In Defense of the Individual

In Defense of The Competent Individual

A pervasive ideology of group-think and group-identity has been slowly infiltrating the college system in the West over the last 40 years and has finally made its way to the center of the political and social arena as a consequence.  The post-modernist philosophy that has fueled this is based on resentment of Western culture, a rejection of the importance of the individual (post-modernists believe essentially that all individuals are constructs of their society, especially their race, gender and sexuality). In other words, to the post-modernist, you are your race. You are your sexuality. You are your gender.  You are part of an identity group and all groups are in a struggle for power because of the existing dominance hierarchy. In other words, the entire world can be seen through the lens of the Oppressor vs. The Oppressed.   The result of this thinking has manifested itself all over the West.  Identity politics has taken center stage in the 21st Century political discourse, with various groups demanding that supposed existing power structures in societies be toppled by force. 

Us vs Them 

Surely dominance hierarchies do exist and they always will. (They will also exist within certain groups themselves which shows the futility of the post modernists attempts to take down the existing power structures.)  Humans are animals and all animals fight to find their place in the pecking order of life. However, the problem with seeing the world through the lens of US vs. THEM is that it is a poor philosophy to live a good life.  A problem with all ideologies is that, by adopting them exclusively, you are willingly sacrificing your ability to reason as an individual actor in the world.  Instead, you have opted to engage in the collective thinking of the group.  By engaging in group think you are likely to adopt a mob mentality, one that lacks reason, empathy and compassion.  The result of mob mentality is almost always violence.  Some post-modernists are okay with violence. In fact, some leftist politicians have even called for it. When mobs rule, regardless of the ideology, the rights of individuals will always be trampled.   Without the importance and protections placed on all individuals disaster occurs, even genocide.  This has been the case in Marxist countries and the atrocities have been well-documented.

Western culture is based around the idea that the individual has rights and those rights are not to be usurped regardless of what the majority of people believe.  In other words, the individual has value in the world and they must be protected by the law. It’s worth repeating that there are no “group” rights. There are only individual rights.  You have rights because you are a human being, not because you happen to be identified with a certain group.  Any time you hear the call for group rights or new laws to protect certain groups of people, you should be suspicious of the people making the demands.  What are their motives?  Who will suffer as a result of the new laws?  Who will benefit?  Whose rights are being favored over others? Another question to ask is, “What are you against?”  See, every political party and ideology says what they are for, but rarely do they say what they are against.  The reason is often that they are against other groups of people entirely.

However you may identify with a certain group, your potential as a human being is not determined by the categories in which you believe you fit. All individuals have nearly unlimited potential, being limited only by their unique characteristics and beliefs. By allowing yourself to identify as a group rather than an individual, I am suggesting that you are damaging your potential due to the rigidity of your beliefs.  You are not poor because someone else is rich.  You are not fat because someone else is fit. You are not depressed because someone else is happy.  Life is not arranged in such ways, although having a scapegoat may make you feel better. Labels create division and animosity between people.  It would be wise, before lumping people into certain “oppressor” or “oppressed” groups, to look at the individual situation pertaining to people. If someone has done well, it could very well be that they are competent, not that they were given something not earned.

The world runs because of competent individuals.  Regardless of whatever group you are identified with, the number one factor in regards to personal accomplishment is still competence.  Mastering a trade or skill, being effective in communication, and performing a duty that others see as valuable is the number one way to rise above in any social hierarchy that values the individual and individual accomplishment. Today, there is confusion between extremely competent people and the so-called “privilege”.  Groups of people are made to feel guilty because they were born with a certain skin tone or an XY chromosome, when in reality these people have no responsibility to make right the sins of their predecessors, whatever form those sins may have come. Personally, I think the attempt to label groups of people as “privileged” and suggest whatever success in life they have is solely a result of them being born into a certain group is atrocious.

  Competence and privilege should never be confused.  There are many people born into financial privilege who end up miserable, depressed failures.  Likewise, there are many people born into “under-privileged” groups that end up massively successful.  In the end, the greatest determining factor in how well a person does is his or her own personal philosophy and desire to achieve.  Social hierarchies do exist in the world, but aiming up and taking action is the best way to get ahead in them.  What I am really suggesting is that all this political discourse should be focussed around the protection of individual liberties, not mandating an equality of outcomes.  Should a student who earns A-plus grades be required to give some of their grade points to those who have not done as well so all can have the same grade?  Will that make us all feel better? That instead of celebrating someone who has done exceptional work, we can celebrate that all outcomes will be equal?  This is what the post-modernists want in truth.  They cleverly hide behind the false excuse that a white male dominated patriarchy has led to inequality in outcomes and if we could just eliminate this social hierarchy, everyone would have equal outcomes.  When in reality, if you look at other groups, the outcomes compared to others inside those groups are often unequal as well in regards to finance, education and other important markers in life.  

By demonizing certain groups, a philosophy of resentment takes hold in the minds of people.  Those who feel oppressed begin to resent anyone who they feel has more than them and blame them for the unfairness of life.  On the other hand, those who have been declared oppressors or privileged will begin to harbor resentment for those who call them such.  Thus the cycle of the politics of envy and resentment continues as groups are pitted against each other thanks to such ideologies.  The truth is that the competent individual is the one to be admired, because no one is quite like anyone else.  Each person is unique and cannot fit conveniently into whatever philosophical boxes that certain people would like.  Every person is a mixture of both good and evil, determination and laziness, compassion and indifference. If systems are rigged to limit opportunities, they should be fixed, but to fool ourselves into thinking that equal opportunity means equal outcomes is ridiculous.  Each person determines his or her own outcome based on their talents, intellect, physical attributes and competence.  All of these gifts vary from person to person, so outcomes will never be the same because people are not the same.  That is something to be celebrated—uniqueness.  Instead, groups of people tear each other apart in the street because they think the world is rigged, US vs. THEM.

We have seen where this ideology has led.  Let us not go down that path. 

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Be a Libertarian

I’m going to be blunt. If you’re a Democrat or Republican, you’re being hoodwinked. Don’t you see that nothing changes? More wars. More debt. More taxes. More regulations. More corruption. Less privacy. When will enough be enough? I’ve listed 20 reasons to convert to libertarianism now.

Reasons to become a Libertarian:

1.You want to keep more of your own money and believe it’s your decision how you spend it.
2.You take a substance the State would consider illegal, but you don’t harm others or pose a threat.
3.You’re tired of both parties sending money overseas to foreign countries that hate us.
4. You’re tired of the Federal debt expanding under both parties.
5. You’re sick of the perpetual wars Democrats and Republicans continue to wage without a declaration of war.
6. You believe in limiting the powers of the executive branch.
7. You believe in private property rights and personal privacy.
8. You believe you have the right to defend yourself against aggression.
9. You believe the State operates similar to a gang–only what they do is “legal”.
10. You want sound money and are tired of central banks running the show and the subsequent intervention in the economy.
11.You understand that you rights are come from your humanity, not from government.
12. You agree that government cannot create anything without taxing another or inflating the money supply.
13. You disagree that a majority can trample on the rights of the individual.
14. You think there are too many laws.
15. You know that because something is legal or illegal, it doesn’t make it moral or immoral.
16. You disagree with the use of force, whether through taxation or otherwise to take property from individuals.
17. You believe that you get to decide your own destiny and the individual liberty is the highest ideal.
18. You believe that you own your body, not the State.
19. Nothing ever changes in Washington despite the party in charge.
20. You believe power corrupts, and people in power will become corrupt absolutely.

Are you a Libertarian? I believe that most are, but have been indoctrinated into supporting a certain political party. Be free. Be a Libertarian.

BREXIT =LIBERTY

BREXIT =LIBERTY

Whatever else the Brexit vote may be, it is at its core an emphasis of the belief of self-governance and self-determination. There is really only one right that all humans have-the right to property. This right stems from the fact that you own your own body and therefore have the right to your property and self-governance. This is a fundamental right. No one owns you. You have the right to self-determination. Older Brits, the largest group in support of leaving the European Union understood this.Younger ones have been brainwashed into believing that a global government is better for all. The opposite is true in regards to freedom.  Brexit was not about racism or xenophobia as many would have you believe. It was about a country getting the short end of the stick and deciding to take ownership of the right to self-determination.

The breakup of large empires is a recurring theme through history. Eventually, localities with a different culture, language and needs resent having a central government in a far off land deciding what they can and cannot do. Older Brits, the one making up the largest tax base understand that their taxes are being forced towards policies they don’t approve of. The concept is so simple that the truly shocking part about it, is that the elites don’t get it. The ones who benefit from taxation, loose money and central banking are the ones who are really concerned because their grip on the globe is failing. The central planners and progressives have gripped so tight for so long, the countries they desire to control are slipping though their fingers. When they see countries stand up and refuse a central currency and laws in favor of their own, elites freak out.

So that is why so much has been made about the “tragedy” of the British exit of the EU. Nothing could be further from the truth. If individuals and countries do not have the right to self-governance, there is no liberty. Brexit is not a tragedy, it’s a triumph. Anytime people realize they own themselves and take responsibility for their own destiny, it’s a triumph. The consolidation of power-through treaties, taxation and global currency is the real tragedy.

Identify Yourself (Actually, Don’t)

This article will be redundant. It is done so to drive my point home…

There are a few things in life that will significantly impact the direction and quality of your life. The first, I believe, is your personal philosophy. Your philosophy about life is the major factor in how things will play out for you. A close second, and perhaps much more relatable and relevant to people, is with what group or groups you tie your identity to. How you identify yourself reinforces the story you tell yourself and others about who you are. I’m going to suggest to you that this is a mistake. By tying your identity to a group rather than who you are as a human and an individual can significantly diminish the quality of your life. I realize this will be controversial, but in order to progress as humans, the tribe mentality of our ancestors must disappear. This will not happen until people take control of their own fate, rather than living within the expectations and ideology of another group.

My reasoning behind this argument is simple–the story that you tell yourself about who you are impacts your beliefs and values, thereby influencing a major part of life that you should take responsibility for and think critically about. For example, if your identity is tied to an extremist religious group like ISIS, your values about how you should live and act towards others are not compatible with human life and liberty. You have significantly limited yourself and your world view. Let me suggest that your religious practices, whatever they may be, are not your identity. The same goes for any political organization that you affiliate with. I would advise against it becoming tied to “who you are”. By doing so, you are hampering your potential as a human.

I like Bruce Lee’s philosophy towards different styles of fighting. He refused to identify himself with one or another, instead taking the best from all different styles. Bruce Lee was a dedicated learner. His desire was to be better tomorrow than yesterday or today. That should be a common belief for all humans. By limiting yourself to a certain group, I believe you are limiting your potential and also allowing group mentality to influence your world view about how to act towards others. I have been known to say that you are not your thoughts. You are the one who listens to them. Likewise, you are not your religion, political affiliation, race, gender, sexual preference. I would advise against identifying with any group. It is this tribe mentality that causes so much pain and suffering. Islam vs Christianity. Gay vs. Straight. Male vs. Female. White vs Black. Conservative vs Liberal. It’s time to stop labeling and limiting yourself. To expand as an individual you must ditch the labels you have allowed to be placed on you. You are not a group. Groups do not think–they produce a way to think about things. Groups do not have rights (although they claim to). Only individuals do. Act like an individual and identify yourself as one.

So how should one identify? What story should they tell themselves about who they are? If it is true that you become the story you tell yourself, I strongly suggest getting a better story. So who are you really? You are a being that cannot be labeled. You are a gift to the universe. You are infinite potential. You are a factory producing infinite energy, love, compassion. Want a better world? Want a better life? Get a better story…and stop identifying with a group. You are not a group. You are a unique individual. You own your body and your mind. Do your own thinking. Drop the labels.

In Liberty,
Sean

Books to Radically Change Your Life

Today I’m offering a list a books that have radically changed my life.  I believe in constant learning and improvement .  I believe that Leaders are Readers and readers can be better leaders so long as they don’t over analyze and become paralyzed be decision.  A wealth of knowledge exists, lessons written by others that have traveled down certain paths and sent information back about what they have learned.  Man cannot exist on bread alone…he needs ideas to thrive.  So I hope you will find some ideas in the following titles. All these are available on Amazon.com. I have broken down the books into categories, although I strongly suggest you read them all because every aspect of life affects every other.

An Open Letter to Democrats & the Supporters of the $15 Minimum Wage

By Sean Covell

CEO Fitness System

Bachelor Degree UC San Diego

As an employer and resident in California, I have had to hold my nose for the past decade as it becomes increasingly difficult to do business in the Golden State. While California has many things going for it–beaches, Hollywood, Silicon Valley–it does not have a friendly business climate. This state ranks 32nd on Forbes’ Best States For Business in 2015. The $15 dollar an hour minimum wage law, recently passed by the California Legislature (a gang of people dedicated to fundamentally altering the role government has with its citizens and non-citizens lives) and Governor Jerry Brown, will cause California to be ranked dead last.

My goal is to have as many politicians read this as possible and knowing that most politicians have an aversion to reading (especially their own legislation), I’m going to keep this brief. What follows are eight reasons why the new minimum wage law is damaging to the freedoms and pocketbooks of all citizens.

             The minimum wage artificially increases the price of labor. That’s right, labor has a price and the higher that price becomes, the result will be less overall labor participation. This is basic supply and demand. Most economics professors would agree. The tragedy is that workforce participation is already at a 32-year-low! What will it become after the $15 minimum wage? It will be even lower. Some economists may dispute this, but the honest ones will admit that, all things being equal, there would be more labor participation without a minimum wage. This cannot be refuted. It’s a simple truth. If the price of labor is lower, more people can be hired. The other real irony is that government loves to artificially increase the price of things it doesn’t like through fees, fines and taxes as to reduce their use– cigarettes, alcohol, big screen TVs and heavy vehicles are all subject. I guess the government doesn’t much like laborers either.

            The cost of living will necessarily be higher. A big argument from proponents of this law is that while the cost of food, tuition, rents and other consumable goods has increased, wages have not. Leaving aside all the other reasons why this could be–tax policy, subsidies for tuition and rents, people dropping out of the workforce and electing to receive welfare, inflated stock and real estate prices, inflation of the money supply– this is a classic example of the seen versus the unseen. What is seen is that prices have gone up. What is unseen is that government policy has contributed to this. What is also unseen is that forcing employers to pay more for labor will result in them having to raise prices to cover the costs. This will adversely affect the consumer. Ironically, it will mostly affect the very people this law aims to help, the minimum wage employee. They will not be able to absorb the inflated prices as well as other income groups. So while they may get a pay bump, they will not come out ahead.

            The minimum wage unfairly targets low-skilled and entry-level employees. The minimum wage on its face is really an unemployment law. It states that an employer like myself cannot hire anyone under the price the government sets. Therefore, anyone who could have been hired for $14 dollars an hour or less cannot be legally hired. Thus, unless they are deemed to be at least producing more than $15 an hour in revenue, they cannot be hired. The reality is that not all entry-level jobs produce the same amount of revenue. As a result, those who would have been hired for, say $12 or $10 or even less will have no job. Unemployment will rise among the groups that currently make minimum wage.

            It violates private and mutually beneficial contracts. If I want to wash windows for $5 an hour and an employer agrees to pay that $5 an hour in return for services rendered, why does the government get to tell me that’s not legal? In this instance, the government is violating basic agreements that allow the free market to function. The state is now a hindrance to free market exchanges and productivity. So what am I to do? If I cannot produce at least $15 an hour in value I must go to the state to receive welfare. This places the burden on the taxpayers across all income groups.

            The minimum wage unfairly targets smaller businesses. While politicians love to express their love for small business the truth is they much prefer large businesses to contribute to their campaigns. And while people think some chain restaurants and other businesses are large, in reality many are franchisees (small businesses that pay a fee for the Taco Bell or McDonalds name). These businesses, like my own, offer flexible hours and the opportunity to gain skills in the marketplace for entry-level workers and people who would simply like another part-time job. The net revenues of these business is not such that they can afford large salaries, high hourly wages or other perks afforded to state employees and employees of larger businesses. The employees and employers who will suffer are the local mom-and-pop-shop and the kid next door. They will be the ones to be out of business or out of a job.

            Price controls do not work. Look throughout history to regimes that have tried to impose price controls. They have always failed with many unintended consequences. Only entrepreneurs in the marketplace, with market indicators, can properly price goods and services. They are also the only ones who can truly determine how much someone should be paid in the enterprise that they built. Every time price controls show up, a black market pops up. This is the real economy.

            The cost to employers will be higher across the board. Few remember that what an employee is paid in their paycheck and what the employer must pay to employ that person are very different. The employer cost is much higher. In fact, the burden for almost everything from taxes to child support falls to the employer. When the minimum wage goes up, the employer cost for taxes, unemployment insurance and disability will increase as well. Moreover, workers compensation insurance is billed by the total dollar amount of wages worked by all employees in a tax year. This is yet another cost increase for the employer. Furthermore, and perhaps the biggest problem with this law, is that employees who now make $15 per hour or above will demand more money because they have a more refined skill set. How is it fair for an unskilled worker to make $15 when someone who has worked at a business for years makes the same? It’s not. And employers will be forced to increase wages across the board. Some businesses, because of market forces, cannot just go raise prices to cover the increased costs. The result? Less employers. Less employers=less employees=more people on government assistance. Simple.

            There is no requirement for increased productivity. Money is not wealth and it’s not what makes the economy run. If money was wealth, the government could just print us all money and we would be very wealthy. The problem here is obvious. More money in circulation will not result in more production. Increased wealth comes from an increase of productivity (output) and value in the marketplace. From an early age we are told to go to school and graduate so that we can learn more skills and produce more in the marketplace. Want a raise? Become more valuable to the marketplace! Refine your skills. Learn something new and apply it. The government and supporters of the $15 minimum wage do not believe this. They think workers deserve to make more by fiat. So they petition to government to make it so. Does the employer receive more value for the additional wages paid? No. Does the customer receive any more for the higher prices paid? No.

And there you have it. Eight examples of the “tyranny of good intentions.” This is what government does best. It only focuses on what it sees instead of the consequences of action. Let me be very clear: I believe that everyone should be paid more in every country across the world. I believe this can only come through adding value to the marketplace and increasing productivity. I do not know for sure how this will all play out long term. I do know that as an employer and entrepreneur, other states are looking much more “golden” than California.