzi scheme of fiat money and trillions, if not quadrillions, of dollars of debt, but that does not mean the world will end when that system collapses. It also does not mean that the collapsing of that system will be the revolution.

The revolution is already happening. It has been happening. The revolution is not one singular event. It is the creation, evolution, and adoption of new systems that improve our quality of life. The revolution in human communication occurred when the telephone was invented, it evolved into cell phones, and everyone now uses them. The same happened with education. Once the internet was invented, improved upon, and accepted into mass usage, you can learn anything you want online, whether formal or informal via a YouTube video. Transportation is another revolution that has occurred over the last century. We went from horses, to trains, to cars, to airplanes, to everyone having their own car and driving wherever they want.

The last great revolution that will occur is in money. I know that the government runs and controls many things via the threat of a gun, but it is monopoly control over the money supply that affords them the power to rule over us. If we can do with money what we have already done with communication, education, and transportation – that is to say, create something better than the fiat we use, let it evolve into something that works for almost everyone, and get it adopted by the mass population – we will liberate ourselves from the shackles of tyranny seemingly overnight.

Many will argue that our beacon of hope is crypto currencies, and while I like the technology quite a bit and believe it has tremendous potential for contributing to human flourishing, I can’t get my head around the idea of a series of digits on a screen having intrinsic value. They are a great medium of exchange, or currency, but they are not money. Going into further detail on the discussion of crypto currencies is beyond the scope of this article, however, know that they are an alternate and competing system with our current fiat based currency system and they offer some hope for the revolution continuing according to the needs of human flourishing.

Just like the formerly skinny person that wakes up fat one day and wonders, “How did this happen?” so too shall be our revolution in human flourishing.  The observed situation did not occur overnight with the now fat person, rather it was a series of little decisions over the course of many years. Our revolution will happen much in the same way. We will make one individual decision today, and then another tomorrow, and one the next day, and before you know it, we will all wake up one day and realize, we live in a pretty great world.

The Two People in Your Life

There are two versions of you that exist. There is the person you are right now, and there is the person you will eventually become; current you, and future you. At the end of reading this article you will be future you from the perspective of current you, and you will be a different person. Time and experience make the future version of ourselves different from who we are right now in this moment. Even if we do nothing but stare blankly at a wall for four hours, the person we are at the end of that four hours has changed, even if seemingly imperceptibly. You will at the least be four hours older, and perhaps at the most, someone who has achieved a profound understanding of themselves. You could have been meditating about your life during that staring, only you know for certain. The point is, we are always changing, and the only control we have is over the direction of that change is the choices we make.

You can do nothing to change who you are right now, but the choices current you makes will determine who future you is. That sounds clunky, so let me rephrase. There are two people in your life, the person you are, and the person you will eventually become. You have the power to determine who you will eventually become, and you can ensure that version of yourself becomes who you want to be by the choices you make in the present. It can be empowering and scary to realize the kind of power you have over the direction of your life and the future you will have. You have the capacity to become what you have always wanted to be, to be the kind of person that will make you happy. Eventually, current you will be future you, and when that day comes, will you be happy?

We must side track for a moment to define happiness. Happiness is a state of being. It is a kind of joyous satisfaction with your life that comes as a result of living the virtues that make you a good person. It is not the immediate satisfaction of your most base desires in the moment that defines hedonism. Happiness does not come from consuming the bowl of ice cream; it comes from knowing that you have the power to choose if you want to eat the ice cream, and if you do, it will not ruin your health. Happiness is self-empowerment and self-control. Happiness is not spending time with people in your life; happiness is knowing the people you spend time with in your life are there because they practice the same virtues as you. Happiness is knowing that you will become the person you want to be because you are already making choices that make you more like that version of yourself every day. But, how do we achieve happiness?

The first thing we must realize is that happiness is not an achievement, and it is not a destination. It is a state of being, which means it can only be experienced. So, how do we experience happiness? We must make choices every day that make us virtuous and good people. I say virtuous and good because I believe virtue is living in accordance with your values. If you value honesty and want to be virtuous, you must be honest and truthful with yourself and the people in your life. You could value hurting other people, and thus would be virtuous by hurting other people. But that wouldn’t make you a good person. In order to be good, you must virtuous in living the values that make one a good person. Those values may be self-evident to most people, but this is short list of some of them: honesty, integrity, trust, compassion, empathy, sympathy, kindness, generosity, courage, and magnanimity. That is by no means an exhaustive list, and to provide a complete list may take a lifetime of work. Another reality is that being virtuous and good also takes a lifetime of work.

The truth is, none of us will ever be perfectly truthful, perfectly honest, perfectly empathetic, and that is OK. We are human. It is more important that we try and are dedicated in our effort to achieve virtue than it is to actually achieve the ideal. Being virtuous is a skill, and like any other skill, it must be practiced if we are ever going to be good at it. You do not have to be excessively rigorous, but it is important to have a working understanding of your virtues. Otherwise, you will not know what choices to make. If you want to be an honest person, this means you must always tell the truth, no matter how embarrassing. Sharing embarrassing truths can be hard, but there are two ways to make it easier. One, you start with easy, little truths. Perhaps you tell your friend you secretly have a crush on the awkward person that used to work in the mail room, or despite how obnoxious your boss is, you respect and appreciate them for what they are trying to accomplish in the workplace. Two, you have people in your life with which you can share your truths openly and honestly without fear of judgement or reproach because they accept and appreciate you for the person you try every day to become.

This is another truth; achieving virtue is a life-long pursuit, and you must make choices every day that direct you towards being virtuous. You must practice every day, every time you have to make a choice. No matter how small the choice is today, it will impact future you. You may think, “Ah, it’s just one cookie, what could it hurt?” but it is not just one cookie. It is a value judgement about whether or not immediate gratification is more important than long-term success. If you are trying to lose weight, saying no to the cookie today will make it easier to say no to the cookie tomorrow, and after saying no to the cookie a few days in a row, you will feel so empowered that no cookie will hold sway over you ever again. Understanding the kind of power future you has the potential to wield must be an ever present idea in your mind because it will have a profound impact on the power current you is able to exercise.

Future you will eventually be current you, and if you want future you to be happy, successful, and the culmination of your life’s biggest dreams, then it requires consistent, diligent work from current you. It is not about some singular herculean effort, rather it is about a lot of little efforts every single day. One snowflake is not capable of covering the mountain, but when enough of them accumulate over time, and their fall is consistent enough, you can build a ski resort and make a lot of money. The snowflakes are your choices, and the ski resort is your happiness. Isn’t it time you started accumulating?

What I Would Like to Know

We know that religions evolved all across the world in different cultures as a way to describe the things that could not be easily understood and as a way to codify morality among the people. We know that the races are biologically different. We also know that religions evolved to some extent along racial lines. We know that IQ has a biological component, although we do not fully understand what it is. What I want to know is to what degree genetics influences our cultures and our religions. Is religion an outward projection of our values based upon evolutionary pressures, is it an internal understanding of who we are as a race of people, is it some combination, or is it something else entirely?

We know that cultures are defined entirely by the people that inhabit them. Europe and the United States are very different from China and Japan, and different still from sub-Saharan Africa and South America. Christianity is different from Buddhism, which is different from Hinduism, which is different still from Islam. Christianity permeated Europe and subsequently the world from the proliferation of Western civilization across the globe, but when you look at pre-Christian religions in Europe, you find a different representation of the White man. Without getting into those specifics too much, I want to know to what degree are the Gods of these religions representations of the ideals of the specific races that created them. I also want to know to what degree the values of each of these religions reflect the innate or biological characteristics of the races that value them.

A recurring theme in all religions seems to be an idea of transcendence. Some religions describe it as the soul, and others describe it as a state of nothingness. While there are many different descriptions of this idea, its consistency across the races is indicative of our underlying unifying traits as humans. I want to know if there are biological underpinnings of this idea as they are so prevalent across the different races.

The last thing I want to know is the impact of IQ on religion and culture. We know there is a biological component to IQ, and given that the races have very distinct cultures and race is an effect of biology, to what extent does intellectual capacity impact the complexity, adherence to, and enforcement of religion. Take for instance that in Christian nations in the West there is large tolerance for other religions and even atheism, while in Muslim countries in the Middle East non-believers are put to death. How does intellectual capacity affect this, as well as if there is a biological component is something I find profoundly intriguing. We know the average IQ in the West is 100, while it is 85 in the Middle East. This clearly indicates that the intellectual capacity of citizens in the West on average is greater than it is in among the citizens of the Middle East. Is this entirely biological, cultural, religious, a combination, or something else entirely?

These are challenging and controversial questions, and I feel comfortable asking them because of the degree of freedom I have where I live. I know that if I am ever going to find the answers to these questions, I will have the easiest time in a society in which challenging ideas are not shunned or people that have them are not black listed. That is a society in which individual freedom and pursuit of the truth are the greatest ideals. That society is a state of anarchy. It is my hope in answering these questions I can understand what will be the most likely vehicles for bringing about a state of anarchy. Perhaps it is that anarchists are simply a different subspecies of people. It feels like it at times. Regardless, it is my hope that all of humanity can unite behind the ideal of human flourishing!

Better Lucky Than Good?

I first heard the expression, “better lucky than good” while golfing with my dad. I was so bad, and still am, that when I would hit a remarkably good shot, one of us would remark, “Better lucky than good!” For a long time I thought this was a good saying until someone else explained to me that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. That changed my outlook entirely. People that are successful are not lucky; they are well prepared and they sought out opportunities to succeed. If luck did exist, it would indicate that there are supernatural forces at work influencing our lives. In truth, anyone that is lucky has simply taken advantage of an opportunity that was presented to them.

Have you ever seen a guy with a beautiful woman on his arm? Did you remark to yourself about how lucky he was for being able to keep such company? What about someone like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs; do you think they were lucky? I would argue that none of these people are lucky. No one is lucky. All people that are successful in whatever regard, are so because they prepared and seized an opportunity when it arose. They were also not simply sitting idly by waiting for an opportunity; they were actively out searching for opportunities. How many girls do you think the aforementioned guy dated before found the beauty on his arm? Do you think he didn’t spend any time accumulating resources to intrigue such a woman? Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn’t stumble into their success. They worked every day on it, and little by little they achieved greatness.

Successful people work harder, train longer, dream bigger, seek more opportunities, and sleep better because they know that as long as they keep working, their preparation will find the right opportunity. This is why I write every day. Writing helps me coalesce my thoughts, plus it is training for improved communication. As someone that loves communicating and teaching complex and challenging ideas, it is important that I am skilled at communicating in any medium available. I am confident that my writing will improve as I continue to prepare myself for the opportunity that I know is approaching. If more people shared this outlook, instead of believing that life is just going to happen, we would have a happier and more successful population. You are responsible for your life, your preparation, and how you respond to the opportunities you face. I hope you are prepared for the greatest opportunity of your life because it is not going to wait for you to be ready.

The Precarious Proposition of Procedures

Procedures, we deal with them on a daily basis. Anything from a four-way stop to ordering food at a restaurant to opening or closing a business for the day, procedures are designed to help individuals streamline their actions. When you know how someone else is going to act, it makes your decision making process easier and more streamlined. This is the purpose of having a procedure. It allows for you to anticipate the actions of other people without knowing them personally as well as transfer information without having to do it directly. Procedures can also stifle creativity and innovation. As with all things, there are pros and cons, so let’s have a look at the pros and cons of procedures.

First up, we will talk about the benefits of having a procedure or a standard operating procedure. I use traffic examples often as I will assume most people have driven a car in America, plus I have spent a great deal of time driving. If you approach a four way stop at the same time as three other cars all coming from the other three directions, how do you know who goes first? Procedure would indicate that the first person to arrive crosses the intersection first. If you all arrive at the exact same time, you then proceed in a clockwise direction around the intersection until all vehicles have cleared. This allows you the opportunity to get through the intersection quickly without any confusion. Likewise, traffic lights provide a valuable procedure; stop on red, go on green, and caution on yellow as vehicles in the intersection clear. If people thought the proper procedure was to go on red, while others only went on yellow, everyone that went on green would be in a world of hurt. Procedures clearly enhance our driving practice.

Likewise, if you work in a business that has multiple shifts, you undoubtedly have a procedure for the beginning and end of your shift so you are able to take over from the previous person easily and leave the station primed for the next person. The same is true for accounting and book keeping practices. Ledgers are kept consistent within the business and they meet a uniform standard so others outside of the business can understand the accounting process of the business in order to evaluate the assets of the company. If we really think about it, procedures surround us in every facet of our lives. Most are good, but what happens when procedures are bad?

The ill effects of bad procedures are pretty straight forward; anything from a loss of efficiency to a disservice of justice can result. Perpetuation of poor government programs, such as welfare that creates a permanent under-class, or excise taxes on cigarettes and booze that hurt most the poor, are a direct result of poor procedures. Taxation in all of its forms are procedures, and the entire United States Code is a system of procedures and how to implement them. By delegating powers to government agencies, Congress institutionalizes the procedures that make the laws that affect all of our lives without any legislative oversight whatsoever. As bad as these are, the worst part about procedures is not their direct effect on us.

It is the indirect impact of discouraging critical thinking that makes procedures so incipient in their degradation of our society. When you no longer have to think about whether or not what you are doing is right, you stop doing it. You rely on the procedure to tell you what to do, and you rely on the judgement of the procedure creator to determine if the procedure is in fact just. This separation of judgement from action that results from following procedures degrades our personal capacity to evaluate our own actions and the actions of others. You cannot hold the cashier responsible for not being able to credit your debit card instead of give you cash back; that’s the procedure. You cannot hold the cop responsible for giving you a ticket for following too closely, even though you didn’t cause an accident; that’s the procedure. You cannot hold the concentration camp guard responsible for beating the inmates; that is what the procedure dictates when the inmates demand freedom. This may be a slippery slope argument, but the point is valid. If we lose the capacity to evaluate our actions in the here and now, that degradation will perpetuate and permeate into larger and more significant facets of our lives.

Additionally, when we rely on procedures, we lose the capacity to adapt quickly to changing environments. If the procedure is to write up a report and send it to Stan in HR, have him review it, and then forward it to accounting, it makes it really difficult to get our addressed changed in the system. However, if the system is open source, and we can change our address on our own when it’s needed, the system constantly evolves and grows as we change and grow. This system of constant evolution and adaptation to the ever changing needs of humanity can only come from a state of total freedom, from a state of anarchy.

In order for us to flourish as individuals, we must live in a civilization that has the capacity to adapt to our ever changing needs and desires. A civilization is a group of people that have chosen to live together freely and only voluntary exchanges are permitted, but a civilization is not an abstract concept. A civilization is the people that comprise it. Those people will necessarily be able to adopt the procedures that work and adapt to situations in which the procedures do not apply. Those people will be capable of critically thinking and acting upon their own sound judgement. Those are the kinds of people I want to be around because that is the kind of person I am. I buck the trend of blind conformity to the norm as often as I believe it is necessary and just, and I do it because it is the right thing to do. I want to demonstrate a better way to live, and most importantly, I want individuals to think critically for themselves. Will you join me in my pursuit for anarchy so together we can all flourish?

Anarchy Is Everywhere

I write about a variety of topics, and I have not yet touched on all of them. I do this because I have a wide variety of interests and because there are so many interesting things in the world I wish to learn. I seek a somewhat high degree of competency in those things as well because I believe that is the only way to truly understand and appreciate them. I write about all of these things in the guise of anarchy because anarchy is everywhere.

Anarchy is defined as the absence of coercive control. In your life, almost every decision you make is made in a state of anarchy. From your choice in breakfast food to the house you live in to the car you drive to the place where you work, and to the person you love, these choices are all made in a state of anarchy. No one is threatening violence against you if you choose to eat cereal over a bagel for breakfast tomorrow. Likewise, no one is going to hang you if you marry the love of your life, even if your family disapproves. Now, you may say that all of these choices are freedoms, and if we are truly free, we have the freedom to make those choices. With that I would agree.

It is only within a state of anarchy that we are truly as free as possible to live our lives as we see fit. Think about all of the myriad of choices you are going to make today, tomorrow, Friday, next week, next month, next year, and ask yourself, am I making this choice free from violent coercion? If so, then you are making that choice in a state of anarchy. Through anarchy we achieve freedom, and through freedom we flourish. I hope you join me in my quest for anarchy so that all of humanity may flourish.

 

What Is Economics?

Traditionally, economics is defined as the study of how individuals allocate scarce resources. While this is an accurate description, it is not adequate. Individuals do allocate scarce resources, but in order to do so they must act. Subsequently, if we are to completely understand economics, it is those actions we must endeavor to understand. This is why economics in actuality is the study of human action.

In economics, we take as a given that humans act. One cannot acquire bread without taking action to do so. If we could manifest matter out of nothing, not only would we be defying physics, but we would live in a fictional reality closer to that of Star Trek. Given that within our reality resources are scarce and humans must act in order to thrive, let alone survive, it is those actions with which we must concern ourselves. We discussed the three requirements for human action in Why We Do What We Do. Assuming those requirements are met, the individual will act.

We are not concerned with why they act, as in what are their internal motivations. Why someone values chocolate ice cream over vanilla is not within the realm of economics. The fact that they have a subjective value is. All values within economics are subjective relative to the individual. It does not matter why someone will choose chocolate over vanilla, however, the fact that nine times out of ten they will make that choice is something that falls within the realm of economics. It is an outcome that is quantifiable and it tells us valuable information about the subjective preferences of the individual. We can take these preferences and collectivize them with the preferences of hundreds or thousands of other people and conclude that all things being equal, more people prefer chocolate to vanilla. This is not a value judgement on chocolate or vanilla, however, if you are a grocery store owner, it will indicate that you should stock more chocolate ice cream than vanilla.

All voluntary exchanges necessarily leave both parties better off. This is also a given within economics. It is a given because it logically makes sense that the only way I am going to give you my apple for your orange is because I want your orange more than I do my apple and you want my apple more than you want your orange. There is no other logical conclusion. Could it be that my fruit preferences are indifferent between apples and oranges, but you hate oranges, and because I value your happiness over my own fruit consumption I make the exchange? Certainly, but we are still both better off because of the exchange. You are happier, and I am happier because you are happier.

Humans are funny with their subjective valuations, but they will always act in a way that will result in them increasing their perception of happiness. Will they always be right? Not necessarily, but happiness is the end goal. This is why self-knowledge is so important; the more you know yourself, the more likely you are to be happy. We will discuss economics more in future posts, but for now, this is a good place to start.

Why We Do What We Do

Have you ever wondered why people do what they do? Why do people act? Ludwig von Mises set out to answer just that question in his fantastic work, Human Action. In that book, he lays out three requirements for human action. First, you must have an unease with your current situation. Next, you must perceive a better situation. And, finally, you must believe that positive action will get you from where you are to where you want to be. These can be somewhat confusing, so let’s break them down.

Do you like your sofa? If you do, are you likely to go out and buy another one? If you don’t like your sofa, are you considering getting a new one? Not liking your sofa is an example of unease with your current situation. You do not like your sofa, so you want to relieve your unease with it.

Assuming you don’t like your sofa, how do you know can improve your situation? Perhaps you saw a commercial on TV for a new sofa, or you went to a furniture store. This is a presentation of the second requirement for human action; you perceive something better. If there were no new sofas, you would not pursue getting a new one, and therefore would not act. In our scenario you do see a new sofa, however, this is still not enough for you to act.

The last requirement for human action is the belief that positive action will get you from where you are to where you want to be. Where do you want to be? Sitting on a new sofa! Where are you now? Sitting on a crappy one. How do you get a new sofa? If you already have the money saved, you go buy a new one. This belief that going to the store and purchasing the new sofa will get you the new sofa results in you going to the store and buying a new sofa.

Consumer goods are an easy representation of this concept, however, it is just as valid with all of our actions. It applies to why we go to work, why we eat food, what food we choose to eat, the friends we have, the places we live, the relationships we cultivate, everything. If you can work through this framework, you can understand why you do what you do and why other people do what they do. I will go into this in further detail in subsequent posts. Thank you for reading, and I hope you stay tuned!