The cancer infesting civilization, and the healing medication

Respect, by unknown artist [Source: yesmeansyes.com]

By JoeAm

Echoes of the mind . . .

Please excuse my belaboring this point. I don’t like the way the entire world is descending into abusive and illogical reasoning. We need to do better.

The world is growing dumber, as a point of fact. It is growing angrier and less capable of the kinds of earnest discussion that put solving problems ahead of posturing. People aren’t working together, except as gangs that stay within demarcated territory. People defend their position. Than’s all. And they do it with bad reasoning (fallacies), lies, propaganda, threats, and tools other than understanding. Other than knowledge. Other than good faith.

If that is the new environment, one must choose: (a) excel at the new disciplines, or (b) double down on civility, knowledge, and earnest inquiry.

How does this cancer . . . this hostility, stupidity, and bad faith . . . affect us? What are the symptoms most of us are experiencing?

  • We are reading less and operating more on emotions rather than knowledge.
  • We don’t have the patience to research before we decide. We decide and defend.
  • We don’t understand how to debate issues forthrightly. We use bad reasoning and argumentative fallacies to defend our ignorance.
  • We apply “confirmation bias” that acts as a wall to new information. We take a position on an issue and, without even thinking, defend it. The goal becomes winning, not learning.
  • We gravitate toward the gangs that give us support rather than people who make us uncomfortable because they have different ideas. We can learn a lot from the people who make us uncomfortable.

I have developed an exercise that has helped me immensely to see my own biases. It is a form of medicine I guess. It is called “trying to understand Teddy Boy Locsin”, the Secretary of Foreign affairs. Although this is a specific case, it can be generalized by the concept of “getting outside ourselves”. That’s the medication I recommend.

As I wrote in another article, the vaccine was injected into my brain by a DFA official whom I respect. He said Secretary Locsin is a diplomat and many misread him. I take that as a fundamental truth.

Then how do I reconcile the Secretary’s off-putting remarks supporting the drug war or defending other Duterte policies with the KNOWLEDGE that he is an earnest diplomat?

Well, the first thing I had to do was set aside my confirmation bias on many topics. I had to set aside the idea that the drug war has NOTHING about it that is defensible. There must be an element that is defensible. Find it. Accept it. I’m still working on that.

I had to set aside the idea that China is ONLY an enemy. It is not simply them vs us with a hard line in between. There CAN be cooperation. I believe that is true . . . but a lot really depends on China.

Then I had to deal with the fact that many of my friends shout against the Secretary on social media, calling him a traitor and an imbecile, and arrogant. These shouts were beckoning me to join the chorus, to get emotional, to get on their side of the demarcation line. In today’s world, it is understood that, if I did not join them, the gangs might pounce on me, too.

But more than anything, I had to understand that the Secretary’s choices were framed by circumstances that I could not comprehend because I did not know the people he knew, the reading he has done, the dealings he has done, or live the political life he has led from Cory Aquino to Rodrigo Duterte. Nor could I understand his aspirations . . . but I could understand that he would have them.

We all have them.

My friends, this was not easy.

I recall defending President Aquino’s choice to be with Japanese investors rather than attend to the arrival of the Mamasapano coffins in Manila. I once was a business executive, and I understood that decisions come fast, information is imperfect (it never shows us the future clearly), and we do our best, if we are earnest. My operating KNOWLEDGE was that President Aquino was an earnest, principled public official. His decision on the coffins was not intentionally offensive. Indeed, it was undoubtedly, in his mind, to the best advantage of the Philippines. I held to that, gave him the respect he had earned, and believed that the millions of angry people shouting at him had it wrong.

I still do.

Alas, now the angry horde is my friends shouting at Secretary Locsin.

What do I think about that? Is the Secretary the worst man for the job, or the best? Who do my friends want in that position?

Do they want, say, Bam Aquino there? Do they want a ‘yellow’ there?

Then they have no knowledge of President Duterte, or they deny knowledge in favor of their confirmation bias. They only want to win on the issue, and they will deny knowledge to do it. President Duterte will not appoint a ‘yellow’ to the position, nor should he have to, as the duly elected President who is empowered by the nation’s votes to run his office to the best of his ability. A ‘yellow’ might give him grief. Cause him to fail, perhaps. He should pick someone he trusts, and who he believes can do the job he wants done.

So if we accept the knowledge that the President is entitled to appoint a person who is or CAN BE loyal to his initiatives, then we can’t expect a yellow. That said, we ought to have no patience with another incompetent like former Secretary Cayetano.

Why do I say “appoint a person who is or CAN BE loyal”?

The mind is a wonderful instrument. We ought to give people credit for having one, if they have developed it well. What if the real knowledge is that Secretary Locsin is well-read, informed on laws and people, understands social and political forces, and has circulated long enough to develop competencies in interpersonal relationships important for good diplomacy?

What if he is not, himself, a killer or a traitor, but is confident enough of his ability as a diplomat . . . or dedicated enough to the Philippines . . . to strive to be a diplomat who can negotiate between the harsh demands of the ‘yellows’ and the untoward tendencies of the President?

What if he knows the nation cannot withstand another Cayetano and remain respected in international affairs? What if he understands that President Duterte needs help? Not undermining. Not incompetence.

If we accept those fundamentals as to why Secretary Locsin is there . . . and believe it is not money or bad moral values that underpin his work . . . then we can interpret what he says in a new light. We can believe that throwing brickbats from our position of political bias and emotionalized rhetoric is not helping things at all. It may be hurting.

There is a difference between shouting and not being heard, and talking sense and being listened to.

If we can accept that the Secretary is an earnest professional, if a rather loudmouthed and opinionated man, we will look for new knowledge rather than automatically discard everything coming in. We might even find APPRECIATION that he amended the memo of understanding for commercial development with China to keep it within Philippine constitutional bounds. He kept Philippine law as the required framework for joint commercial development in Philippine seas.

We can appreciate that he is genuinely interested in, and working for, the betterment of overseas Filipinos. That he is working on a smooth passport process. That he is listening to people who speak with respect and sense.

We can learn to disagree on some points while keeping our eye on the big picture. And from our newfound position of respect and civility, we can push our own points . . . civilly. Respect granted, respect received. And we are no longer shut out of the dialogue.

I think we need to develop such skills, and encourage others to develop them.

We need to perfect getting outside of ourselves. That does not mean we have to be weak or unprincipled. It means we have to concede that we are not other people, and they have their own context.

  • Other people have knowledge that we don’t.
  • It cannot be our way all the time.
  • We can work to keep doors of communication open rather than slam them shut.
  • We can use calm reason rather than emotion in our dialogue.

 

Comments
72 Responses to “The cancer infesting civilization, and the healing medication”
  1. karlgarcia says:

    I too have confirmation bias and other biases but the good thing is I use my ears and eyes.

  2. edgar lores says:

    *******
    1. The four points at the end are hard to follow especially at times like these when the consequences that we see of others’ words, beliefs, and actions are not acceptable. Especially when the explanations are risible and stretch credulity.

    2. The unacceptability becomes greater when one considers that “we” are not having our way all the time. In fact, it seems “they” are having their way all the time.

    3. Well, with one notable exception: Senator Trillanes.

    4. As to Secretary Locsin, he is yet to prove he is to Duterte as Mattis was to Trump.

    4.1. On the last day of January, Justice Carpio said we must protest China’s maritime rescue center on Kagitingan. On February 2, Locsin seconded… with the caveat the installation must be verified. On February 4, Defense Secretary Lorenzana thirded. The news item has been overshadowed by a taho-throwing incident and the overnight arrest of Ressa. It would be good to know if Locsin will keep to his commitment. It will show that he operates in good faith.

    4.2. Locsin has also picked up Trump’s bad habit of government by Twitter. Now, almost everybody is doing it. Pelosi. AOC. But not Mueller. He does not telegraph his moves.

    4.3. Twitterocracy, I think, is improper. Government must be sober and thorough and “must use calm reason rather than emotions.”
    *****

    • 1. True. Certainly government seem unwilling to practice the four disciplines so there is no level playing field. The disciplines assume both sides have an ethical core, and a view toward earnest discovery that may be masked by today’s defensive mindset and unthinking responses. If that is not true, toss the disciplines and go down and dirty. We can add that as discipline number five.

      2. Yes.

      3. And Senators Hontiveros and De Lima. VP Robredo is being more outspoken, too. Maybe she should take up discipline number 5.

      4. Mattis was a military man, Locsin a journalist and diplomat. I don’t think there need be such comparisons for the reasons outlined in the article. The Locsin context is unique. Resignation could harm the Philippines more than staying on. Woe if another Cayetano came along.

      4.1 Locsin said he preferred to protest on the floor of the UN. That could be stronger, or weaker, depending on what he said. If it is “diplomatese”, then that would not be very strong. If he said specifically as it pertained to the contested seas, “laws must be followed or there can be no understanding, no respect, no peace” then it would be a strong statement. I think China is forcing a hard confrontation by protesting Philippine efforts to upgrade the runway at Pagasa. They have surrounded the island with ships and otherwise tried to block improvements. So protesting their weather station seems not so important in comparison.

      4.2 I like the Locsin twitter posts myself, as I gain insight into a lot of what he is dealing with. He seems to have moderated his swearing and obnoxious behavior.

      4.3 One can be calm and reasoned on twitter. One can hide by not being there. Again, I think we ought not force a context on others.

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        4.1. Yes, I forgot about Pagasa.

        4.2 and 4.3. I was thinking more of Trump. It just seems off the cuff to announce government policy through Twitter. No preparation. Whatever comes to mind. I am glad no Oz politician has taken it up.

        For some reason, Twitter is not popular in Australia. Not that I am aware although the PM and the shadow PM have accounts.
        *****

        • Your observations caused me to reflect on my twitter posts, which are “missionary work” as you so perfectly described it. So they are emotionalized arguments, in the main, but occasionally with insights added in. I just call it “literature” rather than analysis. 🙂

          Trump is likely doing more damage than good with his tweets, as they become legal evidence of obstruction of justice.

          Twitter is what you make of it, I think, with whom you choose to follow. I see people following thousands of other accounts. Good lord, what rubbish must pass their way. I follow only 130, and several of them are news organizations, so get a wonderful assortment of current topics flowing through.

  3. popoy says:

    Words, words, words . . .

    If I may conjecture
    and attempt to be summative,
    I likened this wholistic piece
    of Idiopathy
    to be prognostic,
    to be that of
    a skilled surgeon
    using lasers and power drills
    to do an open surgery of
    the heart and craniotomy
    of a pliant soul which choose
    to serve earth’s purgatory.

  4. Locsin was in Budapest yesterday as per Twitter, and when I googled further it is as I suspected: he is attending the Munich Security Conference from today to Sunday. The world power broker event, like Davos but more on defense. 30 heads of state, 60 foreign and defense ministers are here.

    Practically all the big players, and I can imagine that Syria and West Philippine Sea will be topics. Of course the most important talks in such events are always the informal, off-the-record ones.

  5. Micha says:

    Hostility and bad faith are mere manifestations of the underlying social malignancy which is economic division and economic injustice. All social dysfunctions are derivative of this condition and it’s not confined in our particular part of the world. See France, Britain, and the US for example.

    • Only if he earns it. He is an acquaintance of Guevarra and was giving personal testimony, not weighing in on the merits of the case. As DFA, he has no official business interfering, so I’m surprised he did. All in all, a disappointment, for sure.

      • It is also noteworthy that Secretary Locsin also considers former DFA Secretary Cayetano as a friend, and he speaks highly of him. It does raise the question of his basis for making such conclusions, publicly. It suggests that a person’s competence and values, in his estimation, are secondary to one’s personal relationships. That of course is EXACTLY the reason the Philippines is a corrupt, backward nation. Political parties and power politics are built on personal associations and loyalties, so matters like competence and values are pasted over with platitudes.

        This suggests that Secretary Locsin has “old school” values, and if he persists, there will be no breakout improvement leading the Philippines to more constructive dealings based on skill, candor, and values. He is a part of the load the ‘yellows’ have to carry in their appeal for a more modern and productive approach.

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          Agree. Personal relationships are a bane of Filipino politics. From cronyism to nepotism to utang-na-loob. To dynasties.

          There might be an element of “mutual protection:” “I have your back and you have mine.”

          And yet the grab for power will rend the personal relationships. As with the rift between and among the Binay and Estrada siblings.
          *****

  6. Micha says:

    This article mistakes the symptoms for the disease. All the drama we’re witnessing now is but a sideshow of the real tragedy.

    Despite the coarseness and incivility, Duterte and his horde still has popular support. Why is that?
    Because he is able to not only channel the masses’ resentment against the rightfully perceived unjust status quo but more importantly, he effectively avoids offending the oligarchy which enables that same status quo. The oligarchy loves him because he’s not making them in any way uncomfortable.

    He snoops on critics like Trillanes, Delima, and the bishops who are unable to mobilize enough manpower for a decisive overturning. The students and the middle class are drowned out too.

    So with the masses and the oligarchy behind him, he can at this point get away with almost anything.

    And the malignancy spreads.

    • It depends on if one considers the disease to be social or psychological. Your view is that the disease is popular support for an abusive regime, which to me seems to be the symptom of peoples’ neediness, that neediness generated by years of mal-treatment. To me, the disease is emotional. It is dysfunctional defenses of self as if everyone had a deeply ingrained lack of esteem from childhood. And as you pointed out, it is not strictly a Philippine disease. It is everywhere, fostered by people beating up on people, causing them to defend in more and more angry ways. And beating up on people. Your cure is for people to speak out and beat up on people. Mine is for people to step back and look at their own contribution to the beatings. Then stop it.

      • Micha says:

        “Your view is that the disease is popular support for an abusive regime..”

        No, that is not my view. The real disease is economic injustice, extreme concentration of wealth. That’s the metastasizing disease.

        “Your cure is for people to speak out and beat up on people.”

        Where are you getting this? Stop mischaracterizing my position. What I advocate is to reform the present predatory economic system such that real democracy could flourish in its stead.

        • I don’t intend to mischaracterize your views. If I am feeding it back incorrectly it is because I don’t understand your point. Economic injustice is a function of the character of the people running the economy, most of whom are engaged in the kinds of poor dialogue I point out. Diseases and symptoms. The disease, it seems to me, is our missing individual sense of accountability as participants in a dysfunctional dialogue. Personalization of arguments is a facet of the disease.

          • I re-read your prior comment and nowhere do I see you saying the real disease is economic injustice, unless I was supposed to extract that from your comment about oligarchs not complaining. Truly, I did try to understand what you were saying and missed that. I have no ill will.

          • Micha says:

            “Economic injustice is a function of the character of the people running the economy.”

            Again no. Economic injustice is a systemic function. Economic injustice is inherent in the present iteration of the capitalist system. Hyper concentration of wealth in the hands of the few is a feature, not a bug, of the current version of capitalism. It needs to be reformed.

            • That is fascinating. So economies are not a function of the work of the people running them, but are self-sustaining entities that are supposed to correct, but don’t for reasons that they have no conscience and just motor on.

              Hoooooookay.

              • Inquiring minds wonder who is going to do the reforming if economic injustice is not a function of the character of the people running the economy.

              • Micha says:

                @Joe

                See my reply to edgar below. Economics is not a morality play.

                https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/economics-is-not-a-morality-play/

              • Yes, I can see that point of view that economics is not a morality play as it is up and running. But its laws are written by people with vested interests, like lobbyists. In those vested interests are people, some of whom are greedy amoralists who care not one wit for an equal distribution of wealth. Or they agree as long as it is someone else’s wealth that is distributed. So taking people and their moral values out of the equation seems specious to me. Indeed, Krugman makes moral judgments throughout his article.

                Let artificial intelligence craft the rules of engagement and then we might finally get to a better distribution of wealth. I would suspect if the machines are smart enough, they would recognize you can’t go cold turkey to pass the wealth around, but would move iteratively to move within acceptable bounds of risk to get to better distribution of prosperity. And I think the machines could also figure that the people who work harder and smarter should capture more prosperity than lazy slugs. Morality would be quantified.

              • Micha says:

                “But its laws are written by people with vested interests, like lobbyists.”

                There are no written laws of capitalism in much the same way that there are no written laws of feudalism – both are arbitrary social arrangement based on hierarchy of power. The whole concept of free market and laizzes-faire is just to let the untamed beast be. That’s the reason why capitalists hate regulations that will stifle their ability to make money in whatever way and at whatever cost to the environment or to the greater number of population.

              • There are laws, anti-trust for example, banking laws on capital requirements, trade laws, tax laws, a zillion laws . . . so the argument that the untamed beast is left to run roughshod over people leaves me scratching my head. Yes, capitalists will do all they can to make money. That;s what they are paid to do. It generates the tension that has good and bad (moral) components to it. The good are the innovation, wealth-generation, and jobs created. The bad are the people left behind or cheated.

              • Micha says:

                Anti-trust and banking laws are reactionary and regulatory laws meant to tame the beast of capitalism. Those are not inherent in the concept of capitalism itself.

                In fact those are, for the most part, considered anti-capitalist laws.

              • Okay, that is news to me. I think that is off track from the original discussion where I claim interpersonal dialogue has become increasingly dysfunctional. I think it would be helpful if that is recognized so that we can begin to build more constructive approaches to discussion. It is rather like recognizing that global warming is placing the planet at risk. Bad dialogue is, too. The failure to articulate principles we all agree to live by, the emotionalizing of debate, fakery and lying, propaganda, the need to win every argument. These lead to damage and we are stupid if we can’t see it or if we continue to engage in it.

              • Micha says:

                Exactly why I called out hostility, ignorance, and bad faith as merely symptoms of a disease (unmitigated capitalism) that needs to be tamed or subjected to chemo therapy because, left on its own to metastasize, it is irreversibly killing the host and the planet.

              • Okay. I think it is the other way around. Our humanity underpins everything and the economy is just the output of how we work together. But I’m not here to sell the idea, just suggest it for people to consider.

  7. Micha says:

    The new feudalism is the cancer infesting civilization today.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      That is one vantage point, the outer view. Then there is the inner view.

      Rob Johnson summarizing Giridharadas (@ 19:20):

      “By understanding the context
      of how ideas are formed,
      how they resonate with value
      it changes us all
      to think about governance, media
      what matters to us.”

      Joe Am’s contention is that “hostility, stupidity, and bad faith” comprise the cancer infesting civilization. The medication he prescribes of how we and others think — and how we understand the contexts — aligns with the above summary.
      *****

      • Man, I need to install a ‘like’ button.

      • Micha says:

        @edgar

        Hostility, stupidity, and bad faith are the symptoms you get when you have hyper concentration of wealth – when you are already on stage 3 plutocracy such that the malignant cells (the plutocrats) invades and destroys the host (the body politic).

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          Hostility, yes, in the particular situation of unequal wealth. But hostility can occur in other situations. such as in a love rivalry.

          Bad faith, perhaps. This is symptomatic of lack of integrity which can happen in any environment, economic or otherwise.

          Stupidity is bad thinking. And this, in turn, can lead to hostility and bad faith. Again, stupidity can happen in any environment, such as in religion.

          Granted these symptoms happen in a situation of the hyper-concentration of wealth. The point is that they can also happen in other situations.

          The same symptoms can occur for different diseases.

          An outer view, an explanation of the present disease, is neo-feudalism. This is from a socio-economic viewpoint. And this view is prevalent because it is claimed that 67 of the richest own as much as 3.5B of the poorest.

          But this is not the only outer view of the present disorder. There can be political outer view. There can be a religious or spiritual outer view. There can be a moral or philosophical outer view.

          The inner view is that the imprecise way of thinking — and the chaotic way of feeling – underlies all these outer views.

          The inner view is the meta view.
          *****

          • Micha says:

            @edgar

            When it comes to hyper concentration of wealth, the political and economic view overlaps or goes hand in hand. I fail to understand how the same can be explained in religious or spiritual prism.

            On the other hand, economics, according to Paul Krugman, is not a morality play. Economic events or phenomena happen because they are inherent in the system irregardless of the morality or immorality of the players within that system.

            • edgar lores says:

              *******
              I concede that there is disorder in the world.

              I concede that the hyper-concentration of wealth is one way — and a valid way — of characterizing the world disorder.

              I did not say that the hyper-concentration of wealth can be explained in religious or spiritual terms.

              What I said was that the disorder in the world can be seen and explained from several vantage points. Not only from the economic.

              Having said that, one can characterize the hyper-concentration of wealth in religious and spiritual terms.

              It can be characterized as a lack of love (Christianity) and an excess of greed (Buddhism).

              There is morality in economics. At the micro level, the most basic of economic transactions is the exchange of goods for goods, or goods for money.

              There can be immoral behavior in such a simple exchange on the part of either the vendor or the buyer. Caveat emptor.

              At the macro level of national and inter-national transactions, there are also moral considerations. There are inequalities engendered by globalization, free trade (and the imposition of quotas and tariffs), and protectionism.

              If Krugman is correct, why the concern for the hyper-concentration of wealth? Is not the concern moral… in that one sees the injustice of the inequality?
              *****

              • Micha says:

                “If Krugman is correct, why the concern for the hyper-concentration of wealth?”

                The concern for the hyper concentration of wealth is borne out of the fact that capitalism is an amoral beast which naturally churns out that kind of social outcome. The system itself knows no morality – that is why it needs to be tamed.

              • edgar lores says:

                *******
                Krugman has a very limited definition of morality. He limits morality to a play, a story, where virtue is rewarded and vice punished.

                I am saying that there are moral concerns in economics if we accept the dictionary definition that it is “the branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth.”

                o In production and consumption, we are concerned with sustainability which is a moral concern.
                o In the transfer of wealth — in the hyper-concentration of wealth, which is the topic being discussed — we are concerned with inequality which is a moral concern.
                o In the interaction of all three, there are government regulations which reflect moral concerns, such as the laws against insider trading and the abuse of monopoly power.
                o In the recent Royal Commission investigation on financial institutions in Australia, banks were censured for predatory practices and taking advantage of their customers.

                There is moral virtue in sustainability, in seeking the equal distribution of wealth, and in observing government regulations.

                My question can be more clearly understand with rephrasing. The question was directed at you.

                o From “If Krugman is correct, why the concern for the hyper-concentration of wealth?”

                o To “If Krugman is correct that there is no morality in economics — and I am using a wider definition of morality here — isn’t this contradicted by your concern about the hyper-concentration of wealth which is a moral concern about economic inequality and the dire effect this has on the world order?”
                *****

              • Micha says:

                I think the confusion stems from your conception of morality in general economics. Krugman is more specific in his article. He meant morality in the present economic system we have, which is capitalism.

                That capitalism breds hyper inequality and grave imbalance in the world order is but a natural outcome of that specific system which is amoral in its pursuit of profits.

                The concern to reform is coming from the outside or extraneous to the system.

              • edgar lores says:

                *******
                If the pursuit of profit is at expense and abuse of resources, material, labor, or consumer then it becomes immoral.
                *****

              • Micha says:

                Yes, but that’s you looking at it from the outside. As far the the system itself is concerned, there’s nothing wrong with those pursuits.

              • Micha says:

                Or, to be more accurate, as far the the capitalist system itself is concerned, there’s nothing wrong with employing every means necessary, moral or immoral, to achieve the goals of those pursuits.

              • Stated that way . . . I agree.

              • edgar lores says:

                *******
                Without exception, we all live within an economic system.

                One can take the view that the system is mechanistic and unconscious and that the invisible hand moves with amoral intent.

                Or one can take the view that the system is made up of conscious and unconscious constructs — institutions, human beings, laws, contracts, agreements, procedures, and activities — that not only engender moral concerns but operate within a moral sphere.

                I use as an example of the economic system operating within the moral sphere the recently completed Royal Commission here. Before the investigation, financial institutions and their staff pursued profit with little or no consideration of their clients. The investigation made the institutions and their personnel aware that their actions caused harm to the economic wellbeing of their clients. The commission made recommendations that will be crafted into law.

                If the commission’s investigations is not a concern about morality, about proper behavior, then I do not know what it is.
                *****

              • edgar lores says:

                *******
                We have been remiss? We failed to define what an economic system (capitalism) is and perhaps this is why we are talking at cross-purposes.

                What does it involve? What are its elements?
                *****

      • Micha says:

        By mistaking the symptoms for the disease, JoeAm is in the process deflecting the shining of light or criticism of the presently malignant status quo.

        You cannot cure hostility, stupidity, and bad faith by understanding the context; the context is quite very clear already. Millions of people go hungry, have insufficient access to health care, scarce low paying jobs. Can you you solve that by understanding the context?

  8. NHerrera says:

    My word for the current blog is Perception. Our view or prescription for almost anything is influenced by our irreducible values; but as important, by our framing of the situation or problem or as the blog puts it, getting outside of ourselves — getting the helicopter view. The use of the apparent “split-personality” DFA Sec Locsin is just an illustration.

    As is usual in TSH, the comments went into a related topic of disease and symptom of the major socio-econ-political malaise that infect the country and the world. I love the exchange between Joe, edgar, Micha, et al. Thanks guys.

    • NHerrera says:

      The lack of or inappropriate/ insufficient framing of the problem is a common thing that comes out of the comments not only from Filipinos but watching news commentaries here and abroad.

      Our values — which may be indisputable — gets so much ahead of us, that this is emphasized and even taking the place of the cart as the horse, the horse being the goal. The nuances of the situation of the problem and the constraints are essentially brushed aside.

      I am an engineer and I likened the above as trying to solve a problem optimally without or insufficient regard to the situation and constraints with which the problem is enmeshed. Trump’s obsession with his southern border wall is a classic example. [Of course, we know better — his prime motivator is his political support base.]

  9. karlgarcia says:

    Re: Morality and Economics
    Since religion is involved, the non-believers will find this hard to believe.
    So may I ask the reaction of @Sonny.

    http://jpatton.bellevue.edu/biblical_economics/morality-economics.html

    • Long article, and I only read the beginning and skimmed the rest. But it makes more sense to me than the idea that economics is not a moral activity. I think the standards are very moral (honesty) and its abuses (poor distribution of wealth) are immoral.

    • karlgarcia says:

      I will post the introduction and jump to the conclusion.

      The Inseparable Link Between Morality And Economics
      (Published in: A Man Of Principle: Essays in Honor of Hans F. Sennholz)

      February 3, 1992

      by
      Dr. Judd W. Patton

      What do modern day economists do? What procedures and methods do they employ? The standard textbook response is that economists formulate economic principles that are useful in establishing policies designed to solve economic problems. To discover these principles, also known as generalizations, economists engage in positive economics, that is, they hypothesize and theorize about empirical observations, strictly limiting themselves to describing reality, and they avoid issues or questions of what ought to be. The latter is called normative economics.

      In this positivist approach there is an impassable line of distinction between morality and economic science. Morality is a “non-fact” for positive theory and analysis. To suggest that moral principles could be relevant “empirical data” within the positivistic episteme clearly would be a serious breach of scientific analysis and purity.

      Yet, a little reflection, according to Henry Hazlitt, reveals that economics and ethics:

      …are, in fact, intimately related. Both are concerned with human action, human conduct, human decision, human choice… There is hardly an ethical problem, in fact, without its economic aspect. Our daily ethical decisions are in the main economic decisions, and nearly all our daily economic decisions have, in turn, an ethical aspect.1

      The subject matter of both morality and economics is human action. Economic inquiry wants to know the cause and consequences of human actions. Morality purports to show which human actions are right or wrong. Clearly human action is the common denominator, suggesting a possible link between moral principles and economic principles. Thus, could it be possible that a moral principle has its counterpart in the economic realm? Could both moral and economic principles be a part of an inseparable body of thought? Could the economic and moral realms be, in fact, in harmony with one another as opposed to being hermetically sealed, unrelated areas of human knowledge as required by positivism?

      The positivistic episteme rejects such questions out of hand. Positive economics excludes the possibility of ineluctable economic principles and it excludes ethical or moral principles as relevant knowledge in explaining the consequences of human action in the economic realm. To repeat, morality is a “non-fact” for contemporary economic science.

      To consider these questions, then, a new episteme is required – one that can investigate a possible link between economic events and moral and immoral human actions. The purpose of this essay is to demonstrate that such an episteme not only exists but reveals a necessary connection between ethical decisions and economic results. Its analysis will address the basic premises of this worldview, its methodology, and some of its magnificent economic and moral laws, and it will demonstrate the interconnection of these two areas of human action by analyzing some important economic issues of our day.

      economic realm are seen to be tied together.

      Conclusion
      To accept the premise that the fear of the Creator God is the beginning or foundation of all knowledge, implied by Proverbs 1:7, is to admit to the possibility of a science of Biblical economics. An attempt has been made to demonstrate that there can be a unique, if controversial, distinctive science of Revelational or Biblical economics. It consists of an episteme of four foundational premises that produce a body of immutable economic laws tied to moral laws. Together, they provide mankind with the stewardship principles and wisdom to allocate and manage the earth’s resources successfully for God’s glory.

      Undoubtedly, one of the most controversial features of Biblical economics is its methodology. By superseding the scientific method, as required by Scripture, and adopting the method of logical deduction from the Biblical axiom that mankind acts purposefully, economic principles that are timeless and universal may be discovered. This procedure might puzzle some economists and scholars. Yet these conclusions follow from the premises. Thus, there is no positive-normative dichotomy. Economic principles reveal cause and effect relationships and simultaneously “tell” mankind what he ought to do or advocate because they are in harmony with moral precepts, The Ten Commandments. Our conclusion is that morality and economics are components in one indivisible body of science. Dr. Sennholz said it best: “In God’s world, causes and consequences are connected logically. To offend against an economic principle, or to disobey an ethical commandment is to suffer the inexorable consequences of our action… His eternal laws and principles invariably exact a price for all offenses.”

      • sonny says:

        Good condensation on the relationship of Morality and Economics. Science as the overarching agent of intellectual activity has something to say about either system:

        ” … Our conclusion is that morality and economics are components in one indivisible body of science. … In God’s world, causes and consequences are connected logically. To offend against an economic principle, or to disobey an ethical commandment is to suffer the inexorable consequences of our action… His eternal laws and principles invariably exact a price for all offenses.”

        The big difference of course, lies where human destiny is and what one considers true happiness consists of.

    • sonny says:

      Great topic Neph, morality and economics.

      For now I’m thinking along the lines of Gospel of Mark, chap 10: 17 thru 23, on riches.

      “… As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?* No one is good but God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.’”j 20He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” 21Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

      23* Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”k”

      I’ll try better. Hopefully to be cont’d. 🙂

  10. karlgarcia says:

    You are always welcome.

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