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The libertarian approach

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libertygrl
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Posted 04/18/12 - 4:04 PM:
Subject: The libertarian approach
How does a country prevent its government or its corporations from becoming too unmanageable in size?
Samvega
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Posted 04/18/12 - 5:40 PM:

In the very early days of the United States, corporations were transitory entities that existed usually for a set period of time to accomplish a specific project - such as building a bridge, to give one example - after which they would be dissolved. In order to exist at all, the would-be owners had to file a petition to the legislature arguing that the corporation's activities would be in the public interest, like the example of the bridge, and that said activity could not otherwise be carried out without the corporation. Only after the legislature determined that their activities were in the public interest were they given a charter. The charter usually expired after the task was accomplished.

Also, until the mid 19th century there was no such thing as limited liability, so in the event of a disaster the owners and executives would have been held liable (imagine the CEO of Union Carbide having to actually face trial in India, or the CEO of BP having to pay for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico).

This state of affairs did not last very long, unfortunately - leading people like Thomas Jefferson to write things like this: "I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

I would say that going back to something like the above arrangement would be an excellent way to de-fang corporations and keep them in check, that and having publicly financed elections.
Thinker13
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Posted 04/19/12 - 12:40 AM:

libertygrl wrote:
How does a country prevent its government or its corporations from becoming too unmanageable in size?


I see that you're pointing to a problem and asking us to discuss about the solutions, if possible. I would like to indulge more in looking at the problems:

1. Government size seems to have been almost same since inception of many democracies. I wonder how size really matters. It's power which matters most in my opinion.

2. Corporations have also grown out because of needs of people to live luxuriously and many of them have made life easier for many of us but it's because of unusually devilish nature of power and money which makes them go as far as needed in order to be in business and on top of things. In this sense, I feel that it's not essentially government but rather corporations today which present the serious threat of controlling economy, resources and government. Or may be they've already been controlling these things for enough long now.

I would love to hear your views on the true nature of problem and what 'libertarian' is really meant for in the opening of the post.smiling face

Edited by Thinker13 on 04/19/12 - 10:09 AM
Thinker13
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Posted 04/19/12 - 12:55 AM:

Samvega wrote:
In the very early days of the United States, corporations were transitory entities that existed usually for a set period of time to accomplish a specific project - such as building a bridge, to give one example - after which they would be dissolved. In order to exist at all, the would-be owners had to file a petition to the legislature arguing that the corporation's activities would be in the public interest, like the example of the bridge, and that said activity could not otherwise be carried out without the corporation. Only after the legislature determined that their activities were in the public interest were they given a charter. The charter usually expired after the task was accomplished.

Also, until the mid 19th century there was no such thing as limited liability, so in the event of a disaster the owners and executives would have been held liable (imagine the CEO of Union Carbide having to actually face trial in India, or the CEO of BP having to pay for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico).

This state of affairs did not last very long, unfortunately - leading people like Thomas Jefferson to write things like this: "I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

I would say that going back to something like the above arrangement would be an excellent way to de-fang corporations and keep them in check, that and having publicly financed elections.




I have to admit that I like to read your posts. nod Please continue to write as long as you find it possible and continue to enjoy it. In case you stop writing here, here is my email-ID: thinkerv0@gmail.com and I would love to stay in touch with you. smiling face


Now, I agree with most of your post, but perhaps as an aside, I would like to comment on Thomas Jefferson. His character is intriguing and mysterious in my opinion, or perhaps has been made so by others. I started to take interest in him because he was a polymath and one of the prime figures in the independence of America, along with George Washington. Then, I came to know that he was involved in Illuminati, which is yet not confirmed. I have also read that he used to grow marijuana in his backyard and considered it beneficial for many purposes, which is totally illegal today in USA. Now, I read this comment of yours and in the light of other things I find it just a superficial quotation. Or may be not. May be I am confused and given to too many rumours. laughing
henry quirk
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Posted 04/19/12 - 8:48 AM:

"How does a country prevent its government or its corporations from becoming too unmanageable in size?"

1-When the majority of folks view authority as an evil, and as the nest for incompetents, such folks take a dim view of those with power (political or financial; often the same thing) dictating anything about anything to any one.

2-When folks understand that each is wholly responsible for him- or her-self (and that no one owes any other jack squat), such folks take a dim view of others walking in with promises of safety and security.

3-When folks understand that each is motivated by self-interest, such folks take a dim view of the supposed altruist and idealist who trundles in with promises of justice, equality and whatnot.

The best way, then, to prevent government or corporations from becoming unmanageable is to not need them (as entities, as instruments) in the first place. It seems a given (to me), once government (rather than proxy-hood) is established; once corporation (as legal person) is allowed, the deal with the devil is already in play and it's all downhill from there.
libertygrl
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Posted 04/19/12 - 9:08 AM:

Lots of good points, I will be back this evening after work to share my thoughts.
Thinker13
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Posted 04/19/12 - 10:14 AM:

henry quirk wrote:
"How does a country prevent its government or its corporations from becoming too unmanageable in size?"

1-When the majority of folks view authority as an evil, and as the nest for incompetents, such folks take a dim view of those with power (political or financial; often the same thing) dictating anything about anything to any one.

2-When folks understand that each is wholly responsible for him- or her-self (and that no one owes any other jack squat), such folks take a dim view of others walking in with promises of safety and security.

3-When folks understand that each is motivated by self-interest, such folks take a dim view of the supposed altruist and idealist who trundles in with promises of justice, equality and whatnot.

The best way, then, to prevent government or corporations from becoming unmanageable is to not need them (as entities, as instruments) in the first place. It seems a given (to me), once government (rather than proxy-hood) is established; once corporation (as legal person) is allowed, the deal with the devil is already in play and it's all downhill from there.



Henry, among points given above, which ones represent your stance the most. I mean, this post as a whole is your opinion, but which category you feel you most easily belong to or do you feel that you belong to all three?
henry quirk
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Posted 04/19/12 - 10:23 AM:

To me...

Authority is both evil and incompetent; I'm responsible for me, not you; I always operate from self-interest.

All three are really facets of one notion: I possess myself, govern myself, so, what do I need 'governors' for?
Samvega
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Posted 04/19/12 - 12:32 PM:

Thinker13 wrote:

I have to admit that I like to read your posts. nod Please continue to write as long as you find it possible and continue to enjoy it. In case you stop writing here, here is my email-ID: thinkerv0@gmail.com and I would love to stay in touch with you. smiling face


Thank you very much, Thinker. I have really enjoyed our conversations so far and will definitely keep in touch. smiling face


Thinker13 wrote:
Now, I agree with most of your post, but perhaps as an aside, I would like to comment on Thomas Jefferson. His character is intriguing and mysterious in my opinion, or perhaps has been made so by others. I started to take interest in him because he was a polymath and one of the prime figures in the independence of America, along with George Washington. Then, I came to know that he was involved in Illuminati, which is yet not confirmed. I have also read that he used to grow marijuana in his backyard and considered it beneficial for many purposes, which is totally illegal today in USA. Now, I read this comment of yours and in the light of other things I find it just a superficial quotation. Or may be not. May be I am confused and given to too many rumours. laughing


Jefferson, like many of the American "founding fathers", was definitely an unusual person. I don't know about the Illuminati part but he was definitely a Freemason. I had not heard about marijuana, although hemp cultivation was quite common in the US until the 1930s, when it was made illegal (ostensibly to prevent the cultivation of marijuana, but also because oil companies wanted to crush competition to plastics in the form of processed industrial grade hemp). Jefferson was indeed a man of many contradictions (speaking out for freedom while owning slaves, etc) but I do think his comments about corporations were prescient, especially in light of recent events (i.e. Citizens United).

Edited by Samvega on 04/19/12 - 12:37 PM
Samvega
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Posted 04/19/12 - 12:36 PM:

henry quirk wrote:
To me...

Authority is both evil and incompetent; I'm responsible for me, not you; I always operate from self-interest.

All three are really facets of one notion: I possess myself, govern myself, so, what do I need 'governors' for?


Reminds me of this quote from Edward Abbey:

Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hardheaded realization, based on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, and county commissioners.

However, I have to say I find the notion of self ownership incoherent. Your self is not something you 'own'. If you own yourself, then that would mean you are separate from yourself and stand in a relation of ownership to yourself. But what are "you" apart from "your self"? This would imply there are two selves; the self that is owned and the self that owns. Wouldn't it be the case that you "are" your self, rather than owning your self?
henry quirk
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Posted 04/19/12 - 1:05 PM:

To assert ownership of one's self in a world where slavery (one person owning another, overtly or by way of subtle pressures) exists is the height of coherency.

The mistake is to assume self-ownership is the same as the legal definition of ownership (as it might apply to a car, for example).

Self-ownership is more akin to self-possession in that it is the simple assertion, 'I do as I choose, not what you what choose for me'.

I like, and agree with, the Abbey quote but, for the record: I'm not an anarchist or libertarian...too many friggin' rules established by too many other folks for me to take either position.

Both libertarianism and anarchism have as a many strains as Christianity, and like the strains of Christianity, libertarianism and anarchism are full to overflowing with folks proclaiming their particular strain is ‘right’.

To hell with that noise.
Samvega
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Posted 04/19/12 - 2:40 PM:

henry quirk wrote:
To assert ownership of one's self in a world where slavery (one person owning another, overtly or by way of subtle pressures) exists is the height of coherency.

The mistake is to assume self-ownership is the same as the legal definition of ownership (as it might apply to a car, for example).

Self-ownership is more akin to self-possession in that it is the simple assertion, 'I do as I choose, not what you what choose for me'.


Thank you for clarifying this, since I have come across libertarians claiming that property rights are a natural feature of the universe because derive from self ownership. These individuals try to make self ownership work the way it does in the legal definition, which leads to all kinds of absurdities.

You appear to be using self-ownership in the sense of autonomy of action, which is definitely a lot more coherent. I notice though, that you reference the idea of ownership via 'subtle pressure', and this seems to complicate matters. How do we know if any choice we make is truly free and not just the result of 'subtle pressures'? What is your criteria for a free choice?

henry quirk wrote:
Both libertarianism and anarchism have as a many strains as Christianity, and like the strains of Christianity, libertarianism and anarchism are full to overflowing with folks proclaiming their particular strain is ‘right’.

To hell with that noise.


Agreed, sectarianism of any sort is an annoying waste of time.
libertygrl
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Posted 04/19/12 - 10:45 PM:

Samvega wrote:
Also, until the mid 19th century there was no such thing as limited liability, so in the event of a disaster the owners and executives would have been held liable (imagine the CEO of Union Carbide having to actually face trial in India, or the CEO of BP having to pay for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico).

I'm not too keen on the idea of limited liability but according to Wiki such measures would be in place even in a free market system in order to protect investors from bankruptcy. Supposedly consumers would simply have to do business with such companies at their own risk. What recourse we do have? I recall some efforts at boycotting at BP after the oil spill but to my knowledge the impact was minimal. Powerful companies become so by offering convenient services that people want and need.

Sam wrote:
I would say that going back to something like the above arrangement would be an excellent way to de-fang corporations and keep them in check, that and having publicly financed elections.

I'm all for it. Let's do away with lobbying too.

Thinker wrote:
Government size seems to have been almost same since inception of many democracies. I wonder how size really matters. It's power which matters most in my opinion.

I would say that size definitely matters, and speaking for the United States, our population has exploded while the size of our Congress has remained the same for the life of our country. The issue is one of scalability. As one of my friends pointed out, it's unreasonable to expect one person (the president) to be able to satisfy the needs of 300 million people. Right now, most states have a population higher than the entire U.S. had at the time the constitution was drafted.

Thinker wrote:
Or may be they've already been controlling these things for enough long now.

Indeed, I think a lot of people are beginning to share that sentiment.

Thinker wrote:
I would love to hear your views on the true nature of problem and what 'libertarian' is really meant for in the opening of the post.

The libertarian approach, to my knowledge, is about allowing the market to do freely as it will without government interference. I personally am not in favor of having no government at all. I feel that there are important, beneficial things we can achieve by pooling our resources and that that is one of the benefits of having a viable government that satisfies the wants and needs of most of its constituents. I also believe that "government" is merely another form of product or service in a free market. In other words, we have government because that's what people want. In a free market, entities arise to meet the demands of the people and government is one of those demands.

The problem is that here in the U.S., the government has been bedding with corporations for too long, and there are a lot of wealthy people in power who have become so by exploiting the poor and other less than ethical means. You have these groups springing up, like "Occupy Wall Street" who express a lot of general discontent but don't seem to have a viable game plan on how to make things better. I'm interested in coming up with a reasonable game plan.

quirk wrote:
The best way, then, to prevent government or corporations from becoming unmanageable is to not need them (as entities, as instruments) in the first place.

Sure, I agree with that.

quirk wrote:
It seems a given (to me), once government (rather than proxy-hood) is established; once corporation (as legal person) is allowed, the deal with the devil is already in play and it's all downhill from there.

What is proxy-hood by your definition?

Sam wrote:
Agreed, sectarianism of any sort is an annoying waste of time.

thumb up
henry quirk
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Posted 04/20/12 - 9:06 AM:

"You appear to be using self-ownership in the sense of autonomy of action..."

Yes, exactly.

#

"property rights"

The only 'right' to anything (including living) is one's assertion of that right and the successful defense of that assertion.

If Henry shoots Joe in the head and Joe dies, well, so much for Joe's intrinsic right to life...*shrug*

'Natural rights' are hooey.

#

'subtle pressure'

Example: many blacks enslaved in America, at some point, simply gave up trying to escape...each submitted to 'being owned'...there was, of course, the overt, gross, pressure (threat) of torture and death applied, but also, the subtle pressure of a white, slave-owner, culture weighing down on each, 24/7.

Please note: I don't excuse the one who bows...I have no sympathy for the one who accepts the yoke...I understand 'why', I just have no respect for the choice.

#

"How do we know if any choice we make is truly free and not just the result of 'subtle pressures'? What is your criteria for a free choice?"

There are no free choices (no free will). Each of us is bound up in and by the world (reality), without and within.

What we each have, instead, is 'agency' (wholly synonymous with 'agent')...that is, each of us has his or her 'self' (that self-reflective, recursive, process called thinking and 'I').

Within the constraints of the world (without and within) each of us (perhaps to varying degrees, depending on the individual) can, must, choose 'this' or 'that', 'here' or 'there', etc. Not a one of us has unlimited choice, but we each can and do choose.

Example (one I've used before, perhaps even on the couch):

I want ice cream...I trundle over to Baskin Robbin's...I have 32 flavors to choose from...now, I don't care for most of what's offered...I only like chocolate and vanilla...so: I have four options available...

1) Have chocolate.

2) Have vanilla.

3) Be adventurous and try something else (perhaps for no other reason than to be ornery).

4) Have nothing.

My choices are not unlimited (32 flavors to choose from; I only like two) but still, I have options, must make a choice.

How I make the choice -- why I choose 'this' instead of 'that' -- may be complex and not always overtly conscious, may not be rational in any way, and may not be wise, but always, always, always, 'I choose' (without any appeal to the choice being free).

##

"What is proxy-hood by your definition?"

An example: I have a leaky pipe in the shitter. I have no plumbing skill/experience so I call a plumber. He comes in, assesses the problem, quotes a price, does the work, gets paid, and goes away.

The janitor is my proxy. He doesn't lead me. He doesn't direct me. He doesn't advice me. He takes care of that which I can't or won't take care of myself.

When's the last time a President, a congressperson, a judge, or any another member of the political sphere acted like the plumber (as a proxy)?

#

"I also believe that "government" is merely another form of product or service in a free market."

In a true free market there would be no 'government' but, instead, just proxies. That (in America, for example) there IS a government and said entity resists all attempts to de-power (de-fund) it, is a concrete evidence that no real, overarching, free market exists.
libertygrl
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Posted 04/20/12 - 9:16 AM:

henry quirk wrote:
The janitor is my proxy. He doesn't lead me. He doesn't direct me. He doesn't advice me. He takes care of that which I can't or won't take care of myself.

When's the last time a President, a congressperson, a judge, or any another member of the political sphere acted like the plumber (as a proxy)?

Ah yes, you're describing what Wikipedia calls "lateral relationships" in its article on decentralization. It contrasts these relationships with ones of authority in a hierarchical arrangement. I am in favor of a paradigm shift where government is concerned, one which sees government as not a system of authority but rather an arrangement of complex lateral relationships. The "governed" would not be groups of people but rather issues or fields of study which are contracted to specific governments to be governed.

Schumpeter in the Economist pointed out the problems with keeping lateral relationships small and restricted to individuals: "His central insight was that firms exist because going to the market all the time can impose heavy transaction costs. You need to hire workers, negotiate prices and enforce contracts, to name but three time-consuming activities. A firm is essentially a device for creating long-term contracts when short-term contracts are too bothersome."

In my view, "government" should be, ideally, just another really big firm. A lateral relationship, not a form of domination.
henry quirk
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Posted 04/20/12 - 11:42 AM:

Part of the (my) problem lies with the word 'government'.

By definition: government involves 'governors' and 'governed' (controllers and controlled; directors and directed, leaders and led, masters and slaves, etc.).

My personal prejudice.
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Posted 04/20/12 - 12:10 PM:

Fair enough, maybe a better description is something along the lines of "Social contract services" or something like that. Part of the reason I lean toward holding onto the same word is that it would serve the basic function that government does now. Only there is more of a mutually recognized benefit involved and not so much feeling of authoritarianism. That's why I suggest thinking of it as areas of interest being governed (for example the governing of education, or of space exploration, or of health services), rather than people being governed. But I can understand your prejudice against the word. And to be honest, I don't know if enough people can embrace the idea of lateral relationships in government in order for the concept to be effective. It may possibly be that some people are hard-wired to be sheep and feel the need for someone in authority to herd them around.
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Posted 04/20/12 - 12:47 PM:

libertygrl wrote:
Fair enough, maybe a better description is something along the lines of "Social contract services" or something like that. Part of the reason I lean toward holding onto the same word is that it would serve the basic function that government does now. Only there is more of a mutually recognized benefit involved and not so much feeling of authoritarianism. That's why I suggest thinking of it as areas of interest being governed (for example the governing of education, or of space exploration, or of health services), rather than people being governed. But I can understand your prejudice against the word. And to be honest, I don't know if enough people can embrace the idea of lateral relationships in government in order for the concept to be effective. It may possibly be that some people are hard-wired to be sheep and feel the need for someone in authority to herd them around.


This again reminds me of your stance on 'unquestioning obedience.' I think this impression is hard marked in your psyche that rebels and mavericks are rare and most of the people are hard-wired to be sheep and need to be 'governed.' I clearly observe that you used 'some people,' whereas I have used 'most' and the reason simply is --that if most of the persons are independent thinkers or say libertarians(not that I really want to use these two as synonyms), then there will not be a government or authority, which means that indeed most of us are sheep.
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Posted 04/20/12 - 1:03 PM:

As a rule, by very definition of words, rebels, mavericks and firebrands are most likely to be in minority, except at the times of revolutions.
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Posted 04/20/12 - 1:06 PM:

Hello Henry,

I am having trouble reconciling your support for the concept of autonomy and agency with your denial of free choice. If the agent is not free, can we truly say that they 'choose' anything in any meaningful sense? Can we even say that there is an agent, if there is nothing this agent chooses freely? How does choice work in the absence of freedom? And why do you despise those who in your words 'choose the yoke' if their choice is not free?

Edited by Samvega on 04/20/12 - 1:22 PM
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Posted 04/20/12 - 1:36 PM:

Thinker13 wrote:


This again reminds me of your stance on 'unquestioning obedience.' I think this impression is hard marked in your psyche that rebels and mavericks are rare and most of the people are hard-wired to be sheep and need to be 'governed.'

Not sure why my acknowledgement of a possible scenario should be interpreted as any kind of conviction on my part as to how things actually are.

Your assumption that I am convinced that rebels and mavericks are rare is incorrect. But I do believe that sheep-like people do exist. Do you disagree?

Thinker wrote:
I clearly observe that you used 'some people,' whereas I have used 'most' and the reason simply is --that if most of the persons are independent thinkers or say libertarians(not that I really want to use these two as synonyms), then there will not be a government or authority, which means that indeed most of us are sheep.

I am not following your logic here.
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Posted 04/20/12 - 1:59 PM:

libertygrl wrote:

Not sure why my acknowledgement of a possible scenario should be interpreted as any kind of conviction on my part as to how things actually are.

Your assumption that I am convinced that rebels and mavericks are rare is incorrect. But I do believe that sheep-like people do exist. Do you disagree?


I am not following your logic here.



My logic simply is based on my assumption that if rebels outnumber sheep-like people then there will be no government anywhere and there will be revolutions immediately. Do you think that there are people in majority who are rebels and there are very few number of people who are timid?
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Posted 04/20/12 - 2:22 PM:

Sam,

A free choice, to me, means a choice that has no roots in the past, is not informed by experience, and is not bound by the way the world works.

Free will has a similar meaning, to me.

All my choices are rooted in the past, are informed by my experiences, and are bound up in the way the world works. I'm a finite, organic, autonomy moving imperfectly, choosing imperfectly and still, despite limitations, 'I choose'.

I thought my Baskin Robbin's example was solid: guess I was wrong.

*shrug*

The mistake, I think, is to assume it's an 'either/or' deal. Again: I'm bound up in and by the world, but this is not synonymous with a line of dominos in a row. That is: there’s more to the event than a libertarian free will or a hard determinism.

while I’m bound up in and by the world (in a real sense, bound up in and by 'me'), that binding (as I perceive it) is not straightjacket-tight or closet-sized...my capacity to choose is much more like my having free run of a football stadium...I have lots of room to dance and jump and run, just not infinite room.

This seems (self)evident. Even a casual self-interrogation reveals I choose all the time in very large and very small ways and always these choices are bound up in and by the world (the way the world works, the way 'I' work). I never have unlimited options but always there are options to weigh, to consider, to choose between or among.

Another way to say it: I'm *'free' within the world to choose.









*Sometimes I think discussions about agency and autonomy get hobbled precisely 'cause all involved get hung up on' 'free' and 'freedom', concentrating on the placeholders and trying to make the phenomena explored fit the box of those placeholders, rather than leaving the placeholders behind and simply examining the phenomena.
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Posted 04/20/12 - 2:36 PM:

Thinker13 wrote:
My logic simply is based on my assumption that if rebels outnumber sheep-like people then there will be no government anywhere and there will be revolutions immediately.

I see.

Thinker wrote:
Do you think that there are people in majority who are rebels and there are very few number of people who are timid?

I really don't know, to be honest. I have spent my life surrounded by very headstrong people and often times rebellious people, beginning with my parents. I think there are people who live in agreement with the system so long as they are not terribly inconvenienced and it doesn't seem too unfair. They may rebel in their own ways as long as it can be done out of the public eye and draw legal repercussions. This does not necessarily mean that they have a need to follow. They may actually have a need to rebel but they keep that need in check for the sake of their own safety. As such, I think it's probably difficult to estimate how many people are actually "sheep-like". I do think there are a lot of sheep-like people. I don't know if I would say they are the majority, but the possibility does exist.
Thinker13
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#25 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 04/20/12 - 2:49 PM:

henry quirk wrote:
Sam,



laughing

As an(perhaps amusing) aside: Sam as in 'uncle Sam' is totally different from 'Sam' in Samvega.

Sam stands for balanced and Vega for velocity.
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