• CandyCoatedCamus
    Is anyones desire to make a positive change in the way we live our lives just a narcissistic ignorance of nihilism? Is there any benefit to living a life dedicated to help people who don't want to be helped? It seems to me there is this fairy tale that we actually have power as individuals in America. We have two political parties stagnant arguing over the same issues and not making any progress. All most people I talk to do is pick sides and argue in favor of right or left. If I can argue someone to the point where I have taken down all of their arguments, they don't think about whether or not they might be wrong. Nothing seems to actually register. I try to get to the very core of things. At least try to gain some common ground on ethics. But we aren't even taught ethics in our public schools in this country. Why is that? Is it because any rational argument in ethics is anti religious? And that would damage the beautiful platform our politicians have of "being christian" to capture the votes of people who wouldn't vote for them if they knew they were athiest? I don't think I'll ever have the power to make even the slightest of change in any of that unless I run for office and I don't want to be a lawyer. Why not just live a self indulgent life?
  • mcdoodle
    At least try to gain some common ground on ethics.MonfortS26

    There are people around with whom one has common ground. A shared love of drink or drugs or music of a certain kind, a shared desire to help others, a shared fascination with some obscure topic. I've spent a lifetimes joining in with such people.
  • Bitter Crank
    I don't think I'll ever have the power to make even the slightest of change in any of that unless I run for office and I don't want to be a lawyer. Why not just live a self indulgent life? — MonfortS26

    You probably won't make the slightest change in all of that even if you do run for office and if you become a lawyer.

    Ordinary hubris is a more common flaw in humankind than narcissism, self-indulgence, or nihilism. For most of us, it's a self-extinguishing flaw; we end up exhausted by the effort to achieve our over-blown Great Plans. Our house of cards collapses on top of us with usually no injury greater than a crushed ego.

    It isn't as if there was nothing but two political parties caught in an endless loop and people who don't want to be helped. The world still is a stage, and you can choose the part you want to play on it. You don't have to choose between the role of hand-wringing Cassandra or a perky, ever-optimistic Pollyanna.

    No matter your flaws, not matter your strengths, no matter you plans, no matter your past failures... you have to choose what you are going to do next. Let your imagination loose, and dream of what you could do. I have no suggestions for you. You have to find (or write) your own script, then follow it.

    Good luck.
  • CandyCoatedCamus
    Do you think it is a waste of time to argue politics?
  • Ashwin Poonawala
    I am also appalled by our average living conditions, and by our average way of thinking. Try this for your thought about improving the wellbeing of the nation. See what you think how much value this contains.

    Forgive the length of the argument.


    The United States of America was founded on the basis of diffusion of state’s power, curtailing the power’s potential for injustice. The dazzling success of the system has made the concepts of democracy and capitalism popular around the world. The existing form of capitalism worked very well for a while, because then, wealth making power could not converge easily into a few hands. Industrialization has changed that. Now a few rich have undesirably high power to manipulate wealth distribution and politics, and to influence social values. In the US the richest 1% own more than 35%, and the top 3% own more than 50% of the total wealth, while the bottom 50% share 4%. The world statistics is even more appalling, the top 1% own 50% of the total wealth, while the bottom 68% share 3%. Extreme greed for wealth has a degrading effect, the same as that for power, on community.

    Sward used to be greed’s tool to acquire wealth and power. Democracy detached sward from greed. But with unrestrained capitalism, greed uses money as its weapon. Too much concentration of greedy power of wealth in a few hands causes poverty and associated fears for masses. Poverty is the worst form of torture. All fears are detrimental to happiness. Societies, with just distribution of wealth, have been very content and creative, throughout the history.

    Man is a social animal. In a community, attitudes of the perceived leaders set trends, and the followers reinforce each other’s thinking accordingly, creating euphoria over time. This is how ordinary people gear up for heroic efforts in times of community crisis, like wars. Now big money makers have become roll-models, and have too high an influence on community’s thinking. As a result, now ruthless greed generated by reckless enterprise has become popular world over. This trend tends to degrade contentment and suppresses creativity of community. When a community starts measuring happiness exclusively by wealth and the associated worldly successes, virus of high level greed-fear combination destroys contentment, which destroys family values. And seeking and pursuing quick money-making schemes makes one abhor hard work. Being valuable to society by honest work has gone out of fashion. The rich and the ones craving to become rich have disdain for honest work, while the poor/nearly poor have lost their pride of performance. The number of people who are satisfied with their financial status is small, and is shrinking. The resulting loss of emotional fulfillment leads individuals to flagrant ways of pleasure.

    Greed is nothing but fear of future. Greed inevitably leads to trickery, which is a desire to acquire more without due effort or merit, a desire to shortchange one’s fate by avoiding due payment. It grows out of the feeling of entitlement, which is based on pride. This pride is not the same as self esteem, which grows from serving causes higher than the self. Greed is like an uncontrolled forest fire; it keeps growing larger. A hole in the ground cannot be filled by digging deeper and deeper into it.

    Simply defined, morality is: ‘Do unto others as you would have done unto you’. The existing degenerate environment of greed forces new entrepreneurs to compromise their moral convictions and adopt cunning ways, first for their businesses to survive against the unscrupulous competition, and later, after testing the fruits of corrupt methods, to prosper. The first offense of a kind against one’s own self is the most painful. Each subsequent one is easier than the preceding one. Look at how processed food is made unhealthy with harmful preservatives and cheap ingredients, the quality of food in chain restaurants has degraded over the years, farm produce is made unhealthy by high-breeding, and the quality of dairy products by rampant use of hormones and antibiotics.

    The U.S. seems to be leading the way. All this makes the nation. fat and unhealthy, requiring more medical attention. On the other side, medical drugs/treatments are marketed at exorbitant prices, and once they are in circulation, our medical drug industry shows instances of suppressing and discouraging immerging cheaper/better remedies, and of suppressing discoveries of dangerous side effects. The common man is getting squeezed from every side. Our automobile industry ignored, or bought and shelved technical innovations, to avoid prerequisite expensive modifications to production processes, loosing against foreign completion in the end, retarding the country’s progress.

    Living beings have two basic concerns, security and comfort. Relative global border security created by the conviction recently crystallized in the mind of mankind, that conquering others is a losing proposition in the long run, has made nations feel more secure within their borders. The broad coalition formed against Iraq in the Desert Storm war portrayed this conviction. This has allowed nations to shift more energy towards material gains, intensifying their productions. To achieve high values for the participants, international division of labor is inevitable, which cannot flourish without massive international trade. As a result, and supported by the fast and massive communication and transportation facilities, the tide of international trade is rising. Thus, progression of economic globalization is an undefeatable factor of today’s life. During this early phase of globalization, some national authorities are trying to keep the tide out. But these efforts are doomed to fail, like the Jackson era attempt of killing the then budding banking industry failed. In a handful number of generations the international trade of material, labor and services will become quite cohesive and will resemble, to a degree, to our interstate commerce.

    As globalization advances, the economic gap between the developed and underdeveloped economies of the world keeps shrinking. This is eating away the advantage the rich countries enjoyed. The resulting tightening profit conditions within the rich countries make their big businesses, having had tested blood of easily rising wealth during the post world-wars era, tend to exploit domestic consumers and to shortchange the employees more and more, creating unscrupulous competition for smaller business, forcing their ways down the line. This keeps lowering the standard of living of the masses. In the game of greed all involved loose.

    In the U.S. there are many indirect effects of this excessively concentrated greedy power of wealth: the high cost of education and health care favoring the rich, the lobbying against raising the minimum wage to sustenance level, and securing the cheaper labor of illegal immigrants by lobbying against curtailment of illegal immigration. The resulting economic pain of the masses in turn adds to social vices like crime and substance abuse, taxing the strained resources of the community further.
    A revolution almost always has wide spread economic hardship at its base. Too much wealth in the hands of a few robs democracy of its effectiveness. The present worldwide wave of expression of dissatisfaction for the existing political establishments, which is more visible in the well developed economies, is only the beginning. Man’s pursuit of happiness is ever existing formidable force. History is nothing but a story of mankind’s pursuit of happiness. Only means and methods keep evolving. This force initiates new currents in accordance with the perceived changes in the reality. Each new generation brings forth clearer perspective of the prevailing reality. The majority of world population feeling safer than before has shifted its focus to achieving comfort. The biggest obstacle to comfortable living, the common man sees now, is the unjust distribution of wealth. As a result demand for more profound socialism is forming in the mind of the world masses. Often, at beginning, revolting masses are acutely aware of their pain but not clear about remedy. We are in the early phase of Karl Marx’s ‘Class War’.
    But we can use a less fierce and very effective remedy than the one Marx recommended. Unless the real underlying decease is addressed, treating the symptoms only with political adjustments will not quell the masses. Fortunately, since in democracies law is not in direct cahoots with tyranny, the revolution is liable to be less violent. But the descent is growing in size for sure. It seems like the next lesson on humanity’s curriculum is that, ‘unchecked commercial greed is detrimental to community’s happiness’.

    A community cannot function without some socialism. By definition, socialism is nothing but taking away some individual freedom for the good of whole community. Even law of land is socialism. But in-here we are addressing financial socialism. Countries around the world try it in varying degrees and by different combinations. But so far most of the experiments have tried to shift the control from money to authority. USSR was an extreme example of this. This cannot work for long, because human greed, for power, wealth and fame, has a high tendency to take over the process. The axiom, ‘the rule that rules the least is the best’ applies to any power, whether it stems from force of authority or that of wealth. A community left virtually to its own devices has the highest potential of prosperity, only proportional to its level of ideological social justice. Additionally, relatively free and prosperous atmosphere allows voices of wisdom to be heard louder, thereby enhancing positive social values.

    What we need is a way to defuse power of money on economic decision-making without blocking individual’s ability to acquire wealth, which motivates economic production. It is best to achieve this economic power diffusion with least interference from other entities, like continued manipulation by government.

    This can be achieved by limiting the number of persons any business can employ. In conjunction with this there has to be a limit to how much interest an individual can own in how many businesses.

    Let us use a hypothetical model:

    1) No business can employ more than one thousand persons.
    (Underdeveloped economies may start out with smaller numbers. The initial retardation of progress, very probable in their cases, caused by such a system, will be easily taken over soon, since much more mental resources would be applied to progress.)

    2) An individual can:
    Own one business totally (100%),
    Own the next business up to 40%,
    And then invest no more than 8% each in any number of other businesses.
    3) Non-personnel entities (businesses, organizations, governments, etc.) can invest no more than 8% in other business. A pension fund tied to one business can invest fully in its mother business, and can invest no more than 8% in any other business.

    Thus, no individual can control financial destiny of more than 2 thousand employees. The 40% control over the second business can ensure crucial immediate needs for the main business. For the rest, even if seven or more individuals/investment pools form a group to control many businesses, the high number of members required will make it unrealistic for the group to function harmoniously for long, especially beyond a generation, since pride, greed or fear in the participants will raise its head along the line.

    Such a scheme would spread usage of money to many hands, minimizing its potential to exploit the society, without blocking any individual from accumulating wealth.

    Such a scheme will need to be implemented gradually; say for the first five years a business above the limit can hire one employee to replace every two lost, then over the next five years one for three and so on, until at the end of a set duration (say 30 years – by which time a business would have recycled almost all of its work force) or until the limit is reached, whichever comes first. After the grace period the limit would be rigidly enforced for all business. This will allow large enterprises to down-structure gradually, and to keep disposing off excess equipment by retiring and by liquidation, with least amount of disruption to individual enterprises and to overall economy. The capital beyond the limits would seek out other promising businesses during the grace period. From the day of the deadline the investment limits would be operative.
    During the grace period the beyond limits capital will have ample time to shift gradually and methodically, since the down structuring large businesses would tend to achieve high profit potential through increased vigilance, and since other promising avenues of investment would keep opening up. The general atmosphere will be that of high hope rather than panic.

    American political philosophy has vehement opposition to socialism, because it only visualizes socialism operated by government, fearing abuse of society’s resources due to any of the combinations of inefficiency, unjust system, and unscrupulous implementation. But we already have some socialism; our graded income tax and Entitlement programs. But such a scheme, as proposed here, transfers operational control to society, negating state’s potential for abuse.
    The following should be some of the results of such a scheme:

    For the community:
    • Larger portion of population would become economically comfortable, thereby enhancing creativity, resulting in higher level of overall contentment.
    • Higher appreciation for individual skills, to make businesses competitive, will become the norm. Demand will rise for exceptional skills/unique abilities, bringing wages more in line with individual employee’s value to the business. (A high value employee within a tier can make 2-10 times higher wages than an average coworker.)
    • This will reduce wastage of our most precious resource; human potential.
    • The benefits of wider spread of money will raise the standard of living of masses and reduce the number of poor.
    • Services like education and health care will be made more affordable by wider community focus and competition.
    • Government regulations and interference would decrease, raising economic efficiency.

    For individuals:
    • Better standard of leaving would lessen worries.
    • When there are only a handful of entities to compete with, competitors think in terms of rank, but when there are thousands of entities to compete with for a few different levels, class/status becomes the aim. After reaching a comfortable level, when it is perceived that his/her potential financial plateau has been reached, the focus of the person shifts to family and friends, and to self expression in noble aspects of life; arts, music, literature, science, social work, sports, etc.
    • The social atmosphere of a community with short status pyramid, with each stratum containing no less than a few thousand individuals, remains relatively humble and cohesive. The ultra status concept does not develop, avoiding superiority-inferiority spectrum.
    • Higher worker appreciation in terms of recognition and remuneration would make pride of performance popular, thereby increasing work satisfaction and in turn creativity and productivity.
    • Dedication to their causes on the part of individuals will rise, resulting in higher loyalty to larger collective causes, like charity efforts and the good of country.

    For the government:
    • Increased affluence would enlarge the tax base, providing more for safety, security and comfort of the nation.
    • Defused special interest lobbying would lighten its grip on legislation, thereby making the government more honest.
    • Character would receive higher focus in elections, as the impact of special interest contributions declines.
    • Reduced economic oversight would make the government that much smaller, providing room for higher efficiency.
    • Lighter lobbying would ease off the pressure keeping taxes unfair.

    For the economy:
    • The number of businesses will multiply many fold, making competition broader, thereby adding quality and values, and making market-cornering much more difficult.
    The number of small/local businesses would increase many fold. The combined effect would enhance opportunities for creative energies of community, thereby increasing its total wealth.
    • Large projects would employ pyramids of businesses. Manufacturing and service businesses will be employee oriented, while suppliers and heavy equipment renters will be capital oriented.
    • The number of foreign and domestic trade businesses will grow.
    • Watch-dog companies in each category (management, labor, material supply, engineering, etc. – just like existing credit bureaus), would crop up, encouraging higher efficiencies.
    • Investment firms to accommodate the maximum 8% investment mode will flourish.
    • Companies providing special services like research and product development will become more numerous.
    • Economic swings caused by recycling of obsolete business concepts, which is an inherent character of free enterprise, would occur more continuously in smaller doses, thereby making economic swings shallow, affording stability to economy, making inflations and deflations shallow.

    A large business can produce cheaply, when in tough competition, than a cluster of small businesses. But in unrestricted free enterprise, giant businesses tend to quell down competition by mergers and absorptions. Then in complacent times wasteful lethargy and inefficiency seeps in easily. On the other hand a small business tends to remain vigilant due to closer watch of its stake holders, afforded by shorter pyramid of the organization. In some commodities the system may put us at a disadvantage for a time against giant foreign businesses. But higher creativity and innovations generated by broader participation of collective mind will override the disadvantage soon enough by improving the products, finding cheaper substitutes, moving to higher technology items, etc. The desire for profit would shift its focus from squeezing consumer to creatively adding values. Euphoric motivation growing from the new hope would make the system start bearing fruits quickly, and the pace would keep accelerating until the process is close to saturation. In less than two generations from the time the system is adopted, the transformation of the community should be awesome.

    Since autocracy can act more swiftly, man used to think that democracy has no chance of survival against it. What he forgot to consider is that governance of democracy is more in tune with the well being of all its citizens, and so it receives highly motivated support of its population, and can sustain itself against all kinds of foreign tyrannies. The results of the conflicts over the last hundred year period prove this: monarchy and dictatorship are all but dead, and communism is dying, but democracy is alive and spreading. Similarly, diffused economical power will prevail against all attacks from large foreign corporations due to massive, highly motivated, creative participation. Comparatively insignificant American colonies of merely three million people won against the then mighty British Empire, because of self respecting and fiercely independent minded citizens. Top leaders like Washington were supported by self respecting and independent minded population and hundreds of courageous and dedicated second and third category leaders. Such a system of restrained capitalism, as addressed in here, will create a society full of upright citizens, interspersed with tens of thousands of bold and innovative economic leaders.

    Prior to the industrial age, cultural influences used to migrate, almost exclusively by face to face human contact, on coattails of trade, as trade requires two way trips to other lands. The story of the Venetian merchant, Marco Polo, provides a vivid example of this. Because of the much slower pace of international exchange of the period, it took more than a century for a substantial number of nations to subscribe to democracy, making it a prominent factor in the world. Today’s fast and massive commodity/information exchange all over the world is merging cultures of the world at an accelerating pace. Once the applied economic system proves its value, by rapid enhancement of prosperity and of well being of the nation, the concept would spread in the world within a generation, making the remaining disadvantage, if any, against large foreign businesses, fade into insignificance.

    Entrenched big business will resist the proposed scheme fiercely, dragging the struggle for a generation or two, until overwhelming popular consensus is achieved. It is human nature to resist change. No entity associated with life, be it a living being, a business, a system, or an idea, ever wants to compromise its existence. Two hundred plus years of unrestrained enterprise has made us affluent and a super power. But now the existing system of capitalism is getting in the way of society’s well being. Past cultures provide vivid examples of outmoded systems resisting modifications; India’s cast system, China’s Confucius inspired submissive social culture, glory aimed brutality of Rome, Sparta’s extreme militancy, and many others. The world, including the West, mesmerized by the prosperity and the conquests of the West of the last few centuries, wants to follow the western models without much doubt. Most of us change by soul-searching caused by pain. Longer the time a system has been successful, the harder it tends to resist modification. Wide spread, deep social pains of long durations result in revolts and revolutions. Higher level of objectivity takes smaller pains to change. It took two agonizing world wars for the historically belligerent nations to learn the lesson of cooperative coexistence. Let us do it with smaller amount of pain this time. Historically, effective leaders with vision have diagnosed and remedied ailments early, avoiding devastating upheavals.
    None of us has a complete understanding of prevailing realities; the system we choose to apply will require initial adjustments. And no system serves forever. As the collective human mind evolves and conditions change, systems have to change. Therefore, the applied system will require periodic modifications.
  • TheMadFool
    It seems to me there is this fairy tale that we actually have power as individuals in America.MonfortS26

    The ''we'', the many, weilds power. Paradoxically, the ''we'' is simply a collection of the abject weaklings ''i''.

    Why not just live a self indulgent life?MonfortS26

    Read above.
  • The Great Whatever
    Yeah, I think usually the desire to better the world in the abstract is narcissistic. You can better some things around you ingenuously, though.
  • Bitter Crank
    Do you think it is a waste of time to argue politics?MonfortS26

    Absolutely not! It's one of my favorite activities--BUT... I engage in two kinds of political arguing:

    One kind is when I argue politics with people whom I am in substantial agreement with -- and we can change opinions because the differences are not fundamental. Like discussing politics with another socialist.

    The other kind is where the disagreement is great and the differences are fundamental. Like a socialist discussing politics with a rabid Republican. It might be amusing, but neither of us are going to accept the other's opinion.
  • Chany

    Why not try to help others? Look, there is nothing stopping us from living horrid lives beyond our own internal conscience and the external force others can put on us. But if the idea of living a selfish life bothers you, then do not live one.

    Also, I wonder what exactly you qualify as change. Whatever it is, it requires you actually put work into it; there are very few people who are able to change things by just presenting an argument and those few have positions in academia or law that they worked hard towards. The goal is not to revolutionize the world single-handedly with nothing but the desire to see revolution- the goal is to change things.
  • TimeLine
    Is anyones desire to make a positive change in the way we live our lives just a narcissistic ignorance of nihilism?MonfortS26

    I don't think I'll ever have the power to make even the slightest of change in any of that unless I run for office and I don't want to be a lawyer. Why not just live a self indulgent life?MonfortS26
    You seem to imply that making a positive change somehow equates to political change alone, but there are a plethora of other ways then simply running for office where you could make significant changes. I assisted - through research - the eventual progress and ultimate change to bullying legislation in my state and I am not a politician. I am also involved in research that is currently working to change the rights of children who experience domestic violence. I studied law, but I work at grassroots level with young girls and get really low pay, but I am happy since I am supporting the disadvantaged. Is it not a possibility that one of those that I assist would one day become a policy-maker or a politician?

    Change is not some "smack bang here you are" thing served on a silver platter. It takes time, effort and a commitment that is only possible when you are right within - when you are morally conscious and accountable for your own actions - and nihilism is quite the reverse. Your only objective in life should be to better yourself and help your community to improve, however small or vast. Nihilism and virtue ethics is mutually exclusive but in saying that, being virtuous and morally conscious does not suddenly imply a sacrifice of all material considerations or to walk around monk-like ringing bells and eating porridge for dinner. You can still live your own life as you improve your own mental well-being while at the same time doing good for others in the community.

    That is not narcissism. That is quite simply happiness.
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