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Archive for December, 2011

In recent years, libertarianism has been gaining much support throughout the nation. Many of their objectives are very noble-trying to reduce military spending, ending a needless and bloody war on drugs, reducing the debt, and ending unproductive bureaucracy and waste. However, there is a certain fantasy surrounding libertarianism- that if the government would just get out of the economy everything would be nice and rosy. The problem is that this system has already been tried and found to be wanting.

Now, I know those who support libertarian ideas will say that we never truly had libertarianism, and they might have some truth to this claim. However, we do have a picture of what a libertarian society would look like from the Gilded Age. There are few government regulations in the workplace, so workers get treated like animals. There is no quality public education system; so many children have to go to the factories to work. There are next to no environmental or food regulations, and so the environment and health of the nation suffer greatly as a result.

Another problem with libertarianism is that those who preach it cannot give one solid example of it working in the real world. Those who claim the positives of a more welfare state or socialist system can give the examples of Denmark, Finland, or Norway, which have some of the highest standards of living in the world. What examples can libertarians give? The only examples of societies that were close to libertarianism were not very good places for the majority of the populous. We could give the example of the U.S. in the 1800s or Latin American countries.

Another problem with libertarians is that those who push this economic idea are often led by ideologues and right wing think tanks rather than responsible economists. Why? Because any responsible economist realizes that libertarianism would be disastrous for the masses and ultimately bad for the overall society. After all, it was a lack of government regulation that led us to so much of the current mess we are in. Libertarianism has been pushed by the likes of past ideologues such as Ayn Rand, and modern ideologues like Peter Schiff. Libertarianism may look great on paper, but in reality, it would be disastrous, with a few people controlling everything and the masses struggling to merely  survive.

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I have finished recently listening to the audio book called the Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, who is a Psychologist from Harvard University. While the very name can obviously make one very skeptical, it was a very well rounded book that gave clear scientific and psychological examples and studies to back up its claims. It was not like many self-development manuals which is full of mere ideology that the author has created. The basic thesis is that happiness creates success and not the opposite which is usually taught in society that success creates happiness.

There were many powerful aspects to the book which I will be dealing with in future posts, but one of the most intriguing parts of the book was the link between happiness and gratitude. Now, we all know the basic idea that gratitude makes us have a better view of the world and therefore, we become happier. However, Achor goes into more depth and points out the scientific studies that actual show this reality. In one study he cites, a group of individuals are asked to write down the things in their life they are grateful for every afternoon for just a few days. The results are astounding as the participants are not only much happier when the study is being done, but continue to be much happier after the study compared to the control group who did not write down what they were grateful for. The simple act of remembering ones blessings had a large impact.

In the end, gratitude is not just something we should practice; it is essential for our well-being and our happiness. It allows us to get out of the rut of only looking at the negative in our lives and actually begin to see the positives that are all around us, but that we usually miss. Today, a great activity you could start would be to simply write down the blessings of the day, no matter how small, you may see your view on the world start to change and your happiness grow.

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It seems we are in a national state of déjà vu with our new obsession with Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Usually you do not get to see history repeat itself within your own lifetime and certainly not in the course of only 8 years, but that seems to be the case with the new calls for war against Iran. This case, like all cases of war, starts with fear. Iran has become the new enemy, the modern version of the Soviet Empire, the thing we are to fear. It is pushed in the nightly news by government agencies and those who stand to profit from another war.

It was only a few years when Saddam Hussein was the scary boogey man that was going to destroy western civilization. If we didn’t act fast, he was going to wipe us off the face of the earth; he was going to launch biological attacks of anthrax and smallpox into our biggest cities and make our most awful nightmares a reality. We had to act, to use any type of caution or restraint was bringing us one day closer to our demise.

Looking back we realize that we feel victim to a media created paranoia. The war was never necessary; there were no weapons of mass destruction, and those who pushed that story were never held accountable for pushing us into war under false pretenses. Now Iran is our new target. While there is a general public that is more skeptical after 10 years of the War on Terror, there is unfortunately still a large percentage of the population which has no problem going in to another foolish and expensive war.

As the calls for war began expanding against Iran, it is time for us to think rationally instead of relying on our worst fears and paranoia. We need to learn the simple truth that we could destroy ourselves faster by “preventing” a hypothetical attack than if an actual foreign strike occurred. Let’s not waste thousands upon thousands of lives, billions upon billions of dollars, only to realize that once again we have played the part of the fool.

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