many times I have heard that the government is increasing its size at an alarming pace, that its becoming a socialist (some call it fascist) government. What strikes me as odd is that they arent really complaining about the size of government at all. When you ask them whether they think that we should increase spending for defense they are all for it, or if we should increase the size of the police or the number of prisons, apparently not realizing that these organizations are part of the government.
Something else that deeply worries me is that the same people that want the government to decrease its size while somehow increasing some of its branches (amazingly enough the branches that are used to control the population) also want to control individual actions. these people want government to control who people marry, or the sexual behavior of people, or what they do with their bodies, and if they had the power to do it, they would also control the religion of people.
I think that the government should not meddle in the business of the people. That includes the right to marry whomever you want. What is more intrinsically connected to the individual pursuit of happiness than the right to marry choose who you marry? What is more important to the individual liberties than the right to drink, or smoke, or do with your body whatever you want (it is your body after all)

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Paranormal?

A friend of mine told me that she doesn’t like to mess with the supernatural. Skeptic as I am, I told her that there is no such thing as a supernatural or paranormal world. Still, she said that I was wrong and that there is in fact paranormal stuff. This is the first time she argues with me regarding paranormal stuff, and I found out that she actually believes in all of that.
Well, I don’t. Ghosts, monsters, spirits, and things like that aren’t real. People have believed in them for thousands of years,just like gods and religions, they don’t have any proof of their existence. If these things were real then one would think that someone somewhere would have proof of it, right? I mean, for thousands of years people have believed in them, but no one has proof of anything. Ouija boards, or haunted houses aren’t proof either, mainly because… well, they don’t prove anything. The answers of Ouija boards give are actually controlled by the subconscious desire to have some sort of paranormal entity answer your questions, as if a spirit would be interested in who you are going to marry or to make its presence known to someone through a board, and if the “evidence” gathered in these haunted houses were real, then these people would’ve gotten international recognition and most likely a Nobel prize for the astonishing discovery. However, they haven’t and they will never find the evidence that they need to prove the existence of paranormal activity, you know why? Because there isn’t any.
To sum it all up here is a quote by Mr. Dawkins that explain this position better that I could ever explain it to you.
“Consider this. If a paranormalist could really give an unequivocal demonstration of telepathy (precognition, psychokinesis, reincarnation, whatever it is), he would be the discoverer of a totally new principle unknown to physical science. The discoverer of the new energy field that links mind to mind in telepathy, or of the new fundamental force that moves objects around a table top, deserves a Nobel prize and would probably get one. If you are in possession of this revolutionary secret of science, why not prove it and be hailed as the new Newton? Of course, we know the answer. You can’t do it. You are a fake”
there you have it. There is no such thing as paranormal stuff. there is no god, not ghosts, no haunted houses, no spirits answering your questions in the Ouija board, none of those things are real.

Support the Troops

I was on my way to college last Tuesday, and I noticed that the car in front of me has a sticker that reads ” I support the Troops.” My reaction was “Well, that’s nice.” But then I thought about it some more. What does it mean to support the troops? How do you support the troops anyway? I’ve thought about this for a while now, and I reached a simple conclusion, you support the troops by being supporting. Now that seems like a really stupid thing to say; obviously you support the troops by being supportive of them,however, what I mean by that is something far more essential for our service men and women. I doubt that a sticker int he bumper of the a car can really be called support for our service men and women. I think that the only person you are supporting by buying those stickers are the sticker makers (factory?).

I think that there is a better way to support our troops than just buying stickers and putting them in our cars. How about petition the government to create more GI bills to help our troops re-integrate to society and put the skills that they learned in the army to work for society;or demand that our troops are better equipped,with better supplies (enough supplies at least) and better body armor so that they can fight more “safely.” Or how about extending their health care? writting letters to our senators and congressmen, sign a petition to government asking for all of these things, taking care of our veterans so that they don’t end up homeless in the streets like many veterans from Vietnam. I think that this Memorial weekend we can all write a letter to our Senator (even the president) asking for all of these things, showing our support for them by doing something more than just buying a sticker. Even if you are against the war, our troops deserve our appreciation and support.

god?

I definitely don’t believe in a god, the idea of god makes no sense, at least not the judeo-christian god, the qualities we subscribe to god make it impossible for him to be real, or to meet all the qualities that that religion has given him. They say that he is almighty, and all goodness and all knowing; these qualities don’t fit the real world. If god was all powerful and all goodness then there would be no evil, and I know that Christians will argue that we have free will and that god doesn’t not intervene in the things we humans do.Let’s say that I give you that point, but that doesn’t explain natural evil. The earth quakes, the tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamies, blizzards, hail, and bush fires that kill thousands are natural disasters that god created; remember that “not even a leaf in a tree moves without god allowing to” so how do account for that? If god was an all knowing being he would know the consequences of natural disasters. How about the horrors of WWII? All the Jewish people who died, god allowed them to die. Now, you can say that god does not intervene with the freedom of people, but an all knowing god would know that Hitler was going to kill all the people he killed, not to mention all the little kids and babies who were killed during the Holocaust, god should’ve known that he was creating them just to get killed. Like the first born of Egypt, who was only five years old, not only him, but every single first born from the pharaoh’s son to the slave’s.

On Liberty and Freedom of Speech.

We all value the liberties that America offers to all of us. We value the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly etc.. we believe that these liberties should be preserved and maintained at all cost. We have gone to wars to defend these liberties, and yet, we cannot deny that our government has at times taken our rights away without a sensible rationale behind it. There are many examples of this, like for instance when FDR ordered all citizens of Japanese descend into interment camps, some of whom had fought in WWI and gotten medals for their courage and sacrifice. This is but one of the instances in which our government has abused its powers. We should also mention the irrationality of the Red Scare, during the MacArthur Era, or the erosion of our rights with the Patriot Act, where the government decided to create “Freedom of Speech Zones” violating our right embedded in the first amendment of the Constitution, you know that part that says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion , or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” We have let our government take away our rights under the assumption that it was necessary to ensure our safety, the same government bailed out AIG and many other companies under the excuse that if we do nothing the economy was going to plunge into a deep depression. The same argument was used when our citizens were sent to interment camps, or when Lincoln decided to take away Habeas Corpus during the Civil War.

The rights and liberties contained in the first amendment are the bedrock of our society. What is more intrinsicly valuable than the right to express ourselves? From this right follow many others like freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly. I doubt that any of us would be willing to live in a society where you are prohibited from talking to whomever you want, or worshiping to whatever deity you believe in (in my case, deciding not to worship at all) at any rate, we take these liberties as a given. We do not realize the danger that we would be in if our government were to take a more aggressive position, a more intrusive approach to our lives. The founding fathers knew the outlook of a society in which the government was able to do as it pleased. That is why they wrote the Bill of Rights, that is why we the King cannot take you and throw you in a jail without  due process (Guantanamo?) I don’t suspect that any of us thought that we would have to deal with these issues in the twenty first century, and yet we are. We have forgotten our spirit, we have become complacent and unwilling to fight intrusions infringing in our liberties. We need to reconsider our positions regarding our government; dissent cannot, should not, and must not be considered treason, it is through debate that we grow as a nation. Dissent is what keeps the enourmous power wielded by the government in check, which is why the government doesn’t like it. For these reasons, I think that every single square inch of the United States should be made a perpetual “Freedom of Speech” zone.Only good things can come out of that, if only all of us would engaged in a more deep analysis of our government and the way it is taking our liberties little by little we would realize that if we are not willing to fight for our rights, it is as if we don’t have those rights.

Thoughts on Poverty

Our society has a lot of good qualities, sadly, it also has some flaws. None of our flaws can compare to the inhumanity of social indifference towards the less fortunate members of our community: the poor. Poverty is one of the greatest social injustices that have plagued our system. Many of the current problems that we face as a society have their roots in poverty, things like selling and consumption of drugs, theft, violence, and assaults. All of these problems could be improved if we would only realize that we have a duty to give back to our society just as much as our society has given us, when we realize that giving tax breaks to the top 5% of our economic strata is not going to end poverty, that wealth is not going to trickle down to the most deprived members of our economic system. However, something that is even more terrifying is the fact that we have been desensitized to the horrors that poor people have to endure, we see them everyday wandering around in campus asking for spare change as we go on with our lives as if they didn’t exist. Our reaction to them is often one of distrust, as if poverty was a contagious disease, many times we go out of our way to avoid Mr. or Mrs. Homeless’ request for spare change. We seem to forget that they are humans just like us that they feel and breathe just like we do; on top of that we look at them and deem them dangerous while we are listening to our $300 IPod.

One of the things that have always amazed me about our country is its ability to produce massive amounts of wealth. However, one of the things that shock me about our dear county is our indifference to those who are unable to enjoy part of that wealth. Our arrogance has come to the point that we categorize those who are poor as “welfare bums” as Ronald Reagan so kindly put it. I understand the unwillingness of people to help homeless given that we think that opportunity is equal for everyone in America, I also understand the outrage that it causes people when those who are perfectly able to work or sustain themselves decide to live off food stamps and social security benefits, however, as much as I agree with the people in the anti-tax rally that was held last Saturday in front of the court in downtown , I also understand that there are those who have not had the opportunity to take home some of the wealth that our country produces.

We all hold up the Constitution as a sacred document, which if followed literally will ensure that our vision of justice and liberty will prevail. Our Constitution places ownership of private property at the very heart of our system of liberty. We value our libertarian approach to life, and we hold the belief that if one works hard, material rewards will naturally follow. Rather than vilify the rich, we hold them up as role models. This philosophy goes back to John Locke’s ideas of natural rights, which are life, liberty, and property, and our Calvinistic ideals of predestination which states that those who have been chosen by god will be “smiled upon” by god, and he will provide them with material wealth. When Jefferson was drafting the declaration of independence he changed that last part of the natural rights to “pursuit of happiness” so that we wouldn’t sound too materialistic. But what is happiness for us Americans? What is the American dream? This dream may have different meanings for a lot of people, but it usually means financial stability, your own house, a well-paying job, and making sure that your children will do better in life than you ever did, as Ted Turner once said, in America money is how we keep score.

Indeed, money is how we keep score in America, those of us who came to this country with nothing at all, with no knowledge of the language and who are able to pull themselves up from the bottom to a more stable financial situation are the examples that we use as evidence of how great America is. It does not surprise me then that we take our free market system as a given, that it flows naturally from the laws of supply and demand and Adam Smith’s invisible hand. Therefore, it is natural to me that we are wary of our government, that we distrust any kind of government intervention, whether it shows itself as a regulator of the market, or a force for social equality makes no difference to us. We believe that we are the ones who should decide what to do with our money not government. Last Saturday at the anti-tax rally held here in downtown in front of the court I witnessed many of these beliefs there were picket signs that read “Capitalism works if you are willing to work” or “I believe in God, not in Congress”. I can pride myself in this: my family and I have never asked anything from the government other than financial aid for my brother’s and my college education, other than that we have worked hard to get to where we are right now. We came to America with nothing; we’ve only had the desire to do better than before and the idea that no job was a bad job. My mother and my dad are college educated people, my mother is a lawyer back in the country that we came from and my dad is a business administrator, they have always placed the value of education above anything else, and for these reasons they have struggled to provide us with the opportunity to get a good education so that later on in live we can do better than them. So, the argument is this: if my family like hundreds of others have been able to pull themselves from their bootstraps so can the homeless who “bums” around in McDonald’s, right?

What is the difference between the homeless and me? Well, none, at least none that is evident in the surface, but we forget that those who are poor most of the times are born in poverty. Even though our free market system has helped people like my family, and many others pull themselves out of utter poverty into productive members of society, our society continues to be marred by poverty and homelessness. A child born to a working class family, let alone to and unwed teenager in an inner city ghetto, has life prospects and possibilities that pale besides those of children born to wealthy, stock-owning parents. This raises the question whether the teenager in the inner city ghetto is responsible for being born into poverty or not. Definitely we cannot blame the girl for being poor, after all it was not her decision to be born in the first place, but, what do we do for her? Should we help her and risk the possibility that she might become another “welfare bum” who will live off our tax money? Or do we do nothing and risk the possibility that she might end up selling drugs and being a danger to society in general? Perhaps the free market will provide her with what she needs to pull herself out of poverty, or perhaps not. I doubt that a person who is only able to get a job as a janitor because he didn’t have the chance to study when he was young because his family was so poor that he or she had to drop out of school to help his or her parents put food on the table is completely responsible for being poor. This kind of thinking will get a lot of people, especially here in Florida, to call you socialist, or communist many times ignoring the differences between the two; add to that a disbelief in god and you have the perfect anti-American, but I digress, the point is that as a community we have been brought up to believe that poor people brought poverty upon themselves, that it is their fault that they are poor, not ours, and definitely not the free market’s fault. This is true to a certain extent, we are not responsible for the financial situation of someone we have no idea exist, but we do have the social responsibility to help those who are having a hard time in their lives, take for instance all the social programs that FDR put in place in the 1930’s , a safety net that lifted almost half of all senior citizens out of poverty, provide unemployment insurance for those who had lost their jobs, and provided modest welfare payments to the disabled and the elderly poor. Many fail to see that what FDR did actually helped capitalism survive, he understood that capitalism in a democracy needs the consent of the people, who would otherwise choose some sort of government managed economy if the dire conditions of the Great Depression had prevailed, as he would explain later in the 1940’s “People who are hungry, people who are out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made out of.”

We need to realize that by helping the poor we are helping ourselves. My position can be mistaken very easily for a communistic idea of what society should be like. However it is not, I don’t think that everyone should have an equal amount of wealth, I understand that a doctor will make more money than a janitor, and I agree that those who have worked hard for what they have should be rewarded accordingly to their service to society, a doctor is more valuable than a janitor and that is an axiomatic truth. However, I think that the janitor’s son should have the same opportunity that the doctor’s daughter would have of getting into Law school or Medical School, so that the cycle of poverty will be broken. I understand that poverty will never be completely erased from the face of this earth that would be a utopia; obviously when you look at human nature you realize that bringing about any sort of utopia is nothing but a dream. However, a society without poverty would only point to its greatness, it would show how prosperous the community is and how humane its inhabitants are. This society would be one in which economic disparity would be minimal, there will obviously be rich people and not so rich people, but at least everyone would have better living conditions which will allow the child born in a ghetto to rise up to become a productive member of society.

What is Truth

I don’t know if there is a philosophical question regarding truth, nor do I think many of us think of truth as something that can be questioned. The nature of truth itself eliminates the need to question it, because if something it’s true then it would be useless to question it given that it’s true. However, I think truth is subjective to every human. Take for instance a book review, let’s say that your friend read a book and she/he tells you : “This is a really good book”  this is a simple statement, she assures you that the book is a good read, and she believes this to be true. However, once you read the book you think that the book was awful. Was she lying to you when she told you that the book was good? No, was she telling the truth? Yes, in her mind she thinks that the book is good, and the goodness of the book is a fact. So, is truth subjective?   a definition of truth in a dictionary will tell you that truth is “Conformity with fact or reality;verity.” or “Actuality or actual existence,” and many other definitions along those lines.

But, I think that this makes my theory of the subjectivity of truth real. Reality is relative to each individual, like the example I provided earlier, where your friend thought that the book was good but you didn’t think that the book was good. Given that reality can (and most of the times is) relative to each individual truth can be relative to each person as well. If you tell me that the sky is green, and you were raised thinking that the sky is green you are telling me the truth. The fact that I presume to know that the sky is blue doesn’t make it a reality for you, more specifically, it doesn’t make it a reality for the person who has been raised to think that blue is green, or a daltonic person, who can’t differentiate colors. These are simple things that no one cares about, but imagine a person who believes everything she says (and we know that a lot of the things she says are lies) however, she believes her own lies, is she lying? perhaps, she is lying in our eyes, but in her own mind she thinks that all the things that she is saying are in fact true. Or take for instance a person whose reality differs from ours greatly (like an insane person or something like that) his reality is different for our own, despite that, he believes that everything that he sees and hears is true. So, at the end truth may be nothing more than something that is subjective to each person, just as reality is subjective to each person.  Remember that your senses could be fooled or that all of this is a dream, since you can only know that you were dreaming the moment you wake up (and have you ever had those dreams where you wake up within a dream?) so, if you can’t be sure that what you perceive as reality or that your brain is not in some jar where you senses are being stimulated through a machine, you cannot be sure that what someone is telling you is true or a lie.

At the end truth can only be subjective to each person, since you cannot know what the other person is thinking at the time he or she is making a statement. Reality is something that you can’t be sure of, given that it is also subjective to each individual. which leads me to conclude that truth,reality,and knowledge are things of which none of us can be 100% certain of.

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