I have a particularly unique combination of values. Take my word on that for now and I’ll try and prove it. What will surprise many people is that I understand a way in which religion, Republican economic policies, homeopathy, laissez-faire capitalism, traditionalism, green energy, and gold based currency can seem attractive. These things all start and stay pretty simple.
In addition to fulfilling our agency granting pattern recognition centers, religion answers “God did it”. With benefits such as providing a common mythology, it puts many people in the community on the same page. It makes moral claims and becomes a conduit for discussing values and what various parables and life stories might mean. What should we do when the ends don’t always follow the planned means? What is more important: character or doing the greatest goods by the numbers? Religion tackles a lot of those questions before you even realize that those questions each exist in their own domains.
However god did it, the devil is in the details. And so is the mystery. And that’s where our curiosity leads us if we really want to know what we can know. What we know stands up whether we make a claim about the existence of a god or not (re: Immanuel Kant’s agnosticism). Gravity (the link is a jest), physics and chemical engineering fulfill our expectations that we’ve learned from research. When our expectations are unfulfilled, we get a mystery that leads to a new discovery. The truth is truth for its own sake but it definitely gets more complicated as you dig into it.
I’ve got a friend. He votes Republican. He doesn’t understand how you can spend your way out of a recession since that would violate what a person should do if they were in debt. That’s a good argument. Saving money is simple. And saving money works on a small scale. But Democrats ask a greater good question. “Is it possible to redistribute the wealth so that the system bounces back to economic growth faster?” I don’t believe rich people aren’t entitled to their money. I believe many earned it and that’s worth seeing as the rule rather than the exception. But what if not redistributing the wealth costs them more than they imagine? Who should make that decision for the greatest good of the nation? Well I think that’s the job of the government. And yes, I have the same fears that the government will fuck things up as the rest of you. I think politics should be about arguing the best reasoned arguments and incidentally educating the voters who listen to the debates. Instead we get barbarian tactics of “my way or the highway”. That’s scary and it needs to be fixed. The welfare of the nation is still the government’s responsibility. And it starts out simply about life, liberty, and the misery of taxes and ends up really complicated.
Homeopathy is about the essence of a thing. I don’t want a duck, I want a drop of duck. I don’t want cancer, I want to recognize cancer and defeat it. Jesus was a homeopath with loaves and fish dividing and dividing until everyone was fed. It was a miracle or what I like to call “a fairy tale”. It’s a spectacularly simple system based on dilution and the law of similars and doesn’t even bother with complicated math. It’s not hard to get to Avagadro’s number with homeopathy and once you do, whatever you thought was in your concoction probably isn’t there at all.
Laissez-faire capitalism makes sense in its simplicity. Don’t interfere in the greed of an entrepreneur. If they weren’t greedy, they wouldn’t create jobs and without jobs well, there is no economy to speak of. But the past has shown that business interests will override the safety of the workers to the point that some workers have been killed in order to save a buck. Each entrepreneur has their own values and they need to be regulated against exploiting workers and then workers can find labor in the regular way. That sounds simple but it is not. It involves anti-monopoly watchdogs and labor unions to protect against profit gouging consumers and wage gouging workers.
Traditionalism gives you the old way of doing things which many of us learn on accident and benefits all the people who were benefited before while giving old folks a way to look at young folks and remember that time when they were contributing citizens, forgetting how they marginalized all sorts of people and isolated themselves from the world only to get woken up by the Japanese bombing us (much to American business profits that we waited so long to realize there was a war going on). The modern way is more complicated but it involves paying attention to the people who are the most vulnerable in our society and trying to spot ways in which the system makes being vulnerable all too easy. Also, it involves allowing reason and facts to update what we think is right and wrong. Morality is affected by how much complexity you can consider for good reason. It also should be affected by how effective our justice system is at accomplishing its goals of crime prevention, rehabilitation, and satisfying the parties that have been wronged.
Green energy is a hoax because solar and wind power are unsustainable and it often comes hand in hand with a fear of nuclear power. Right now, nuclear is the most efficient and most clean fuel we have that meets our current needs and we are simply marketed lies by petroleum, coal, and green peace people another side effect of laissez-faire business in a sense since the lies are allowed to continue despite facts. Green energy was a great idea and I think it was worth it to investigate but at some point investments should demand a return.
Gold based economies relate a unit of currency to an amount of gold thereby acting as if your dollar was so much gold. The problem is gold values change. Literally, some days you would rather have the gold than the dollar and vice versa based on supply and demand as well as portability. In other words, that relationship changes. It’s a lot more complicated and worth paying attention to.
But you don’t. Or at least many of us don’t. You buy your alternative medicine. You pray to your gods. You vote Republican. You honor tradition and you hope everything will be okay based on the fact that the world has survived this long on what our ancestors have always done. And you act like Christian ministries are charitable without wondering why some charities aren’t ministries. You pray because it doesn’t hurt anything instead of thinking about solutions because the odds are long that you can contribute even if they are priceless for those that succeed. You want fewer taxes and you don’t want to support the poor out of fear that the people spending your tax dollars aren’t working as hard as you are and thus don’t deserve it. And yet you haven’t convinced our politicians to run on the platform of saving money by reducing the amount of wars we are fighting since I imagine that is where most of our money is being spent.
And you don’t have to take my word for it. You don’t even need to believe me. But I’m gonna ask you to treat this world as being a little more complicated and I’m gonna ask you to put a little more effort into why you have your position. Push me back and we’ll rise above our economic and political problems.