Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Folly of Presumed Innocence
Opinion © 2006, by Guy L. Evans

June 29, 2006

The idea that every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty is a bad idea outside the courtroom. Do you lock you doors at night? Lock your car? Stop at stop signs? Look both ways before you cross the street?

Why? If no one commits a crime, then you’re safe, aren’t you?

Of course not. You know that in real life, the life you have to live every day, the idea that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law is nonsense. I take the position that everyone is largely untrustworthy, ignorant, and unsociable until proven otherwise. This does not mean that I believe that people are untrustworthy, ignorant, and unsociable. It means that I don’t care to leave myself open to assault until I have a good feeling about someone.

Presuming that every person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law leaves you vulnerable to assault. Why would any sensible person do that? It is less risky and more efficient to defend yourself against possible assault than it is to apprehend the perp and bring him to justice.

Government wants us to rely on them for our needs. They have told us for decades not to resist when someone attacks us. But, I disagree. Public timidity encourages boldness in criminals the same way that military timidity encourages boldness in our enemies.

It costs less to avoid a problem than it does to fix it once it has happened. The idea that we should sit passively and simply respond to problems as they occur is, well, dopey.

Let the criminals plead their innocent to the court. As for me, I’ll keep my doors locked and my home protection system at the ready.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Delusional Innocence
Opinion © 2006, by Guy L. Evans

June 26, 2006

The latest flap over the New York Times publishing information that the government says will harm national security caused me to think about how educated and well-intentioned people could do something so detrimental--detrimental possibly to their own safety--and still think that they have done anything wrong. From a purely practical point of view, these people have now made themselves more vulnerable to terrorist attacks by weakening the institutions that defend their safety.

I believe that they have succumbed to delusional innocence. Delusional innocence means believing in your own innocence without regard to how destructive or offensive your behavior actually is.

Delusional innocence results from the nonsensical idea that power equates to responsibility, that anyone who has power has total responsibility and that anyone who does not have power gets a free pass.

The people who work at the New York Times argue that the Bush administration is in power, and therefore that national security is the responsibility of the Bush administration, not the New York Times. Therefore, by their thinking, the New York Times gets a free pass.

Not being in power makes reckless and provocative behavior merely acts of self-expression. The leftie bloggers who spew invective believe that they can do whatever they like because they are not in power, and are therefore not responsible for anything.

Delusional innocence is irrational. This irrationality results from confusing blame with responsibility. It comes from a failure to understand who owns the problem.

If Bill dumps a load of wet concrete onto George’s lawn, Bill has just make a problem for George. Even though Bill is entirely to blame for the problem, the problem belongs to George.

You may think this is not fair. It is perfectly fair. The fact that Bill made a big problem for George does not relieve George of the responsibility of resolving the problem.

One of the reasons we have laws is to prevent George from killing Bill for making a big problem that wasn’t there before. In this case, Bill had a responsibility to not cause a problem in the first place. George has the right to demand restitution from Bill for the damages.

Delusional innocence asserts that only people in power have the ability to do harm; therefore, people in power are always to blame for anything bad that happens.

The reason that this nonsensical idea is delusional is that it is so rigidly and dogmatically held that its adherents are immune to persuasion by facts or reason. Adherents to this nonsense have substituted fantasy for fact. They do that a lot.

The idea of delusional innocence may be related to the idea that every person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Of course, this is nonsense. The actual idea is that, in legal matters only, very person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the court of public opinion is not a court of law. There can be no presumption of innocence regarding the acts of the New York Times. They admitted that they took the law into their own hands. Their behavior was not only reckless; it was lawless.

So, how to cope with such people? If you run into someone like this, ask him if he locked his front door before he left. If he did, then ask him why he thinks that protecting his personal stuff is his responsibility. Every liberal acts like a conservative when he decides to take something seriously.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Chronicles of Hernia
A movie review © 2006, by Guy L. Evans

June 26, 2006

I watched The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe over the weekend. It was enjoyable, more of a children’s movie. If you could see the movie through the eyes of a child, you would be fully taken in.

I can’t do that.

I wanted someone to drown Edmund. Anytime. Soon. Now. Off him. Blabber mouth.

Father Christmas handing out weapons. Hmm. Okay. If you’re going to be the arsenal of freedom, give them something they can use, tubby. Santa, may I please have a Wand of Air Strikes and a Periapt of Nuclear Holocaust. Please?

But the clincher was the beaver in the chain mail. Please forgive me. Make up your own punch line here.

I couldn’t distinguish what made the “bad guys” bad and the “good guys” good other than the idea that the “bad guys” were led by a malevolent tyrant and the “good guys” were led by a benevolent tyrant. What did I miss?

Finally comes the battle where the “bad guys” mount their final attack on the “good guys”. Good, maybe. Dummies, absolutely. Outnumbered, the “good guys” charge headlong into certain defeat when they had a perfectly defensible hill right behind them. Which inspired this poem:

The Charge of the Lightweight Brigade
Dwarves to right of them,
Minotaurs to left of them,
The White Witch in front of them
Growled and snarled;
Stormed at with snouts and tummies,
Boldly they rode, that bunch of dummies,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the Terrible Fray,
And then they turned around and ran away

By this point, it was as good as a Godzilla movie--a lot of action, but you really don’t know what on Earth is going on. Why are they doing this? What was that all about? What?! Someone please skewer Edmund. Blabber mouth.

Don’t get me wrong. The story was enjoyable, but I seriously strained myself trying to willfully suspend my disbelief. And so the title, The Chronicles of Hernia.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

You Can’t Trust Timid People
Opinion © 2006, by Guy L. Evans

June 14, 2006

Hugh Hewitt spent way too much time in my opinion interviewing Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post this afternoon. Joel seemed to be utterly intimidated by Hugh. Joel serves as a fine example of how intimidated people behave, and why you can’t trust them.

People who feel intimidated tend to be withdrawn, paranoid, passive-aggressive, evasive, secretive, uncooperative, manipulative, and generally unwilling to stand up for themselves. They are fearful. They reflexively withdraw from confrontation.

Democrats operate from fear. They are intimidated. Do you remember what Castro did to Clinton? They hate Bush and Rove because they are intimidated by them. They want to fight back, but they are afraid to stand up for themselves, so they play the role of spoiler, hoping that they will have some success denying the Republicans their just victory.

All they know how to do is to spoil the satisfaction of others, to thwart their ambitions. They interpret their own feeble, minimal efforts as heroic, while discounting the efforts of true heroes.

Such people cannot be trusted.

Having a degree in Law from Harvard and being a broadcaster and a teacher, I can imagine that the idea of feeling intimidated may be difficult for Hugh Hewitt to understand. But, for people who have spent their entire lives learning to go along to get along, to follow the rules, or to not speak up without permission, the idea of taking a stand must evoke pure panic.

The idea for the timid people is that you can’t be wrong if you never say anything meaningful. Evade, lie, babble, tell jokes, anything, but don’t ever make an assertion that anyone can challenge. That’s why you can’t pin them down. It isn’t that they don’t hold strong opinions; it’s that they are afraid to defend them.

Timid people believe that you can’t lose if you don’t fight. But, when someone is trying to kill you, not fighting means losing.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

Monday, June 12, 2006

Demand Drives the Market
Opinion © 2006, by Guy L. Evans

June 12, 2006

Conservatives constantly preach market economics, and yet seem to have great difficulty taking their own message to heart. They talk about the laws of supply and demand. Maybe that’s their problem. It would make more sense to think of the laws of demand and supply.

Demand always precedes supply. If there is no demand, then supply doesn’t matter. To understand how markets work, you have to identify demand. What do people want, and why do they want it?

Here are some examples that conservatives seem to continually get wrong:

Demand: Mood regulating drugs.
Supply: Alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, downers, uppers, hallucinogens, etc.

Demand: Labor that is exempt from government regulation.
Supply: Mexicans and other foreign nationals who enter the country illegally, and employees who are classified as independent contractors.

Demand: Employment opportunities for people in Mexico and Central America.
Supply: Employment opportunities in the U. S.

By focusing on supply, conservatives fall victim to Petitio Principii, or Begging the Question, which means to use the conclusion that the argument is intended to prove as a founding premise for that argument. Conservatives want to prove that ending supply also ends demand. For example, they argue that ending the supply of heroin will necessarily end the demand for heroin. An analogous argument reveals the absurdity of this non-reasoning: Ending the supply of food will necessarily end demand for food.

But! But! But! But! Food is good for you and heroin is bad for you.

So what? Demand is demand. The answer to why people want things that are bad for them is not to stop the supply of such things; it is to understand why they want things that are bad for them in the first place. And besides, food isn’t always good for you, now is it?

Conservatives don’t seem to be the least bit interested in understanding the demand part of the process. They behave as though demand simply doesn’t matter. Which is puzzling to me, because every economist I can think of says that all markets are driven by demand. That’s what demand is. It’s the driving motivation behind all economic exchanges.

Why is there any demand at all for anything? Once you understand demand, you understand the market.

Why is there a demand for Mexican laborers by U. S. employers? Is it because Mexican laborers are more productive than American laborers? Of course not. If that were the case, then Mexico would be an economic dynamo. No, Mexican laborers are relatively less efficient and relatively more profitable than American laborers in some cases. It’s sort of like using a small car instead of a big truck--not as efficient, but a lot less expensive to operate, and it gets the job done.

Why is there a demand by Mexican laborers for U. S. employment opportunities? Because there are not enough employment opportunities in Mexico relative to employment opportunities in the U. S. If the supply of jobs in Mexico exceeded demand by Mexican laborers, then they would stay home, and there would be very few illegal border crossings.

Operating on the absurd idea that it is possible to control demand by controlling supply, conservatives argue against the very thing they value--free economic exchange. Attempting to control supply without addressing demand leads conservatives to behave like liberals, adding more and more restrictions to the free exchange of goods and services.

When you understand why people consume bad things, you can better determine whether restricting supply will have the desired effect. Failing to understand why people consume bad things leads to punishing people for harming themselves, leading conservatives toward the nanny State they claim to oppose.

I agree that we need to secure our border with Mexico. However, I also contemplate the consequences of doing so. I have heard that ten percent of Mexico’s population now resides on U. S. soil. Ten percent. What do you suppose Mexico will look like in ten years when the Mexican government is no longer able to export their excess population to the United States? Revolution? Starvation? War? What?

Do you think Mexico will simply correct its internal problems and everything will be hunky dory? I doubt it.

This begs the question of why U. S. companies aren’t fleeing to Mexico to take advantage of cheap Mexican labor. Mexico is economically and politically infirmed. The U. S. cannot resolve the illegal immigration problem as long as Mexico continues to languish. Building a fence will only bottle up the problem until it eventually explodes.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

Some Advice for High School Graduates
Opinion © 2006, by Guy L. Evans

June 12, 2006

“They [Young People] have exalted notions, because they have not been humbled by life or learned its necessary limitations; moreover, their hopeful disposition makes them think themselves equal to great things -- and that means having exalted notions. They would always rather do noble deeds than useful ones: Their lives are regulated more by moral feeling than by reasoning -- all their mistakes are in the direction of doing things excessively and vehemently. They overdo everything they -- love too much, hate too much, and the same with everything else.”
-- Aristotle

It’s the time of year when many high school graduates leave behind the only life they have ever known and venture out into the world for the first time. I have a few bits of advice that I hope will save you some trouble.

When you travel away from home, never take anything with you that you can’t afford to lose.

If your opinion of yourself is very high, lower it a bit. If your opinion of yourself is low, raise it a bit. Keep a sense of humility.

Never lend anything. Never borrow anything.

Stop blaming. If you blame others, you are admitting that you are incapable of handling your own problems.

Avoid blamers. They want to make you the bad guy. Don’t let anyone make you the bad guy. Most of all, don’t be the bad guy.

Avoid angry people. They will infect you.

The best way to stop being angry is to hold people accountable for their behavior.

You are under no obligation to try to make sense of nonsense.

Never bluff.

Don’t trust your memory. Take notes.

You have no authority to punish anyone. No one will accept your punishment.

You aren’t clever. Don’t try to be. Many high school aged people are very impressed with cleverness. However, adults have seen it all before. It isn’t new to them.

When you were sixteen, you knew everything. You’re not sixteen anymore.

Learn to listen. Listening is the most valuable skill you will ever learn.

Avoid callousness, and avoid handing out unearned sympathy.

Know the facts before you act. Supposition and assumption are not knowledge.

Not making a mess is easier than cleaning it up.

There’s plenty of trouble in the world; we don’t need to make more. Life will give you all the trouble you can handle. Don’t make trouble for yourself. Don’t make trouble for anyone else, either.

Your desires are not a grant of entitlement. Just because you want it doesn’t mean you deserve it.

There is no shame in being sick.

Knowledge is wealth.

Never drink on an empty stomach.

Tattoos, piercing, and implants are all forms of mutilation.

The future is not your property.

You are not responsible for anyone else’s behavior; they are.

You are entirely responsible for your own behavior.

The end of decision making does not come with assigning blame; it comes with accepting responsibility.

The first rule of fixing things is: If it doesn’t help, don’t do it.

The first rule of life is: Survive.

You are always free to look for work elsewhere. Good luck.

Many people are irretrievably messed up. They will only get worse with age.

Children are not responsible for making their parents feel safe and happy.

Allowing any other person to control your life brings the risk that you will become deaf to your own inner voice.

Rebelling, trying to be invisible, or trying to be perfect are ways of trying to cope with arbitrary parents.

Living your life in perpetual power struggles with others will only leave you exhausted, anxious, and chronically unhappy.

The more you know, the less you can be fooled.

If being a hero was easy, every body would be one.

You live in the world that your ancestors made. Learn what they have done, and why they did it, or else you will lose it all.

If you hate America, then by all means, pick a better country. The borders are open. You are free to go.

Show appreciation. There is no shame is saying “please” and “thank you”.

It’s up to the woman to say “no”.

Healthy relationships include listening to each other, valuing each other, and caring for each other.

The person is never the problem; the problem is the problem.

When you fight, attack the problem, not each other.

God won’t cook your breakfast. Have sensible expectations.

A moment of forethought can save a lifetime of suffering.

You will never have this chance again. I strongly encourage young people to enlist, serve our country, meet people, stick your neck out. You will never know what you are really capable of if someone else doesn’t challenge you. The armed forces offer that challenge. The freedom that you consume has been purchased at great cost. You can purchase the freedom of the next generation for the small cost of a few years of service. Serve your country or your community in some way. When you are too old, you will regret not having at least tried.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

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