(October 2, 2009)
Readers respond to this week's entry on rights, lies and the "threat"
posed by truthful accounting and honest dialog.
The central point of When Honesty Becomes "Threatening" (September 30, 2009)
was the need for a open, honest dialog in this nation on what constitutes a sustainable
"social contract." In essence, who gets what from the central government
and who pays what to the central government. Such a dialog has yet to occur.
Such a dialog must begin from a foundation of factual accounting of
financial obligations and tax revenues. But the government (central and local alike)
is attempting to
bypass the "pain" of an adult discussion of unsustainable obligations via lies,
massaged data, slippery statistics, deceptively rosy projections and a vast host of other
Reality is not being fooled. We as a nation will eventually have to face the
dismaying fact that "free money" is never truly free.
Right on the heels of When Honesty Becomes "Threatening" (September 30, 2009):
"Cambridge Runs Amok" (Forbes.com)
"Those who believe that "what you don't know won't hurt you" are about
to discover that most municipal governments have kept knowledge from
residents that will not only hurt them, but future generations as well.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, when benefits are included
in the compensation packages, federal worker compensation in 2008
averaged $119,982: more than double the private sector average of
$59,909. The same report reveals that this compensation gap has been
increasing every year since the year 2000.
This trend is no different at the local level and is clearly
recognizable in the workforce of nearly every American municipality. The
devastating impact on residential and business property owners in these
municipalities seems to be a tightly held secret by most municipal
The Commentary goes on to detail Cambridge's looming and unfunded city
employee pension disaster. A very scathing and detailed piece, very
uncharacteristic of the MSM.
It read as it were right out of Survival+, if find it ironic that such
an example is home to our nations most prestigious institution of higher
Please pass along my compliments to my fellow correspondent Harun I. for his brilliant
commentary (complete with that kick-in-the-gut final sentence) that you posted along with
your own comments on the blog today. It is not often I have the pleasure reading something
that so well combines depth of content with conciseness and an easy to read writing style.
I read it over and over just for the pleasure of reveling in good content combined with
good writing. I confess that I was so moved that on a couple of passes through it I found
my eyes were starting to well up. I took the liberty to forward the link to the page to
Ron Paul's office -- not just because he would agree with the content, but because I
can tell that he appreciates and knows good content combined with good writing. I guess
I simply wanted to share it.
The discussion of honesty caused me to flip it around and consider how pervasive lying
has become in our culture. Not just government lying, but everyone -- the business world,
culture mavens, historians, ordinary people in their ordinary lives. The list goes on.
No one is ever wrong, no one accepts responsibility for their actions, everyone is
justified in whatever they do or fail to do.
No one stops to consider how destructive and pernicious this is to human interaction
on both a personal or public level.
Hannah Arendt pointed out that once events emerge from the sea of infinite possibilities
they exist in before their
emergence, they become facts and have a sort of stubborn "thereness" or "otherness".
They are what they are instead of being something else. Unfortunately facts can be
maneuvered out of existence by lies and deceits that are made to look to be facts.
But the liars then have a problem. The act of lying casts them back into that sea of
infinite possibilities that facts (or lies dressed up as "facts") emerge from. The
lie they tell can just as easily have been or become something else. This is why liars
need to have long memories and usually trip themselves up in their own inconsistencies.
The problem is that we as human beings can only get through life and the world we live
in by being able to believe that what we perceive around us actually real and factual.
We have to be able to believe that what we sense actually exists as we sense it, that our
fellow men are actually doing what they say they are doing. The moment we cannot believe
these things, we literally lose our bearings and sense of position in the world for nothing
is as it seems to be. We become like Yates' falcon who cannot find his falconer, where
things fall apart and the center cannot hold.
When lying becomes so pervasive that we can no longer believe we are hearing the truth,
a peculiar danger arises. It is not that being told black is white, we will believe it
or disbelieve it. It is that we won't believe anything at all. Think about it for a moment.
Confronted by a "he said-she said" event, our tendency is to discount everything the
people actually say and look for some external piece of evidence to help us determine
which version seems more credible.
I suppose this looks like a good deal if you are TPTB and you want to confuse the Sheeple
into docility. But the damage it does to the social structure and its institutions and
government is incalculable. They lose their legitimacy as people begin to sense they
are being lied to. The result is the progress of corruption that we see today, and if
it goes on long enough the collapse of the government, economic and social structure
itself. What replaces it depends upon how well TPTB are able to preserve their positions
of privilege from the old regime.
It's way too much to deal with all that he wrote, but I wanted to make a few comments
about freedom. I think Harun shares the common American idea of freedom as freedom "from"
this or that. The ideal expression of this would be to live alone on an island. Is that
really freedom? The very notions he talks of about of "my property" and "the fruit of
my labor", does he think these things exist in isolation? Could any of these fruits appear
without the cooperation of dozens if not hundreds of other people, no matter what their
motivation? Could he even walk down the street without the silent cooperation of
everyone he met, that they will obey laws and respect another human being instead
of waylaying him?
Fundamental: freedom is a gift of others. We may institutionalize this and we may
express it as a "right" but it doesn't change the origin. It begins and ends in personal
relationships.This is freedom "to" do something or be someone. To be yourself. It is most
clearly expressed in a relationship of love. Because when loved, you are free to be
whomever and whatever you are. No need for lies, deception, axes to grind, etc.This is
fundamentally the same motivation by which we allow and encourage others to do their
thing on a societal basis. The love of two people is the basis of all social relations.
There are two forces that bind society together: a spirit of cooperation and law, which
is based on fear. It would be difficult to conceive any real society based on one on
these alone. They are yin and yang. And they have always fought like the devil in
American history, and the balance has usually tilted toward fear. In Europe, I would
say, there is much more a sense of social cooperation that binds the societies there
together. In any case, you could say we are dominated by law and fear now, and I think
we passed a threshold in the Reagan years, when the message from on high was clearly
every man for himself. That can only produce fear, lots of it, as Hobbes knew full
well. The result is this momentum toward oligarchy.
And yet one looks at the service awards and the sheer amount of volunteer work that goes
on, and one can only conclude that this kind of cooperation (love) is what really binds
us together and keeps the whole damned thing from becoming a hell. (My Dad tells many
a story about the Depression, where people who had so little helped those with even
less.) But it is diluted and confused by all the things Harun and you have pointed out
recently in the press and the lies from our elected officials, which sows more fear
by not confronting fear. They simply bury it and it eats away at the other good forces,
just as it does in the human psyche.
Yes, nature has limited resources and some of its actions are harmful. No revelations
there. Hobbes, called it the state of war of all against all, where life is nasty, short
and brutish. Is that freedom? No, that is exactly one reason why humans decided to
cooperate, to survive. Another reason is that it is actually pleasant to cooperate.
We thrive and become more of ourselves. Hobbes thought it was the Leviathan, the state,
that bound us together. He was only half right. There is no yin with a yang. But the
balance now is very skewed.
As an ex-soldier, Harun knows full well that survival in war depends on relying on and
cooperating with your mates. And you, Charles, have written eloquently about the
various forms of social cooperation the future might bring.
Your comments on "magical thinking" are instructive to the modern age.
In the "Sovereign Individual" which I mentioned to you before as well as in their
predecessor work The Great Reckoning, Davidson and Reese-Mogg make a comparison which
I find amusing between the Medieval church and modern politics. They make the same
comments about the magical thinking which most people think existed then and the absurd
faith in politics which the typical person has now. They also mention that centuries
from now, future historians are equally likely to think that the contemporary belief
in politics is as absurd as "modern" thought considers prior belief systems to be.
If ever there was an example of magical thinking, the modern belief in politics as the
solution to all of our problems is it. Every time I watch an election celebration or
a big political speech and see the crowds deliriously cheering, the question I always
ask myself is this. (And the more ridiculous the promises, the more delirious the crowd.)
Are those people really that gullible and naive to believe the complete claptrap which
is coming out of that politician or candidate's mouth? I believe that a substantial
proportion are that gullible and this true regardless of the party candidate giving
The sad fact is that there are many people who would willingly rather believe a lie
than accept the truth. And it isn't just because they have been fooled but because
they prefer self-deception.
Thank you, readers for a variety of views on vitally important topics.
Permanent link: Rights, Lies and Losing Legitimacy
Check out my article in American Conservative Magazine
No Easy Money: The case for raising interest rates.
I've been invited to join the writers contributing to
Seeking Alpha. You can
also find my work on AOL's Daily Finance.
want more troubling/revolutionary/annoying analysis, please read
Free eBook now available: HTML version: Survival+: Structuring Prosperity for Yourself and the Nation
(PDF version (111 pages): Survival+)
"Your book is truly a revolutionary act." Kenneth R.
Of Two Minds is now available via Kindle:
Of Two Minds blog-Kindle
"This guy is THE leading visionary on reality.
He routinely discusses things which no one else has talked about, yet,
turn out to be quite relevant months later."
--Walt Howard, commenting about CHS on another blog.
NOTE: contributions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email
remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.
Thank you, Earl M. ($15), for your much-appreciated generous donation
to this site.
I am greatly honored by your support and readership.
Or send him coins, stamps or quatloos via mail--please
request P.O. Box address.
Your readership is greatly appreciated with or without a donation.
For more on this subject and a wide array of other topics, please visit
All content, HTML coding, format design, design elements and images copyright ©
2009 Charles Hugh Smith, All rights
reserved in all media, unless otherwise credited or noted.
I would be honored if you linked this wEssay to your site, or printed a copy for your own use.