Government-Supremacist Assumptions

You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes with a magnifying glass. Government-supremacists are easy to spot by the bad assumptions they naturally make and wave around in public.

They’ve always argued over how to spend “tax” money; they won’t consider the fact that “taxation” is theft.

They’ve argued over what should be taught in government schools, but never questioned government control over (and destruction of) education.

And now they argue over whether it was the right move to issue stay-at-home orders and cripple the economy, but they never consider that no one has the right to do so.

It’s not government’s place to decide to shutter the economy to “save” lives from coronavirus or anything else. They don’t have that right and they shouldn’t be allowed to have the power.

It’s never an “adult decision” to govern other people (the political means) rather than letting them work it out for themselves (the economic means/the market). It’s the most childish thing anyone can do. No one should be allowed to make those decisions and decide for you what you will be permitted to do with your own life.

They also substitute government-supremacism for thinking in other ways.

If you are making the dishonest argument that to fail to sufficiently cripple the economy on account of the coronapocalypse is going to kill 50,000 additional people (or whatever your number might be), without taking into account those who will die because the economy is being destroyed, you aren’t contributing anything useful.

You can’t know how many the virus will kill, nor do you know how many will die from the effects of a shut-down. The number of dead from the shut-down could well vastly outnumber those who die from the virus, making the “net deaths from coronavirus” being tossed around a completely fake number. Any discussion of “net deaths from coronavirus” without taking those a shut-down will kill into account is– as of now– a lie calculated to limit the discussion to government-supremacist answers.

To pretend that someone has sufficient information to make such a decision, or the right to impose it, is to be dishonest. It’s what makes one a government-supremacist.

Government edicts and orders are the opposite of responsibility. You have the responsibility to not violate the life, liberty, or property of anyone else. Government-supremacy is explicit irresponsibility and is shameful. No matter who exhibits it or what excuse they grasp at to justify their violations. I have no respect for government-supremacists; they deserve none. They’ve worked hard to prove that.

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Who’s in Charge Here?

Nobody asked but …

… I’d like to know.  The first stage of panic (and second and third) is to scramble around looking for someone to follow.  Many of us followed others into bars, but clearly most followed hoarders of toilet paper and hand sanitizer into all the dollar stores, the drugstores, and the supermarkets.  But the thing that is now most scarce is information.  Human beings continue to query “whadya know?”, but the answer is still “not much, you?”

Some say that in times of war, the first casualty is the truth.  But the “truth” is that the human race is at war with itself.  Will we win, and what will a win look like?

At any rate, here are some questions I’d like to be answered (and I’ll bet you would too):

  • Who’s in charge?  Every scheme cooked up throughout history has been a kicking of the can down the road.  If the buck really stops somewhere, why hasn’t the buck stopped?
  • What is “the buck?”
  • WTF?  Did POTUS really offer help to North Korea?  Who’s the dunderhead who decided that we are fine, so NK needs our help?  Is NK the model of collective that we seek to preserve?
  • Is there anyone with a microphone and teevee camera who will stand up and say “I am just a narcissistic glutton who will make up bullshit just to keep the red light glowing?”
  • Does one have a duty to others?  Yes, if you know them personally and have accepted responsibility for their care.  I have Kilgorette with whom I have exchanged vows.  We have 2 daughters, 8 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren.  We have neighbors.  We have friends.  We have 2 horses, 3 dogs, and 7 cats.  We do not triage among the members of this list.  After that, triage.  North Korea is vanishingly small on that list.
  • How do I get tested?  Where?  When?
  • If I am looking for a manager for my life, whom should I turn to?  The only possible answer is ME.

Stay tuned.  More questions are forming.

— Kilgore Forelle

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Do Your Goddamn Duty During the Goddamn Pandemic, Dammit

“In the name of Goddo your duty.” – Atticus Finch, To Kill a. Mockingbird

In case you missed it, we are now living through a pandemic. COVID-2019 (AKA “coronavirus”) is a highly infectious virus known to infected more than 128,000 people (but due to lack of testing, probably many more) and killed 4,720 people in dozens of countries.

The virus spreads through contact as well as through the air. The contagion estimate (R0) is that a person with this virus is likely to infect 1.5-3 more people. The real twist? Symptoms don’t appear for days, or may not show up at all. So you may be carrying coronavirus and not even know it.

Why does this matter?

Because you have a job to do in this pandemic.

You may not be old. You may not have a weak immune system. You may think that you are healthy enough to recover from coronavirus. And so you may not be interested in taking precautions to avoid becoming infected – doing things like cancelling travel, cancelling events, and avoiding public spaces. You may decide to go on your merry way and pretend like this isn’t happening.

If you want to risk your own sickness, that’s fine. The problem is that you won’t just be impacting yourself. If you get infected and continue to go to public places, you are causing the pandemic to get worse. You are infecting others who will put additional burden on a healthcare system which is (at this rate) going to be overwhelmed. And you are infecting people who may die from this virus.

Imagine being the jerk who brings the flu to your office for no reason – and living with the possibility that you spread it to multiple colleagues, including some who died from it. You wouldn’t feel so good about that. You would realize that you were responsible.

Now put that same responsibility into the context of a pandemic. Your actions matter even more. Even if you don’t mind getting sick, by practicing “social distancing” you can prevent further unnecessary spread of this disease, reduce the burden on the medical system, and ensure that more people continue to live and work through this. That’s good for you and good for everybody you care about.

So for God’s sake stop going to big events, stop going to restaurants and movie theatres and the like, start washing your hands and wearing gloves, cover your damn mouth if you cough or sneeze, and prepare yourself so that you won’t need to burden hospitals with your sickness when the time comes.

Do that, and you will have done your duty in a major crisis. And that’s about one of the best things you can hope to do.

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Danger Is Temporary: Cowardice Is Forever

Who pays the greater price and takes the greater risk – the brave man, or the coward?

The man who volunteers to defend his village against the dragon only experiences pain and danger momentarily. He either dies (temporary pain passing into nothingness) or lives (temporary danger or pain), but his negative state is temporary (exception: physical and emotional wounds).

Stack this up against the price the coward chooses to pay.

The man who – from fear – shrinks from his responsibility to defend his village still experiences the same anxiety of danger (it’s why he refuses to fight), but he does avoid physical pain and physical danger. However he has one negative state now which will follow him forever: the internal feeling or the social reminder of being a coward. This persists well beyond the time when the danger is past.

Danger and pain are external: you feel them and experience them, and then they are gone. Your own conscience and your society discharge you.

Cowardice is a state of mind – and the memory of it lasts forever. Your conscience and your society hold you captive.

Which would you rather have?

Originally published at JamesWalpole.com.

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Coronavirus Reminds Us What Education Without Schooling Can Look Like

As the global coronavirus outbreak closes more schools for weeks, and sometimes months—some 300 million children are currently missing class—parents, educators, and policymakers are panicking.

Mass compulsory schooling has become such a cornerstone of contemporary culture that we forget it’s a relatively recent social construct. Responding to the pandemic, the United Nations declared that “the global scale and speed of current educational disruption is unparalleled and, if prolonged, could threaten the right to education.”

We have collectively become so programmed to believe that education and schooling are synonymous that we can’t imagine learning without schooling and become frazzled and fearful when schools are shuttered. If nothing else, perhaps this worldwide health scare will remind us that schooling isn’t inevitable and education does not need to be confined to a conventional classroom.

Mass Schooling Is a New Idea

For most of human history, up until the mid-19th century, education was broadly defined, diversely offered, and not dominated by standard schooling. Homeschooling was the default, with parents assuming responsibility for their children’s education, but they were not the only ones teaching them.

Small dame schools, or nursery schools in a neighbor’s kitchen, were common throughout the American colonial and revolutionary eras; tutors were ubiquitous, apprenticeships were valued and sought-after, and literacy rates were extremely high. Public schools existed to supplement education for families that wanted them, but they did not yet wield significant power and influence.

The Puritan colonists’ passed the first compulsory education laws in Massachusetts Bay in the 1640s describing a state interest in an educated citizenry and compelling towns of a certain size to hire a teacher or to open a grammar school. But the compulsion rested with towns to provide educational resources to those families who wanted them, not with the families themselves.

Historians Kaestle and Vinovskis explain that the Puritans “saw these schools as supplements to education within the family, and they made no effort to require parents actually to send their children to school rather than train them at home.” This all changed in 1852 when Massachusetts passed the nation’s first compulsory schooling statute, mandating school attendance under a legal threat of force. Writing in his book, Pillars of the Republic, Kaestle reminds us: “Society educates in many ways. The state educates through schools.”

Society Without Schooling

We already have glimpses of what education without schooling can look like. When the Chicago teachers’ strike shut down public schools for 11 days last October, civil society stepped up to fill in the gaps.

Community organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club opened their doors during the daytime to local youth, the aquarium and local museums offered special programming, church and religious organizations welcomed young people with tutoring and enrichment activities, public libraries and parks were populated with families, and the federal school lunch program continued to nourish children in need.

This same pattern repeats itself during summer school vacation each year, with various community organizations, local businesses, and public spaces such as libraries and parks offering educational and recreational experiences for young people.

The idea that children and adolescents need to be enclosed within a conventional school classroom in order to learn is a myth. Humans are hard-wired to learn. Young children are exuberant, creative, curious learners who are passionate about exploration and discovery. These qualities do not magically disappear with age. They are routinely smothered by standardized schooling.

As Boston College psychology professor and unschooling advocate, Peter Gray, writes in his book, Free To Learn:

Children come into the world burning to learn and genetically programmed with extraordinary capacities for learning. They are little learning machines. Within their first four years or so they absorb an unfathomable amount of information and skills without any instruction. . . Nature does not turn off this enormous desire and capacity to learn when children turn five or six. We turn it off with our coercive system of schooling.

As humans increasingly coexist with robots, it’s crucial that young people retain and cultivate the imagination, ingenuity, and desire for learning that separate human intelligence from its artificial antipode. These qualities can be ideally nurtured outside of a standardized, one-size-fits-all school classroom where children and adolescents are free to pursue their interests and develop important skills and knowledge, while being mentored by talented adults in their communities.

An example of this type of learning is a series of spring daytime classes for homeschoolers at a makerspace in Boston offering up to nine hours of content each week in topics ranging from architecture and design to STEM science and art, taught by trained engineers, scientists, and artists. These are the types of high-quality educators and learning experiences that can and do flourish when we seek and support education without schooling.

In addition to its health scare, coronavirus has triggered widespread fear about how children can be educated when they can’t go to school. Despite the fact that mass compulsory schooling is a relic of the industrial age, its power and influence continue to expand. Perhaps some families will now discover that education outside of standard schooling is not only nothing to fear but may actually be the best way to learn in the innovation era.

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Process and Product

Nobody asked but …

I agree wholeheartedly with James Walpole in his blog post, “Being Late Is for Slaves“. But I must admit that I misread the headline. I have had a few jobs where obsessive clock-watching by a supervisor may have helped the process but not the product. Remember the object of a process is the product. The product is the be-all-and-end-all without which there would be no process (except fictional ones, like a Potemkin village).  The purpose of punctuality is procedural, not production.  In the end, there must be a product, factually, that fulfills its function well, regardless of whom was at their workstation promptly, during its processing.

Bureaucracy tends to emphasize the process, often while fictionalizing the product.  The Pentagon is great at this subterfuge.  Defense is their decoy product (while allowing 9/11 to happen), then they fooled all of us into believing that interdicting WMD was the product (cherrypicking was the process — selectively revealing so-called intelligence to aid the ruse).  But this has always been the case, the Military Industrial Bureaucratic Political Complex has specialized in straw men all along, to underwrite the constant need for more and better materiel.

In the long run, it makes no difference which employees were there on time, or even which employees were there at all. All that is necessary is buy-in among the positions filled. The Manhattan Project was an example of buy-in sufficient to reach a goal — Hiroshima and Nagisaki — that satisfied the agenda of those who saw self-gain possible.  T. C. Mits did not know about this secret goal.  Have you ever seen any attendance records from Los Alamos?

I will not leave before lauding the point(s) that James Walpole has made, in his post linked above. I’m still not all in with the headline, but I finally understood the point — understand the requirements of the real world around you. Take responsibility for the requirements. Master them. Being on time is your deal, not some bureaucrat’s. Not some current employer’s.

— Kilgore Forelle

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