Posts

Showing posts from 2021

Political Column - Between Tyranny and Anarchy

Image
Life and liberty are precious and precarious things. Easy to lose their balance and topple, this way or that. We expect government to protect these things, life and liberty, but quite often it does the opposite. And that's allowed, because taking action is inconvenient. If these injustices continue to grow then there does come a point where more and more people are willing to take greater and greater action. Taken to the extreme this results in the toppling of the government. For instance, in England in the mid-1600s King Charles I fought the forces of parliament and ended up losing his head. The anarchy and civil wars were a steep price to be paid to correct the wrongs of his rule, but they were paid in full. You might think that what would naturally follow would be greater religious freedom and toleration, and a greater emphasis on individual rights and the power of representation through the parliament. You would be wrong. What followed was Oliver Cromwell and a greater tyranny.

Political Column - How Power Corrupts

Image
I have spent many hours over the last couple of decades contemplating Lord Acton's observation in a letter to a bishop that, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." I have read, studied, and observed the idea. Combining that with holding office gives me an interesting perspective to answer the complex question of, "How?" Government is a mass negotiation through indirect means to incompatible ends. There are times when the government is synonymous with a person. When that occurs, it's easier to see that corruption in the government comes from a corruption of the person. In a more complex society, such as ours, that same truth is harder to see. The most obvious problem leading to corruption in power is self-selection bias. Those that want power are not the people you want to have power. And those you want to have power, don't want it, and don't try to get it. Thus, the game is usually lost before it is played. Often there is no

Political Column - The Right to Garden

Image
Everyone wants to make progress. To actually do that there are important questions to ask, the two most important being "Progress toward what?" and "How?" Studying reformations of the past, how they worked, and when they didn't, helps to inform us on what may or may not work in the future. The first modern city-wide zoning ordinance was enacted in 1916 by New York City. The idea spread and in 1926 there was a Supreme Court case between the Village of Euclid and Ambler Realty Company. It was determined that such zoning ordinances are legal. This innovation grew out of similar ideas that have been enacted in cities throughout the world for thousands of years. And once the idea took hold, it grew. Part of the reason it grew is because as technology progresses there are growing pains that society goes through. Every industrial revolution brings a set of problems like overcrowding in highly polluted and unsanitary cities. But a solution always brings its own problems

Political Column - Procedure and Substance

Image
I have received suggestions from both residents in Dalton Township, and from state level organizations, tending toward having ordinances that are vague and subjective. I can understand the tendency in that direction. Working out laws that will be able to apply across a wide range of situations is difficult. Not every contingency can be covered. Therefore at some point reasonable decision making must come into play. And, that is all true, but there are two major problems with it. One problem is that courts have ruled multiple times at multiple levels that vague and subjective laws are not enforceable. Defining what vague is can be a large subject in itself, but whatever the definition, it is certain that vague laws create difficulties. The bigger problem is the arbitrary power that it gives to the person in charge. Cesare Beccaria says it well in his book 'On Crimes and Punishments', "If the power of interpreting laws be an evil, obscurity in them must be another, as the fo

Political Column - Opening Avenues of Opportunity

Image
The heart of entrepreneurship and development is initiative. The nemesis is bureaucratic red tape. Each has a purpose. The one to conquer scarcity in the world and provide for our desires. The other to establish boundaries to work within, to protect people from each other. The one the beating engine of the world, the other the suffocating confines in which it runs. Dalton Township is a developing area. Large companies like Michigan's Adventure and Duck Creek RV Park are doing additions. Smaller businesses like The Scoop ice cream shop and the Full Moon Diner and Saloon have recently opened. Things are finally going to happen with Business Park North. And there's more on the horizon. I was recently at the ice cream shop on M-120 talking with a friend, and he inquired about food trucks. About what he needed to do, about what the steps are. I told him that I didn't think we had any ordinances on them, but I would look into it. I did. It turns out that Dalton doesn't have a

Philosophy Forum - Part 5

Image
Here we go again. The subject is ethics this time. I don't particularly like how this first question is phrased, because it doesn't make the problem plain. Nevertheless, I won't write an article on the bad phrasing. I'll just tackle the problem at hand. - - - - - - - 'According to Hume, reason alone does not move us to act, though our moral opinions do, and he rightly infers from this that reason cannot be the source of our moral opinions.' Discuss. Hume rightly points out that the human capacity for reason is a powerful faculty. We can compare and contrast ideas from things that are similar, to things that do not seem so at first glance. The term relational frame theory wouldn't come about in psychology until hundreds of years after Hume, but it points out the power of this human ability. For instance, how are a pig and a chair related? Most people's first reaction is that they aren't, but then if they

Philosophy Forum - Part 4

Image
Epistemology is the theory of knowledge. What is truth? How do we know? Important and difficult questions that will be debated as long as there are humans with the ability to debate them. The two questions that I have to answer today are a subset of this larger topic. Here are the two questions that I have to tackle. - - - - - - - 'If knowledge is not justified true belief, is it justified true belief that meets also some further condition?' 'Is saying "I believe that p" just an alternative way of saying "p"?' - - - - - - - I'm going to give myself one chance to move through these questions. It's a unique way of trying to tackle an answer. In a way it's a bit conversational. My conversations often end up on similar types of issues, at least at similar foundational levels. And, when the conversation has gotten there I do usually switch from a rapidly exchangi

Fighting Local Government Corruption - Part 21 of ?

Image
Winning is often the end of an endeavor, but not always. In politics winning should not be an end in itself, only a step. It is the beginning of the true struggle for which the entire history of humanity has striven. There is a balance to be struck. The balance between the value of the group and the value of the individual. Often people like to side with the one or the other, because both are simple solutions. But the plain fact is that there is no group without the individual. So too there would be no individual person without society. The two must coexist. The society must value and protect the individual as the core foundation of itself, and the individual must value the cooperation of others in creating a unique and emergent order. Harmony is the aim, the ideal. How to get there is what all of the controversy is about, what it's always about. Great atrocities have been committed in the name of peace, time and time again. The idea that peace is just on the other side of war has

Donate to Jeff's Work