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9/18/12 questions and discussion

From: Jon A.
Sent on: Thursday, September 20, 2012 4:15 PM

John Peloquin and I have made a date to meet one hour early next Tuesday (9/25) to discuss and debate the issues of middle class income stagnation and the growing income inequality between the middle and upper economic classes in America. All who wish to attend are welcome. In fact, the more who attend, the better!

9/18/12 questions and discussion

1-what ought our balance be between individual and group rights?5
2-should we allow wolf hunting?1
3-is it wise for America to favor one friendly nation over another?3
4-where do rights come from?4
5-if we find life off of earth how long would it take for us to believe it?4
6-what if any similarities are there between theories and stories?4


what ought our balance be between individual and group rights?

Jon: just watched the BBC series recommended by Dick: The Century of the Self. Among several fascinating historical details in our 20th century were the efforts of American business and government to emphasize the pre-eminence of the Self. By using Public Relations efforts (something that didn't exist prior to 1900) the individual came to be more important than the groups individuals belong to. One downside resulting has been our collective failure to make individual sacrifices for whatever groups we are a part of because we have come to think of our selves as more important. I think this is an imbalance. Whether I am correct or not, how do we see the correct relationship of rights between us as individuals and us as members of groups?

Shannon: what's a group right?

Jim: the power of a group to enforce its will?

David: when was might not right?

jon: things like the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), women's suffrage, the Civil Rights of the 60s. These groups each ended up with rights they did not once have, and none acquired their rights via typical "might."

David: is it recent then that might hasn't always been right? Muslim might, for example, seems to controls the lives of muslims.

Jon: isn't that instead power yielded by individual muslims to Islam/their group?

David: they're being suppressed by theocracy. There are many biological species. All are trying to survive. What makes us special, what entitles us to use our might to dominate all the other species? 

Marla: like the game we in Minnesota seem to be playing with the Wolf. We struggle mightily to bring them back from extinction only to now "need" to kill them.

David: here's an example of might is right. I recently learned of a public school where because one or two kids have Peanut allergies all the other kids are forbidden from bringing anything with peanuts in it to school! This the might of a school enforcing crazy  rules on kids.

Shannon: it's a liability issue for the schools.

David: New York's mayor Bloomberg outlaws 32 ounce sodas!

Jim: in human history it has always been true that without a document telling us what we can and cannot do -- like a Constitution -- might can much more easily become "right." This is why I line up with the religious approaches, therein rights come from god(s), from universal truths. Some external source for what we're entitled to or obligated to do is necessary, otherwise we're doomed to chaos.

Shannon: why does the source need to be external?

Jim: without a shared belief system we're doomed.

Shannon: Jefferson said we have inalienable rights.

Jim: Jefferson's truths are close to ann external source. They are written into very important American documents.

David: what are those rights?

Richard: deconstructing it comes down to fundamentals. We're still left with Shannon's question: is that internal or external?

Jim: without external restraints nothing else has succeeded. Western democracies are the ideal. There is otherwise nothing sacred about democracy

Jon: Edward Bernais, the creator of Public Relations considered normal Americans to be stupid, like sheep. We, he believed, are too dumb to succeed at democracy. He felt we needed to be manipulated into behaving in "correct" democratic ways. This is definitely an external view. Or is he tapping into a pre-existing human nature that seeks out being told how to behave?

David: I was a Navy a recruiter. We were well trained to successfully manipulate possible recruits. We would ask them leading questions, find out their wants. With that information in hand we'd create a "need" in them, make them think they were the ones deciding, etc.

Richard: that seems similar to gambling.

Jon: when I was about to graduate college I first learned about affirmative action laws that might have hampered my soon to come job search. I was outraged! This individual wanted his right to unrestricted job access maintained. I did not want to yield my right to a job to any group's right to jobs! As time went by I calmed down, came to appreciate the bigger picture. Anyway, my thinking there was for a time quiet selfish.

Shannon: in some situations group rights are needed

Jim: is it rights or preferences?

David: culture has created ADA. At first it seemed odd giving the handicapped these rights because we were habituated to keeping them behind closed doors. Since the passing of ADA and the passage of time, having accessibility now just makes sense.

Jon: does it mean all groups rights dominate?

David: no

Marla: one point: right vs. common sense. A culture's group expectations are common sense until one goes to a country where they are not! 

Richard: it's an evolution of an idea. Human nature will respond if you make a good argument and are persistent with it.

Ron: as individuals we start with rights. The group when formed doesn't start with rights given externally. It's only when they get large enough and demonstrate the benefits of their existence that they are endowed with rights. It's a challenge for a group to get this far, they are often fighting up hill. Their needs are eventually recognized and eventually bestowed.

Dick: here are my group rights examples: the right to peaceful assembly and the right to organize to contract for labor (unions). 

Shannon: that's still about individuals deciding to join a group. 

David: group rights vs majority rule?

Shannon: the source of rights is key to everything. Some given by the state. My decisions set my own rights. Rights are fundamentally individual. The first question: where do they come from? And 2) what are they? Here we seem out of touch with the obligations associated with rights.

Jon: could obligations be what individuals bear in relation to honor groups' rights, in addition to the rights of the individuals around them?

Richard: rights is a stereotyped word for a general opinion of what's a good idea. Consensus.

Jim: I always wonder if our language and our concepts are good enough to even discuss these things. 

David: do Americans have the right to be stupid? 

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