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12. The Anatomy of Contradictory Ideas, from Alternative Economics 101 -Tax Your Imagination

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The model in flux

There are ideas and organizations that attempt to move things towards a better balance. This occurs culturally as well as individually. Making comparisons between other nations and other times shows how the model can fluctuate. For example, by moving the religion disk more towards the center, religion has a greater influence on political and economic organizations. This can be good or bad, depending upon the nature of the political philosophy it is paired with. Is it a tolerant loving political philosophy or an intolerant punishing political philosophy? 

Dominate Ideas by Steve Consilvio

When imbued with more political power, we could get an inquisition that persecutes heresy, or an enlightenment that encourages freedom of religion. Ideas from the religious realm can and should inform both our politics and our economics, but everything needs to be in balance.

Similarly, political ideas inform our economics and religious viewpoints. The term liberty can mean many things. The liberty discussed in the Bible is not the same liberty that is discussed politically. Political liberty is making ones own laws. Religious liberty is embracing God's laws. What one person regards as liberty another may regard as slavery. That is a sure sign of cognitive dissonance, but if on one or both sides is unclear.

One of the big stories of the Bible is the political liberation of the Hebrews from slavery to the Pharaoh. Their faith in God gave them their political liberty. No sooner were the Hebrews politically free, and given the laws of Moses, did they start to make their own laws. They fashioned a golden calf and worshiped that instead of God. They deserted their religious liberty. Freedom gives one the ability to live up to, as well as to abandon, a standard of virtue.

Ancient slavery in Egypt was as much an economic condition as it was a political or religious condition. The Pharoah's believed themselves to be gods. People like Karl Marx see religion as enslaving its followers to a blind obedience. The slaves of Egypt would disagree. Their faith in God led to their freedom. What they did with that liberation is a separate story. Because the Hebrews thought themselves superior, they lost their humility. That was the same failing as the Pharaoh. Egypt was not always ruled ruthlessly. It was Joseph who instituted the 1/7 tax to prepare for a drought seven years in the future. When the crop failure came, there was plenty of food on hand for all. Egypt provides an example of both wise and unwise public administration. 

Hierarchy: Slavery versus Liberty 

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The slave and slave-master relationship is found in religion, politics and economics. This suggests that the problem with liberty is not the realm, but the quality of hierarchical relationships within any empire. An organizational hierarchy of skill or experience is natural, but a hierarchy of inequality is not. A child is not inferior to its parents, or an object to be exploited. Obedience is blind when it is not a conscious or logical choice. Winston Smith, in 1984, was a slave of the status quo, as were his oppressors. It is the tenor of authority that is the problem, not the existence of authority.

There is always a tendency for us to become that which we oppose. That is the nature of dissonance. We are what we hate. Marx opposed religious virtues, but his brotherhood of comrades required the same brotherhood of community that religions hope to achieve. There is no "right' side in history. This Big History model exposes the failings of every movement. We are all human, and fall victim to inconsistencies or double-standards. Ideals are the only thing capable of being pure. Our challenge is first to understand virtue, and then to live up to that standard. 

What we say is a measure of our understanding. Our virtue is as obvious as our dissonance, to everyone except ourselves. As followers, we follow those who share a similar dissonance. 

Slaves, of course, have limited choice, but on any of a thousand nights they could have risen up and killed their captors. They chose not to kill. Marx, in advocating class warfare, did not recognize that the slaves were declining war, not justice. Moses was similarly rejected by the slaves when he killed one of the Pharaoh's soldiers. The ends cannot justify the means.

At the heart of all organizations are the concepts of property and justice. Both the haves and have-nots resort to violence to protect and enhance their livelihood, they only start at a different level. Violence can be a consequence of an imbalanced mathematical model. Reducing poverty and extremes in wealth will reduce the likelihood of war, but economics is only one possible cause of violence. There are two other causes: pride (the social realm) and fear (the religious realm). Equality needs to be political, economic, religious and, most importantly, generational. The freedom to live requires the responsibility to prepare for those who come after us.

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All three empires are attempting to provide for the needs of the individual as well as the collective. To some degree, each empire exists to blunt the failures of the other empires. Religions exist to provide knowledge. Religions builds schools to educate the social spirit, but not roads. Governments exist to provide order. They purchase roads for everyone and encourage productivity. It builds schools, but primarily to indoctrinate the population to trust the government and follow its rules, which is why the religions build their own schools. Businesses exist to solve the physical demands of production and consumption. It is contracted to build the roads and the schools. 

Increasingly, business leaders make payments to schools and within politics to educate and indoctrinate their point of view. Businesses have the most money because they are free to create the most inflation. These owners believe themselves to be superior in society. People amass a personal fortune and then get involved in politics. The craving for wealth becomes a craving for power.

 During and after times of war citizens turn to military generals as their political leaders. Usually, the rich are trusted to run things because they already have control. During war-time, the political leaders turn to private industry for their armaments. Either way, the businesses come out on top. In a financial crisis, the government turns to the banks to solve the problems, too. The people have no institutional power, even under a democracy. The Supreme Court recently ruled that corporations have the same rights as citizens. The Bill of Rights attempts to blunt the rough treatment of individuals, but with limited success. The empires themselves interpret their own rules of self-restraint, and they invariably fail to restrain themselves.

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Steve grew up in a family business, was a history major in college, and has owned a small business for 25 years. Practical experience (mistakes) have led him to recognize that political rhetoric and educated analysis often falls short of reality. (more...)

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Well. I rated this mega-article as "Well Said", "I... by Daniel Penisten on Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013 at 10:12:31 PM