Monday, June 11, 2012

Learning About Law

I've enjoyed the nascent rise of the Tea Party. I was watching CNBC when Rick Santelli gave his famous rant against the ludicrous use of public funds to bail out real estate speculators who were over-extended at the end of the housing bubble.

Students of history know that farming underwent a bubble in the late 19th century, here in America. Farm prices were rising, crops were rising, and then, we had an economic downturn. Banks were foreclosing on farmers. It was the One Percent against the Ninety-nine. Popular agrarianism, replete with quotations from T. Jefferson were worked over the available media, from stump speeches to newspaper. The social media of the time were replete with messages about how important farming was to the success of the American experience. (As an example, see this item from

Capital is an easy enemy of populism, since populism is generally agreed upon to be pandering to the lowest instincts of a country's population. It isn't hard to win an election when one understands the Bell Curve. When we look at a group's intelligence, and measure the intelligence of that group, there are certain statistical constraints--including fair sampling, randomness and even distribution--that help us derive this curve. Bottom line is, when in comes to intelligence, half of the group is below the mean, half are above. Coming up with a policy that requires broad elections seemingly skews the results of broad-based election in favour of those at the lowest intelligence levels, rather than those above the mean. If you can get those below median to polling places, you can be assured of the outcomes of their votes, since the lowest of ability are probably the most likely to afford themselves of programs that provide for free (taxpayer funded) programs, while the most intelligent amongst us are more likely to see government programs that provide for the least able are most likely to be abused, filled with waste, mis-directed and with less means or success testing than any other government programs.

Try cutting Head Start. A program that since the '60's has had no discernible impact on student scores. Any attempt at cutting Head Start is demogogued as anti-poverty, racist, anti-blfdjsio. It doesn't matter how jumbled the criticism is, Head Start is an anointed program that doesn't deserve examination.

We have many programs that result in screaming under the gaze of criticism.

I have several unimportant hooks that I hang my intellectual hat upon, from time to time. One of these is etymology.

"Criticism, n.1.a The act of criticising, esp. unfavorably; fault finding; censure; as an act incurring criticism. b A critical observation, judgement, or review; a critique; as, Addison's criticims of Paradise Lost.  2. A subtle point or distinction; nicety; subtlety. Obs. 

The choicest delights and criticisms of sin.                             Milton

"3The art of judging or evaluating with knowledge and propriety the beauties and faults of works of art or literature;--extended to similar consideratioin of moral values, of the soundness of scientific  hypotheses and procedures, etc.

   The first principle of criticism, which is, to consider the nature of the piece, and the intent of its author.

"4. The scientific investigation of the origin, text, composition, character, history, etc., of literary documents, esp. the Bible. SEE HIGHER CRITICISM, LOWER CRITICISM. 

"Syn.--See ANIMADVERSION REVIEW. (Webster's International Dictionary.)

Where does criticism come from? The most obvious source would be, critical thinking. It's raining outside, someone says. Is that true? You have no reason to disbelieve the speaker of that utterance, but are you willing to bet an hundred dollars on the proposition, it's raining outside? Once one puts value on an utterance, the reliability of that utterance is transformed. 

It's raining outside. That's what you've been told. I offer to disagree, and in so doing, posit a wager of an hundred dollars. It's not raining, I proffer. And, I'm willing to bet you an hundred dollars that I'm right, and your belief that it's raining outside, is wrong. 

You've been told, or overheard, that it is raining outside. Will you, would you, take my wager? 

We walk outside, the sidewalks are wet, but, it's not raining. Who wins the bet?

We walk outside, the sidewalks are dry, and, it's not raining. Who wins the bet?

We walk outside, the sidewalks are dry, but it's raining. Who wins the bet?

The principle of criticism is, is there fault in the underlying premise? Is your observation of the state of nature of things accurate? Are there parameters that should be understood before one commits to belief, and is there a difference between belief and knowledge? 

Is Head Start a valuable program? Do gay and lesbian parents do as an effective job of parenting as heterosexual parents? Does spending money on stimulus end up with increases in GDP? 

Is the Earth warming?

What is settled science?

Should we bail out bad investors? That was the issue in the late 19th century. In my reading of American history, the reason why these movements faltered was based on the divergence of the American experience from the European experience. It wasn't enough that intellectuals offered someone undergoing the effects of economic contraction a potential tort. Tortious claims can be made under certain circumstances. A tort claim is different from most claims, since it is alleged in tort claims that the result of any action that affects an individual is the responsibility of someone else.

I don't work. I have no claim on anyone else. 

I don't work because I'm purple. I have a claim if I can show that employers don't like me because I'm purple. That I painted myself purple is not an effective claim, since what I'm attempting to show the court is that my mere purpleness has been used as a block against my employment, ergo, I have a tortuous claim against an employer, under the Americans Disabilities Act. 

No fault of the employer--or potential employer--is necessary to be found. Under current law, the ADA, a claim can be filed against any employer who fails to hire Purple Boy if it can be shown that his Purplehood is the cause of his failure to be hired. 

Tortious litigation is the font of Leftism. It is the source of the cultural war between the Left and Right. And, remember, none of this litigation could be possible without the intervention of legislatures, whether state or national, that advance notions of liabilities that heretofore have been unimaginable. Nothing of criticism is offered when a state acts through legislation. Is is dry outside? Is it raining? Did Purple Boy colour himself purple? 

If you study, or have studied law, there is a love of reading, or listening, and understanding of words that I think is necessary to be an effective lawyer. One of the things I enjoyed in studying law was the simple task of reading law; the judgements of the courts. When studying law, the term "Judeo-Hebraic," "Judeo-Christian" or "Christian-Hebraic" takes on a significant, important, defining meaning. That the decisions, or in the tradition of Jews, the Talmudic tradition is, we don't need to re-visit the same question twice. If you're not familiar with the Bible, read the last verse of Judges, "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes."

You can get all evolutionary and stuff on me, and I'll attempt to remind you that there has been no major shift in how, or how we arrive at, our discoveries of the world around us. I'm just as comfortable reading Augustus or Plato as I am Locke, or even Thoreau. The nature of man hasn't changed in the thousands of years that we've been able to record or retrieve information from those earlier eras. We won't be different in ten years or an hundred years, nor a thousand years from now. We are as truly genetically encoded with how we percieve the world around us as were our forebears thousands of years earlier. What we have been able to accomplish in terms of making the world our domain has been enhanced by our ability to use the technologies we've developed. But who we are, how we feel, how we can become frustrated, how we become angered, all these things remain, as much as I can tell, the same, from generation to generation. What we're currently losing is the ability to disagree, amiably. 

A great deal of this I merit to the rise of the tortuous claim; finding fault in others that the individual resists finding in himself. The meme that "I as an individual am innocent, and that any harm that comes my way is the result of outside forces that should have been restrained." 

I taught my sons early that the first thing that they should find is somebody else to blame. And that seems to be the world is unfolding. Personal responsibility is foolish. Chances are, you're a victim. You just haven't found the appropriate victim class you belong to. (Or, to which you belong.)

Under the screed that you've plowed through is a video I want you to watch. It has to do with the subjects in this post, but most importantly, with some ideas that don't gain access to the public debate, since the subject of this video has to do with God. Not the God of Jews. Not the God of Catholics. Not the God of Muslims. Simply, God. You may not view this video the same way I do, but I think it's an important statement about freedom. When you watch, ask yourself when and how you disagree with the video, and then!

Ask yourself, where did the power to criticize arise? If you find fault in any position regarding truth, where did your critical power find itself, where does your denial or acceptance pin itself? Do you have a bullshit button? What is the source of your BS button? Was it self-developed? Did somebody drive by your house one day and say, "Here's your skepticism. Use it."

When you hear "the science is settled," do you wonder how such a broad statement could be uttered? Does it take the smartest man in the world to say, "the science is settled," or the world's dumbest man? 

It's not my job to show you where your God is. That's above my paygrade. All I can do is show you that whether it's poetry, literature, architecture, chemistry or physics, there is a lot that neither you nor I know. Not to take away that from which you do have knowledge. There are things I know. There are things I believe. I just hope, I don't confuse those things.

Mazal tov.


MAX Redline said...

I don't work because I'm purple. I have a claim if I can show that employers don't like me because I'm purple. That I painted myself purple is not an effective claim, since what I'm attempting to show the court is that my mere purpleness has been used as a block against my employment, ergo, I have a tortuous claim against an employer, under the Americans Disabilities Act.

No fault of the employer--or potential employer--is necessary to be found. Under current law, the ADA, a claim can be filed against any employer who fails to hire Purple Boy if it can be shown that his Purplehood is the cause of his failure to be hired.

Purplosity is not covered (yet) by ADA. To be successful in bringing suit, Purple Boy would need to successfully argue under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, wherein discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, etc. is disallowed.

Although the employer may well be discriminating against purplosity, just as they often do in regard to tattoos, piercings, etc., Purple Boy cannot prevailunless his color can be demonstrated to be a function of race - which it cannot; it is, perhaps, an aberration, as is albinism (and albinism exists across all recognized "races" of humans, and is of course known to occur in other species as well).

I concur that we're losing the ability to disagree amiably, but this is a bug that I attribute to increased mobility as a result of technological advancement - we simply aren't wired to advance at such speeds. Communication is virtually instantaneous; if I write something you don't like, you can immediately flame me - which is a common tactic among the Left.

As well, let's say I write a letter to the editor, which appears in your paper, and you find that letter irksome. 150 years ago, you had two options: respond with your own letter and hope that it is seen, or saddle up your horse for a four-day ride into Portland, where you can look me up and give me a piece of your mind.

I daresay that you wouldn't bother, as that takes at least eight days out of your life and your livelihood; even if you began such a journey, in all probability you'd cool down during the course of the ride.

I believe that the reason why discourse is today so rude boils down to the relative anonymous nature of high-speed communication and the fact that high-speed communication robs us, to some extent, of inhibitory mechanisms which are hard-wired to come into play over longer time-frames.

Ten Mile Island said...

Brother Max--

I'm not disagreeing with your view that Purlosity is not yet covered by ADA. What I'm pointing out is, that under ADA, a claim can be filed, whether it has merit, or not.

Any law or policy that gives the economic advantage to one class necessarily distorts the other. Look at brother Bar Owl. People are hunting him down for living large. What has he done? Simply set up home in the woods.


MAX Redline said...

Why I used the qualifier, "yet" - it wouldn't surprise me if they attempted to include it under ADA. I agree that merit-less claims are too easy to file already, as they detract from productivity.

They change the rules constantly; a few years ago, 300-yard "quiet zones" around known spotted owl habitat were imposed so as not to disturb the delicate creatures. Today, the plan is to go into these same areas armed with shotguns to blast the barred owls to smithereens. Apparently, the spotted owls will recognize that this is being done "for their own good". Wouldn't want to ruffle their feathers....